THE dress. It’s one of the pieces (besides the groom and actually getting married, of course) that we think most often of while planning our wedding. It’s the question you get again and again, “Have you gotten your dress yet?” And, who hasn’t dreamed about what their wedding dress will look like someday?
FINDING THE DRESS
I’ve written a few times throughout the wedding dress search process, so you can catch up on the days when I thought I was sold on a BHLDN dress to my final decision on a pre-owned dress. Once my final decision was made, I totally stopped looking at dresses. I didn’t want to end up second guessing myself. I found a dress I loved – a dress that was a little bit outside of what I had expected, but that checked all the boxes and made me feel like a bride as soon as I put it on.
Side note: All photos are by Lauren Louise Collective. Also, if you’re curious about all the details for my bridal look – earrings, shoes, veil, hair, makeup – I’ll cover all of that in a post in the coming weeks!
WHAT I WANTED IN A WEDDING DRESS
What I wanted most in a dress was for it to look classically bridal. While I love a sleek look on occasion or something a bit more eccentric, my wedding dress was something that I wanted to be super traditional. You only wear a wedding gown once, so this is the chance to look exactly as you imagine a bride would.
I wanted a ballgown style that was simple and timeless, yet incorporated just enough detail to make it feel special. I wanted sleeveless with a conservative neckline. Buttons down the back were something I was drawn to again and again. A soft ivory was my color of choice. This was a dress I wanted to put on and feel unmistakably bridal.
I also was hopeful that I could stay around $1,000, which significantly limited my options. It seems that the more classic and simple a dress you want, the more expensive it is.
THE PERFECT DRESS
When I ordered this dress (more about that here!), I knew it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. I hadn’t imagined any lace on my dream dress and an illusion neckline wasn’t something I had considered. However, the silhouette was right, and I loved the back, so I thought it was worth a shot.
The moment I tried it on, however, I knew it was the right dress and that all of the extra little details made it so bridal and so special. The dress was never worn, though it came from a pre-owned website, and had been altered to my measurements by the previous owner (such a key piece to include if you’re trying to sell or buy a dress!), so I truly couldn’t have gotten luckier.
It’s the Augusta Jones Paz ballgown dress which I believe came out in 2014, and by googling the name of the dress I was able to find several weddings online where the brides wore this dress. It was incredibly helpful seeing how this dress looked on other brides, because it’s sometimes hard to get a feel for how it will look in action.
ALL THE DRESS DETAILS
As I said in the previous section, my dress is a ballgown style from Augusta Jones. It has a Chantilly lace illusion neckline with the lace extending over a sweetheart style bodice. Throughout the lace are subtle, sparkly details with beading (something I never imagined I’d end up loving!).
Lace-covered buttons extend from the top of the neckline down the waist, and accentuate the gentle “v” shape where the bodice meets the gathered waistline. The bottom of the dress, starting at the waist, is taffeta, with a long, dramatic train that I absolutely loved.
I actually wore 2 crinolines underneath the dress to exaggerate the ballroom silhouette even further, and had I not had to sit through dinner, I probably would have gone even bigger! It definitely wasn’t an easy dress to get into (see above!), but I was perfectly fine once I was in it.
BUT, BECAUSE NOTHING’S PERFECT
Of course, no wedding goes 100% smoothly and this was definitely true for my dress. My gown only had to be slightly altered – let out a bit in the waist so I would be comfortable through a 5-course dinner. I found a tailor in Charlottesville that had great reviews online, took my dress there, and was thrilled that the alterations would only be $115 to let out the dress and remove a monogrammed patch that the previous bride had left in her never-worn dress.
When I went to pick it up, I tried it on quickly with the help of the seamstress. It fit, that was great, I put it back in the garment bag, and went on to run the rest of my wedding weekend errands. Well, fast forward to morning of the wedding, I pull out my dress to realize A. that the seamstress didn’t steam the dress, B. she didn’t remove the monogrammed patch, and C. she had removed the ribbons from the corset that was inside the dress (why?!) and didn’t replace them.
Luckily, my sister was able to steam my dress over the course of an hour with a hand steamer, and I just ignored the monogram that wasn’t my own. The missing corset was another story though…while the dress still fit without it, the corset not only cinched the waist of the dress in, but it hiked the dress up a bit so that the length was correct. Without the corset, the waistline hit a bit lower than it should have, the waist wasn’t as fitted and flattering as I wanted it to be, and the dress was a bit too long. But, there wasn’t time to do anything about it, so I just had to go as is, and decided if that was the biggest mishap of the day, then it wasn’t so bad.
MY TIPS FOR THE BRIDE-TO-BE
Now that the dress search is over and my wedding day is behind me, my biggest advice for the bride-to-be looking for her dream dress would be to go into your search knowing what silhouettes work for you and what your must-haves are, then find a dress you love and stop looking. Don’t second guess yourself. If you loved the dress when you chose it, you’ll love it on your big day.
Other tips? Invest in heel covers so you don’t sink into muddy ground. Accept that your dress is going to get dirty, particularly if it’s rained in days prior, and just don’t fret over it. Make sure you can walk and sit in your dress! And, lastly, once that dress is on, don’t worry about it and have fun!