Searching for The Skirt

Last July I semi-impulsively bought half of my wedding dress. After months of trying on wedding dresses and not falling in love with any of them, I purchased a gorgeous Monique Lhullier corset top and decided to design my own skirt. Six months have flown by, so it's time to start to seriously thinking about my other half. I love these simple silhouettes below but want something with a little more poof for the big day.

Source: 1 & 2

So cool that the skirt below comes in 26 colors as I have been playing around with the idea of having a non-white (peach or gray colored) skirt.


Sources: 1 & 2

I'm  leaning towards a skirt design that marries the two silhouettes below.

Sources: 1 & 2

How did you decide? Did you dare to try designing your own?

Saying Yes to the Dress {again}

Okay, I'm just gonna say it - I'm guilty of buying two dresses. I've heard of women doing this and thought - that would never happen to me! Well, last week I bought dress #2. And I couldn't be happier!

Source: left, right

I bought my first dress a few months back and I loved it. But a couple weeks ago I was surfing wedding blogs and came across an amazing dress...a couple clicks later, I realized it was one of the dresses I tried on that was over my budget, but that I loved. So, I thought, instead of regretting not trying just because I already have a dress, I'll do a little searching for used/second hand options. I thought, if I don't find it, it's not meant to be and I'll be perfectly happy with the dress I already have.


Well, after coming back to my search a week later, one popped up. And it was in San Francisco. And it seemed to be in my measurements. And it was listed for almost 70% off the retail price. So of course I had to go look. It was just too good to be true. But it wasn't. It fit almost exactly and was in near-perfect condition. So here I am today with two dresses. Luckily I also bought my first dress at a discount, so I'm confident I can sell it and not lose much money.



Moral of the story for me was to plan, but then just let things happen. Control to a point, but then trust that it will work out. I would have been happy with the first option, but I sure am glad it worked out the way it did. I think this holds true for other wedding planning things...missed out on that venue you had your heart set on? Bridesmaid dresses you wanted are discontinued? Trust that the right thing will come along. And keep looking. It will all fall together just right.

Did you have second thoughts on your dress? Did you see a dress that caught your eye after you already had your dress?

Big thanks to Julie from Encore Bridal!

The Dress Search is {Back} On!

Photo: Elizabeth Messina

This week I have an appointment at Amy Kuschel Bride, a boutique where each dress is designed and hand made right here in San Francisco's Union Square. The dresses are tailored to each bride. With this place being close enough for an after-work appointment, I just HAD to get in and check it out for myself. The prices are reasonable (in the bridal world), ranging from $1,500 - $5,000. If you know this designer's story, it was important to her that brides be able to get a beautiful, high-quality dress without spending a fortune.

This week, I invite you to join in as I do a little 'homework' for my appointment. They asked me to look over their website for designs I like. Twist my arm! ;)

Source: all images

Thanks for reading and I'll let you know how it goes!

Over a Year Till I Do & Halfway Dressed

Okay, so, I’m going to admit it:  I have never been one of those girls who has dreamed about her wedding day since she was a little girl. When I got engaged last November, the questions started piling up fast. “Where will you get married?”, “What do you want your dress to look like?”, “What is your vision for your wedding?”.  Almost 9 months later (yes, I realize 9 months is an entire engagement period for some couples), I still can’t completely answer any of these questions, but I certainly have a better idea of what I want and how to best make it happen. I never thought that I would care as much as I do about my wedding dress.  I started my search by aimlessly and casually browsing through Bridal magazines mentally tearing apart everything I saw.  Searching for wedding dresses on Pinterest only confused me further, because the styles and silhouettes I was gravitating towards were all so different.

Source: Dove Sparrow Photography, Watters Brides, Samuelle Couture, Jenny Packham, Lindee Daniel, Melissa Blackburn

After looking at three bridal shops (Panche Bridal in Santa Barbara, Lovely Bride in Los Angeles (my favorite shop!), and Camarillo Bridal in Camarillo), I discovered that I have expensive taste. At each shop, the dresses that I liked most were on the higher-end of my dress budget, and I was not completely in love with any of them.

The search continued while I was visiting some friends in San Francisco a month ago and decided to try my luck at Glamour Closet, a discount bridal shop that sells sample wedding dresses at up to 75% off retail. I was in luck! I walked away with a Monique Lhuillier lace corset (very similar to the photo below) at a price too good to pass up and a new vision for my "wedding dress."

I had never thought about looking at two-piece dresses. I had wrongly mentally labeled them as 90's prom dresses gone wrong. But, once I started trying on two-piece dresses, I began to see how this concept would give me more flexibility, more creative control, and maybe even keep me within my dress budget.


And so, my search for a perfect bottom continues. I am leaning towards designing my own (maybe even two: a long skirt for the ceremony and short skirt for the reception) with the help of a local tailor. The following are my inspirations so far.

Source: Sarah Seven, Bonzie on Etsy, Carol Hannah

Have you thought about or gone the two-piece dress route?  Do you have pointers for designing your own dress? Am I crazy??

Perfectly Fitting

The official two month mark passed yesterday, and I can't believe how close the big day is getting! Fortunately, the planning so far has been pretty drama- and stress-free (knock on wood!), with one exception--dress alterations. The dress fitting was a step I hadn't thought much about. I figured I take the dress to the experts and they'd make things happen and there was nothing I needed to think much about. Unfortunately, I was wrong. It really is a critical to-do and I knew nothing about it!


The salon where I bought my dress didn't have an alterations department so I went to a tailor that they had recommended. The first appointment went well and the tailor seemed sweet and knowledgable. When I went to the next appointment, things began to go down hill. The tailor pushed back on things I was requesting, including hemming the dress so it wouldn't drag on the ground. When we started looking at the bustle, we were told that there was no way to bustle the dress so that it didn't drag on the ground. This was all a major problem for me, especially being that our wedding is entirely outdoors. Things just didn't feel right with this tailor, so we kindly took the dress for a second opinion.


Since that appointment, I've seen three additional tailors, so I've learned a lot! Here are some things I learned that I hope will help you in your own alterations!

* Your dress should not drag on the ground, especially if your wedding is outdoors. Don't let them tell you otherwise :)

* There is always a way to bustle your dress so it is off the ground, you just have the find the right one for you and for your dress. There are a couple of types of bustles--English bustles pick-up and pin on the outside of the skirt, while French bustles tie under the skirt, creating a bubble effect. There are tons of different ways to use these two techniques, with different numbers of pick-ups and different heights. Your tailor should be able to show you your options and, moreover, make a recommendation to you based on the length of the train and fabric of the dress.

Some examples of french bustles...

1, 2, 3, 4

And some examples of English bustles...

1, 2, 3

Personally, I like the more streamlined look of the English bustles, but the French bustle is slightly more romantic. I couldn't find an image of what I ended up with, but it is the English bustle technique, but pulled up at my waist.

* Make sure your tailor is handling your dress properly. I learned from the last person we talked to that the type of fabric my dress is made of tends to stretch. So leaving the dress hanging was making the fabric grow! Who knew?! They recommended just leaving it at the bottom of the bag. A scary thought, but trust the experts. :)

* Feel free to get multiple opinions and price quotes on your alterations. Most tailors will be willing to give your their expertise and a quote and should understand if you elect to go elsewhere. Also, considering calling a bridal shop that does have an alterations department to see if you could bring your dress in. They have the most expertise in bridal and, while they might not be experienced with your particular dress, most likely have seen one with similar qualities.


* Don't settle for anything less than perfect! You should feel 100% comfortable in your dress the whole night. You don't want to be picking it up every two seconds, having people step on it, have it falling down or anything else. Ask questions, push your tailor to get what you want and don't let them tell you "no".

Finally, remember that you'll look gorgeous and glowing no matter what!

Source (Adore this photo!)

Did you have issues with your alterations? Any advice or stories to share?

Dress Shopping Round 3!

I am about six months from my wedding and I am celebrating by finally buying my wedding dress this weekend. Well, I haven't actually bought it yet. To be honest, I haven't even found the one yet. But I am off to wedding gown mecca, aka Kleinfeld’s, while I am in New York City this weekend and I am crossing my fingers and toes that THE dress is there. Here is a quick reminder of what I will be looking for. WISH ME LUCK!

 Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8


Dress Update #1

I am calling this update #1 since, long story short, I did not purchase a dress while home for the holidays. So there will have to be an update #2 (and maybe a #3 and #4…). Although shopping was fun, after visiting three different wedding dress stores, I found the process COMPLETELY overwhelming. I really thought I was going to be a lot more decisive and just know more immediately whether I loved or hated a dress. Of course there were a few dresses that I put on and knew immediately that it was not THE dress. But those were the exceptions. For the most part I felt every dress I tried on was very pretty, and I could be happy in it on my wedding day. Thrilled? Maybe not. But happy – sure.

I think after watching WAY too many episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress” I really thought I would have that moment where I would look in the mirror and feel butterflies in my stomach. I would look over at my sister and my mom and they would be pulling out the tissues. The consultant would look at me and say, “Is this your dress?” I would then respond emphatically “YES!” without a single doubt in my mind that this was the dress I was meant to walk down the aisle in.

Well, that didn’t happen.

But I did come out of this experience with some concrete learnings. Namely, I need to listen to my gut. There was one dress I tried on that my family loved – and I did too. But there was something telling me it wasn’t the one. Finally, after a second visit to the store to talk to the seamstress about the dress, I randomly found out that a high school friend wore it to her wedding, which immediately ruled it out for me. After making the decision not to buy it, the biggest sense of relief washed over me. It wasn’t THE dress and I knew it and I should have listened to my gut from the beginning.

Anyway, I am going to take a couple weeks off to cleanse my palate. Next week I am going with a friend to look at a dress that she has her eye on for her wedding. Maybe that will reignite a desire to look for my dress. But for now, I need a break!

Anyone else experience something similar? Were you expecting a “Say Yes to the Dress” moment, but it didn’t exactly turn out that way? I would love to hear about it!

P.S. Sorry for the not so great pictures – we were trying to be covert!

SURPRISE! Dress success in Lala Land!

Okay, so, I'm going to admit it. I am a bride-to-be that has never, and I mean never, watched one reality show about getting married or planning a wedding. "Whoa! No way, she must be kidding! Not even two minutes of 'Say Yes to the Dress???'" Nope. Never. And to be honest, I was never one of those girls growing up who put a Kleenex in their headband and daydreamed about their future wedding. (I was more into SheRa and Rainbowbrite.) But, I will say that ever since Vinnie proposed to me in our dining room on September 12, 2011 I have not been able to stop daydreaming and imagining our wedding day. This whole experience has been magical (minus the venue hunt.... future blog post about that coming soon). When it comes to "The Dress," I started my search innocently on Pinterest, and by googling "wedding dresses." I browsed the internet searching for inspiration, as I had no freak'n clue what style I liked, what would look good on me, and what any of the styles meant. After all that, I kept coming back to lace! When I saw photos like the ones I have posted below, I got swept away into a daydream of becoming some Old Hollywood starlet, with some swooning Dean Martin song playing in the background, like "Aint that a kick in the head."

A little fact about me: I worked retail for a long time, and from those years at Nordstrom, I developed an eye for fashion... and the common sense to NOT pay retail. So, when it came to finding the most important dress of my life, I promised myself that I would find something either couture-looking and a knock-off, or a couture gown on sale.

Well, here's what went down... My mom flew down from SF to LA to spend the weekend with me. We planned on casually looking at wedding dresses and attending the bridal expo (which was AWFUL! Great people watching, but CHEESEY! future post coming soon). We started our day with the idea of "no pressure! We don't have to find THE dress. Let's just have fun. We have plenty of time." We just wanted to have that mother-daughter experience.

Anywho, I asked my friends on facebook where to shop for a gown that was chic and cheap. Numerous replies came back saying, 'go to GLAMOUR CLOSET.' Word to the wise: they do not take appointments! I recommend going 15 minutes before they open. There are only 2 fitting rooms, and often times there's a wait. But it's totally worth it! Here are some photos of my experience. NOTE: these are photos of the dresses I did not get.... obviously ;-) and that dress with me making an 'oh' face? it's a $10K Monique Lhuilliere over 50% off!

After trying on a number of couture gowns, I ended up falling in love with the FIRST dress I tried on. CRAZY, right? Well, I may be a decisive lady, but I couldn't just buy it right then and there. Later that afternoon we went to Judy Lee Bridal in Beverly Hills. Had a great experience there and I highly recommend considering her, but I just didn't get the mushy 'this is it' feeling when I tried on her dresses. After that I went to Winnie Couture in Beverly Hills... I didn't find anything. That evening I called Glamour Closet to see if my dress was still there.... it was! I asked the woman to put it aside and that I'd be in first thing in the morning to make my final decision. The following morning my mother, maid of honor and I went back. I tried on 4 more dresses, then "my dress." At that moment it was a no-brainer; I had found my wedding dress.

From this experience I have learned that you don't have to live by anyone's rules. Who cares if you find your wedding dress before you lock down your venue and date ;-) There's no right way of planning your wedding day. Everyone carves their own path, and there's no manual that's going to guarantee happiness. Follow your gut, be confident, and go for it! I did, and I'm ecstatic!

TO DO: Buy Wedding Dress..... CHECK!!!!!....... and by the way, it was an Elizabeth Fillmore for over 75% off retail. BOOM!

Let’s Talk Dresses

Ian has gone camping for a few days. This means three things for me. First, that I have no sense of bedtime and ended up working far far into the night last night (but got SO much done!) When I finally did decide to go to bed, I couldn't sleep. Sleeping alone is slightly uncomfortable and a little scary actually, especially since it was the first time being alone in the new house. Second, that I couldn't watch any TV because I don't know how to turn the darn thing on! I'm telling you, this TV has more cords/connections/etc. than I have ever seen before. It's confusing and since we just moved in I have yet to figure out how to turn it all on. And finally, the third and BEST part about him being away...we can talk DRESSES on the blog today!!!! :) So, without further ado, let's get it going! I was all for the Vera Wang Diana Dress, but recently decided to change up my style a little bit to get something that makes me look skinny. But, I am not a fan of a really big transition from pencil dress to Cinderella dress. I want something right in the middle. Oh I kind of like the idea of a tafetta or something like that. Not a fan of satin and not a fan of lace. Ok, that was me babbling about the tiny bit I know about my dress....which I realize may not make any sense.

Oh and I totally plan on getting a recycled dress. Why am I doing that you ask? Because I'm on a budget and I refuse to give up my Vera Wang style for a "budget" dress. It's all about being smart about the money, but the wedding doesn't have to look like I was skimpy! So, that's my reasoning.

First off is a Nicole Miller dress which looks incredible in this professional photo shoot. I have seen a few pictures of the dress and I don't totally know if the fabric is the right choice, but I love the shape of this one.

This is a Marisa style. This one may be a little too trumpet for me, but I love that back! It just flows and is gorgeous! Again, I am fully getting pulled in by the photos thinking maybe it will look the same on me!

And finally, my favorite, the Melissa Sweet option! Just like the others, I may be slightly obsessed with this one because she looks so amazing in it but this one has something to it that I think it would look great on me. That top right photo is exactly what I mean with the style dress I want. It does a little bit of both in a great transition. The seller lives in LA (5 hours away) but I may take a little trip down to try it on.

So what do you guys think? First of all, are you considering buying a recycled dress or planning on selling yours after the fact? Any current dress obsessions?? I have to hurry and find the dress seeing as the wedding is just 7 short months away!

Garrett and Stephanie Tie the Knot!

First of all, thanks so much to J Andrew Photography for allowing me to post his work on my site. I'm very excited to feature him and his work as it is just fantastic.

Look at that dress! I saw it and instantly fell in love with the shape, the texture, the fabric, oh it's just plain gorgeous! Of course with something like that you want to know where it's from, so I asked!

"One of my sisters gave me a bridal magazine right after I got engaged, while looking through the magazine I saw this Watters gown that I just fell in love with. I went to couple of local bridal boutiques in Bakersfield, CA, but I told my mom I couldn't buy a dress until I had tried the Watters gown on. I had a hard time finding a store that carried the exact dress I wanted. I finally found a store in Tarzana, CA (a few hours south) called Lili's Bridal. My mom and I drove down south one afternoon to see if it was the right dress. Once I put the dress on I knew it was the one!"

Well the dress is amazing, and shortly I will be sharing more from this amazing wedding!