The Story of My Wedding Dress (+ Helpful Tips)

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A leetle blurry film photo for you to enjoy! We got back our disposable cameras, and this was one that I loved! Until we get more from our photographer, please enjoy! Now let's get into the story of how this dress came to be!!
Our story begins back in September when I was in town visiting my sister. We decided since my mom, sister and I were together we might as well start shopping and looking around for wedding dresses. My sister set up three different appointments for us that day with the morning starting at Kelly's Closet. 
TIP: Start your search by narrowing down designers you like the style of. I started by looking around on Instagram -- through my saved wedding inspiration -- and seeing what dresses were made by what designer. From there, I would follow the designer page and any similar recommended pages. Once you have a general idea for a handful of wedding designers, look in your area to see which boutiques carry them. Usually, each boutique will carry the same style of designers (grouped together) you're looking at. And while in-store, you can try on people you know you like and others that are similar that you hadn't heard of yet!
The two designers I was really looking into and loving were Alexandra Grecco and Sarah Seven. I loved them because they were simple and timeless but with a little flare of modern-day touch. Going into the fitting, I knew I wanted something simple and easy: no detailing, no glitter, no strapless, no ballgown. I was really all for a cheap simple white dress -- since I'd only be wearing it once.
What I did want was a fun/low back, clean, and crisp white dress. A bow was an added bonus, but outside of that, I was open to just about anything. Coming into it, I actually had my heart set on this Alexandra Grecco dress below. It was actually the only store in Atlanta who sold it and is why we went here first. 

The dress was obviously great, and it did look really nice on, but the fabric was unforgiving with my curves. After all the dresses we tried on, it was my third pick, so it did make it to the final round for consideration, but I found something much better!
TIP: When you get engaged, one of the big things to do right away (depending on your timeline) is finding a dress. The process of picking it out, ordering it, having it made, getting it in, going through alterations and having a finished product by your wedding can take MONTHS -- close to a year!

When I knew I was going to be dress shopping, I connected with my friend Jess who worked with Sarah Seven in the past and asked if she could put us in touch. I didn't want to commit to anything before trying dresses on, but I was able to talk with the Sarah Seven team, and they offered (if I found my dress with them) to sell it to me wholesale. Which was extremely generous, and I was this close to choosing them too! 
We tried on a bunch of Sarah Seven dresses that were all amazing in their own way, but this one below was my runner up. It fit me like a glove and hugged in all the right places. I liked that it had sheer sides and a low cut back. The material was amazing and super comfortable. I think this was my sister's favorite. And it was a very close call if we're being honest. I could have totally seen me walking down the aisle in this!

But then I cried (TWICE) wearing the dress I ultimately went with and that pretty much sealed the deal. So let's backtrack... We're going through the racks and pulling dresses to try on. I'm going through with our salesperson, and my sister is trailing behind at her own pace. We get to the Lela Rose rack, and I say to pass it -- as I  know Lela Rose regular and it's $$$ so I couldn't imagine what the bridal prices would be like. 
Somehow my sister didn't get the memo and pulled it off (me not knowing the designer) and said, "oh Krista, this looks like you -- you should try it on!" and I agreed. It wasn't until we were in the closet changing that I saw it hanging on the wall. We had tried on all the Grecco and Seven dresses, and I was asked what I wanted to try on next. I looked at this, and it seriously caught my eye. Like in the way that the movies portray when you fall in love from across the room. There was just something special about this dress. 
TIP: I'm serious when I say this but DO NOT try on a dress that is out of budget. Just don't do it. You're going to want to, and maybe you'll do it, but I promise you! You'll want to buy it. There's a reason they tell you not to. It's what happened to us. I didn't realize the cost of the dress when trying it on (because my sister pulled it). Thankfully it wasn't outrageous in price but still -- more than we were planning on!

I remember walking out, praying my mom and sister would like it. I felt really special in it, and it just felt right. I have the video on my computer somewhere of me walking out, and I just remember the look on my face; it was the one, and I didn't know it yet! I mean it was only like... the 5th dress I tried on, and we had so many more to go! I didn't want to get ahead of myself. But it did feel really good on.
My mom also joked before the appointment that I needed something simple, off the shoulder and with a big bow. I guess they're right when they say your mom knows you better than you know yourself!

For any dress that we really liked, we added a simple veil to it to see how it looks as a whole. I was never a big fan of veils, but there is just something about them that makes the whole process very real. I feel (personally) that the bridal look isn't complete without the veil! When she put it on with this dress, I cried! It was the first time I cried during our appointment, and I think my sister captured this photo -- which is one of my FAVORITE pictures from the whole wedding process. You can just see the raw emotion!

But I'll tell you something, I didn't think it was it at the time. I kept talking myself out of it. "It's too formal" "It's too plain" "It's too expensive" and so on... I even said I only cried because I was so overwhelmed from the whole day and it's starting to hit me (LOL). So we put this one in the finals category and tried on about 10 more dresses. If you haven't, you can see all the dresses I tried on in this video!
After that was over, we were left with three. The Grecco (the one I came in with my mind set on) was gone first. It was between the Sarah Seven and the Lela Rose. Then Kellys Closet found the most amazing cathedral veil (that I absolutely didn't need, but I loved) to pair with the two dresses.

I'll tell you -- I cried again with this veil and the Lela Rose dress, and my mom was like "Krista... that means something," but for some reason, I kept telling myself no. How was it that I could find my dress so quickly at the first fitting?? So we got the details for the dress and veil and went to our other appointments. 
I'll tell you we were in and out within the hour. Nothing compared to the Lela Rose dress and I knew it. It was just time to pull the trigger. So we ended up flying home the next day, and I spent that week looking through all the videos and photos we took in store. I had a more level head about the whole thing, and I was able to really take a step back and look at all the dresses and decide what I wanted for my big day. 
TIP: Take a TON of photos and videos. The whole day is going to be overwhelming, and you're going to want to see how the dress looks on, how it looks in photos, how it moves, how it walks -- everything. This was the biggest thing I was so thankful for after our appointment. I was able to go home and really look at all the dresses -- I teared up again with my dress (just watching it!), and I was like ok.. ok.. this is the one!
I called my mom that day, and we ordered the dress from Kelly's Closet within the week. Now... we played the waiting game. And boy, did we wait! We ordered the dress and veil in September, and the veil came at the beginning of February, and my dress didn't arrive until March! UGH, it was the longest six months of my life lol.
I was just so excited to have my dress and to try it on, and the moment it arrived, I called my mom and tried it on for her, and... it was bad. This was nowhere near the dress I remembered, and I was basically like WTF. But my mom talked me off the ledge and said this was normal -- that they have to order it big so they can tailor it down. All the excitement burst like a bubble.

Around the end of April, I had been telling my SIL that the dress was huge and she didn't understand -- again it was normal to get it bigger, but I was telling her that this big just can't be right! I tried it on for her, and she agreed -- something was definitely off. We took these photos to send to my contact at Kelly's Closet:

I mean the dress would barely stay up on me! I could fit a second person in there, and I was devastated. I thought there was NO WAY I would be able to fix this, that something had gone seriously wrong... this couldn't be my dress. In the store, I tried on a size 4, and it fit snug but fine -- ordering a size up would have been fine. With my measurements, the store ordered a size 12. Yes, 12. And I know bridal sizing is off and it's not that 12 number I'm concerned about -- it's the fact that I was wearing a 4 comfortably and they more than doubled it in size.

They confirmed that this was the correct order and size I needed and assured me it would be taken care of in tailoring. But I had my doubts. I had my doubts until my 4th fitting -- it was that bad.

But before we get to that, we need to talk about my tailor! Usually, when you buy a dress, it's in the same state you live in, and you use the tailor they have on hand. For me, that was not something I was able to do. So I was kind of freaking out lol. What I decided to do was email Lela Rose, tell them the situation I was in and asked for recommendations for tailors in the city.

They were very kind and provided me with two. One was Madam Paulette (owned by John, Dorinda's man in RHONY) and another (unlisted, ungoogled) woman Alzira. Madam Paulette is where like Beyonce tailors her clothes which means $$$$ and I was like lol no thanks. And I couldn't find anything about Alzira online. So I was in a pickle. How on earth am I going to find a tailor??

TIP: If you need to find a bridal tailor in your town, reach out to different salons (that carry your designer) and ask who their tailor is and if they take on outside clients. It's how I got confirmation on my tailor -- THREE of the large bridal boutiques in the city use her.

I actually ended up reaching out to another boutique in the city that carried Lela Rose, and I asked them if they could recommend a tailor for me, and they said that all of their buyers use Alzira -- so with that second confirmation of this tailor I decided to book her!
When I called to set up the appointment in March, she said I was way too early to come in for a fitting. I told her about how my dress is about 5 sizes too big and I was worried, so she let me come in at the end of May to see her (which is still much earlier than you need). I basically went into her pleading to help make this better -- make it the dress I knew and loved. 
(what it looks like, vs. where my body actually is)
She admitted that the dress was made way too big and started pinning away. We first worked on the top: we had to pull down the top line a lot but not too much as to erase the sleeves -- which was very difficult! Especially since the back depended on the sleeves to stand up (there was a lot of boning). We also took in the waist some, and she assured me that by my next fitting it would be much better. So I held on to that thought: my dress would be my dress with the next fitting. And the excitement started to gear up again. 

My second fitting was in June, and this time I went alone (the first time I was with Ashby). I was SO excited to see it and see how the dress was finally the dress I fell in love with. But it wasn't. It was still that ill-fitting dress that I started to resent. In this fitting, we took in the top, the sleeves and the waist again. 
Around this time as well I started to see my dress pop up online (I was stalking the tagged photos of Lela Rose) and I hated every time I saw it on someone. The dress was always so ill-fitting on these girls: the top was too big, the waist was too low, the train looked like a mess. All the things I hated about my current (untailored) dress I was seeing on these women. It was crazy. 
I was so negative to myself at the time too -- WHY would I pick such a problematic dress? I kept telling myself that it would never be fixed and never look the way I wanted it to -- like it did in the store. It just wasn't going to happen. 

After I called my mom basically on the verge of tears saying how I didn't like the dress. How I rushed into it, how I should have kept looking... and like the great mom she is, she talked me off the ledge. She told me it was normal to have buyers remorse at this stage and how this was only my second fitting -- that it would get better. I just couldn't see it. There was no way. This dress was not my dress. I was devastated.
During this time, I was also helping Ashby find her wedding dress. Being around all these fabulous new, shiny, exciting dresses made me want another dress even more. But I knew the first rule in dress shopping is to not try on anything after you bought your dress. It's like Rule #1. It was hard, but I stuck to it. What was even HARDER was I found my actual dress on a sale/sample rack for less than half of what I paid for it. 
TIP: DO NOT try on other dresses. This part of the process will make you want something else but DO NOT DO IT. Everything will work out -- trying on something new this late in the game will mess with your head. Rule #1!
Then I had my next fitting in July, and I brought my SIL. Before the fitting, we sat down in front of their huge family room TV and I airplayed my dress to see it big screen. And we got to the root of why I still hated it and what we needed to do to fix it. We were looking at every video and photo I recorded (this is why it's so helpful!!) and I was showing her what I initially loved so much about the dress: how it hugged at my hips and butt, how it hit right at my waist, how the top didn't pucker... and I showed her every last detail. 
We compiled a list of things to fix and voice in our next fitting and having her there was so helpful. She basically came in as the knowledgeable one and one who was able to ask the questions I was too nervous to ask or suggest. 
TIP: Go in with a plan. Know what you want to do, what you need to fix, and don't waiver. Bring a backup person to help voice your opinion and be the bad guy. Show them photos, inspiration, ideas, overall look... of how you want the dress to fit and flow. 

We again took in the top and sleeves to make sure it didn't pucker out. I didn't care much about lifting my arms in it -- but more cared about making sure it laid flat against my chest. We also took in the waist again and brought it higher to hit where my waist was. By doing that it helped create an illusion of the hugging at the hips and butt. We also fixed a couple more things, and after that fitting, I felt SO MUCH BETTER about it all. 
My dress was finally getting back to the dress I knew and loved. I started to see a little shimmer of hope -- of light at the end of the tunnel. Alzira was making my dress, my dress.
Then it was our last fitting around mid-August. It was time to (hopefully) see my dress. And it was there! We finally started to get at the hem for this appointment, we added a fantastic bustle, we pinned some rolled over fabric, we tightened the arms (again), and we added in some cups. 
What was a little strange to me was we still had these things to fix in August, but the next time I saw the dress I would be picking it up (stuffed and ready to go). Meaning I didn't get to try it on for a final time -- it was really just hoping that everything was good and ready to go. I trusted her (I mean after the work she did, who wouldn't) so I said ok, paid and left my dress.

And she really did a fantastic job. From where we started to where we ended up -- a lot had to go into it. It was a lot of work, stress and some tears (good and bad) but we finally got there! I ended up with the perfect dress for my big day, and I absolutely loved it. I'm excited to share more final looks with you guys when we get the photos in! Until then, please enjoy my almost perfect wedding dress!
Dress: Lela Rose Capri Gown // Veil: Lea Ann Belter // Alterations: (917) 776-3691 #LelaRoseCapriDress #Wedding #LelaRose #WeddingDress
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