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Hello, ladies! Yep, we’re talking bridal fashion today, but don’t get too excited yet: I haven’t actually bought a wedding dress. I have, however, been shopping a few times, and I thought it might be fun to share my experience so far!

Let’s start with the inspiration photos I printed out to bring to salons. Hold tight, there are a bunch of them!

First row: Christos “Arabella” and “Brisa”, second row: Christos “Julianna” and “Maribel”, third row: Liancarlo, with added sleeves (photo by A Bryan Photo), fourth row: Watters “Sydney” and Jewel by Priscilla of Boston No. 307, fifth row: Reem Acra and Pronovias, last row: Oscar de la Renta (photo by Meg Smith) and Watters “Carins”

Whew! Y’all still with me? To summarize, I think it’s safe to say I liked natural waists; soft, full skirts; soft and flowing fabrics like silk gazar, tulle, and organza; bows; sweetheart necklines; tiny or gauzy sleeves; point d’esprit or swiss dot fabrics; matte fabrics; and draped bodices.

Can I tell you something? After loving dresses like the “Maribel” for so long, I was really worried that I would try on a few dresses and realize the style I thought I liked was actually completely wrong for me. I’m sure I would have made it through if that was the case, but happily, it was not! From the first dresses I tried on, my style hunch was confirmed.

So let’s revisit that first dress shopping trip, shall we? While on vacation in Charleston in August, I went with my fiance’s family (Mom and two sisters, one of whom is getting married two months before me!) to try on dresses at Maddison Row. We had a great time! Lindsey and the ladies were super sweet and patient, and I loved that they let us take pictures and that they were happy to share the designer, name, and price of any dress (I think it’s so annoying when stores try to keep the style or designer a secret!!). Plus, their salon is adorable!

I tried on several dresses that were lovely, but not right for me. (Pardon the cut-off heads… I was sporting a range of ridiculous expressions, and thought I’d spare you!)

The top two shots are of Romona Keveza Legends L251, and then beneath them are Monique Lhuillier “Bellflower” and Legends L257.

There wasn’t one clear winner from our trip to Maddison Row, but I did narrow it down to two.

The first was Monique Lhuillier’s “Bailey,” and the second was Vera Wang’s “Emmeline”. I LOVED the top of Bailey, but wasn’t completely sold on the skirt. Interestingly, I LOVED the skirt of Emmeline, as well as the sleeves, but wasn’t wild about the corset-y top (hard to see in photos).

Having not made a decision in Charleston, I took an appointment at The White Dress by the Shore in Clinton, CT while I was home a few weeks ago. My Mom and two sisters came with me, and we again had a wonderful time! The White Dress’s shop was also adorable. Here are a few dresses I tried on that weren’t quite right for me:

My apologies! I didn’t write down info for these lovelies, though I do believe the top left gown is by Anne Barge and the top right is the “Lauren” by Amsale

As at Maddison Row, I had two favorites from the day:

The top dress is by Augusta Jones, and the bottom is the “Melina” by Amsale. I don’t think either is “the one,” but they are awfully pretty, aren’t they?

Now with two shopping trips under my belt, my Mom is coming down to North Carolina for what will hopefully be a final weekend of dress shopping. We’re hoping to visit Nitsa’s in Winston-Salem (so I can try on my beloved Christos gowns!), as well as somewhere we can see Watters gowns. I also want to make sure we visit David’s Bridal (there’s one Oleg Cassini I think could be beautiful).

So what do you think at this point, my friends? Do you have a favorite from the dresses I tried on? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Up next: I think it is time to talk about our PHOTOGRAPHER!

P.S. In case you missed a post:
The main characters
Where we’re getting married

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar shelby reply

    I’m dying over the top of Bailey too! But, I agree about the skirt! Can’t wait to hear about which photographer you chose!!!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hey Shelby! That top seriously is so beautiful. And I love that you can wear it multiple ways — they folded down the more embellished side for me, but you can wear it with straps/sleeves on both sides, too (one more gauzy, one more embellished), or without the gauzy side and just the embellished side!

    • avatar Feyi reply

      Hi Emily have such an amazing frame that EVERYTHING looks amazing on you. I am actually an emmeline bride myself. what color is the one you tried on? I ordered ivory but am considering ordering white instead. Thanks !!!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Feyi! Lucky, lucky girl! I actually am not sure which color it was, but if I had to guess, I would say ivory. I’m sure you’ll look amazing in it whichever you choose!!

  2. avatar Angela reply

    I’m completely in love with the Reem Acra at the top, I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at this dress and wished I could afford it! I know you said you’re not wild about the top but I LOVE the Vera Wang on you, it’s absolutely flawless looking to me. A gorgeous, timeless dress in my opinion! Honestly, you look awesome in all of them :) I’m also a fan of the Christos “Julianna”. Can’t wait to see what you decide!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Angela! You are very sweet! I have to agree, the Vera miiiight be my favorite. Dang it, why do all of her dresses have to be so gorgeous?? :)

  3. avatar Melissa Schollaert reply

    Emily, I have a clear vision of you walking down the aisle in the Christos Maribel gown. It seems like it is your style and fits so perfectly with your wedding location, etc. Of course, I’m a little partial to that gown! :) But also loved the Amsale you tried on. Lovely. Loved the Vera (she’s my personal favorite), but agree on the corset-y top. The rest is beautiful and loved the sheer straps – so different!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hey Melissa! That’s too funny! And yes, I LOVE the straps on the Vera! My favorite part, I think.

  4. avatar Hailey reply

    These dresses are beautiful. My dress is Christos and I am in LOVE with it. You will not be disappointed at Nitsa’s. That is where I got mine but in Charlotte:). Good luck!!!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Hailey! I have only heard wonderful things about Nitsa’s, so I’m excited to visit! Which Christos gown did you end up choosing? They’re all so gorgeous!!

  5. avatar Jennifer reply

    Hand’s down: Vera Wang’s “Emmeline”. Emily, that dress was made for you! Don’t let the corset scare you away- it wasn’t too eyebrow-raising at all! That dress has an ethereal elegance to it, but still has a youthful charm. If Titania from A Midsummer Night’s Dream were to get married today, this would be the dress she wore :D

  6. avatar Kathryn reply

    Hi Emily!!! Those are so beautiful! I am from Raleigh and live in Charleston now so had a plethera (sp?) of dress stores to choose from for my wedding last fall. I was SHOCKED to find my dress at Bridal Mart in Burlington. If you are headed to Winston, it might be worth your while to atleast stop in a see what they have since its on the way! Best of luck, you look so beautiful!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hey Kathryn! At least one of my friends has found her dress at Bridal Mart, and I know they carry Watters, so we just might make a stop there!

  7. avatar Kathryn reply

    ps, check out Erin Mccoy Photography–did our wedding and a ton of other friends! Phenomonal (again sp?)!

  8. avatar Whitney reply

    I got my dress at The White Dress by The Shore. I love it there! Vera Wang’s Emmeline looks beautiful on you! I can’t wait to see what you choose!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Whitney! I’m so glad to hear it! I loved my trip to the White Dress, even though I didn’t find “the one” there!

  9. avatar Natalia reply

    I don’t think it’s ethereal enough to be “the one”, but the Amsale Lauren gown looks amazing on you. Of course, you look fantastic in everything! Can’t wait to see which dress you end up wearing down the aisle!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Natalia! You’re one to talk — your wedding dress was amazing! :) Thank you so much for your kind words!

  10. avatar Bri @ Posh Purpose reply

    I absolutely love Reem Acra dresses, especially the inspiration picture you have. We have very similar tastes – flowing skirts, natural waistlines, oh so pretty! My cousin and I are both going through wedding dress shopping, as well. Good luck!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Bri! I have to say, one of my favorite things about wedding planning has been doing it alongside John’s sister! I hope it’s been an equally fun experience for you!

  11. avatar Amanda reply

    i choose the Amsale Lauren at Nitsa’s in Winston! So exciting that you tried it on! It’s beautiful and you have an awesome figure for so many dresses!!! It is definitely tough finding the one, and it is so astonishing to me when girls find the one after trying on only one!! Good luck!!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Amanda! You are too sweet! I have to say, I didn’t think I would really be the type to try on lots of dresses, but my count is getting up there. We’ll see how much longer it takes!!

  12. avatar Jeannine @ Small & Chic in Cville reply

    Eek! I love Maddison Row. Lindsey is the best!

    That being said, I love the Romona Keveza with the beaded belt and the Amsale at the end. They’re lovely!

    All of the dresses are beautiful, though!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Jeannine! The “Lauren” seems to be pretty popular! I have to say, I love it as well, but I don’t necessarily think it’s “me.” I think part of the reason I like it is because it reminds me of Katharine’s dress, and she looked so stunning at her wedding!

  13. avatar Heather reply

    Hi Emily! First off, you are going to be such a gorgeous bride! (Sorry, just had to get that out of the way first!). Your picture board looks exactly like the one I have done! So just a suggestion, you might like Vera Wang’s Genevieve, Freida, or Esther. I think the Monique Lhuillier and Vera Wang you already tried on look so beautiful on you!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Heather! Okay, Genevieve, Freida, and Esther — noted! Thanks so much for the suggestions!

  14. avatar Laura reply

    Hi! You look amazing in those gowns! Can I add a word of advice as a wedding photographer? You tiny frame will look even tinier with tiny straps at the top. It keeps the arms, shoulders, chest, and neck from being one large expansive space into several smaller spaces. It doesn’t take much. You probably don’t want a large strap since you are so tiny. And having a tiny strap will keep you from needing to tug upwards all day and night -which doesn’t photograph well. Best wishes with everything. You look amazing!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Laura! Thank you so much for chiming in! If I’m understanding you, you’re in support of some sort of strap. If that’s true, then we’re in agreement! I think if I ended up with a strapless number, I would work with a seamstress to add some sort of minor sleeve embellishment. I agree — I don’t want to be tugging anything up all day!

  15. avatar Katie reply

    Hi Emily,
    I think all the dresses look very pretty on you! I found my dress, (it’s a Mikaella) at Maggi Bridal on Glenwood in Raleigh. The girls at Maggi Bridal are great to work with.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Katie! Thank you so much for the tip — I’ll be sure to check them out!

  16. avatar Brandy reply


    I know the perfect dress for you. It was my dream dress until I got all greedy and wanted a ceremony dress and reception dress and couldn’t afford to do 2 dresses with this as my ceremony. But try Pronovais “Pomelo” a bit pricey ($2750) but totally worth it if you can swing it!


    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Brandy! I just checked out that dress, and what a beauty! I’ll have to see if there is a Pronovias store near me!

  17. avatar Laurien reply

    Hi Emily, I have to say I think the Emmeline looks amazing, although I agree with you, the top is a bit corset-y. So… I know altering a Vera is considered sacrilege, but any way they could maybe add beading or lace (or preferrably just a bit of fabric) to make it less like a corset? Just throwing it out there. Ha ha. Either way, whatever you pick you will look so beautiful, and John’s sure gonna shed a tear when he claps his eyes on his gorgeous bride! Good luck with the hunt!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Laurien! Sacrilege though it may be, I would definitely not be opposed to altering a Vera, if it came to that. I think you’re right — just a little bit of fabric would do the trick!

  18. avatar Meredith reply

    You look beautiful in all the dresses! I know it’s not what you had in mind from your inspiration photos, but I can just see you walking down the aisle of the CGA Chapel in the Amsale “Melina”! It just seems “regal” enough for the space and the fabric reminds me of sailcloth. I also think it would work with your desire to add (spaghetti) straps at the tips of the ‘triangles’ in the front. Just a thought! Can’t wait to see what you decide, good luck!

  19. avatar Tanja Lippert reply

    I am floored by Monique’s Bailey……..stunning!!!! Getting even more excited :0)

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  21. avatar Elaine reply

    Hi Emily,
    I just purchased my dress on Saturday (Monique Bailey!) and found your blog today when I was looking for a picture of my dress!! I tried on almost all of the dresses you did!! We have really similiar style! I loved Christos, Amsale, Vera and Monique – and also found a fab dress in Birbaum & Bullock. I removed the flower sleeve from Bailey too and just got two plain straps. All of the dresses looks great on you!! Best of luck with the rest of your shopping!

  22. avatar Susannah Stone reply

    Emily! You should look at the Watter’s “Lasara” dress. Seems in-line with what you’re looking for! Might not be formal enough for your taste though.

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