I've always known I wanted to get married in the fall, so when the fiancé proposed in January I knew I had to find a location fast. Now that everyone has jumped on the fall wedding bandwagon, all Saturdays in September are in the top 10 wedding dates of 2018. What I didn't realize was you need to buy your dress 8 months before your wedding. So almost immediately after getting engaged, I went to Raleigh, scoped out some bridal boutiques, and made an appointment at Coastal Knot.
I love Raleigh and decided to make a day of dress shopping.
After picking my mom up from the airport (yes, I was late - but in my defense, her flight took off late and somehow landed early) we headed to the southern point of the Triangle and grabbed coffee and macarons at Lucettegrace.
We then headed over to Poole's for a delicious brunch. I sipped on Rose all Day and fell in love with their smoked salmon and avocado toast.
After deciding that it probably wasn’t a great idea to get a third drink, we headed over to Cameron village and popped into a few of my favorite stores - bevello, the impeccable pig, and Charlotte’s.
Once we killed a sufficient amount of time, we walked over to Coastal Knot to find my dress!
The first dress I tried on was Lorelei by Hayley Paige. It was beautiful and pink and ate me alive. The pink color and the sleeves completely washed me out and I took it off before we could take pictures. I knew every dress I tried on would have to be clipped, but I didn't think about parts that couldn't be clipped. I could not get my head around the baggy illusion sleeves on the sample.
Now for the actual contenders...
0 1 . A R L O by Hayley Paige
This was my favorite dress going into the appointment. I loved the color and sparkle on top, but I worried the fabric was too thick and the skirt had a life of its own. We are getting married in September, but September in South Carolina is no joke. Humidity is very real and sometimes it feels like the air is so thick that its weighing you down. Is that stopping me from having a formal wedding and asking men to wear tuxes? Absolutely not. So maybe I can suffer the heat in a heavy ball gown. Plus, the blue and coral-esque beading is just perfect for our waterside ceremony.
0 2 . S L O A N E by Hayley Paige
Arlo made me question everything I thought about ballgowns. It was almost as overdramatic as I am, but it was so damn heavy. So when they pulled this dress I was receptive... aaaand then she told me it was the most expensive dress in the store. It was still technically within my budget, and I wanted to see what a fit & flare dress looked like, so I tried it on.
I love the silhouette and illusion necklace, but what I really loved about this dress was how easily I could move around in it. I was concerned that the body was too plain, but I felt like the bling up top made up for that. However, I want to wear my hair down, so the gorgeous bling at the top would be at least partially covered. I tried it on with a full skirt and belt (the same belt pictured on dress 05) and that really made the dress pop. But did it pop enough?
0 3 . trunk show gown (designer unknown)
Hearing my need for sparkle, we pulled this dress off the mannequin. It was completely covered in sequins and shimmered with every move. I loved the low back, but I felt that the waist was far too low. It didn't cinch at the smallest part of my waist and made my torso look longer than it actually is.
You can see that my friend was feeling this dress as much as I was.
0 4. S A S H A by Made with Love
At this point I was willing to step away from everything I thought I loved. Hayley Paige, ballgowns, sparkles, everything. I went into the appointment thinking that's all I wanted, and this dress had none of that. I ended up really liking this dress. The lace pattern was beautiful, it fit the waterside venue, and I could actually move around in it. My main concern with this dress was that it may not be formal enough for our black-tie optional wedding.
0 5 . C H A N D O N by Hayley Paige
I went back to the ball gowns and my serious love of Hayley Paige for this last dress. You can't quite see in this photo, but there's actually sparkle netting under the tulle. I was still concerned that the sparkle was still too subtle and the dress was somewhat plain. Adding the belt (also by the beautiful Hayley Paige) helped a ton, but was it enough to be my dress?
My take aways...
Bring snacks. Finding your dress is exhausting and hanger is very very real.
Bring a married friend. Having a friend who has found their own dress will know what to expect and can ask questions that you wouldn't even think of.
Let your friends pick out one or two dresses for you to try on. I went into this thinking I knew exactly what I wanted, and when a few of them didn't work out I didn't know what to do. I let my friends pick out dresses they thought would look good on me, and it got me out of my funk!
Don't rush it. Dresses are expensive and you will be looking at pictures of your dress for the rest of your life. I was lucky enough to be the only appointment in the store that afternoon and was able to try on dresses for 3 hours. If I had to stay in the one hour appointment window, I would not have found my dress. but thats okay. You can always come back or go to more stores.
So which dress do you think I chose? I can honestly say that I did purchase something pictured in this post!