by Anna Victoria
So many of you have asked details about my wedding dress, how I found it and for tips on wedding dress shopping in general so I decided to detail my entire experience here!
I was never really one of those girls who dreamt about her dream wedding from a young age. Of course I thought about it, but I never began collecting pictures or ideas, until I came across THIS dress:
Luca and I weren't even engaged when I saw this dress but I instantly fell in love. I don't think I had ever seen a more gorgeous dress. I saved it as a screenshot in my phone. When the day Luca proposed finally came, this was the dress that instantly popped in my mind.
There were a few things that I knew I wanted out of my wedding dress:
Below are a few of my other wedding dress inspirations that I looked to when searching for my dream dress:
So you can see there is definitely a theme going on, lace, long-sleeved, fitted and minimal cleavage. The cleavage issue was really important to me. Since I have a naturally big chest and I've had a love/hate relationship with them over the years, I have come to a point where I don't hate them but I also don't want them to be in my (or your) face all the time. I wanted to feel flattered, without being showy. For this reason, I knew I wanted an off-the-shoulder neckline that would flatter me without showing cleavage or enhancing my chest.
Since I lived in Rome at the time and my bridesmaids and mother were all in the US, we all decided to fly to NYC for a weekend of wedding dress and bridesmaid dress shopping. I also had the pleasure of playing "Wedding Dress Dress-Up" for a photoshoot with Glamour Magazine and Pnina Tornai at Kleinfeld a few days prior. Some of you even voted on your favorite dress from that shoot when I first shared the article on instagram (click here to see the dresses from the shoot).
I can't say enough how much FUN I had during that shoot. While I didn't choose any of those dresses for my final choices, I still felt like a princess the entire day thanks to Glamour, Kleinfeld, Pnina and her team. The shoot was on a Thursday so I knew my actual wedding dress try-on appointments that following Saturday had a lot to live up to!
Our first stop was at L'Fay Bridal. They are the exclusive Berta Bridal retailer in NYC and the designer of that first wedding dress I saved to my phone as my ultimate wedding dress inspiration. I had stalked their insta enough and decided Berta was my #1 choice. Here we go!
(p.s. When taking these photos I had no idea I would end up sharing them with you all, so the angles aren't perfect and excuse any funny faces! :P)
Dresses I tried on:
The following pictures are the first time I tried on my wedding dress. What most of you don't know is I had the neckline of the dress altered significantly. As you can see, they are holding the dress together to try and visualize what it would look like without the plunging neckline since I didn't want visible cleavage.
In the photos where someone isn't actually holding my dress together, there is a safety pin. My hopes were that we could see what it would look like connecting the material all the way across. It kinda worked!
I thought this was pretty but since I had just tried on what would be my eventual dress and I LOVED it, the following dresses had a lot to live up to.
Those are all the Berta Dresses I tried on, and here is the one at this moment in time I felt like was my favorite:
As I previously mentioned, I was never one to daydream about my wedding or wedding dress, so of course I had never seen an episode of "Say Yes To The Dress" either, which is filmed at Kleinfeld. If I had, maybe I would have known what I was getting myself into! There were SO many gorgeous dresses!
Since there are so many designers at Kleinfeld, I tried on a wide variety of dresses. One thing I was often told was not to stick to one style or type of dress since you really never know how it looks/feels until you try it on. I totally agree and this is one main piece of advice I would give to upcoming brides. Try on everything! :)
P.S. In the following pictures, the dresses are from a few different designers but I don't remember who they were exactly. I'm sorry! A few were Pnina Tornai and I will point those ones out. If you have a question on any others, feel free to ask and I can try to do some digging. :)
This was a no.
Pretty, but not what I was going for
Totally different and I thought it was very pretty, but not my style
Still not sure what was going on here
This one had the sleeves and we could close the neckline, but ultimately I wasn't happy with the type of lace.
Ok, so this is where things got a little complicated. I loved the lace and overall fit of this next dress, but it didn't have the off the shoulder/long sleeves, so we tried to see what it would look like if we were to drop the sleeves. Ultimately they said this would be nearly creating a completely custom dress if we were to change the sleeves so drastically since their original design is entirely over the shoulders. I decided I didn't want to do that, but I loved the lace of this dress so later on we would try to take this laces to create sleeves on dress #7
I loved this next dress even more, the neckline, the illusion (which refers to the sheer material going from the bust line up to my neck, as well as the sheer material all over my back), and even though I wasn't a huge fan of the satin, the dress just fit so well and I felt great in it.
Trying to imagine sleeves...
And that BOW!! Actually, Luca had told me before he really, really didn't like bows on the back of dresses. I loved it, but there were very few things Luca was particular about, and bows were one of them.
Here is where we tried taking the lace from Dress #6 and laying it over Dress #7 since #7 had the overall design I wanted
And that's it for Kleinfeld! I had a lot of thinking to do...
I felt a lot of pressure to make a decision on the spot. I really hate letting people down and saying no, and the Kleinfeld Consultants had been so helpful, but I knew deep down I wasn't convinced. My sisters even really liked the Pnina dress we were re-imagining but deep down, I knew I loved the Berta dress (Berta Dress #4) and the more I thought about the dress at Kleinfeld, the more I realized we were essentially trying to re-create the Berta dress! When I put these two photos together was when I realized...
So I went with my gut and the next day I went back to Berta to try it on one more time. There wasn't the slightest bit of hesitation once I had it on again, I knew it was the one.
Now that I chose my dress, we needed to talk more about specific alterations. I told them I wanted to close the plunging neckline and add lace underneath. Here is the original dress on a model:
and here is my fitting (with the close pin closing the neckline, and slouching a bit to try and help inch the fabric together :))
My first alterations appointment was in March when I was in NYC for work. Since I was living in Rome, we had to carefully plan the alterations appointments since I would be taking the dress back with me in April and the wedding was in May.
So... typically I am not the "bridezilla" type and I always try to remain as calm as possible in any case. Unfortunately during my first alterations fitting, that didn't happen.
I was under the impression that the dress would ship with all the changes we discussed, closing the neckline, adding the lace underneath, etc. When they opened the bag that had the dress in it and I saw the same dress that I had tried on back in October, I had an all-out panic attack, crying and asking how that could happen, where my alterations were, etc.
My emotions were definitely heightened by the fact that we had such a limited amount of time since I was going back to Rome a week later. We had to fit 3 alteration appointments within that one week, on top of my busy work schedule.
The poor alterations lady! At the end of it all, I was misunderstood. I didn't know that the dress ships as-is and THEN the changes are made during your alterations appointments. I am sure they told me but it didn't register, which made for a very, very emotional first alterations appointment.
My second alterations appointment was a mere four hours later. She instructed me to go get shoes so she could measure the hem, to get an invisible Victoria's Secret bra, and to take a break. (Ok she didn't tell me that, but I knew I needed it).
I returned that afternoon and I felt much better (a little embarrassed, maybe) and we resumed with the alterations. To be honest, the alterations for the neckline turned out much different than I imagined, simply because I didn't understand how it worked. With that being said, I am SO happy with how it turned out. She took individual sections of the lace (cut from the hem line) and sewed them together to create the across the chest neckline. Here are the photos from that final appointment:
I also then chose the veil I wanted, which happened to be the same veil I tried on at my very first fitting back in October:
And the rest was history! I am still just as in love with my dress as the first day I tried it on. It was very comfortable, not as hard to sit in as I expected it to be, and I wouldn't have changed a thing.
I did get a second dress so I could dance my little heart out, I will do a follow-up post with that dress and more of the wedding accessories, shoes etc. if you girls would like.
I hope you enjoyed my wedding dress shopping experience and that it offered some sort of insight for those of you who may be shopping for yourself!
#FBG GIRLS STRONG