I don’t know how many Dads and Uncles go to wedding dress appointments, let alone look forward to them – but mine do! We spent a very special Father’s Day discussing lace, veils, belts, and necklines. I’m truly blessed to have such supportive (and indulgent) guys in my life.

So at 11am, we headed over to Claire’s Bridal in Wilmington. After my recent David’s Bridal disaster, I had a better idea of what I was looking for in a gown: all lace, no bling, not a ball gown. I have no strong feelings about neckline, and am open to color.

Yes, color.

My mother’s face when I mentioned color.

Just to clarify – I’m talking blush and champagne. I’m not ruling out white, just opening up the possibilities.

My mother, on the other hand, wanted me in a white ball gown, preferably not strapless.

What my mother wanted.

While I love a ball gown, outdoor woodsy mountain wedding in the summer? Not ball gown territory.

I tried on several different gowns from Allure, David Tutera, and Stella York. Despite the opinion of the David’s Bridal stylist, it was pretty clear almost immediately that a fitted silhouette was the right direction.

Pretty and ethereal, but not right.

I tried on one A-line lace and tulle gown for my sister – a lace bodice and tulle skirt was my sister’s dream dress, had she had a warm-weather wedding (alas, she wore a white ball gown for her winter wedding, and it was absolute perfection). My dad called this one the “naked dress.” The nude underlay was too much of a perfect match for my skin tone, and the lace illusion neckline (it wasn’t strapless!) disappeared too easily. An easy no.


The first fitted gown was a shimmery champagne strapless lace and tulle mermaid. Now, I love a good sequined dress. But in a wedding gown – not so much. And while the tulle bottom was pretty, I was still stuck on a full lace gown in my head.

Can we cut the sleeves off?


Not supportive enough to alter to strapless.

Dress two was a heartbreaker. The lace was so pretty, and there were sighs all around when I walked out of the fitting room. But I hated the cap sleeve on me. And unfortunately, it couldn’t be altered to strapless due to the low back; there simply wasn’t enough structural support.

Lacy Perfection
Allure Romance 2966

We tried everything: Does Allure make any other styles with this lace? No. Will Allure substitute this lace on another similar lace gown? No.

Allure will sell the lace separately. I could buy an entirely different dress, and enough of this lace to cover that dress, and then have the dress custom made by a seamstress – but this would be roughly the equivalent of THREE dresses. So another no.

Sigh. This was a hard one to let go of.

Nothing to dislike…
…but also nothing special.

I couldn’t find a single thing wrong with this gown. It was lacy, it was flattering, it didn’t have cap sleeves. But it wasn’t the one. It was vanilla ice cream – nothing to complain about, but just so ordinary. It wasn’t special.

Gorgeous lace back…
…which is entirely covered by my hair.

So I tried a gown with a lacy back for that “special” element. While the back was gorgeous, I plan to wear my hair down – which would cover all the beautiful back detailing.

More cap sleeves…
…with a low back.
Hate the plunge neckline…
…but the lace is pretty.
Halter neck? No, thanks.

And so played Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Wedding Dress Edition.

Luckily, like Goldilocks, there was one that turned out to be juuust right.

I found the gown!

When I walked out of the dressing room, my Dad immediately said “That’s the one.” It’s not a big white ball gown, but even my mother admits that it’s perfect.

…But I didn’t buy the gown.

I’m not second-guessing; I don’t need more time to think about it. I just can’t bring myself to pay full price when I know I can get a discount. The salon is having an Allure trunk show at the end of August, and if you purchase your dress during the trunk show you get 10% off. Since I started dress shopping a year out, I have some time to spare before I have to order a dress (I thought I would need that extra time to try on a hundred more dresses). So I have an appointment to return in August, and we’ll make things official.

Until then…you’ll just have to wait to find out which gown I chose. I’m not quite ready to share pictures of my dress. Maybe I’ll reconsider, but right now I’m enjoying keeping the dress a bit of secret.

Chinet Napkin

But I won’t leave you completely empty-handed. Here’s the “Worst Dress of the Day.”