Wedding Bells:
Watchout World, June Starts Dress Shopping!
(Dolly Couture + More!)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

You got to hear my engagement/proposal story here, but now it's time to start planning! Collin + I are getting married on September 27, 2014 at a little barn in Appling, Georgia (outside our hometown of Augusta, Georgia)!  Because of my interest in fashion and my vast collection of carefully collected dresses, I think it was largely assumed that this would be my favorite part of the wedding preparations. Well, it might surprise you to hear I was literally dreading this part of the wedding planning process.  I've experiencing a lot of stress over it, which is why I'm starting the dress shopping so early.  It's totally ridiculous of me, but every comment along the lines of "I can't wait to see your dress after seeing what you wear every day" makes me feel a little more anxiety about finding the "perfect" dress.

Trying to find a wedding dress to my liking and trying to find a day dress to my liking are like night and day, so different!  The sort of wedding dresses I'm interested in are largely unrepresented in bridal stores + boutiques, so just like my normal wardrobe (95% of which is purchased offline), I've taken to the internet to find the "perfect" dress.  I've learned quickly that shopping for a wedding dress online comes with its fair share of negatives.

Vintage Wedding Dress I purchased off Etsy
My first wedding dress experience was a nightmare come true. After checking that the measurements would equal my own, I bought this lovely vintage dress off Etsy.  I was thinking "it's one of a kind, it's a vintage + fit and flare and it's basically perfect" not to mention it's absolutely lovely, really inexpensive and basically exactly what I'm looking for.  I buy dresses this way A-L-L the time, no problem!

Well the dress arrived and after lacing into my corset, throwing on some heels and a petticoat and putting it on... it looked AWFUL. I didn't like a single thing about it.  My mom told me she thought it was repairable but I was "over" the dress at that point.  I text ranted with Amelia (who is of course my Maid of Honor!) and we took some time to "mourn the loss" of the wedding dress, I mean, I thought I was DONE with this part (I was being a little irrational, but she humored me, and she's planning her wedding simultaneously ladies, that's amazing best friend!).  We bounced some ideas off of each other and  I was back to looking!
Alika Dress by Bettie Page Clothing




After my bad experience, my first reaction was "I'm so over this, I quit!" and I considered ordering a dress off Modcloth like his adorable Alika Dress by Bettie Page Clothing and being done with the "dress thing."  I actually still like this dress better than a lot of the dresses with 4 figure price tags I've looked at.  But giving up is so out of character for me, half the reason I end up with the wardrobe pieces I have is because I LOVE the hunt and finding my wedding dress shouldn't be any different.  If this was "the dress" for me I wouldn't care where it was from or how much it cost, but I know it wasn't the dress, it was a dress, so I moved along and kept on 'lookin.



Bliss Dress by Whirling Turban


Say hello to the Bliss Dress by Whirling Turban!  When I look at their website, my pupils are immediately replaced by hearts. I've had my eye on this dress and another (neither have been totally ruled out) so I requested a loaner dress.  You can't try their dresses without requesting a loaner and having it shipped because they're located in Bali.. you read that right BALI! The company directs you to a personalized client page they set up for you, you answer a bunch of questions and then they tell you you have to pay for + order fabric swatches first (ok, not a big deal, I picked + ordered three, but I've been waiting on them for three weeks...). I would LOVE one of these dresses, but because I'm a little jaded after my bad experience, I don't know if I have it in me to put all my trust in another dress I can't try on. What you y'all think?  I just wish getting a loaner was easier!


San Marino Dress by Dolly Couture




This lovely little lady is wearing the San Marino Dress by Dolly Couture. I'd seen a few of their dresses around, but it wasn't until a reader mentioned that her dress was from there + she'd had an amazing experience that I decided to take a look... I'm so glad I did! First off, all of their dresses are TEA LENGTH (if you don't know this little fact about me... almost everything I own is tea length haha.)  After doing some lurking, I found out they have mini, residential in-home boutiques, five to be specific, well guess what... one of them is in Nashville!  If that's not a sign, I don't know what is!







I spent a few hours a couple Saturday's ago with a lovely lady named Lucy (I went alone, my mom and 2 of bridesmaids including Amelia are in Georgia and the third is studying for the bar exam) and it was an amazing experience.  She had about 10 dresses there and although I disliked several right off the bat, and disliked several more once they were on, I found one I actually really liked (although it was way too long + two sizes too big and had to be clamped!).  We looked at swatches. Talked venues. Talked about everything weddings entail + some more.  I could not more highly recommend this process, it was so personalized and completely pressure-free.  Dolly's dresses are also completely customizable.  You can change the color, the sleeves, the length, the waistline, you can add things and take things away, whichever dress you choose is basically a shell for you to play with.

Here's a little peek into my Dolly Couture experience / what I look like when forced to wake up early
I've spent almost every day for the last couple weeks shooting emails back + forth with their Sales and Marketing Manager, Abby.  In a few exchanged emails a day, Abby has helped me build/customize a dress. I added things, subtracted things and ended up with a dress that I feel 95% sure about.  But, the last couple of days have given me cold feet and I'm having this crisis that it might not be "quite 1950's enough" *insert eye roll here ladies, I probably deserve it*.  This is something I do to myself ALL the time.. WHY?! But. that's the whole reason I wrote this post, because I want advice from you ladies!


Did any of you ladies have pre-dress purchase jitters?
Advice + experiences + all comments welcome!

47 comments:

  1. I LOVE vintage dresses, and new ones. I had the same feeling about getting the dress, and going to places local and it just not be my "thing." I guess my point of view was I love so many dresses, and there will never be "the one." And at least you can be happy that this isn't your only time to find "the perfect dress" since you dress up everyday. It took a lot of pressure off and second guessing.

    I was lucky to live in New Jersey and try on my vintage wedding dress. I was an hour drive away from Lambertsville, where there is a vintage dress shop that has a buttload of wedding dresses. I know it is a hell of a drive, but hey maybe make a big trip out of it? The seller was super sweet, had lots of accessories and ideas. There were such rare pieces in her shop, that was at least a treat to try on. The seller was super sweet and if you email her, she might know some local sellers who might be stashing some dresses closer to you. If anything I'm leaving the link for you browse through the dresses: http://www.millcrestvintage.com/

    And my next tip is buy a veil or borrow one from a friend. My sister and I both didn't "love" our dress till we put the veil on. It really ties everything together.

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    1. I wish I could have that outlook, I just feel even more pressure than I do when I pick out my day dresses.

      There are vintage shops here, but after a ton of vintage dress hunting, I've decided I'd rather have a reproduction, specifically because I have a small waist and large bust and that's really hard to find in vintage dresses, even if they're large enough to have a seamstress work on. Also, my long love relationship with vintage has also provided some pretty scary rips and tears and zipper breaks the day I was wearing something but I would hate for it to be THAT day, you know?!

      And that is amazing advice! I have a veil in mind, so maybe I should go ahead and buy it! : )

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  2. Oh my...I DREAD the day I have to go wedding dress shopping. I will have so much anxiety because there are just SO MANY CHOICES. How do you know a dress is the one? What if there's another one that's better and you just haven't found it yet? Do you splurge a little if there's one you can't live without but it has a big price tag? Do I want a full, tulle skirt or do I want a different fabric? See....I'm not even getting married and I'm already freaking out...haha.

    And I agree with you, that online will probably have to be the way to go since a lot of the wedding dress stores never really have a nice vintage-inspired selection. I really really like that Whirling Turban one. It's my favorite out of all of these and perfectly retro. I'd like to see what the final product is when you're done with the Dolly dress you're customizing!

    Deep breaths! I know what it's like to get your hopes up for something that you have to wait to try on and it sucks to get so disappointed when it doesn't fit right or look right. But your perfect dress awaits, wherever it may be! :)

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    1. SEE, I AM GETTING MARRIED AND THAT'S MY EXACT TRAIN OF THOUGH!!!! UGH! haha.

      I have the Dolly one fully customized but basically wouldn't see it until it was finished, I think the reason I have cold feet is because I know I won't forgive myself if I don't figure out a way to get a loaner dress from Whirling Turban and try it on (Bali or not) you know?!

      And thank you so much for the sweet + positive words/vibes, they are greatly needed! I just need to take a deep breath and keep looking/make up my mind! : )

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  3. JUST fell on your blog and...i honestly don't want to get up! you two are adorable and can't wait to read more!

    love, your newest reader

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    1. Oh! Hello new reader! We're so glad you found us and totally flattered! I love when new readers speak up because I love meeting people! Welcome to our quirky world! : )

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  4. you look soooo cute in this dress !!!

    sad for the first dress that looks amazing :/

    can't wait to see the preparations of your two weddings !!

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    1. Thank you so much! I modified it a ton but still can't decide if it's THE dress, cold feet are such a bummer. I hate that the first dress didn't work out as well, sigh! So it goes!

      And we can't wait to share them! : )

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  5. Have you tried any dresses by Stephanie James? She makes some beautiful tea length wedding dresses. And you can get the crinoline in a color if you want :o)

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    1. I have! I actually don't like my petticoat to show as I consider it an undergarment. I think I just fell so in love with Whirling Turban that I've sort of become blind to everything else. Sigh!

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  6. *sigh* When I was planning my wedding five years ago, I swear nobody was selling decent tea-length dresses, at least not for under $1000. So I found a vintage Vogue pattern I liked, fabric I loved, and a seamstress. It was a disaster! She didn't get me my dress until a week before the wedding (after having five months) and it didn't fit right and made me look six months pregnant. I had to purchase something from Davids Bridal three days before the wedding -- a strapless, full-length lace mermaid style -- a beautiful dress, but not "me" in the least. I was and still am quite heartbroken over the whole thing.

    There are quite a few more options these days and you've already had on some winners, so I think you'll be fine!

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    1. Aww well thank you so much! But what a horror story! If you ever have a vow renewal i bet your dress will be completely amazing! I think I need to suck it up and maybe speak to Whirling Turban a bit more, I think that's where my heart is.

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  7. AHH mini freak cause we are wedding date twins! I'm getting married Sept 27th too! I bought my dress way back like in November and honestly I hit a point where I was like this is pretty unique enough and feel alike me. I stopped searching then and that was that! I find that if you dwell on it too much it can get overwhelming... And in the long run it's just a small portion of the wedding

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    1. AHHHH!!!! NO WAY, HOW AWESOME!!! Wedding date twins! : ) Did you pick your date for any specific reason? Ours was because that was just the first September date our venue had haha.

      I actually bought mine back in June! It sat in a suitcase until one day I put it on and BAM, horror story! lol. And for me, it's a very casual wedding so it's a pretty big part of the day. We are doing a pretty southern, causal inexpensive thing so my dress is really what's for ME, you know. Also, I'm high strung so everything is pressured haha

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  8. My dress (I got married last year in March!) was from Dolly Couture :) I custom ordered the Avila Bay Dress and it was PERFECT. Dolly Couture and their reps are amazing! I'm sure it'll be fabulous!

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    1. That is actually what I did, that's the exact dress I'm customizing! haha. But now I can't decide if it's THE DRESS or not, I sort of got cold feet. Ugh!

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  9. I am so glad you found someone who could customize your dress to the best of your liking! The dress looks really cute in the sneak peek picture. I got married September 21st of last year (it's a good month to get married!!), and had similar "is it vintage enough?!" freakouts before finding something that was maybe not as get-go retro as my every day clothes, but was definitely beautiful, vintage-inspired, formal, and "me". I totally sympathize with your "but everybody KNOWS what I'm into, what if my dress doesn't look as period appropriate as Ii usually do!", but with your eye for style, whatever you choose in the end will be the right dress! Good luck and congrats on your engagement!

    PS I'm a fellow Nashvillian who's been reading for awhile, I love your blog!

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    1. Seriously, such kind and helpful words, it's like a blog comment and a pep talk in one! I think my big problem is that I LOVE the Dolly dress I've customized, but my heart really lies with Whirling Turban, I need to stop letting Bali get in my way and request a loaner so I won't be mad at myself forever for dismissing them for petty reasons! haha.

      PS Ahhhh thank you so much! I started reading your blog, Kitty Cat Stevens' blog and Librarian Tells All's blog all around the same time and you ladies are like my blogging role models, such a talented group!

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  10. I'm so excited for you! Picking out "the dress" is the best part about the BIG day! I love all these dresses and you look so happy! Congrats and I can't wait to see more updates along the way!
    xoxo
    Taylor
    http://www.nothingbutapigeon.com/

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    1. Aww thanks so much, sweet lady! I can't wait to share more! I hope I get this dress stuff sorted out soon so I can feel like I have something big done! Fingers crossed!

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  11. Shopping online for clothes has always been difficult to me, and looking for a dress sounds so tedious. I do, however, hope you find that 'perfect' dress soon!

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    1. You know, one I got the hang of it, shopping online was a preference for me! And thank you, I hope so too, I think everything will be so much easier once I do! : )

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  12. finding the right dress is really a big thing for a big day. i like your last choice. it looks lovely on you - and you look happy in it.
    getting marriend in this bernie dexter dress would be a shame. this dress is seen on every rockabilly party - maybe not in white - but it's really nothing special.
    i found my dress on ebay for just 40€s. it's a vintage 40s/50s lace dress and i just bid on it because i already won two other auctions from the same seller ... i didn't thought it would fit me right or i even didn't thought about wearing it to my wedding. somehow it came all together and the dress was the perfect 'friend' to get married in. (http://wardrobexperience.blogspot.de/2013/06/yes-we-did.html)
    now i have the job to find a friend a vintage wedding dress. sadly most of the vintage dresses on etsy are super tiny and 95% are located in the US. ... recently i purchased a bustier wedding gown that comes with a little jacket ... made from beautiful rips fabric with beautiful glamorous embroidry. originally mid 50s. hopefully my friend likes it otherwise it will go in the shop one day ...

    good luck with finding the perfect dress ... can't wait to see more!

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    1. OH MY GOSH! Your dress was absolutely beautiful and your hair looked AMAZING! You did such a great job finding one that I'm sure you'll do equally as well finding one for you friend!

      I love love love the dress I tried on and I'm even more excited I got to make it a little more my own, but I think the reason for the cold feet is because I know I secretly prefer Whirling Turban and I'm just nervous about not trying one of theirs on. I gave up and requested a loaner today! I just want to know that I tried before ordering the Dolly one or I'll always wonder if I should've tried the other on!

      And thank you! I can't wait to share more! : )

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  13. ... you dress looks 50s enough. it looks really stunning! :)

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  14. Not that I'm planning a wedding, but I love ogling wedding dresses. I've looked at Dolly Couture several times. LOVE their dresses! At least you found a shop with great customer service, and dress options you like. I definitely think the dress you're wearing in the picture is 1950s enough. It looks very true to the era... just think less Bernie Dexter and more Mad Men style! I can only imagine how stressful it is... but don't worry about other people's comments and expectations, and focus purely on what you want your dress to be (and the lucky man who gets to watch you wearing it as you walk down the aisle). :)

    xo Jana

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    1. Thank you so much, such good advice! I can definitely agree that it's more Mad Men! I gave up today and requested a loaner from Whirling Turban (Bali or no) I'll never forgive myself if I know I didn't at least try one on... I just want to know I covered all my bases before deciding, especially after my bad experience!

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  15. Oh my gosh oh my gosh I am beyond excited for you!!!! So so so many options!! Without a doubt know you'll find the perfect one!! I can't wait to see it all unfold! Eee xx

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    1. Aww well thank you so much ma'am! My fingers are crossed that while I'm asleep one night I'll have some divine dream intervention and figure out where the perfect one is! haha. I can't wait to share! : )

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  16. Oh my! Gorgeous gowns!

    I kind of always had in mind that would get married in a mermaid style dress. But I have to be honest I would have also loved a 1950s style dress.

    Before I went dress shopping I had a few printed images and magazine clippings, of ideal styles, to help me out. Well after going to about 4 bridal shops, I found a bridal boutique that sold various designer dresses. I had probably tried on 3-4 dresses before I found the one.

    One of them was a 1950s dress, which did not look like I hoped it would look on me. The person helping me said that I look cute "like a my-size" Barbie. Not really the look I was going for. So I went back out to look for more dresses to try on and at last I found the same exact dress from one of my clippings!!

    Four years later and I'm still very happy with my dress. I hope you will find the dress that you truly want and desire. One thing I know for sure is that you will look gorgeous. Don't give up on the hunt!

    -Diana

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    1. Whirling Turban, the company in Bali, makes a BEAUTIFUL mermaid style dress. If that was what I wanted, I'd be sold!

      What a great story! I love that you found exactly what you were looking for! But that's exactly what I want, in 4 or 5 years I want to look back at my dress and be just as happy on the one I decided as that day I ordered it! Thanks for the sweet words! : )

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  17. My husband and I had an incredibly small scale, informal civil ceremony wedding and I didn't wear a wedding dress, so I'm affair I can't speak from first hand experience here (I regret not wearing a dress all the same and one day when we have a vow renewal ceremony, which is something we both really want to do, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be sporting a vintage dressing dress for it to make up for not doing so our initial big day itself).

    That said, generally speaking, you have to feel it. You have to love the dress in your deepest heart of hearts and get butterflies just thinking about wearing it. I think that being 95% of the way there is a great start. Is it possible that if you partner the dress with the other items you'll be wearing that day (shoes, gloves, jewelry, etc) and see yourself as you'll (more or less) look on the big day itself, might you get to 100%? Sometimes loving something is influenced by the bigger picture that it's a part of.

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. I seriously can't wait for the day I get to see whatever you choose for your vow renewal ceremony!

      I think I know in my heart of hearts, I would prefer Whirling Turban dress, I gave up and requested a loaner today, I at least need to try it on and love it or hate it, even if I have a dress designed with Dolly, just to know I tried. I think it'll help me feel some resolution before ordering the one I customized. I gave up on the vintage one though, I tried everything I could to make it work. Sigh! Such good advice though! Thank you ma'am!

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  18. I was very torn between vintage and new when wedding dress shopping. I also tried online shopping, but with unclear photos and descriptions I didn't want to end up with a cheap looking dress or something that didn't fit quite right. My family doesn't have a dress that has been passed on, so that was my draw towards a vintage piece. I tried on this gorgeous 1950's gown that even had a photo of the original bride wearing it, but ultimately decided on a brand new gown that had a 1940's kind of vibe to it. My heart still breaks when I think of the dress I passed up, but it's just like finding your love.. when you know.. YOU KNOW! Haha and now I have a dress that I'll be able to pass on in the family that we'll be starting!

    I wish you all the luck in deciding on the perfect gown! You're going to make a beautiful bride!

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    1. What a great story! For that exact reason, I decided against vintage, I just have some worries about age and condition. I do, however, think I'll end up online shopping, I sucked it up today and requested a loaner from Whirling Turban, Bali or no, I know I'll be mad at myself if I don't at least try one on, it'll help me KNOW. I loved the Dolly Couture dress I tried on, but I have WT in the back of my mind. So excited to share whatever I choose! Thank you so much for the experience and sweet words!

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  19. I want a vintage dress or something made by me, you look very nice!!!
    Love your layout, i am also from the better blogger network

    have a great day

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  20. Do you know where I can find the dress which is in the first picture? Or you are interested to sell your wedding dress here? If yes then do share the price and I am ready to buy even now.

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  21. I had dress jitters because I wanted a tea length wedding dress but all of the plus size wedding dresses were floor lenghth and strapless for some reason, and no vintage dress would fit me. I ended up getting my dress made by someone local and it ended up being perfect (and a third of the price compared to dress stores). It was the opposite of all of the "wedding dress for your shape/size" articles, but I looked and felt amazing haha. Also, those Dolly Dresses are so lovely!!

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  22. So I don't know if you're familiar with the Cherry Dollface and her YouTube videos? She got married last year and got a dress from Whirling Turban (although she did a mermaid style) and she did a couple videos on the experience and it seemed to work out well for her. The fit (based on pictures) looked like it came out pretty perfect too. It could possibly help you to watch them though if you're considering it.

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  23. June did you end up trying whirling turban? Im considering using them for my own dress but im just a little hesitant about dealing with an overseas company over the Internet as you no doubt understand! But their dresses are just SO gorgeous I keep wandering back to their website. So if you did try them did you have a good result?

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  24. I actually didn't, I heard SO many amazing things about them after I wrote this post and even discussed it a bit with their rep in Memphis, Lisa Freemont Street, but I just didn't think it was for me. I went with Dolly Couture but I customized my entire dress, it was an amazing experience!

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  25. Well I cant wait to see the finished result, best wishes for your big day! x

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  26. I can totally see myself in your little story! I got married in September 2012 and even two years later, I am STILL looking for the perfect wedding dress. Like you, I wanted something vintage, so I looked at (what felt) every single white dress at etsy, but every dress had a detail I did not like and I didn't want to order something when it was not what I really wanted. I wanted to have a short dress, but not necessarily tea lenght. Not lace, but with a slight structure. 50s/60s look but with a modern touch. High neckline in front and back. And short sleeves. I ended up having my dress tailor made here in Berlin and I also was happy first, but at the last fitting I really panicked and wanted to have everything changed at last minute. Of course that wasn't possible and I had to go with that 1000$ dress. All of my friends, my maid of honor and all of the wedding guests assured me, that the dress was awesome and so ME....but that was the whole point, I did not feel like it was ME. The whole problem is - until today I did not know what I really would have changed...
    All the best from Berlin / Germany
    Vanessa

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  27. Vanessa, I'm so happy there is someone who understands my problem! It's so hard to find " the perfect dress" and while I finally found one I absolutely LOVE and I am SO happy with it, I still don't know that it's EXACTLY what I want. Oh, the joys of wedding dress shopping!

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  28. I am in the same boat. My taste is so very vintage, particular and 'odd' to most others in *Kansas* I cannot find anything in my hometown. I am looking a whirling turban for my first choice too... please let us know how that avenue progresses. I would love to hear about a 1st hand experience!!

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  29. HI Briley, I heard SO many amazing things about Whirling Turban and after I wrote this post, I
    even discussed it a bit with their rep in Memphis, Lisa Freemont Street,
    but I just didn't think it was for me. I'm a little to neurotic to know that I couldn't check-in on my dress as the process proceeded. I went with Dolly Couture but I
    customized my entire dress, it was an amazing experience. I do wish I'd given WT shot somewhere in the back of my mind, but I think I might just get them to customize a non-wedding dress for me in the future. ; )

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  30. After waiting almost a decade to get married to the man of my dreams you'd think I'd be over the moon with dress shopping as well but it's been the most awful experience for me. Like you, I'm having to search on the internet because no one in my area has anything remotely like anything I would want to wear on my wedding day. I've searched high and low and come across some of the websites you'd mentioned but I've found out of the more custom dress site's reps are flakey and have forgotten to send information or have forgotten I had requested swatches,etc. Seeing how adorable you looked the day of your wedding has given me hope I'll figure it out too!! Best, Jess

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