Wednesday, July 2, 2014

In Which I wore my Dream Dress : a personal post and Simply Bridal Review :: northeast, tx wedding and lifestyle photographer

"And I know it's true
that visions are seldom all they seem."
|| once upon a dream ||

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The dream wedding dress. The vast majority (if not every) little girl has an image in her head at least once in her life about it. Some grow up yearning after it and for others its just a brief thought. In today's world Pinterest has millions of girls with their hearts set on stunning white gowns of all different lengths, fabrics, and styles long before they even have a man. But I must say, its an exhilarating thing to be looking at pictures of brides when your favorite person has just asked you to be his wife and YOU get to countdown the days until YOU are the one in a white dress. It's surreal, magical, and everything (and more!) "they" all tell you it will be. 
I always had a wedding board on Pinterest and through the two years that I had it while single or just dating, there were many pins that I captioned "PERFECT DRESS!" or "HER DRESS!" or "LOOOVE that DREEESS." But once that ruby ring was on my finger and I was actually wedding planning for myself, it all (quickly) came full circle and became a little more sobering. "I gotta find, settle, choose, differentiate, and fall in love with ONE dress and one dress ONLY." Welcome to the dreamiest nightmare for this super indecisive chick! But eventually I put my deepest dreams and feelings into a singular concept -- flowy, comfortable, ethereal, elegant. These were some of the ones I pinned during early wedding planning that I thought were just perfect. The dream! 
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To be frank, I had a budget. Or rather, my parents had a budget. They had spent $500 on my sister's dress for her wedding eight years ago so that's about what they wanted to stay close to for mine. So I scoured the discount sections of bigger name brands and lines. Nothing really stood out for me....and not much fit our price range. Then I fell in the portal of overseas dresses. SO CHEAP! SO PRETTY! LET'S DO IT! I soon had a dress that looked perrrfect in the picture in my online shopping cart, I was pressing the "purchase" button and going to sleep with sugar plum fairies dancing in my head more or less. About three and a half weeks later, a crumpled (small!) dirty looking plastic bag was left on our porch by FedEx. "What the heck did we order? Whatever it is I feel sorry for it!" I said picking it up to read the label. My heart sank, my stomach flipped, and I turned pale as I realized from the label that this seemingly run over bundle was the wedding dress I had ordered. "Oh boy...it's...early." I said with heavy sarcasm and disbelief that this was it. We opened it and it exploded and would've started screaming "FREEEEEDOM!" in Mel Gibson fashion if dresses could talk. "Well...at least its bigger than the bag." Upon trying it on...it was the most disappointing, saddest, poorest made dress I think I've ever put on.  It was uncomfortable, itchy, stiff, tight in weird places, and huge (like bubbly!) in even weirder ones. The seams were all horrifically crooked and the lining was...more than slightly askew. It was like the ugly evil stepsister of the picture I had seen and fallen in love with. My mom walked into the room and with too much confusion and emotion to even cry I proclaimed, "This is NOT my dress. This is NOT how a girl feels when she's wearing THE dress." She assured me that it was going to be okay. Maybe we could alter it? Maybe we could change some of the fabric out for something less...scratchy? But no. Upon seeking a second opinion (and third), we were assured that this was just a very poorly made dress and I needed to try to get money back. Bravoooo to Discover and PayPal because we were able to be completely reimbursed when we let them know that this dress was extreme false advertisement. SO. Here I was...sorely defeated and back to square one.
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I still had three or four months to look! Maybe I would go dress shopping and ditch the online idea. But then I was afraid of unknowingly trying on and setting my heart on a $2,000 dress only to be heartbroken and let down. I resolved to give up looking for (and even thinking about) a dress for the next several weeks. I still had plenty of time...I would just focus on something else and in the meantime keep the "unmentionable" thing a matter of prayer to have peace. A couple of nights after I decided on this hiatus, I was on Facebook and in the corner of my eye I saw an ad with a lovely gown with $189 under it. I tried to avert my eyes away. "No, nooo...don't do this to yourself. It's probably another foreign company. Every place you've looked at that was that cheap were all the same...rip offs and fakes." I continued to scroll through the newsfeed but my mind had one thought and one thought only. Within about 5 minutes I gave in, scrolled back to the ad and clicked it. "Just looking can't hurt." And thus, I found Simply Bridal. It didn't take much research to find out they were actually based out of L.A. and New York. "Woa! An American company with beautiful and extremely affordable dresses. There has to be a catch, right?" The more reviews I read the more I was intrigued. All praise, all "dream come true" stories with pictures and videos. No horrific experiences or unacceptable customer service. As I scrolled through their choices, one caught my eye...peaked my interest...stopped me in my tracks. It was delightfully named the "Claire Gown."
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It was like a breath of fresh air to look at it. Simple, yes...and yet I couldn't take my eyes off of it. I bookmarked the page and went to bed with the image burned permanently on the forefront of my mind. Everyday for the next two weeks (yes!) I would go to the link and stare at the Claire gown for sometimes 30 minutes at a time. Any time I spent looking and searching for other dresses was few, far between, and half-hearted. I began eyeing Simply Bridal's return policy. "I could buy it...and if I just hate it...I'll send it back and get a full refund! I've got to do it! The curiosity is killing me! I HAVE to buy, try on, meet this dress in person." My mom gave the go ahead and so I decided the next day I would once again put a white dress in an online shopping cart and hope for the best. The next morning I woke up, raring to go! I had the link open, I smiled dreamily at the dress, read the sizing chart a few times to make sure I got the right size and considered for awhile if I should let them custom size it to my exact measurements or just alter it after receiving it if it was needed. Soon all the arrangements were in order and I was ready to make the leap. But somehow I got distracted for just a second and ended up checking notifications...Facebook, Instagram, email...
There in my inbox was an email from Simply Bridal. Had I accidentally clicked purchase and this was a confirmation email? I was almost positive I hadn't. But the subject "We're excited about working with you!" sounded like I had just ordered from them. I clicked on it and found something even more shocking than a click-slip. 

Hey there!

I found your website Allix B Photography & checked it out. A beautiful set of photos from a vintage bridal session! Super gorgeous bride and the style are simply beautiful with vintage elegance. Lovely!.

My name is Shelly and I’m with SimplyBridal.com. I have an idea how we can work together, are you the correct person to contact? If you're interested, please let me know and I'll send you the details.


Happy New Year,
Shelly Adams

What. in. the. world. Had they hacked me through my cookies or something?? (I don't even know what that means! But...did they?!) I had been looking at this dress for two weeks straight...surely they had a way to monitor that. But she mentioned a shoot I had done several years prior...it's not like they just looked at my latest post. They had really looked at my stuff. So...I replied....
Hi Shelly! 

Thank you for the compliments on my website! I am the one to contact and am very interested in how you would like us to work together! I am looking forward to hearing more details. :)
Thanks again!
Allix

I was pretty prepared for it all to be a hoax to be completely honest. I figured I wouldn't ever get an email back or if I did, it'd be promising me all this stuff while requiring me to subscribe or donate to something. They wanted nothing more than my money, surely. But within an hour I received a surprising reply. They gave me several different options ranging from a coupon for readers, a giveaway, or a free product for a photoshoot for me to review on my website.

Option three had me freaking. "MAMA!" I exclaimed after reading the email aloud to her. "WHAT IF....DO YOU THINK....DOES IT COUNT...."Clearly my mind was exploding into a million directions at the speed of light. I took a deep breath and tried to articulate better. "Should I ask if they could send a dress to me for me to wear on my wedding day...and I could just write a review including pictures Kristen takes of me that day?" As the words came spilling out of my mouth I was literally shaking at the thought of it. There's no way that they would let me do that. There's no way I'm getting my dress for free. That just doesn't happen. Not a dress you've been pining after for weeks. People only get dresses for free if they borrow somebody else's. They don't get their very own, dream, dress for free. All I could do was email her back and ask though. Couldn't hurt, right?

Good morning Shelly,

Upon reading your email, I had a thought. The option you gave for sending a free product for photoshoot and review....if SimplyBridal was willing to provide a wedding dress for me to wear at my wedding as the free product, I would be more than happy to share all the pictures of the dress from my wedding with a positive review on my site linking back to Simply Bridal. (I will have a professional photographer there of course and I know her photos of the dress and me in it will be wonderful.)  I would be glad to share about your company with all my readers and brides. :)

Once again I waited...expecting the worst. Expecting them to red flag my request....expecting the metaphorical door to be abruptly slammed in my face. And again I was pleasantly proven wrong. 


So lovely to hear back from you, Allix! I love your idea about the dress, and it would be an honor for us to see photographs of you in one of our gowns up on your website with a review.

She went on to tell me that if I chose a dress from inventory that was under $200 then I'd be able to keep it by writing a review about it that included pictures of me in it. No. stinkin'. way. At this point I was probably closer to fainting than I've ever been in my faint-free life. The very dress I wanted was $199.00. There was nothing to say except...it's marvelous how the Lord works. And did I mention that there was only one in my size left in inventory? Beautiful, beautiful, Providence. Through a few more email exchanges with this incredibly kind, considerate, thoughtful, and prompt Simply Bridal representative, I was informed that my dress was on its way and she couldn't wait to hear how I liked it! (Seriously! How extremely sweet was this woman! I was sad about paraphrasing our emails because her direct quotes show how wonderful and sincere she sounded. Corresponding with her has been nothing but a joy.)

About 4 days later (4 DAYS Y'ALL) my Mam-maw was over and I just so happened to be talking to her about the whole wonderful occurrence when there was an unexpected knock at the door. I nearly screamed to see our kind U.P.S. man standing there with a lovely white box. I beamed crazily and more or less snatched it from his hands. "This is my wedding dress!!" I exclaimed with fervor as the guy chuckled. As I held the box I felt nothing short of what I would feel if I had found buried treasure. 
Shaky, nervous, flabbergasted, surreal, jittery, excited, scared to death, eager. 

Well, you know what...this is the Instagram I posted after trying it on so I'll let myself from that day explain my thoughts and feelings:
that treasured moment that little girls dream about. the perfect wedding dress. mine came in the mail today. i stood staring at the box, breathless (in a hoodie, spring dress, and fuzzy socks...don't judge) and i flittered and shivered with excited, amazed, surreal, almost frightened giddiness pulling out the carefully sealed bag. slipping it out i felt a lump in my throat. but zipping it up and seeing myself in it (faantastic fit)? weeping. tears of great joy. i am a bride. my Father has done great things for me. and this is the path He has shown. Lead me on, You - the Giver of all good gifts, whose ways are past finding out, who works exceedingly abundantly above all that I could even ask or think. and thank you. none of this would be even remotely possible without You.
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Oh yes I cried. I cried the "THIS is the ONE. This is THE ONE. This is MY dress. This is my DRESS" tears. And the fact that my mom and Mam-maw were both there for it was the closest I could've gotten to "saying yes to the dress" in a store. I felt lovely. I felt enchanting. I felt stunning. Heck, I felt skinny! It was magical. 
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Because I got it from what they had in inventory I wasn't able to get it customized to my height so it was a little long. (But hey! That felt even cooler...Only queens have trains this long, RIGHT?! I'M QUEENLY.) The chiffon flowed like a stream, it shined like pearls, the ruching of the bodice was divine, and the sweetheart neckline was precious. I was infatuated. In love. Sold. 
So hemming! The next exciting step! My Nonnie, who is a dream of a seamstress, offered to help out and she was more than easy to trust with this gem of mine.
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She had the genius idea/method for hemming it. She made the front short enough for me to be able to walk freely without tripping but then gradually tapered as it got to the sides and the back wasn't altered at all. So my gloriously long queenly train was kept intact completely. *Heart eyes*
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Then the question came up about it being sleeveless. I felt amazing in it, yes. But I was also captivated by a nagging fear in the back of my mind because I had never worn a sleeveless dress before. It was perfectly modest without them in my opinion...but I didn't trust myself to make such a huge wardrobe leap on such an important day. ;) It became increasingly obvious that I would feel much better if it had some type of sleeve/strap/arm and emotional support for me. ;) I weighed different ideas...illusion sheer tops, loose sleeves, cap sleeves, etc. More Pinterest scouring!! But when I found this I, once again, had found a winner winner chicken dinner!
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The comment also arose about dancing at the reception...in my super-train. Wasn't gonna happen easily. Probably wasn't gonna happen at all. Nonnie came to the rescue once again by telling me she would "french bustle" it. Upon Googling that term...I was 100% on board! The next dress fitting was full of new developments, decisions, and fun. :)The Ruby Wedding5
And before I knew it, the final fitting and day that I got to take my dress home was finally upon me! Bustled and un-bustled alike...the dress blew me away and I felt like a fairy, beachy, chiffon princess of brideness in it. SO HAPPY.The Ruby Wedding2
And then there was waiting for almost exactly 6 weeks without Trevor finding it. ;) I talked about it enough to drive him crazy. So many times as I fantasized about it while flipping through pictures on my phone I came painfully close to slipping up and showing him with a dopey, "Don'tcha just looove it." Thankfully I was struck with a brief moment of clarity each time to remind myself IT'S A SURPRISE.
But then the day that it was no longer to be a surprise. The best day of our lives. The day I got to wear this dress...really really wear it. The day I had dreamed of. The dress I had dreamed of. Together.
All pictures hereafter are by my precious, remarkable, incredible friend Kristen of I'm Kristen Photography. xoxo
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Many people remarked in awe that the dress looked pretty, yes, but also so comfortable. And it was! It felt like the most natural thing in the world to be wearing it! It was the closest thing to feeling royal in your pajamas. In other words...all the "I'm a bride!" reality thrills that come with donning the white gown of your dreams without the "I'm in a stuffy wedding dress" discomfort. I was free to move, enjoy, laugh, dance, frolic, play, live, be married with ease! This dress was certainly not holding me back not one bit. :)ruby_wedding (130 of 1114)
Ah! Look at it flowing! Like luscious pearly, milky, streams of gracefulness. (I'm in love okay? Your descriptions of your love don't make sense when you're head over heels.)
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My groom approved. ;)
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To make things easier (and cause it just looked awesome!) I kept the dress bustled throughout the majority of the day. But I had portion of the day especially set apart for my dress to gleam, flow, and dazzle in all its glory. The ceremony. :) Feeling how long the train really was as I walked down the aisle was a splendid feeling and the way it draped across everything in such a darling way during the ceremony makes me starry-eyed.ruby_wedding (547 of 1114)
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The chiffon was so delicate and wispy...and yet the dress was made incredibly well! It stood up masterfully under all kinds of outdoor wedding conditions. My mom was worried that it would catch and rip and snag on anything and everything but it was as tough as the nail it caught on during the ceremony. Yes! Even caught on a nail with the wind whipping under it, it didn't tear! Amazing!ruby_wedding (644 of 1114)
After the ceremony we quickly bustled it back but now everyone knew the truth of how magnificent it really was. There was no turning back. ;)ruby_wedding (742 of 1114)
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Dancing was no hassle. Everything felt completely secure. The bodice had great support while still being wonderfully comfortable!
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And shall we even mention what it looked like twirling? Swoon. Just swoon.
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All this to say, The Lord is gracious and works far more exceedingly above all that I could ever ask or think. I didn't, by any means, deserve the perfect dress but I certainly feel like I got it. What do you call that? That's grace. Marvelous grace of my loving Lord...my Jesus who orchestrates beauty in the big things and the small things and all the many things in between. And Simply Bridal is a phenomenal company. The sweet representative has kept in frequent contact with me since my wedding day, congratulating me on my marriage, being excited about my upcoming post, complimenting me on some photos I've sent...such sincerity and genuine politeness! I feel like she's my long lost aunt cheering me on from afar! ;) The dress itself is breathtakingly lovely  while still remaining practical and, in short, is everything I ever wanted and more. I am a rowdy, loud, and proud Simply Bridal bride and would hands down recommend them to anyone on a tight wedding budget and anyone without a budget at all! Yes, they gave me a free dress in exchange for me writing a positive review so of course this would all be positive feedback...but f'real...from the bottom of my heart...my experience with them was superb. I'll never regret it. And I'll definitely forever cherish it. :)ruby_wedding (1057 of 1114)

14 comments:

  1. OH MY GOODNESS. What a story, Allix! It never, ever ceases to amaze me how Jesus can care for things, little and big - everything. Even wedding dresses, apparently. :-) I loved reading about this.

    And. Your dress was beautiful. You looked absolutely, positively, glowing that day.

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  2. I love the straps that you added.! the dress is stunning as are you and that smile. ;) x

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  3. What an incredible story! The dress (and you of course:)) looked just beautiful in all the pictures of your wedding! I was so excited when I saw this post on Facebook. I've just spent a good portion of the afternoon reading your love story again and so it was fun to see this post up… :)
    Emily

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  4. Wow, I'm just kind of in awe right now. Of the dress, of Nonnie's abilities, of the whole story, of how God worked everything together for good. Thank you for sharing, Allix!!!

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  5. Oh my word, that is such an AMAZING story! God's faithfulness is mind-blowing... And of course, you look so gorgeous, beautiful, and all the other lovely words!!

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  6. oh my goodness. i think i'm in love with your wedding dress. (and your wedding, period. *grins*) this is such an amazing story, though, Allix! God is so so so good. His faithfulness never ceases to amaze me. this entire story is miraculous, and wonderful and just... gah. <3 <3 also, can i just say you are probably the most gorgeous bride i've ever seen? i might be stalking your wedding pictures, and dreaming of my "someday". ;) hehe. xx

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    1. (also, just noticed... "Allix Ruby". *squeals* ;))

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  7. This story is amazing! I loved reading how God knows our needs and provides. Thank you for sharing! You were a beautiful bride by the way ;)

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  8. this entire story is such a God-thing.
    when i first saw your wedding picture, i loved your dress, and now that i know the story, i love it even more.
    this is just the coolest.

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  9. I'm back to say - I can see my head in one of these photos. And that makes me very happy indeed. :-)

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  10. Awesome story! This post was so helpful too as I was considering using their site in the very near future!

    Blessings girl :) Love seeing your work as well as the pics of your wedding.

    <3, Kayla

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  11. The dresses are made overseas in China though, just feel people should know. However out of all the overseas companies I came across they did get the best reviews. They do have a showroom where the writer states though so the information is not completely wrong just missing some vital details. Cheers, you looked and sound very happy. Glad your day was everything and more! :)

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Hey!! You're commenting!! You are so nice :) Thanks for making my day. :D