A collage of Midwest Magnolia Lauren's dress-shopping experiences!

The rumors are true. It’s all about the dress. 

Before I was even engaged, I scoured bridal magazines, Pinterest and designers’ websites in search of the perfect ensemble for the big day.

But on the day of shopping, I turned to my best friend and true inspiration: my mother, Denise.

Anyone who knows her would say the same thing: She’s brilliant and truly talented in every possible way. She’s whom I’ve always looked to for fashion, design, beauty, and all things having to do with leading a life of service and love. Although I have an amazing “Bride Tribe” that means the world to me, my mom and I are like the Gilmore Girls, making it only fitting that looking for a dress would be us, and only us. So we hit the ground running.

First stop was Suburban Bridal, near 156th Street and West Center Road. Upon entering, it looked like a small selection. There were a variety of beautifully dressed mannequins, but all in all, only a few gowns were on display. The rest were hidden away (a very "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" situation). I tried on various styles and colors and fell in love over and over again with each and every dress I donned.

It became very clear, VERY quickly that this would be quite a daunting task.

The next boutique on our agenda was Ready or Knot in Rockbrook Village. I had heard so many glowing reviews about this shop that I couldn’t wait to make an appointment.

Walking in felt like something out of a dream. Lush rugs, dazzling chandeliers, oversize mirrors and dresses in every hue hanging gracefully all over the store. The natural light coming through the space made everything glow, shimmer and shine.

An associate named Jade began our appointment by asking questions about our wedding and my personal style. But one thing she asked stuck with me through this entire process of “saying ‘yes’ to the dress:"

“What four words do you want your guests to say about your look as a bride?”

This question was powerful and set the bar high for me as I browsed the racks.

At Ready of Knot, it was an hour of lace, veils and accessories. I twirled round and round in dress after dress as my mom served as my personal paparazzi. When we left, there was one dress on my heart, and it happened to be the very first dress I tried. #ThanksJade

Our next adventure was at Rhylan Lang in the Old Market. It was a complete escape from reality, making you feel as if you had a day in Manhattan, credit card in hand with no limit.

That being said, the dresses were at all different price points. For being such a posh atmosphere, the bridal consultants were as down to earth and helpful as can be. We were treated with such kindness and excitement as if I were the only bride in search of a dress. They did not pressure or rush us in any way, and I actually ended up leaving with advice on a lip stain from my bridal consultant.

Rhylan Lang was our favorite experience in this whole process. I loved EVERY single gown that I tried on. The designers they carry are second to none.

At the end of the day, many dresses had stolen my heart. It was now a matter of cost and style.

I had tried on around 40 dresses at this point. My favorite designers were Wtoo by Watters, Willowby, Hayley Paige, Augusta Jones and Enzoani.

The truth is, I’ve made my decision, but I’m still second guessing myself. Having the opportunity to try on such gorgeous creations in such exquisite spaces with my mom is something I will treasure for life. I could have chosen any of the dresses I tried on at any of the boutiques, and there were multiple one that I envisioned myself in.

It all comes down to that question that Jade at Ready or Knot so eloquently asked. Although I daydreamed about many gowns, there was only one that reflected my personality and checked the boxes on these four words: classic, elegant, beautiful and vintage.

The dress is everything. It sets the tone for your entire day. Choose wisely. Take pictures. Don’t rush the process. Ultimately this is your choice. Don’t be pushed into what others want versus what you want.

Whomever you choose to include in your experience is your own prerogative. I chose to have my mom and only my mom. We compiled all the photos of the dresses we loved, put them in a slideshow and had my dad choose his favorite, without bias. And finally, once I had made my official decision, I brought my parents and my two best friends, Sidney and Jennifer, to the boutique and said “Yes” to the dress!

So obviously you’re sitting there wondering, what dress did I choose and where did I buy it? Was it the Montgomery, the Karen or the Natassia?

I’m proud to say that I am a Ready or Knot bride, and that I will be wearing Augusta Jones. The style, however, will remain a secret until the big day. 

I look at the picture of myself in my dress about 10 times a day. I could have chosen a pink dress, like I’d originally planned. Another dress I tried had the Southern belle feel that I embrace in my daily life. Yet another would have fulfilled every Disney Princess fantasy I’d ever imagined. However, the Augusta Jones is everything I am and everything I wish to be, much like how I feel about my mother.

One thing to do for sure, my future brides, is savor this time. It is such a gift and a joy. If it is proving to be anything less, rethink your strategy.

Best of luck, ladies. Be true to yourself. Let your dress tell your story.

– Your Midwest Magnolia

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