I wore a wedding dress for a day and here’s what I learned

As I have never been engaged, I have never had a true, legitimate reason to wear a wedding dress.  I’ve always wondered what it’s like for the brides that I work with on the wedding day: Are those dresses heavy?  Do you sweat a lot?  Is it as hard to walk in as it looks?  How do you pee?!

My wedding dress virginity status changed this past month when my good friend Kimberly from KMitiska Photography asked me to be a model-slash-fake bride for a styled shoot that she was planning up in Evergreen.  Always interested in learning about every aspect imaginable about weddings and the industry, I jumped at the opportunity to see what it’s like on the other side of the camera.

We set up a time to head to Brilliant Bridal and try on some gowns.  I didn’t really quite know what to expect, as I’ve only really watched brides try on dresses on the show Say Yes to the Dress.  I’m an only child as well, so sadly, I’ve never been able to go dress shopping with a sister or anyone else.

KMitiska Photography

All photos courtesy of the amazingly talented KMitiska Photography; Something Styled Events + Floral Design’s bouquet

Thoughts while trying on the dresses:

These things can be heeaaaavvvvvyyyyy.  I tried on a few dresses that had very intricate and detailed beading across the entire bodice, and all I could think about was how heavy the gowns felt when I had them on.  I’m a sweaty person by nature, so I could only imagine myself wearing one of these behemoths, on a hot summer day — let’s just say I am 100% sure that I’d melt like the Wicked Witch of the West.  We opted to go for two lighter dresses, and I felt much better with this decision as it was also a bit difficult to move around in the heavier, more beaded options.

Strapless dresses aren’t so bad.  My neck is my least favorite part of my body (not sure why exactly, but we all have that one area that we don’t really like, right?) and thus, I’ve always been attracted to anything that can cover up my neck: scarves, boatneck shirts, collars.  The thought of wearing a strapless dress was kind of scary, as I wasn’t sure if I was going to feel confident with having my neck + décolletage so blatantly on display.  After trying on nothing but strapless dresses, I learned that my neck isn’t so god-awful after all, and that I — gasp! — actually looked good and felt confident in a strapless gown.

Booty booty booty booty rockin’ everywhere!  Once you get in the dressing room, it’s down to your skivvies — along with the help of the sales assistant at the bridal shop.  For some ladies, this might be uncomfortable depending on your level of modesty.  I was okay with it seeing as how I wish I could live solely in underwear, but it really resonated with me just how intimate — and intimidating — dress shopping can be.

Something Styled Events

All photos courtesy KMitiska Photography; details of the shoot as styled by Sarah Johns

Two weeks later, it was time for the shoot!  The getting ready process was just as fun as the actual shoot itself.  My roommate, Hallie of Starling Salon and Hallie Adrian Hair, va-va-voomed my locks for the shoot that morning.  Afterwards, it was such a blast getting pampered by makeup artist Cassandra Garza, who gave me the bronziest + sexiest smokey eye I’ve ever had.  Throughout the two-hour shoot and well into the late evening, my makeup never wavered — the sign that Cassie is a true pro of her craft.

Kim wanted two different looks for this shoot.  One to appeal to traditional glam brides and one for those a touch more outdoorsy and with a bit more edge.  To differentiate each look, we built in accessories around our two strapless gowns.  For the first, we added in a stunning crystal headpiece from Veil Trends and kept the additional accessories to a minimum.

For the second look, we added in a plaid flannel top from Charlotte Russe and a dramatic black lace veil, also from Veil Trends.  Our florist, Sarah from Something Styled Events + Floral Design, crafted a jaw-dropping moody bouquet and floral crown.  Everything came together perfectly.

Now, for the fun part: the shoot!

KMitiska Photography

All photos courtesy KMitiska Photography; this was for our first glam look at the Evergreen Spillway

Photo shoot thoughts:

My level of self-consciousness definitely increased as soon as the camera came out.  While I find myself to be a fairly confident person (I think all businesspeople have to be to a certain extent), I felt very unsure of my appearance while being photographed in the gown.  How does my hair look?  Do I have lipstick on my teeth?  Suck it in!  Is my double chin visible?  Suck it in more!  How does my butt look?  Are there any wrinkles in the gown that I need to smooth out?  Seriously, suck it in!  All these thoughts played on repeat in my head for the first chunk of the photos.  After awhile, the nerves + anxiety slowly began to fade away as I got into a groove with Kim behind the lens.  It really hammered home how important it is to pick a wedding photographer whom you really jive with for your wedding day.  Kim made me feel gorgeous and hearing her encouragement behind the camera brought me out of my shell and got me to relax and bring on that patented Tyra fierceness.

Two words: HAIR SPRAY.  Your hair stylist will always make sure that your updo or curls are ready to head out into the elements upon finishing their services.  However, when you get out there, Mother Nature can take over and the last thing you want to do is be actively worrying about your how your hair is holding up.  Thanks to my roommate, Hallie, my curls + volume lasted throughout the entire shoot.  But, because it was super windy at both locations, there were times where my hair was whipping back and forth, causing stray hairs to splay across my forehead and at times, major static attacks.  The trick here was a simple one, one that every maid of honor can remember for the wedding day: hair spray.  I brought a can of aerosol with me for the shoot just in case we needed it, and I’m so glad we did.  Put this on your wedding day checklist of things to bring along, bridey!  I’ll be happy to stash it in my camera bag in case you need it.

Wedding dress tips

All photos courtesy KMitiska Photography

Yes, it really is as hard to walk in these things as it looks.  Damn.  This was a lot harder than I was expecting.  Sure, I’ve worn my share of high heels out to cut a rug at the bars in college, but the combo of a long-ass wedding gown, four-inch heels that I haven’t worn in pretty much forever, and walking in uneven-slash-muddy conditions was a challenged reserved only for superheroes.  It took me forever to get anywhere while wearing the gown, and I immediately empathized with my brides.  Pro tip to grooms, brides, and bridal partiers alike: Make sure you help the bride carry her gown, her bouquet, her whatever, on the day of the wedding.  It is not a feat for us mere mortals!

KMitiska Photography

All photos courtesy KMitiska Photography; here, Kim + her wicked rich black + white processing makes me look entirely more glam than I really am as I stumbled + sauntered (very, very slowly) around the field at Three Sisters Open Space is Evergreen (I also somehow I miraculously avoided rolling an ankle)

It was really nice to have an extra person there to ensure a smooth operation.  Sarah Johns, the florist and event planner we worked with for this shoot, stuck around with us to help out at the shoot.  It was absolutely paramount that she came with us to each photo location as she helped tweak the floral crown as needed, adjust the dress when it was getting bunchy, carry things because I was too busy worrying about spraining my ankles, and make sure anything else wasn’t amiss.  Having this extra set of eyes was hugely important to help the shoot run smoothly and to help Kim focus on taking the incredible photos that she does.  While it’s not always possible to have a stylist at every wedding, it is possible to at least have a wedding planner or day-of coordinator to help out.  I highly recommend this to all couples, regardless of how big or small your wedding day is.  When you get that dress on, the last thing you should want to do is micro-manage the fine print details of the wedding day.  It’s much better for the couples to be able to pass off those stressful details to someone else, and an event designer or coordinator is a great option.

Wedding dress tips

All photos courtesy KMitiska Photography; thank you to Sarah for helping out so much during the shoot!

Veils have a mind of their own.  For our first glam look, the headpieces were fairly low-maintenance and easy to adjust if needed.  For the second look with the red flannel, however, we added in that statement black lace veil from Veil Trends.  I’ve helped brides with veils as needed throughout the day plenty of times before, but I had yet to really experience what it’s like to wear one.  And let me tell you.  Veils are undoubtedly one of the most timeless accessories you can wear as a bride, but they are also one of the more high-maintenance accessories of the lot.  Each time Kim would adjust the veil to get it photo-ready for a shot, it was incredibly difficult to not feel like my head was being pulled around in all directions.  I knew Kim was being as gentle as possible, but that’s simply the nature of veils — they’re attached to your head and wherever your veil goes, so goes your head.  If you’ve ever had your hair pulled, even in the slightest, you know the discomfort.  It’s the same for veils.

Brideys of the world, I feel for you — these things are tricky!

Veil Trends veils

All photos courtesy KMitiska Photography; isn’t this piece from Veil Trends just stunning?!

I wish pre-wedding bridal portraits would become more of a thing.  I’ve done a few bridal portrait sessions for my brides in the past and have always hoped that this type of session would take off here in Colorado.  They’re a big deal in the southern states but for some reason, they haven’t caught on here.  There have been so many wedding days where the timeline has become too squished due to a late vendor arrival, hair + makeup taking too long, or rain pushing back the photo times, for example, and on those days, it’s tougher to get those rockin’ photos of each spouse-to-be by themselves.  Doing a bridal portrait session (or a groom’s session — dudes deserve rad photos, too) before the wedding is the perfect way to still get those breathtaking shots in case you don’t have the time on the wedding day itself.  Why not schedule your hair + makeup trial and bouquet trial on the same day and then book the portrait session after?  It’ll be a great way to not only get more images in your wedding gear that you’ve heavily invested in and you get an exact run-through of what to expect on the wedding day.  Everyone wins.

All things aside, this was seriously a blast!  While all the aforementioned facets are definitely stressful in and of themselves, I couldn’t help but feel so awesome during the shoot.  All of the little annoying pieces faded away when I realized how truly beautiful I felt in these gowns.  It was such a fun time and it made me even more excited for the brides that I’ll be working with this year.  I mean, if I had this much fun marrying myself, how much fun can it be to do all this and marry the person of your dreams as well?!

Veil Trends black lace veil

All photos courtesy KMitiska Photography; thank you to all the vendors who helped Kim bring this shoot to life!

To all my delightful brideys out there reading this, I can’t wait for your wedding day to get you in that bangin’ dress and to get those rad, once-in-a-lifetime photos.  Hopefully some of my wedding dress tips can help you get ready for your wedding day!

xo, Ashley

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