A few weeks ago, I went to Elizabeth Johns in Morristown to try on wedding dresses. It was really a turning point for me in the whole wedding planning process. It’s no secret that I never pictured myself as a bride or having a wedding, but now that we are… I was really starting to feel overwhelmed. My friend Elsa strongly encouraged me to go to Elizabeth Johns just for the experience and she sent me a bunch of links to dresses she could picture me in. My parents had a tiny wedding and my mom has always said her one regret was not trying on dresses. So with encouragement from Elsa and my mom, I booked an appointment. I was planning on going alone and at the last minute asked two of Mike’s sisters to come with me. I cannot express enough how much fun it was and how grateful I am that I went.
I have DMed with a few people saying that they had similar experiences, so I’m mostly writing this in case there is someone out there who feels the same way that I did. Trust me on this… GO.
I’m a very visual person and I really think just seeing myself in a wedding gown instantly let me picture myself as a bride. It was, literally, like a light switch. I am almost embarrassed by how much I enjoyed it because I had been so adamant for years that I wouldn’t… but I guess you really can’t know what you don’t know. This is also, as you can imagine, a difficult time to plan a wedding and there are so many unknowns and things out of our control that this was a purely FUN thing to do. It was something to get excited about and, even with COVID restrictions (limited friends in the salon, everyone wearing masks, etc.), it was a bit of time where I didn’t have to think about the pandemic and how it would affect the wedding.
Elizabeth Johns invited me back to try on more gowns and to talk about what the experience was like and, well, I couldn’t say no!! Trying on gowns for fun? Count me in. *Cue “Never Let Me Go” by Jakaranda* (IYKYK)
1. Pick a bridal salon that carries designers you’re interested in. I’ve obviously never tried on dresses before and didn’t even think about how one salon might not carry a designer that another does. I was very interested in Amsale gowns and that’s how I landed on Elizabeth Johns. (Elsa wore an Amsale gown!)
2. Even if you have a style in mind, try on different designers and silhouettes too. This was probably the most eye opening to me… I went in thinking I knew exactly what I wanted and ended up loving a different style more. (That I thought I would hate.) Working with a great consultant helps as they’re able to see a few dresses on you and then give amazing recommendations that maybe you wouldn’t think of. Weirdly I’d think of it like applying to colleges. You don’t want to apply to too many and be overwhelmed by your options and you don’t want to apply to too few and not have enough. Try on one basic dress (like a safety school) and one more wild dress (like a reach). You’ll probably end up somewhere in the middle, but you never know!
3. In addition to how you look, don’t forget to check in with how you feel. At first I was so focused on how I looked (“is this flattering?” “does this work with my body type?”) that I wasn’t considering how I felt. I wish I had thought from Dress #1: Is this a dress I feel “myself” in? Do I feel good?
4. Bring people who will give honest but uplifting feedback. There is an element of vulnerability with trying on gowns. I loved having Mike’s sisters there in person to do a good mix of hyping and critiques, while still gently guiding you in the right direction. I also thought it was great to have someone there who had gone through it before (Mike’s older sister) because sometimes I felt like I couldn’t articulate what I wanted or how I was feeling and she was able to speak on my behalf.
For the second time around, I went with my friend Mekina who is an incredible wedding photographer if you need one!! Since this was purely for fun, I had a blast picking out dresses that were a little bit outside of my comfort zone. I think it goes without saying that I won’t share my dress until later 🥰
(Everyone wore masks inside. I did take mine off for a few of the photos but only when Mekina and Dina, my consultant, were on the other side of the salon with a zoom lens! As someone who has been wary of being inside anywhere other than my own home, I really appreciated Elizabeth John’s commitment to safety!!)
Anne Barge Blue Willow “Paloma”
Soft sweetheart full faille gown with asymmetric pleating on bodice with detachable swag straps and buttons to hem
This one felt very traditional to me. The detachable sleeves made me feel a bit like Cinderella!
Hayley Paige “Effie”
Tulle ball gown with encrusted pearl detail, illusion net bateau neckline and sweetheart lining, three quarter length sleeves and open square back, tiers tulle skirt with horsehair trim
This gown is gorgeous. Very winter princess. I LOVE the sleeves.
Amsale Nouvelle “Shea” + Kiera Elise Collection for Elizabeth Johns “Amore” Veil
Taffeta spaghetti strap A-line gown with sheer organza trimmed camisole neckline; Swiss dot cathedral length
This was my absolute favorite combination. Can we talk about how gorgeous that swiss dot veil is?!
Kiera Elise Collection “Bridget” Veil
Cathedral length circle cut veil with hand applied floral appliqué and pearls
I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful this veil is in person.
Mira Zwillinger “Verona” + Elizabeth Johns “Blaine” Veil
V-neckline and back mermaid gown with 3D floral appliqués
THIS DRESS. Even though it’s not super “me” I couldn’t get over how beautiful it was.
I also tried on a few shorter dresses. Elizabeth Johns has a bunch of options for rehearsal dinners, elopements, and courthouse weddings too. I have seen a trend of brides doing small ceremonies now in a fun, shorter dress and saving their gown for a bigger event down the line.
Above: John Paul Ataker “1142-1871” + Elizabeth Johns “Amy” Veil
Below: John Paul Ataker “2529-2112 + Elizabeth Johns “Amy” Veil