Princess brides: Seven sparkling gowns befitting a royal wedding

C-VILLE WEDDINGS

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Photo: Katie Stoops Photography Photo: Katie Stoops Photography

Whether it’s a crystal-covered shoulder, a silk-jacquard print, or a romantic bolero, it’s that little something extra that makes your dress—and your day—even more magical. Just ask Kate Middleton (lace sleeves, anyone?).

Pretty in petals
ERIN HOFFMAN (above)
Date of her wedding: May 29, 2011
Groom’s name: Paul Gray
Where she got her dress: Priscilla of Boston at Tysons Corner
Designer: Melissa Sweet
Cost: $5,000
Alterations: $500
How many dresses she tried on: 15
Why she chose it: I knew that I wanted a dress that was traditional with just a little bit of fun mixed in. After trying on 14 other dresses, I was desparate to find something that wasn’t too plain but that also didn’t have a lot of beading. When I tried on my dress I knew it was the perfect balance, and I instantly fell in love with it. Once I tried it on with the matching veil I was sold!
Favorite detail about it: I love the cascading petals down the dress and the veil. It brought the right level of interest to the dress without being overwhelming.
How it worked out: Our ceremony was held outside at the Clifton Inn, and I think that the dress was the perfect fit for our garden wedding. My only regret was not having a shorter dress to change into later as it ended up being close to 100 degrees (which we didn’t expect in May)!

Photo: Cramer Photo

Blushing bride
NATALIE SWOPE
Date of her wedding: July 7, 2012
Groom’s name: Langdon Greenhalgh
Where she got her dress: Carine’s Bridal Atelier in Georgetown
Designer: Monique Lhuillier, “Peony” dress in blush
Cost: $5,500
Alterations: $600
How many dresses she tried on: I visited eight bridal boutiques and tried on approximately 60 dresses (total) over the course of six weeks.
Why she chose it: The blush color complemented my skin tone and provided a welcome departure from traditional white. I also loved the delicate feel and exquisite drape of the silk jacquard fabric, which I thought would breathe well in summertime heat. The overall silhouette of the dress was figure-conscious but non-restricting (I definitely wanted a dress that would not hinder me on the dance floor!). Most importantly, however, I just loved the inherent versatility of its design, which was unique enough to be dramatic but understated enough to remain elegant.
Favorite detail about it: My favorite detail is the silk jacquard print: lightweight yet luxurious.
How it worked out: I loved every minute I spent in this dress, despite the sweltering 104-degree weather. Its unfussy design gave me free reign to accessorize, and I ended up wearing some stunning adornments, including heirloom jewelry and a customized sparkly headband. The dress truly reflected the tone of our formal evening nuptials while also proving to be an outrageously fun dancing frock.

Photo: Jason Keefer

Have a ball(gown)!
SARAH SANJAKDAR
Date of her wedding: September 2, 2012
Groom’s name: David Emery
Where she got her dress: Hitched Bridal Salon in Georgetown
Designer: Christos. “Peony” dress
Cost: $6,900
Alterations: $500 to add a bustle and cups
How many dresses she tried on: Six
Why she chose it: It was classic but blush and had beautiful workmanship and floral detailing that I found suitable for an outdoor wedding.
Favorite detail about it: All the appliqué flowers an Swarovski crystals sewn on.
How it worked out: The dress worked out very well because although it was ballgown, it was light and easy to move in. The one thing I would recommend to future brides is to skip the train and bustle for an outdoor wedding because it was a bit of a hassle for me.

Photo: Adam Barnes

Keep it classic
RACHEL ERWIN
Date of her wedding: June 18, 2011
Groom’s name: Jeffrey Meyer
Where she got her dress: Bella Rosa Bridal in Richmond
Designer: Paloma Blanca
Cost: $3,000
Alterations: $300
How many dresses she tried on: 20
Why she chose it: I knew that I wanted to find a dress that was timeless that I could look back on in 30 years and wouldn’t feel those pangs of, “What was I thinking?” I tried on a handful of dresses and I had thought I had found “the one.” When I went back to try it on a couple of weeks later, a new gown was in the window and I decided to try it on while I was there. Conveniently, they had just gotten it in that week and I was the second person to try it on. From the moment I put it on, I knew it was “the dress.”
Favorite detail about it: The keyhole cut out on the back of dress.
How it worked out: Like a dream!

Photo: Will Kerner

Drama keen
AFOLAKE OJUMU
Date of her wedding: October 6, 2012
Groom’s name: Andrew Wilson
Where she got her dress: Amanda’s Touch in Staunton, Virginia
Designer: Alfred Angelo
Cost: $895 (after a $100 off coupon)
How many dresses she tried on: About five
Why she chose it: I really wanted to buy an all lace dress, but they’re so expensive and I was trying to stay within a budget. So I figured that if I couldn’t have a lace dress, I would buy something that I had never seen on anyone else before. I tried on a dress that had red lace on it, one that was a really fitted evening gown, and one that was a one shoulder-style dress with gold trim. Then they brought me my dress and I loved it the minute I saw it. It was ivory, it fit beautifully, and the flowers on the skirt were big, dramatic, and so different from anything that I had seen on any other bride. The moment that I put it on was the first moment that I felt like I was actually getting married. I didn’t even want to take it off; I just hung out in the store for the next 45 minutes wearing my dress.
Favorite detail about it: I loved the flowers on the skirt. They were big, had silvery beads, and really made the dress unique.
How it worked out: It was wonderful! I wore it throughout the ceremony and the first half of the reception and it was very comfortable. The skirt was poofy and the train was fairly long and so it looked great in the pictures and when I was walking down the aisle. My husband loved it too; his suit and all his details were pretty unique as well, so we were a matched set.

Photo: Eric Kelley Photography

Bold shoulder
JENNIFER DAUGHERTY
Date of her wedding: June 15, 2012
Groom’s name: Jeff Krentel
Where she got her dress: Riziks in downtown Washington, D.C.
Designer: Jenny Packham
Alterations: None. I was exact the size we ordered so it worked out. And, the 4″ heels I wore made the length of the dress end right at my toes.
How many dresses she tried on: I went to three stores with some friends (not all in one day—that would be crazy!) and had a good time with it; we laughed and made sure we had an enjoyable time. I wanted to narrow down the process so that when my mom came into town we could go to try on just a few to pick out the perfect one. Although, the first time I saw my dress it was an instant favorite. I made sure I tried on others just to check to see if I was irrationally in love with the Jenny Packham Eden dress. No other dresses stood a chance next to it.
Why she chose it: The dress was unique and represented my style: a little bohemian mixed with a little glamour.
Favorite detail about it: My favorite detail has to be the beaded shoulders. They are so elegant and special.
How it worked out: Because I loved my dress so much, when I woke up the morning of the wedding all I wanted to do was put it on and get married. I was so eager and excited to finally get to wear what I consider the most beautiful dress I have ever worn.

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