Although I've been part of a bridal party before, until yesterday, I've never had the opportunity to help a friend or family member through the intimate and once-in-a-lifetime process of picking out their wedding gown. When my one of my closets friends (who also happens to be a colleague here at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine), Erin Gulden, made an appointment at L'atelier Couture during its sample sale (going on this week), I knew I had to go along to not only to offer her my honest opinion and advice, but to document the process.
Unlike the frenzied, stressful, unromantic sample sales shown on Say Yes to the Dress, the process at L'atelier Couture was intimate, romantic, personal, and easygoing—we (Erin, her mom, and I) were the only people in the salon and we had the full attention of the owner, Amanda Kautt. After leisurely looking through the sample sale dresses, Erin spent the next hour-and-a-half trying them on while Kautt added accessories to help complete the look.
Two hours and 10 dresses later, Erin left with her dream gown, an ivory Peau de Soie strapless Elizabeth Fillmore dress with a trumpet silhouette and an antique silver floral lace trim that was less than half its original price. The gown, which was originally shown on the runway as a cocktail length dress with a long train, is the only one of its kind. After seeing her runway show, Kautt (who goes to New York's bridal market to buy every dress in her store) asked Ms. Fillmore to create a long version of the dress for her store. And since no one ever ordered the dress, Erin never has to worry about opening a magazine and seeing another bride in her gown.
Here's a look at all of the dresses Erin tried on.
The first Elizabeth Fillmore gown had exposed boning and lace appliques, but it was decided that the color washed her out.
The second Elizabeth Fillmore gown was a favorite, but the all-over lace made the accident-prone Erin nervous.
The color of the Lela Rose gown was perfect for Erin's complexion, but the dress lacked the level of elegance she was looking for.
When she first started looking for a dress, Erin thought she might go for a satin sheath look, but the fit of this style by Peter Langner wasn't quite what she was looking for.
The Swiss dot lace of this Rosa Clara gown felt special, but was deemed more appropriate for a spring bride (Erin and Reece are getting married in early September 2010).
Erin liked the cut of this Rosa Clara gown, but the color and weight of the silk organza felt a little too informal for her evening wedding.
Erin liked the sleeveless v-neck and all-over lace of this Rosa Clara dress, but it just didn't feel like The One.
The one that almost was . . . a silk organza strapless Vera Wang gown with a side bow. But as Erin's mom Pat succinctly put it, "this would have been the dress for the 23-year-old Erin . . .
. . . but this is the dress for the 27-year-old Erin." You know you've found the one when the entire room is moved to tears. The trumpet silhouette of this Elizabeth Fillmore gown accentuated Erin's curves and highlighted her small waist while the ivory color was perfect for her complexion. Doesn't she kind of look like a readheaded Jackie O?