Wedding Wednesday: Finding the Dress That Sings to You

My grandma told me to find the dress that sings to me. That was one piece of advice that always stuck with me. And when I found my dress, it did sing to me. I just didn’t recognize it at first… Because even though dress shopping is super fun, it can also be very overwhelming! I was so worried about making the wrong decision, I doubted myself. After a very long and drawn out dress shopping extravaganza, though, I finally realized it was singing to me. Loudly, too! So, first and foremost, listen for the dress that sings to you :)

That being said, there are definitely a few things I wish I would have known when I started looking! Here are a few do’s and don’ts that, in my humble opinion, can help you have a wonderful experience and find the perfect dress for you:

  1. Do make appointments. Some dress shops require an appointment, some don’t. Either way, it is best if you call ahead and make an appointment. That way you are guaranteed to have one on one attention from a consultant and they are able to give you the best service possible! And if you are going to more than one dress shop in a day, just be sure to make the appointments far enough apart that you have plenty of time to try on dresses at each place, as well as taking travel time into account.
  2. Don’t invite everyone and their mom to come. Ok, clearly a bit of a hyperbole, but the less people you have, the better! While it might seem like a fun idea to invite your mom, and your fiance’s sister, and all your bridesmaids, and your favorite cousin, and your mom’s best friend who is a like a second mom, etc., that is a WHOLE lot of different opinions all in one room. And while it’s nice to have a second or third opinion, ultimately the decision comes down to YOU. Sometimes a group of people that large can sway your decision, even though they mean well. Simply having, for example, your mom and 2-3 of your closest girlfriends plenty of people. Invite a few people who will give honest feedback, but will also respect your decision.
  3. Do try on all different styles of dresses. Yes, even ones you would never think you’d wear to your wedding. Why? Well first of all, because it’s fun! When else do you get to try on crazy extravagant dresses!? Even if you could never see yourself walking down the aisle in a big, poofy ball gown, or a silky, sexy number,  they’re still fun to try on. Second, you might surprise yourself! I’ve known brides who had selected what they thought was THE dress, but they just tried on a few others for fun, and ended up falling in love with something they never thought they would. And they never would have known if they hadn’t tried it on! And third, if you do have an idea in your head of what you want, it could confirm that even more for you. Maybe you will dislike everything else you try on, but hey, at least you now know there was nothing else better!
  4. Don’t try on dresses over your budget. If you have a strict budget in mind, it’s not worth putting on a dress you can’t have. Honestly, it’s just teasing yourself. Chances are you’ll love it (things we want but can’t have definitely have a tendency of doing that…), and then you’ll just be wishing for that dress when you try on other dresses. It’s better to not go there!
  5. Do get an understanding of different fabrics and dress shades. Varying fabrics (lace, silk, oragnza, taffeta, chiffon, tulle, etc.) and shades of the dress (stark white, diamond white, natural white, ivory, champagne, etc.) play a big role in how the dress looks on you, and how it photographs. For instance, stark white has tendency to look almost blue, while ivory usually has yellow overtones. Tulle usually looks light and airy, while organza has a soft, organic feel. If you go into your dress shopping with a decent understanding of the fabrics and shades, it can really help your decision! Start looking at photos of dresses that you like (as if you haven’t already been doing that), and take note of how they look in the photograph. This can help you figure out what you like (and what you don’t like), so you know what to expect when you try on different dresses.
  6. Don’t be afraid to get creative. If you’ve found a dress that is almost perfect except for that one little thing…. change it! Most dresses can be altered without much trouble, and if you alter a bit or even just a little, it totally customizes it and makes it personal to you and your wedding! I loved everything about my wedding dress except that the neck and back line went straight across. So I had it altered to be a sweetheart neckline and dipped it down in the back down and viola! It was perfect. So don’t rule out a dress if there are a few little changes you would want. They can probably be done!
  7. Do think about comfort. We all know the saying “beauty is pain,” buuuuuut when it comes to your wedding day, I have to disagree! You are going to be wearing that dress ALL DAY LONG. So just consider how comfortable it is! Think about how heavy it is (if you’re getting married in the summer that can be HOT!), think about how tight it is (will you be able to dance freely, bend to hug people, get in and out of car?), think about if it itches or rubs anywhere (no one wants red marks in their photos!), think about the fit (are you going to be hiking it up all day because it doesn’t stay on well?). I’m not saying you can’t buy a dress unless it’s perfectly comfortable, just take those things into consideration when you are trying on.
  8. Don’t buy the first dress you try on. There’s something about the first time you see yourself in a wedding dress, any wedding dress, that really hits you. It’s an exciting, emotional time and can make you think somewhat irrationally. Ha. Now, I’m not saying the first dress you try on can’t be the one you end up with. But if it is the one, it will still be there after you try on other dresses! And if you’re indecisive like me, trying on lots of dresses but coming back to that one will get rid of the “what if” factor.
  9. Do sleep on it. Not everyone will agree with this, but I don’t think you should buy a dress right then and there, the day you tried it on. Even if you think for sure it’s the one, sleep on it. Wait a few days. Try on a few other dresses, even. If after all of that you’re still dreaming about it and can’t stop thinking about that one, then you REALLY know. After all, the dress is a BIG deal, not to mention investment, and in my opinion it’s not a decision that needs to be made quickly. I was THIS CLOSE to buying a dress I tried on my first day shopping. My mom even loved it. But we called me dad, and he told us we needed to sleep on it. It would still be there in the morning. So we waited, and then did a little more shopping, and I am SO GLAD we did! I look back at that dress now, and while it was still a nice dress, I know I would have regretted it.
  10. Do HAVE FUN! The most important thing is to have fun! If you’re worried about what other people want or stressing that you won’t find the right one, take a deep breath, and remember that you are getting ready to marry the man of your dreams. And he is going to love you in whatever gown you choose :)


Barb Benson - July 20, 2012 - 4:16 am

Great advice Carissa! Wow, so wise for one so young. :) But then, how can you ever go wrong when you start with, “My Grandma told me….”

Park City Engagements: Chelsea + David

When they started hanging out, it was unofficial. You know, they didn’t post it all over Facebook or put it out there for the entire world to see. David liked Chelsea, and Chelsea liked David, simple as that. They went out with friends, enjoyed each others’ company, and kept things fun. Unofficially official.

Things became a bit more official when David invited Chelsea to join him and his family as they vacationed in Park City. David’s family comes basically every winter for some skiing and, much like hot chocolate and marshmallows on a blustery evening, it became even more obvious that Chelsea and David belonged together. So David decided to make things forever.

In December he took her to the Ski Bridge on Main Street, bent down on one knee, and asked her to be his wife. Officially. And I’m pretty sure she didn’t have think twice about her answer :)

We started off in the mountains of Park City, and I was so impressed that Chelsea rocked out in heels! 

I loved the way David looked at her, like he couldn’t get enough :)

I feel like this one belongs in a magazine, because honestly, they look hot!!

This one… this makes my heart happy.

Chelsea, you are so gorge!

As we headed back down the mountain, we came upon a few deer. It could not have been prettier!

Then we headed to the Ski Bridge for a few last pictures :)

So dang cute!

I’ll finish up with this little set.

Love :)

Chelsea and David, thank you so much for such a fun evening!! Even though we were almost rained out, you guys were total troopers and I’m so glad we were able to fit in a session while you guys were here :) I hope you love the photos as much as I loved taking them!!

Tara Winsor - July 13, 2012 - 10:08 am

Love these photos! THey show so much personality and love! You did an AMAZING job! Congratulations to the happy couple!

Gone Blueberry Pickin’

If you had asked me a week ago how many blueberries I would be eating this week, I would have told you, very matter-of-factly, zero. Nilch. Nada. I’ve never liked blueberries. I wish that I did, because I love most fruit, and blueberries happen to be extremely good for you. I’ve just never grown a taste for them. Never craved them. There are a lot of foods I would rather eat before the list gets down to blueberries. Now, raspberries on the other hand…

But I digress. This week Jake and I are taking a little family vacation at my aunt and uncle’s lake house in Fremont, Michigan. A much needed week of sleeping in, playing in the water, being with family, and laying in the sun. Oh, and of course food. Because if you know my family at all, you know we don’t mess around with food. Including the fresh picked blueberries. Whenever the blueberries are in season here, my family goes and pick pounds, literally (17 pounds were picked this week and they’re almost gone). Then they eat them by the handful. Put them in cereal. Make pies and crisps. My brother Caleb wanted me to blog about how he went to the bathroom and it was blue… but maybe I’ll save that for another blog post. (And maybe I won’t.)

Anyhow, I’d never actually gone on these blueberry picking adventures before. But seeing as this is Jake’s first time at the lake house, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go along. And somewhere between rocking out to Pandora on my phone and looking for the biggest, juiciest berries I could find, I decided to pop one in my mouth. You know, for fun. But oh my SWEET BABY JESUS was it amazing!!!! It didn’t taste like any blueberry I’ve ever had before. It didn’t even taste like a blueberry. It tasted like HEAVEN. IN MY MOUTH. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t eaten my share of those 17 pounds. I think it’s safe to say I am officially a Michigan Blueberry Lover.

If you follow me on instagram, I’m sorry I’ve been blowing up your newsfeed with pictures of blueberries. If you don’t, here’s what you may or may not be missing!

Scenes of blueberry picking.


On the vine. 

Best snack ever: fresh blueberries and dark chocolate M&M’s.

Also, the winner of the TJ Maxx gift card is… Julie Snow!!! Congrats Julie!!! Email me your address and I’ll mail you the goods :) Thanks everyone for playing! 

Happy Wednesday :)

Roommate - July 11, 2012 - 8:07 am

You painted those perfect nails. :) The blueberries look amazing too.

Lyss - July 11, 2012 - 8:16 am

She paid me to be her hand model…sorry to burst your bubble hehe :)

Park City Engagements: Liz + Charlie

He waited. Some might say he chickened out at first, but Charlie would tell you he was waiting for the right way to ask her out. After several months teasing each other lightly, they finally decided to hang out together. And of course there was still quite a bit of teasing involved. Particularly about another girl who seemed to have a crush on Charlie. Liz would coyly joke about him asking this girl out, but he would dodge the question and deny that he would ask her out. They were loving every minute of it. So much that Charlie knew he had to hang out with Liz again. But he waited.

Until 5 minutes after, that is, when he called her on the way home. Liz answered, surprised. “I thought of a reason not go out with her,” Charlie said into the phone. “I can tell her I’m going out with someone else.” Liz’s heart beat a little faster. “I can tell her I’m going out with you. Will you go on a date with me?”  Very smooth move on his part ;)

So whether the waiting was nervousness or intentional, Liz though it was something else entirely… it was perfect. So she said yes. And the rest, as they say, is history!

These two were SO much fun to photograph. Their natural chemistry together and beautiful love showed through in every picture… 

Liz and Charlie love to drink wine together (they are even going to have homemade wine at their wedding!!), so we decided to have some along for their shoot. And when Liz pulled out the homemade fabric garland… well, let’s just say I was one happy camper! (Er, photographer.)

How cute are these?!


Oh you guys. You’re both so fab!!

This light……

These next ones? Adorbs.

So perfect for each other!

I’ll end on two of my favorites.

Charlie and Liz, you two are such gems and I can’t tell you how excited I am for your wedding in September! It’s going to be a party :) Thank you for the honor of documenting your love! (And for putting up with all the bugs! Haha.) You guys are wonderful. Much love!

Kate Novak - July 9, 2012 - 2:07 pm

Ah, isn’t Liz just so beautiful? Charlie doesn’t look too shabby either! :) Can’t wait for Sept 1. <3