Photo: Amardeep Singh
Meet our new guest blogger Hayley Phelan, fashion features editor at Lucky Magazine. From finding the right dress to picking out her bridesmaids' gowns, Phelan will be chronicling her experience while planning her New York City wedding to fiancé Chris Black, a creative consultant for brands like New Balance, Wool and the Gang and Harry's. For her first installment, the editor details her quest for the perfect dress.
After I got engaged and began looking for my wedding dress, I turned to previously betrothed friends and colleagues for advice on how they had found The One. Each of them said the same thing: Keep an open mind when shopping because, chances are, what you think you want and what you'll actually want are two different things. I called BS.
I knew exactly what I wanted and I was determined to get it. Specifically, I wanted a floor-sweeping, bias-cut silk gown that flattered every inch and looked effortless (but elegant, of course). I wanted Carolyn Bessette Kennedy's wedding dress. Was that too much to ask?
I know some people are thrilled to go wedding dress shopping, but I, unfortunately, am not one of those people. I wish I was — much in the same way that I wish I liked Mad Men — but in the course of my seven year relationship with my now-fiancé I hadn't changed, so why start now?
Luckily, I had wonderful and wonderfully-excited friends who motivated me to start booking appointments. First up? Lanvin.
To be honest, I wasn't really expecting to find The One there. I love Lanvin like any good fashion girl, but the storied French house is known more for unapologetically-glamorous (often very voluminous) gowns than for the pared-down minimalism I wanted. In fact, the main reason I booked an appointment at Lanvin was because one of my girlfriends was coming to visit me in New York and it was the only bridal retailer with last-minute availability.
I tried on many beautiful gowns that day (including the one Kim Kardashian would wear months later on the cover of Vogue, which, by the way, is gray, not white) and while they were all lovely and luxurious beyond belief, none of them fit my Carolyn Besette vision. The last gown, however, came closest: from the front it was a completely unadorned strapless column dress that draped perfectly on the body. The back, however, showcased Alber Elbaz's signature whimsy — a massive, luxuriant bow. As soon as I put it on I knew I liked it. Then I realized I like liked it. Could it even be love? The more I moved in it, pacing back and forth in front of the mirror, the more I began to think, "Hey, I could get married in this dress."
But it was my very first appointment, and we all know you don't get to find The One so easily. So I spent the next month and a half visiting bridal boutiques. But appointment after appointment, I still couldn't get that last Lanvin dress out of my head. When I came across a gorgeous vintage silk bias-cut — the very epitome of Carolyn Bessette-ness — and felt unmoved, I knew the search was over. I was in too deep; I was a goner.
My friends were right: It wasn't exactly what I had set out for. But I was head-over-heels in love nonetheless. And isn't that always the case when it comes to finding The One?
About that: I met my now-fiancé backstage at a concert at Madison Square Gardens in 2006. We were total strangers. I was 19, and he lived in Atlanta at the time. I never thought I would see the guy again let alone marry him almost eight years later. But, there it is: We're getting married this August in New York.