How I Got My Gown: Maryland
Real brides tell us how they scored their dream dresses
The Bride: Tracy Smith, a 37-year-old mother
Her Gown: Carolina Herrera
Her Story: "I instantly fell in love with the gown on the cover of the first magazine I purchased after I got engaged. I ripped it off and immediately began my research to find it. A few weeks later, I was invited to a dress party at Saks Fifth Avenue, and I saw my Carolina Herrera dress being modeled there. It was even more gorgeous in person! But to my utter dismay, the dress was completely out of my price range! I tried it on anyway, knowing I couldn't afford it. But once I saw myself in the gown, I knew this was the dress for me!
In order to find a way to keep our budget in check, my mother came up with a few suggestions: We talked about having it made or trying to find it used. My mother called a few tailors and I surfed the Internet for a seller. I also tried on similar dresses suggested by salespeople, but I just wasn't excited about them. Eventually, I came across a girl who was selling the same dress used, but even her price was out of my range. At this point, I gave up on the dress (even though it was constantly in the back of my mind), and I told myself that there were plenty of dresses out there that were just as beautiful.
At three months before the wedding, I had narrowed it down to a few pretty dresses. And just before I was about to buy one, my father called me with a huge surprise. He had found a way to help out with my dress budget and was sending a check for the exact amount (to the penny) of the gown I adored. He had wanted a meaningful, special way to help out with the wedding and realized this was it!" —Ashley Moore