How I Found My Wedding Dress

Real brides share the story of how they found "the one."

Alexis's Delphine Manivet Wedding Dress

Talk about a girl who knows what she wants when she sees it. Bride-to-be Alexis strolled once through the gowns at Lovely Bride in West Hollywood, tried on a single dress, and pronounced it "the one" as soon as she saw herself in the mirror.

"It's so delicate and elegant," says Alexis, a 22-year-old California Baptist University student, of the body-skimming, unfussy column of ivory lace by Delphine Manivet, which showcases her willowy figure and Aniston-ian tresses. "It's modest, but you still feel very pretty in it," she adds. "And I like things that are a little eccentric."

The dress is a great match for the wedding venue, Malibu's Calamigos Ranch, whose lushly romantic garden setting, Ferris wheel, and stunning views Alexis first laid eyes on in late April. She and fiancé Allen, who works in hospital construction, fell hard for the location but faced a dilemma: The only available date was a mere three months away, in early August. "At first I said, 'I can't plan a wedding in less than three months,' but then we thought about it, and we were like, 'Let's just go for it. Let's get it done.'" The couple snagged the slot and shifted into planning overdrive.

The "why wait?" sentiment is one Alexis lives by—as evidenced by her choice to marry young. "Our culture tells you that you should wait, but I believe that you may as well find that one person you're going to go through it all with now. I just want to face the chaos, the trials, the hard times together."

Alexis's love affair with the dress progressed with similar sure-footedness. Everyone agreed that the demureness of the lace overlay's boatneck and half sleeve was offset by the daring V-shaped back plunge of the silk underslip. But it was Alexis's bridesmaid Daisha—who also happens to be the friend who introduced the couple—who spotted the look of determined certitude in the bride's eyes. "The way she was smiling," Daisha says, "I was like, Oh, she loves it. This is it."

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Photo: Jessica Haye & Clark Hsiao