North Carolineans Destiny and Samuel Swanner were married in Panama City, Florida in July on this year - right on the beach. Their wedding was filled with fun and unexpected moments, funny mishaps and an unconventional day, the atmosphere was intimate and relaxed, and she looked amazing. Ladies planning destination weddings: take note! This girl knows how NOT to stress and let every single worry become a meltdown moment. She goes with the flow.
But first a little background.... These two were in the same schools together starting in the 6th grade, but didn't actually meet until a few months before high school graduation when a mutual friend introduced them. Before long, they were officially a couple.
"It such an odd thing that Sam and I had never met before our senior year. When we talk about our childhoods, we attended most of the same events in the community – but had never met! We even lived 5 minutes apart from each other but never knowingly crossed paths. It's almost like it was fate."
NC to Florida
"The morning of the wedding was very un-traditional. We spent it on the beach with friends and family. There were only 20 people in attendance at our wedding and I wouldn’t have had it any other way! Small and simple fit our style perfectly. The reception dinner was fantastic and afterwards our family spent time together playing cards at our rental house. Overall, I wouldn’t change a single thing.. it truly was the best day of our lives."
The day was gorgeous, the setting - as you can see - just perfection and there was only one snafu - which turned out to be the funniest and, according to Destiny, most memorable moments of the day. Her dad was so busy helping her with her dress as she walked through the sand toward Sam that he left her bouquet in the car. He had to go running back up the beach to get them while everyone cracked up.
Destiny's Destination Dress
"When I began looking for a dress, I knew that I wanted lace and an open back. I knew I definitely wanted it to fit my figure and have a small train. I was a sucker for unique designs, but was also open to simplistic and chic. I definitely didn’t want to spend more than $1,000 on my dress. The only 2 things that were must haves: open/detailed back and straps!"
And that's what she got at BT.
Destiny found a gown on Pinterest and ended up buying from us what she calls "its identical twin." We cannot stress enough that searching online for a gown is a great idea as you decide what your musts and loves are. But buy from a boutique or brick and mortar operation. You won't regret it. You can try it on, get advice, bring your pals with you and learn about what truly looks best ON YOU.
Destiny knew what she wanted, but was smart strategically. She wanted something for a beach wedding that wasn't "too much", would breathe and had cut outs. She LOVES cutouts, so once she found the one, she knew. She brought her friends and later her mom and grandmothers and they all knew that she looked like a bride who had found The One. We love that she chose to purchase her gown from us, even after going to a few more shops.
"You guys were the perfect amount of informative and helpful. You weren’t trying to up-sale anything. Your shop genuinely cared about my big day and making it everything I wanted.
My advice to future brides is to remember that it is about you… not your guests. If you’re getting too wrapped up in making everything 'look' acceptable and struggling to meet certain expectations then you’re taking away from your own experience of enjoying the moment."
We couldn't agree more.
Destiny graduated from UNC-Charlotte this year and Samuel will in '19 and they both have careers in place. If their first year has all of the carefree joy and beauty as their wedding day, then these two are in for Happily Ever After. That's all we could wish for them!
Planes, Trains & Automobiles
.... is a hilarious movie and if you're too young to remember it, find and watch it. It's pee your pants good, with a tender ending that will remind you that kindness and family are two of the foundations of life.
Meanwhile - the purpose of this blog is to address something that we often forget about as purveyors of wedding dresses - until it comes up at some random time: traveling with your wedding gown.
For a car trip, this isn't too too much heavy lifting, so to speak. You find the right garment bag and make sure that there is room to lay or hang the gown so that it will receive the least amount of exposure, abuse to the fabric, bending or folding.
But if your wedding is in another state or country, do you fly with it or ship it?
It's hard to imagine spending the time, heart, and money on a gown and then entrusting it to a carrier - no offense to carriers! But if this is something you feel comfortable with, do your homework, pay the extra for insurance, keep your tracking number close and make sure that the recipient on the arrival side (a best friend or trusted family member) is there and will bird dog the situation.
If you decide to fly with your gown - here are some seriously good ideas from our friends at Brides.com.
The Big 4 if you're flying
Good Idea 1
Talk to your airline
You'll know if they have any special instructions for passengers traveling with bulky and delicate items. They may have information that will help you know how to pack, when to board and what to expect.
Good Idea 2
Pack your gown with care in a garment bag.
"Most wedding dresses have trains and many have lots of fabric, so gathering up your wedding dress neatly into a garment bag isn't necessarily an intuitive task. Here's how to pack up your wedding dress properly and avoid getting wrinkles in your dress during the flight. First, stick the hanger of the dress through the top of the garment bag and hang it up high so you can work with the wedding dress. Then, take the left side of the gown and the right side of the gown and fold them into each other toward the center. From there, take the bottom of the train and roll it up until the fabric is contained within the garment bag. Once inside, it's time to zip it up — carefully. Whenever you zip up a garment bag with delicate fabric inside, make sure to place a finger on the other side of the zipper as you guide it up so that the dress doesn't get caught in its tongs."
Good Idea 3
Consider buying your gown a seat on the flight.
Now, not everyone can afford this, so look into priority boarding and chatting with your seat-mates as well. People love to be a part of a plan and will more than likely not only be excited for you, but will help you to place your gown in the over head flat, or find a spot in the hanging priority bins at the front of the plane. THIS is just the occasion to ask for special treatment - just do it with kindness and humility. No one likes an entitled pain in the rump - i.e. bridezilla.
Good Idea 4 - this may be the most important one...
Purchase and take with you a good portable steamer.
You will need it. Period. To protect against water stains, get the little sock that goes over it too. If you're getting married overseas, you'll already have thought of this, but..... pack an adaptor for the electrical outlets. Theirs are not like ours.
Common Sense when Traveling with Your Gown
Finally, use your head.
- If your gown has a shaped bodice, stuff it with tissue or a form that will help it keep its shape.
- Assign someone you trust to help you pack it in the garment bag and be "on dress duty" for the entirety of the event, including getting it home in great shape if you've taken off on your honeymoon. Loving reminder: the person who does this deserves special treatment and a special thank you or gift.
- Ask for tips along the way. Boutiques like BT will have definite Dos and Don'ts to share; the airline will provide help if you let them know in advance and even when boarding; the wedding location will have a concierge who knows local places for last minute needs and finally - let your bridesmaids know that you trust them, but need them to have your back.
Purchase and pack a travel garment steamer.
Pack your gown in a protective, expandable garment bag.
Assign someone to help you with packing, tracking, unpacking and getting your dress "day ready" and home safely.
Get tips along the way from people who've done this before.
Specific, Helpful Links about traveling with your gown:
from Martha Stewart Weddings
from Wedding Wire
About Anna & Daniel's Wedding
Anna Lynam (Harmon) and Daniel Lynam make it official in June, 2018.
Anna: "Our wedding took place outside on a rustic family farm nestled in Ferguson, NC - between his family in Wilkes, NC and mine in Lenoir, NC. We wanted an intimate wedding with only our close friends and family and had less than 100 people in attendance. Everything came together just as it should, even though it was miserably hot.
Everything was perfect, despite the heat - from getting ready with my girls, to walking down the aisle, to saying I do to my handsome groom, to taking over 400 pictures, and loving every minute of the most wonderful day of my life."
This sweet couple tied the knot at The German Farm in Ferguson in a lovely outdoor wedding ceremony surrounded by lush trees, smiling friends and summer heat. They all looked amazing and by Anna's account, it was a success.
About Anna's Dress
Anna did what all brides do once engaged: she started pinning dresses and wedding gowns that she loved. While she had no specific gown in mind, she noticed that she continued to pin a particular style again and again.
With a June wedding in the south, you have heat considerations to keep in mind and her choice ultimately left her arms free (YAY FOR SPAGHETTI STRAPS) and a lovely low, open back which was perfect for the day.
"Ultimately, I chose the dress I did because when I tried it on, it just felt right. None of the other dresses made me feel as beautiful as I did in my dress - I couldn’t stop smiling with it on! I absolutely loved the back of the dress - the way that the sequin straps went down and came together at the base of my back where it met the lace of the rest of the dress. It was gorgeous."
About the BT experience
"I stopped by other bridal shops and they would not let me try anything on without an appointment. They had ridiculously long waiting periods to get the dress in once it was ordered, and their pricing was way expensive.
One of my friends purchased her dress at Bridal Traditions and mentioned it to me, so I contacted Kelly. Although we did not need one, I set up an appointment for that Saturday. My mom went with me and helped me choose my dress. Kelly and her team were so friendly and helpful - I picked out my dress within 30 minutes. I was able to walk out of the store with my dress completely paid for. It was honestly the easiest part of all the wedding planning.
I had such a great experience with my dress, that I actually got all my bridesmaids dresses, the flower girl dress, and Daniel and his groomsmens their bowties/ties all at Bridal Traditions. They made everything so easy. They were able to expediate the waiting period and we received all the dresses and bowties with plenty of time to spare, which is saying a lot when we had less than three months to work with."
"Marrying Daniel was a dream come true - the whole day was magical. But the most memorable part of our wedding day was having my younger brother, Caleb, there with us. He recently decided to join the marines and had to leave for boot camp on July 23. I really wanted him to be there on our special day, so we actually planned the wedding around his schedule. We planned our special day in less than three months. I couldn’t have imagined the day without him there."
Our goal at BT is to make sure that wherever your wedding takes place, and no matter who comes to celebrate with you, you look and feel beautiful. If we can outfit your entire party, we're ready, willing and able to do that too.
Congratulations to Anna and Daniel!! Here's to many happy years.
You're planning your wedding and any down time from your job, family, friends, phone calls to vendors and general life, is spent searching for the elements that will make YOURS the wedding people talk about and want to copy. Not an attention junkie? Not so much look at "ME, ME, ME"? Then you're searching for the elements that are more personal and memorable to you and your partner. Either way, at some point, if you've decided to wear a wedding gown, and you'll need one that is perfect FOR YOU.
When we research in the 21 century, we go online. Period. We Pin items on Pinterest, we go to all the usual bridal-related media outlets: magazines, websites and designer sites and we hunt for our dress while relishing in the options available.
[CASUAL ASIDE] Even if you don't love a particular style, don't you just love looking at ALL styles of gowns? Admit it? It's pretty stinking fun. It's like "I HATE it, but I can't look away!!" At some point, though, it's time to think about really looking and making a purchase.
At BT, we hear the online purchase Tales of Woes almost weekly. Of course, our bias is for a brick and mortar experience, but there is a good reason for this. In fact, here are 7 excellent ones.
When you shop in a boutique like Bridal Traditions, you get expert advice/suggestions (if you will let us help you! We kinda know what we are talking about!) We can walk you through the process and hold your hand when necessary.
It's free therapy. We care about what our customers are going through (even when it has NOTHING to do with a dress purchase or BT at all) and we are often a shoulder to cry on.
When you shop at a boutique, you can see quality/material first hand. When you look online, you're hoping that the picture is a true representation of what you'll get.
We provide customer service AFTER the sale. I believe we not only provide service after the sale, it's good service. We listen, problem solve and make sure that you get what you want, to the very best of our ability.
Brick and mortar boutiques support the local economy and create jobs. You may not be thinking about this when you buy your dress or even think you care when you have so many other things that you're trying to do in preparation for your wedding. But it matters. We promise.
You can actually see if it fits and we can guide you on ordering the right size. Nothing fits the way your expect it to until the fabric hits your body. Let us guide you through this and provide counsel.
Buying from a boutique means that you won't get stuck with a style that looks horrible on you even if it looks amazing on the model in the pic.
Now, we all love shopping online. Perfumes, contour sticks and sheet masks from Sephora, Disney movies for nieces and nephews, exotic culinary ingredients and cookbooks you saw on FoodTV, out of print books from your childhood, inexpensive pashmina scarves,
..... but your wedding gown?
Some things to consider when you buy online:
YOU are a number. You are a sale. THAT'S IT. They have your name, size and payment info.
An online wedding gown purchase could very well be supporting unethical people who employ people in sweatshops and breaking child labor laws, assuming that you're purchasing your dress from a country with regulations. We do not direct this comment to reputable online retailers, but there are so many shady one out there sometimes it's hard to tell which is which.
Additionally, the gown you order online could be hazardous to your health (watch this video shared by another boutique owner and what happened to her client) This is for real people! Watch Video
1-3 should be enough, but ...
There is no follow up after the sale. You have to do your own mental inventory of what is wrong, what doesn't work, fit, why your heart isn't pounding with joy and then explain it, package it, drive to the post office and wait to see what happens. As if you don't have enough to do. That's insult to injury.
Your dress may not arrive at all. It happens. And sometimes, when the dress does arrive, it turns out to be, in the words of one of our clients, an overpriced dishrag.
We want you to be happy. That's one of our core values - customer joy. So before you move from online research to online purchase, consider the pros and cons and then stop by our boutique, or one near you, and get a sense of what you'll be missing if you decide that you'd like your dress to arrive like an Amazon delivery.
To sum up we are not saying all online stores are bad, in fact there are many brick and mortar stores that accommodate the online shopper, who knows, we may be one ourselves soon. Just be aware of where and from whom your gown is coming.
Store owner, Kelly has been in the bridal industry since 2000, when at the ripe old age of 20 she opened her first little store front on a wing and a prayer. She is a certified wedding planner (no, she does not plan weddings), and everything she knows about bridal and formal wear has come from, gut instinct, trial and error, and watching LOTS of What Not to Wear.