Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Come wedding dress shopping with me

wedding dress shopping tips

This probably isn't going to be the wedding dress shopping experience that you're anticipating, because y'all let me tell you - my experience was pretty stressful, even after I said yes to the dress! Growing up my mom and I would joke about how we were both dreading it, because of how indecisive I can be about basically everything. Not that it was dreadful, believe me it was so much fun, but the decision definitely got to the point where we were just happy the shopping was over ;) I went to a total of 7 stores in the Atlanta area. If you're an Atlanta bride and want to read my quick take on each boutique then read my post here: Atlanta Bridal Boutique Reviews

I hope you have a nice cup of coffee or wine because this post is going to be as detailed as possible. I wanted to share everything I could to make it useful to you if you're going through the process.

I "knew" a few things going into my first appointment:
  • It has to be comfortable
  • I definitely don't want anything strapless
  • I want the option of two looks - I was thinking an overskirt for the ceremony and a more fitted dress for the reception.
  • Something traditional but not something we've seen a million times
Lets see how that went...

All the shops around Atlanta we're pretty limited in their overskirt selection. They were either just a thin piece of single tulle or were split in the front like this. My ideal over skirt was similar to this one to give you an idea. Remember how I said I didn't want anything strapless? Well when I started to try on dresses with sleeves or a covered neckline, everything felt scratchy and cause my skin to turn red... not ideal. 

After my initial research, I had my heart set on finding a dress from Hayley Paige. Her designs are so fun and youthful, but also a unique. After trying on basically all of her gowns at a trunk show, I still felt like something was missing.

This dress was my initial favorite, it was flowy, fun, comfortable, and had sleeves. However, something about it told me it wasn't the one for me. It felt a little too bohemian for my classic southern style. 
hayley paige elysia gown

Hayley Paige wedding dress

Hayley Paige Elysia Style 6556

I loved the Dori Gown, but knew above all my dress had to be comfortable, and this one is basically the opposite of that on me. Under the gown, there were two layers of taffeta to make it a ballgown shape, and I learned very early on in life that I hated this material after picking a Belle Beauty and the Beast gown for Halloween when I was 6 years old🙅. I also worried that Tim would have a heart attack if I picked it because we're both very traditional.
dori gown, Hayley Paige wedding dress
dori gown, Hayley Paige wedding dress

dori gown, Hayley Paige wedding dress

Hayley Paige Dori 6413


Hayley Paige wedding dress


I knew this Monique Lhuillier gown was the wedding dress for me because it was the most comfortable dress I put on. However... it was strapless, something I initially swore off. I figured I could always come up with something in alterations to give it some more coverage in the top. The silhouette was fitted enough where I still considered adding a customized overskirt as well.

Flash forward to alteration time, and everything we tried to customize the top didn't seem right. Also around this time, I was pretty tired of money flying out the window towards the wedding that I decided I didn't need an overskirt. I went with a more dramatic veil to give me that feel - and saved a good chunk of change by doing so. 

Two weeks before my wedding, I decided I still wanted to wear something different towards the end of the reception, so I looked around online and came across this dress and instantly fell in love with the subtle pinky-ivory and it's gorgeous bow detail. I called my local BHLDN store and somehow, they had ONE dress left on sale in my size 🙌. I ended up having a tailor hem it 4 inches the week before the wedding. It all came together in the end.


Start shopping 8-10 months before if you want to order a gown. If you're sample shopping, you don't need as much time, but it's better to have more time than stress with a deadline and paying for rush fees.

I would recommend looking online (I used these two websites 1/2) to see if there are any specific dresses you really want to try. Look up the shops that carry those lines and call ahead to see if they have the dresses you want to try. That way, you know there are some dresses at the appointment that will interest you and you can check them off the list if they're not your dress. It also doesn't hurt to ask what their deposit is so you know upfront how much you may be putting down.

However, have an open mind when trying on dresses, especially in the beginning. Remember my little "must have list" at the top? Sometimes you don't know what you want until you try them all on!

Don't be shocked at how different wedding sizes are from your typical size. I'm usually a size 4 and purchased a size 8 and it fit like a glove.

Consider alterations and accessories in your budget. - some salons have in-house alterations. If you can, have them talk through potential alterations and pricing. I've heard some salons order the dress bigger than you measure for alterations, although that wasn't the case at my salon.

I recommend waiting to select your bridal accessories. The jewelry, belts, and veils in the boutiques will probably be a lot more than what you can find online, and it doesn't hurt to space out the payments either. Instead of purchasing the matching veil to my dress for $1000 at my bridal boutique, and I ended up getting a veil for $100 off Etsy. Read or watch all about my bridal accessories here.

Consider having your gown shipped out of state to save on taxes. I shipped mine to my Aunt in FL and she overnighted it right back after she signed for it. The total cost was $70 for shipping vs $400 in taxes.

Take a little extra time to get ready for your appointment and bring a hair tie if you're planning to wear your hair up on your wedding day to see the full look.

Don't be that girl that gets self-tanner all over the sample dresses.

Don't think you need every single girlfriend and family member there, you want to save some surprises for them! I actually only had my Mom and Mother- in-law with me when I said yes.

After each appointment, write down your consultants name and any specifics you may not remember as far as style numbers, prices, and special offers. I wrote all of this down in my wedding planner.

There's no rule as to how many dresses you should try on. If you know you're the type of girl who will question if something else was out there (🙋), then keep looking!

What was your wedding dress style? Drop a picture or link below, I would love to see!

xo Amanda John


Monday, May 15, 2017


It's been a while since I've done an Instagram roundup, so to help keep them a little more regular on here I thought I would add in a monthly round up of my feed with all of the current links. 

I've gone on and on about this $20 gingham top, but it's been such a favorite lately! I mean, how can anyone say no to the bows in the back? You can see the full post here

 This was my Easter outfit after Tim said "we're leaving in 5" and I had to throw something together because of course, I didn't plan it out. What's funny to me about it is this skirt was in my very first #ootd on Instagram 5 years ago on Easter. What goes around comes around ;)  As for the top, I always get compliments and surprised faces when I tell people it's from Target!

A little shot from my office. I love mixing up these shelves with my latest favorite nick nacks. You can see more in my office tour post.

 These bow wedges were comfortable from the first wear and I know I'll be wearing them all season long. 

I rediscovered my love for the Loft this year and love this fun little off the shoulder number. Everyone else must have of too because it's sold out, but this one is pretty close for only $14! When I think an outfit is boring, I always go for these fun pink heels to add in some color. 

 This donut hat makes me so happy! I think it would be a simple DIY, but if you're not into investing in the paint and brushes and crafting isn't your thing this one is only $22! Plus, I have a coupon code for you to use all May long at Charming Charlie for $10 your $60 purchase- In store give them this:
 720000000003 Online use: UKTTWANF

I spotted this top in store and loved the fluttered sleeve and the structured off the shoulder design. I'm not a fan of off the shoulder tops that just have the elastic all the way around because they're not very comfortable. My clutch is a splurge from Clare V, but I've carried it as many times as the price tag so I think it's a staple. If you're looking for something more affordable ($45) then this leopard clutch will be right up your alley. Sam Edelman makes the most comfortable heels, I actually have these in two colors! Get these on sale here. 

This shot was from our trip to D.C where I walked off all of my calories for the year. So glad I brought along these Nikes with me!  My top is from J. Crew and sold out, but I found a $13 dupe for you here. Here are the sunglasses that I always wear on my head. 
Another mention of these Valentino dupes, but they have been such a hit and I technically shared them on April so there here again for this roundup! I have them in the color Poudre Matte. Size up a half size in them and you'll forget they're not the real deal (after the spray paint smell goes away the day after you open them ;) Here are my pink pants (40% off).

 Thus clutch was another purchase from Charming Charlie but I can't find it online. My top however is still available and is oh so cute. 

xo Amanda John

Monday, May 8, 2017

April Favorites and Fails


I've worn this top multiple times in April and always get compliments on it! Not surprising though, because it's gingham, peplum waist detail, and an epic bow back! Ever since my first purchase at this site, I've embarrassingly checked their new arrivals daily... you can't beat their prices and I think it's way better quality than Forever21. 

If you're like me and don't see yourself ever splurging of $900 shoes, look no further than these dupes because they're seriously the closest thing to them for a tenth of the price. People have been commenting on my Instagram and didn't realize they weren't the real deal! Sizing details: order a half size up, especially in the flats. Since they 8 wasn't available I ordered my regular 7.5 and it works in the heels because the back is open but I'm returning the flats because they're too small. 

I couldn't pick one because I've worn both of these all month and you can't beat the price at under $20! Also as a heads up, my favorite way to shop at Target is to order online and pick up in store. They find everything for you and you just go to the front and pick them up! It helps avoid those extra Target purchases you know you'll end up with, plus you know they'll have what you're going there for. 

I'm sure you've seen me wearing these a lot on my Instagram, and they'll continue to be worn all throughout the summer season because they're comfortable! I was able to walk to dinner in D.C in these, and let me tell you I'm the first to change my mind when leaving the house in heels because I'd rather be comfortable than have painful feet.

Now this is probably weird, but CC is actually a brand favorite for the month of April. I haven't shopped in a Charming Charlier in years because I always pictures cheap gaudy jewelry to be honest. I recently became a CC brand ambassador, meaning they send me a monthly package of items. I don't always love everything, but there's always something inside them I fall in love with. Because I was reintroduced to the brand, I started visiting my local store on the weekends and they have some really great and affordable finds. I purchased the bubble earrings, donut hat, and the seersucker bow back top pictured above this month #allthehearteyes // If you want to shop there I have an in-store coupon [720000000003 ] and an online coupon [UKTTWANF] good for $10 off your purchase of $60 until May31st.

April Purchases:


After years of this sitting in my collection, I finally found a brush to make it work with my skin tone and I have been loving it! It smells delicious and will last you forever because you just need a little bit for an overall glow.  P.S: This isn't a product you would want to contour with. 

Y'all, it's been years since I've tried a drugstore foundation, like potentially close to 10 years...say what? I read a few positive reviews on this foundation and one day I was in a spending mood at Ulta and decided to try it. The finish is very smooth on the skin and won't amplify pores or texture, but you probably will want to dust some powder over your skin to set it. I do have a few negatives about it but let me remind you it's only $12.99 minus the trusty $3 Ulta coupon. The product will leak into the lid some and I will occasionally get white areas when applying where the sunscreen is separating. I just take my finger and blend it in. Because there's only SPF 15, I would recommend to wear another sunscreen under. I'm not sure why they even have it in there to be honest. Another thing is the top can be a little leaky, especially after you shake it before applying.

This has been mentioned multiple times on my blog, but I can't stop repurchasing it! It's dry enough to not clump and weight down my lashes but still builds volume and length. It's magic when you apply the second coat! I prefer a little bit dryer mascara vs a very wet one because I will get it all over my lid and have to clean it up if it's a wet consistency. My Mom never splurges on high-end makeup, but she's been repurchasing this since I gifted it to her this time last year. 

L'Occitane Certified Organic Pure Shea Butter
This was a surprise favorite this month because when I went to Sephora shopping for a body butter this is what the associate recommended. At first, when I got home and tried to use it I was like w-t-f.  I've used coconut butter as a body moisturizer for years but this was a lot more dense, almost sticky in a way. She told me to get a scoop out and melt it in my hands before applying. I can't say I use this how I originally intended because I don't want to use that much of the products to moisturize my entire body, but for areas like my elbows, hands, knees, feet, and especially my lips this product is a game changer. I apply it to my lips every single night and haven't had an issue with dry lips since I purchased it. And I've tried everything from Bite to Dior to Carmex on them.

Clarins Radiance Plus Golden Glow Booster
I purchased this before my wedding because I was looking for a product to give my skin a glow but not look self tanned. It's a product that builds color based on how many drops you use, so I just add two drops into to my regular moisturizer and after a few hours it will give you the most natural color on your skin. Only negative is the smell.

New Hair Cut
I recently had all of my layers cut out and although I lost 2+ inches in length my hair looks so much thicker! I've had layers for years, and they tend to just get more and more choppy. Not ideal for someone with fine hair like me. I will say it can take little more effort to blend in my extensions now, but my hair is just an inch or two shorter than them anyway. I'm also playing around with my curling technique. I originally cut layers into my hair to help my hair keep a curl better. #canthaveitall


I've already re-purchased this and I love it for quick brow color (aka every Monday-Friday). The brush is really small unlike others I've tried the the drugstore and it's a must for girls who can't leave the house without a little color in their brows, yay for being blonde!

Dior Overcurl Mascara
Already talked about above, but I did run and out repurchase this month

Beauty Favorites

No Fails to mention, go April!

This post is up a little late because Tim and I were in D.C during the first of the month. I plan to edit and upload a travel blog in the next week, yay!

xo Amanda John