Not many people know this, but long before I was a wedding photographer, I used to work in a bridal boutique. It was called “A Touch of Romance” – I think it’s a little of a cliche business name – but it’s where I first fell in love with all things wedding. Often I would meet girls trying on a wedding dress for the very first time – and I was responsible for making sure they had a good experience. I loved making sure each bride felt comfortable as I would lead her towards the dresses I think would suit her body shape, while of course letting her try on any that caught her eye in the process. I loved it – and it was a whole lot of fun. For a few different reasons, I left that job after a couple of years – and found myself working more of a 9-5 office job for a little while. That’s when I started Just For Love Photography, first part time while I built the business and then once it was established, I entered the self employed lifestyle as a full time wedding photographer.

That was almost 6 years ago now and in that time, I’ve seen so many of my JFL brides wear the most stunning of gowns. Some of them were custom made, some off the rack. Some adorned with lace, some fully sequined. All of them beautiful and perfect for the incredible bride that has chosen them. So when it came my turn to look for my own wedding dress, I wasn’t sure what to do. I have great relationships with a lot of the designers that I work with regularly (Begitta, White Lily Couture, Karen Willis Holmes) and so picking where to go, almost felt like picking a favourite child – or what I assume that would feel like, thank goodness we only have one. However, I also knew that I didn’t have a HUGE budget to work with (a downfall of that self employed lifestyle I mentioned) and I wanted something a little less traditional, a little more fun. So after about 6 months of being engaged (read all about the proposal here!) – and EVERYONE asking me when I was going to get organised – I decided it was time… I made an appointment with Karen Willis Holmes. KWH was the first designer I ever loaned gowns from for my first shoot after moving to Brisbane in 2013, so yes, it was a bit of a sentimental decision. Check out these photos from that shoot all those years ago:

Karen Willis Holmes Bride in Wedding Dress

Karen Willis Holmes Bride in Wedding Dress

I love looking back at old work and seeing how much I’ve grown as a photographer over the years. It always makes me smile… if you want to see more from this shoot, it was actually published on Hey Wedding Lady and you can check it out by clicking here!

Anyway, I was planning on just going to the appointment myself but when I mentioned this to my sister, Rebecca she almost had a conniption. She strongly told me that she’d be joining me – and I must say, I’m really glad she did. The morning of our appointment, I did all the things – I made sure my hair looked nice, I shaved my legs, I even went and bought a strapless bra. You guys, I was more than a little nervous. A few hours later, I met Becy out the front of KWH and in we go. However, we walked in to discover that I had totally gotten my dates wrong – and not only were we a week early, but they also didn’t think they’d be able to fit me in at all.
The girls were lovely about it but I felt terrible – and embarrassed. I felt terrible for my sister that had driven all the way from Toowoomba for what looked like it was going to be a 10 minute catch up that didn’t involve any wedding dresses. I also felt embarrassed that the girls at Karen Willis Holmes knew how badly I’d screwed up my calendar… but after a few awkward minutes they were able to move a few things around and it was all systems go (thanks Emily!)

Karen Willis Holmes Wedding Dress Shopping

I picked out a few different gowns that I had already spotted online that I loved and jumped into the dressing room. You guys, it was so weird. It honestly just felt so strange being the one trying on the gowns – I’m so used to being the one helping my girls, fluffing their dresses and making sure they look their best – I’ve even sewn two of my brides into their gowns when their zip has broken, I’m usually the one helping with whatever it takes. I remember the entire time having my nervous rash creep up over my chest (does anyone else get this?!) and my sister kept asking me if I was ok – bless her. Whenever that happens, if anyone points it out, it makes it 100,000 times worse. It’s so much better if I just live in denial. I also discovered that I didn’t need to have my legs shaven (no one could see them y’all) and apparently you try on wedding dresses without a bra, so I had wasted $90 on a good strapless bra that I didn’t even need to wear. Oh well. YOLO?

After my nervous system had settled down and I gotten over the shock of the reflection in the mirror – I actually started to really enjoy myself. I tried on about half a dozen gowns and found one that I completely & utterly fell in love with. I did almost fall over the price tag BUT I assured myself that I could resell it after the wedding – which I’ll most definitely be doing.

So, that’s all it took. One afternoon. One designer. One decision made and one more thing I could tick off our wedding planning to do list. I cannot wait to reveal what the dress I picked looks like, but just know that it’s super fun. It’s a little over the top – and it’s oh so beautiful. I did want to tell you, if you’re engaged and yet to try on wedding dresses – remember, you don’t need to shave your legs or wear a strapless bra. Just go with an open mind, try not to be nervous and make sure you get your appointment details right – you’ll easily be a step ahead of me!

Stay tuned for the next instalment in our wedding planning journey, which is all about picking our Wedding Venues – and trust me, there’s a story to tell. Thank goodness I’m better at helping my couples plan their wedding than I am at planning my own!