Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress

I had the most amazing wedding dress finding experience, and I would do brides in the South Bay an disservice by keeping my favorite dress designer a secret.

Kirstie Kelly helps me visualize a dress from her 'seasons' collection, the Daisy.

Kirstie Kelly helps me visualize a dress from her ‘seasons’ collection, the Daisy.

I know this is going to sound absurd, but I literally tried on one dress and knew it was the one I wanted for my wedding day. The thing is, my love for the dress didn’t originate with the actual dress, but the designer – Kirstie Kelly. I originally met Kirstie when I was writing a magazine article on her El Segundo-based wedding dress empire. Her passion for creating the perfect dress for a woman’s big day really impressed me, and when she had a special event in her show room with champagne (with cotton candy in it— what?!) and sample dresses, I pounced on the chance to try one of here creations on. That is when I met my favorite dress of all time – the Daisy. I had recently joined Weight Watchers, and the sample dress didn’t fit, but Kirstie was incredibly sweet and helpful and helped me visualize how the perfect fitting Daisy dress could look. I was hooked.

The second adventure to the showroom.

My second adventure to the Kirstie Kelly showroom.

When it came time to actually do some serious dress shopping, my mom, sister and friend Alex came into town a few months later (and I was 15 pounds lighter), and we set out on a serious white dress finding adventure. I had my iPad with dress ideas and a few cut outs of dresses from different bride magazine with me, because I knew Kirstie was out of my price range. But I loved the gown and decided that if I still loved it as much as I did at first, I would enhance my budget a bit to make it work. We went out for a day of dress searching and ended up at Kirstie’s showroom again (despite my mom’s pleas to go to David’s Bridal instead). Like the last time, she was there and along with another wonderful woman, Maude, they helped me into the Daisy one more time. This time – it fit! We tried on a couple of  her other dresses, but the Daisy was definitely my dress. My mom couldn’t stop crying whenever Maude brought a veil near the dress – and it was decided.

Almost… We left happy, but a little distressed about the price, $3,200. I know, wedding dresses are expensive – but my budget was around $1,500… max.

La Soie Casablanca Wedding Dress

A Casablanca Wedding Dress from La Soie in Torrance

On another bride’s recommendation, finally my mom convinced us to make an appointment at La Soie Bridal in Torrance. We walked in the doors and were overcome with the amount of puffy white dresses that were lining the walls. We were a little early, so we were set loose on the dresses and soon my crew had about 15 dressed piled high in a dressing room. I tried a few on, and really liked an in budget $1,400 Casablanca mermaid dress. None of my dream dresses were strapless, or mermaid, so both of my dresses from Kirstie Kelly and La Soie surprised me. (It turns out, petite girls can’t wear white EVERYWHERE or else we look like snow queens) The thing with the La Soie dress wasn’t the dress itself, but the quality of the sample dresses and the service we received while trying the dresses on.

A sample of a new lace option

A sample of a new lace option

We were left to ourselves for the majority of the time, trying to clip me into too big dresses. Plus, the choices were mostly all wrong. We needed someone to help guide us in finding the right dress… and I needed someone to tell me truthfully how I looked. Everybody said every dress was ‘beautiful,’ and that was definitely not true. Plus, they offered us moscato to drink… I’m not a wine snob, but really… ick. The thing that really got to me in the end was that the sample dress I really liked had a huge stain on the bodice, and I didn’t think that boded well for the future if I were to buy the dress and come back for fittings. True, the dress fit me well, but I didn’t leave with the happy, bubbly feeling (sans booze) that I left with when leaving Kirstie’s studio.

A windblown first fitting with Maude.

A windblown first fitting with Maude.

When we left my mom was still pushing for the Casablanca because of the price, but I knew that I wanted to walk down the aisle in the Daisy. When Kirstie called me a few days later, I told her my predicament and she was completely accommodating, and very understanding. The “I’m too poor” conversation is usually incredibly embarrassing, but she made me feel fine about the problem, and instead tried to work around my budget. Instead of using the expensive lace the original dress was designed with, she suggested changing the lace but keeping the shape – to make it more affordable. I was over the moon!

Picking up my finished wedding dress just days before the wedding.

Picking up my finished wedding dress just days before the wedding.

I have never, ever been the type of girl who dreamed of her wedding. To be perfectly honest, a civil ceremony would have been fine with me. But after my experience with Kirstie, I can honestly say that the dress, and the search for the dress, was one of the best parts of my wedding experience (Well, besides having all my favorite people in one place and marrying my best friend). From day one Kirstie and her crew treated me like gold and genuinely cared about making the perfect dress. I spent many subsequent afternoons in her studio for multiple fittings, and each and every time I left feeling great. That is usually not how shopping of any kind goes for me, so that’s really saying something! She was also always there when I needed her opinion on accessories or my shoe color, and her crew advised me on picking the perfect Spanx. When the dress was almost done Kirstie came in and helped me decide if a sash would be a good addition to the dress, and just like that a satin sash was added.

To be quite honest, my decision was only partially because of the dress. I did love the dress, but it was the quality of service that Kirstie Kelly gave me throughout the entire process that really made me feel special. I am very grateful that I was assigned to profile this wonderful designer. Not only is she an amazing dress designer, but she is a genuinely wonderful woman and the ladies who work for here are just as spectacular. To all South Bay women who are getting married – please, don’t go anywhere else.

Kirstie Kelly Wedding Gown - Daisy

Kirstie Kelly Wedding Gown – the Daisy Dress. Photo by our wonderful photographer Tina Billing


A few tips for finding the perfect dress-

1. Find the perfect shoes, and bring them to every dress fitting.

2. Spanx are your friends… Spanx with a hole in the crotch are your best friend!

3. Bring somebody dress shopping with you who will be honest, but kind.

4. If you want to lose weight, lose it gradually way in advance of the wedding. You don’t want to be miserable doing a crash diet days before your wedding. Plus, then your dress won’t fit right! (Check out my 5 tips to actually lose weight)

5. Have fun!

What are your suggestions for finding the perfect dress?

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