Saying YAS to the Dress


With less than 6 months until our wedding now, planning is finally in full swing! And I could not be more excited.

Back in January I was tearing through wedding checklists like a maniac. But I quickly realized that this is the only time I get to do this. And I want this planning process to be fun and memorable and stress-free too (or at least as stress-free as it can be for a stress addict like me). I want to indulge in it a bit!

So when it came to shopping for The Dress, I decided to make a weekend out of it. Shanna, Makena, Bonnie and I headed up to Venice Beach the weekend after my birthday with a cute AirBnB booked and two dress appointments: one at Dreamers and Lovers in Torrance and the other at my bridal mecca, Grace Loves Lace.

I mentioned in my last post that I have been obsessed with Grace Loves Lace dresses for years, but I never imagined that I'd get the Say Yes to the Dress experience as a GLL Bride. Because until a couple of years ago, the only way to get a GLL dress was to order it straight from Australia.

Lucky for me, they opened their only US showroom in July of 2016, and just a 2 hour drive up the coast.

After an easy Friday morning working from home, I packed up the car, picked everyone up and headed up the freeway. We made pretty great time and checked into our adorable AirBnB right around 3:30pm.

Sidenote: this AirBnB was perfect for this trip. It was right in between the boardwalk and Abbott Kinney and had a parking spot which is crucial in LA. I didn't take enough pictures of the apartment while I was there, but these shots from the listing are exactly what it looked like:

Photos c/o AirBnB

While I was taking one last work call out on the patio, Makena made us some vodka cocktails with Elderflower soda from Trader Joe's and then it was finally the weekend! We drank a few of those, headed out to the Venice Beach boardwalk for more alcohol provisions, and then came back and had a few more drinks.

Once we'd had enough cocktails at the rental, we decided to venture out to Abbott Kinney to find a place to eat. I suggested that we go to Gjelina since I'd had such a good meal there last time, but there was over an hour wait. I put our names in and we headed to The Otheroom for a few more drinks in the mean time.

Obviously I also made them model in the golden hour light because look how pretty they are.

Welllll, a few more drinks meant half a bottle of wine each and by the time we got called back to Gjelina, *apparently* I was too intoxicated for the restaurant's taste. They made a big scene at the hostess stand, finally agreeing to seat us on the condition that I didn't drink anymore while there. All of this was pretty ridiculous, so inevitably we decided to take our intoxicated business elsewhere.

Earlier that night we had seen a bunch of people on Abbott Kinney eating slices of delicious looking salad pizza, so we ordered a giant pie and headed back to the AirBnB for a much more relaxed evening of pizza and rosé.

The only faces I'd ever want to get kicked out of Gjelina with.

The next morning it was dress shopping time! After waking up at some ungodly hour, Makena, Shanna and I ventured out to the Venice Beach boardwalk in the wee hours of the morning for coffee and acai bowls and let Bonnie sleep in a bit.

The boardwalk was eerily empty but we managed to find a coffee shop (with horchata cold brew!) and checked out the skate park while we waited for the acai place to open. Then we headed back to the rental and started getting ready.

I was super nervous the morning of dress shopping. I mean, I hate trying on clothes as is, let alone a piece of clothing as important as my wedding dress. Plus I didn't feel my fittest. But the second we arrived at Grace Loves Lace, I started to get excited too.

We walked in and Hayley, my amazing stylist, greeted us and almost immediately brought out 4 glasses of champagne while we got settled into their gorgeous showroom.

Months ago when I had booked the appointment, I had made it with only one dress in mind. I had my heart set on one GLL style and one only. I was positive that was the one.

But since you can try on up to 5 styles when you go, I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to try on a bunch of other GLL dresses. At the time, I had selected 4 other styles that I thought were fun and after handing us our bubbly, Hayley went back and got them and then we got started.

I started with the dress I had my heart set on and the reactions were pretty solid.... but not totally ecstatic. And I was a little less enthused than I expected too. I mean, I loved and still do love the dress itself... but I wasn't a huge fan of how it looked on me.

I tried on a few others: the Sloane, the Florence, and the Emmanuela. I knew instantly that none of them were it, even though they were all still fun.

Then I tried on my final pick. And I was... surprised.

The dress fit really well, felt super comfortable and was super flowy and beachy, just like I'd originally imagined it'd be when I fell for the Hollie years ago. I liked the way it looked on me but more importantly the reactions from Shanna, Bonnie and Makena were so strong. Even though it had features I didn't expect to have on my wedding dress, I had to admit... this was a surprise contender.

I tried on both of my top two choices once more and eventually walked out of the showroom in a bit of a fog. I had definitely not been expecting to be so conflicted.

Hayley had given us some suggestions for places to go for lunch, so we went to Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop to talk about it over food and cocktails. This place is awesome... affordable, delicious and cute. I had the Pesto Chicken Panini and a Mule with Activated Charcoal.

Next up? A fitting at Dreamers and Lovers, another boho bridal designer based in Torrance. Bonnie drove us down since she was leaving after the second appointment for a family party and it took us about 30 minutes to get there from Venice.

By the time we arrived we were all kinda of tired and I was stuck in my head about the dresses I had tried on at GLL. It didn't help our enthusiasm that Dreamers and Lovers had a much different vibe. While cute on the inside, the shop was located in a quiet corporate park in the middle of nowhere. There were kids and a man wandering throughout the studio and no champagne. They didn't have samples in my sizes and didn't bring out all of the styles I had selected when I made my appointment. All of this to say: I just wasn't really in the mood.

Still, their dresses are super romantic. And I did find one, The Daisy, that surprisingly made it into the top 3! But ultimately, all of their dresses were tight and a little uncomfortable and had zippers which always made me nervous.


After trying on a bunch of dresses, we called it a day as far as dress shopping was concerned. We said bye to Bonnie, Lyfted back to Venice and relaxed until venturing out for the evening with one of Makena's friends.

First, we hit up another spot with Hayley's stamp of approval: the rooftop at Hotel Erwin. She was right, the views and the vibes were amazing and we even managed to snag one of the three tables that don't require a reservation. But the drinks were expensive and weak and after our first round, a line formed behind the bar that was 20+ people deep. It was time to head elsewhere.

We went to Larry's for pizzas, salads and cocktails, took pictures of the sunset and then made one final stop at The Del Monte Speakeasy, which had a bizarre crowd that left us all ready to be back in San Diego.

Ahhh, 4/20 in Venice!

The next morning we packed up, said goodbye to our beautiful rental and headed to Greenleaf one last time for breakfast before we hit the road.

I spent the entire drive back to San Diego mentally debating the two dresses and that debate has continued over the past two weeks.

And what a rollercoaster those two weeks have been!

I decided on one dress only to learn it had sold out but then was offered the opportunity to buy the sample I'd tried on. The pressure cooker aspect of these surprises and my indecision about the two styles had me feeling the complete opposite of what I wanted this experience to be.

But since I finally pulled the trigger and said yes to the dress, everything has fallen into place. The stress is gone, I'm more confident in and excited about my decision every day, and a huge weight has finally been lifted.

I have a wedding dress! As GLL would say, Let's get married!