Of all the wedding tasks at hand, wedding dress shopping has been the most important and exciting event for my mom. “I have been waiting to do this my whole life” she told my fiance Jack in the car on the way to The Dress Theory in Seattle (don’t worry we dropped him off for a hip coffee hang along the way.)

Working in the bridal industry for nearly a decade, I have dreamt of this for quite some time. With plenty of years as a cult follower of Alexandra Grecco, Rime Arodaky, A la Robe and many more designers, I had a clear idea of what wedding dresses I loved, what gowns were so “not me” (spoiler alert, I won’t be caught dead in lace!) and what could feasibly fit in our price range.

Within days of our engagement in Greece, my mom already booked an appointment at super hip and stylish The Dress Theory in Seattle over the holidays. That meant I had to wait a couple of months and avoid all the New York City trunk shows and sample sales.

Or did I?!

My wedding witness and Scorpio queen, Annette and I visited Leanne Marshall‘s sample sale in November. Being a huge fan of hers, I figured stopping by wouldn’t do any harm, and maybe I could find a second wedding dress or party gown on my own dime. For 90% off (GASP!) I snagged an ethereal, flouncy one-of-a-kind gown for our rehearsal dinner.

And this isn’t it! Ha, sorry, not spoiling the November surprise. But isn’t this raincloud gown lovely?!

I again, defied my mom patiently waiting in the Northwest and brought my stylish group of New York ladies to Brooklyn neighbor and bridal designer Loulette Bride. With all of her bridal separates, mix and match lingirie and wedding skirts, dress up was so fun! I put my name on this crop top and Monaco skirt, just in case we didn’t find “the one” in Seattle.

To my mother’s delight, I managed to make it to Seattle without yet buying my gown. Our first stop was The Dress Theory, a sister owned bridal salon with shops in Seattle, San Diego and Nashville. I’ve admired their stylish, cool-girl collection for quite some time, and was so charmed with their cozy, Ballard craftsman shop. My mom, two best friends, and stylist Val had the best time ever.

With our Mexico wedding and sexy, silky, slip gown style in mind, giddy I pulled gowns from all my longtime favorite designers.

Notice, I could barely contain my cool-girl scowl for once! We all gasped when I walked out in this off-the-shoulder beauty from Rue de Seine, and it was ultimately the runner-up to my wedding dress. I have no regrets, but I do often find myself gazing at this picture with heart eyes.

The open slit in the front and fringe embellishments sang “Mexico” to me. My best friend Christina and I have decided she should most definitely wear this to my wedding, and I to her wedding (in our dream world, of course).

After lunch (Psst, Seattle Brides – eat Thai here) my mom and I continued on to newly opened A & Bé Bridal in Ballard (where my BFF Christina now works, yay!) With more embellishments, ruffles, and lace than I’m used to, I was unsure if we’d find any gowns that were totally “Claire”. But oh my gosh, so many winners at such a great prices!

I literally made the appointment just to try on Made With Love Bridal‘s crepe Georgie gown. It fit all my requirements: “sexy, silk and tailored” and vainly must I say, showed off my best bits. The simplicity & minimalism said city girl and the super low back said Mexican beach wedding.

Surprisingly enough, this $1400 (oh my gosh!) nude Corella overlay gown from Willowby by Watters was our favorite at the shop. It is the closest thing to lace I’ve ever put on that didn’t gag me, it felt different – upscale, boho but modern, plenty of fun Mexico vibes. And another surprise, I love tiaras! Coming back for you Untamed Petals.

Ultimately, the silky wonders at The Dress Theory had my heart. On our way back to my childhood home (in exotic Puyallup, Washington) we stopped by the shop and ordered my dream gown. It was the dress I’d been pinning on Pinterest over and over again for months. Lucky for me, the salon received the gown two days prior, and lovely Val put it on me first of the bunch (smart stylist move!) So many gowns could have easily been my wedding dress, I knew it was “the one”.

But, it will have to remain a surprise! Sorry, you’ll just have to wait until November like everyone else.

In the meantime, you can read the first few installments of my Real Bride Diary. Find more bridal inspiration in our wedding dress archives.