Hi there, I’m Ashley Edmunds and I photograph weddings all over the world but my heart is in Virginia.
I grew up in Richmond, lived in the heart of Shenandoah for 7 years, and then found my way back to Richmond. Once you get to know me, you’ll see I’m a little Richmond obsessed. I can help you find the best restaurant, park, or brewery for any part of this wonderful city. I love photographing weddings here at home, in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, DC, and beyond! When I’m not photographing weddings I’m most likely chasing River, my yellow lab trying to get a shoe out of his mouth, teaching my high school kiddos, or traveling with my amazing fiance Craig.
Today’s post is a personal topic that I’ve gotten a ton of questions about lately!! I thought I’d do a blog post about it to answer some questions, help my brides that are currently dress shopping during the pandemic, and to have this experience documented for me to look back on one day!!
I am so happy to say that I found my dress!!! NONE of the pictures you’ll see in this post are my dress, so no worries there!
This process started for me back in June when I made dress appointments at 5 shops here in Richmond all within 3 days of each other. I did this so that I could try on dresses back to back and make a decision that week instead of dragging it out and I am SO glad I did it that way. I made 5 appointments because I have heard about these shops for years now being in the industry and I wanted to see them for myself. I’m going to walk you through each shop and tell you a little about them! I went into this experience completely blind. I’d never stepped foot in a wedding dress store or tried on a wedding dress …but I had watched many episodes of say yes to the dress, ha!
I decided to text my bridal party in June and tell them what dates I was going dress shopping and leave it up to them if they wanted to tag along or not! I wasn’t sure what was going to be happening with COVID once August came. Most of the dress shops only allowed 1-3 guests because of everything going on. Honestly, that’s probably all the people you want anyway. It can be stressful with too many opinions. My mom came to every appointment because she is a saint. Craig’s mom joined for two appointments which was so much fun!
First stop was Urban Set Bride. I heard of this shop from my friend Hailey, see below, who got her dress here! I LOVED this shop and the dresses. This was also my first stop, so we took LOTS of pictures! The shop is in Church Hill and is so cute inside. They have a dressing room right in the middle of the store so when you’re in a dress they pull back the curtain for the big reveal. They only take one appointment at a time which made it feel so personable. They allowed us to bring champagne, thanks Hailey, and required masks except when we were taking certain pictures. They only let me look through the dresses to prevent multiple people from touching the dresses. I liked so many dresses here and all week I kept coming back to this store in my mind.
I LOVED this dress I have on below, but I couldn’t sit down in it. Like, not even a little bit.
This was the first time for my mom and I to really feel like … “Wow, this is actually happening.” We both shed some tears!
The owner of the shop would hold different colors up to different dresses if they didn’t have something in stock. It was super helpful.
I know that I want to wear a veil so I made sure to try one on with some dresses.
I seriously had so much fun trying on all the different styles at this first shop to narrow down what I was looking for. Make sure you go dress shopping with an open mind. I thought I wanted one style but ended up liking something completely different.
After Urban Set, we went to Tiffany’s near Regency Mall. Tiffany’s didn’t have as many dresses that were my style. I tried on a handful of dresses but I didn’t really like any of them on me. It also is a huge store that has multiple appointments at a time. They also wouldn’t let me look through the dresses, instead the stylist would bring me ones. I personally liked looking through the racks more. Overall, day one was a success.
When I came home from my first day of dress shopping, Craig was waiting for me with flowers. He is a keeper!!!!
River was so confused why I was dressing up and leaving him everyday. Day 2 and we started off at Blue Sage Bridal downtown. I can’t say enough good things about this shop!!! They are technically a consignment dress shop but they get dresses from other local stores, not past brides. They had the best prices by far which was so great to see!! The only hard thing here was you buy the dress off the rack, they can’t order in your size. You also can’t try on dresses that are too small because they don’t do orders. I found a few dresses at Blue Sage but I would have had to do some major alterations to get them to be what I wanted. Blue Sage let me take my time and look through the bags of dresses. They also only schedule one appointment at a time and require masks which was super nice! After Blue Sage, we headed to Caryn’s Bridal in Farmville, Virginia. Caryn’s was AMAZING as well. They had soo many dresses to look at and their prices were amazing. A huge bonus to getting your gown at Caryn’s is they have an in-house seamstress that will do any alterations to your dress and the alterations can’t exceed $250. That is AMAZING considering some alterations can be more money than the dress. We were getting closer and closer to honing in on my style at this point. When we left Farmville I knew I only had one more shop to look at and I started panicking a little that I hadn’t found my dress. I decided to last minute make an appointment for the next day at Ava Laurenne in Fredericksburg.
Before we headed to Fredericksburg, I had one more Richmond shop to check out- Annalise Bridal Boutique. I thought Annalise was out of my budget but I wanted to check it out because one of my previous brides works here. Shoutout to Katie! When I walked in, I was blown away. It’s soo beautiful inside!
The first dress I tried on at Annalise, I LOVED. It was exactly what I was looking for and it was at the top of my budget. I kept going through the appointment but nothing else compared to that first dress. My mom and I talked at the end of the appointment and decided to still go to Fredericksburg just in case plus and I couldn’t cancel the appointment just 24 hours beforehand.
Friday rolled around and mom and I headed out to Fredericksburg. I was once again BLOWN AWAY when I walked into Ava Laurenne. One of my future 2021 brides told me she got her dress here and I should check it out. Shout out to Mackenzie!! I had such an amazing experience here. The stylist was so personal and made the experience the best yet!!
I found some dresses I liked but I wasn’t sure if they compared to that first dress I tried on at Annalise. This is me calling one of my bridesmaids asking her opinion, ha!
This next part is where you truly see how my mom is a saint. It was 3:30 on Friday and mom and I were in the shop in Fredericksburg when I told her, “I think I need to try that dress on from Annalise one more time.” I called Annalise and they said if we could make it there by 5:00 someone would be there to help me. Mom and I literally ran to the car and pushed through Friday rush hour traffic to get downtown Richmond before 5:00. We made it and within 5 minutes of being at Annalise, I said YES to the dress!!! We celebrated Friday night with margaritas…not sure if mom was celebrating finding a dress with me or just being done dress shopping. It was a long week but we seriously had a blast!!
Thanks for reading all about my experiences dress shopping! If you have any questions at all about dress shopping during the pandemic, the particular stores, or anything else, please reach out!!
To see Craig and I’s engagement photos, click HERE.