A bride tried on 12 dresses before finding a one-of-a-kind gown with a yellow skirt
- Hattie O'Hara and Andrew Mitchell got married in May 2019.
- When O'Hara started shopping for wedding dresses, she knew she wanted something non-traditional, assuming she would pick a gown that had a unique architectural structure.
- After trying on 12 dresses, O'Hara picked an A-line dress with a bright yellow skirt, surprising herself with the color.
- "I will look back on this dress as a highlight of my wedding forever," O'Hara told Insider.
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Hattie O'Hara and Andrew Mitchell have been together since August of 2017.
"We met because Andrew led the interview for my first job out of college," O'Hara told Insider. "He was part of the team that hired me."
Mitchell was on his last three weeks at work as O'Hara was starting, so they only overlapped briefly. He was preparing to move to Nashville from Birmingham to attend graduate school, while O'Hara was staying put.
"In the last few days of being in the same city, I asked him out on our first date. We went from zero to 100 and decided to try this thing out for real," O'Hara said.
The couple got engaged in October 2018, and they got married in May 2019.
Their short engagement meant O'Hara didn't have much time to shop for a wedding dress, as brides should generally start shopping at least 10 months in advance of their wedding.
"I didn't realize how long that process was," O'Hara told Insider. She originally made her bridal appointments for January, but after talking to a friend in November, she realized that likely wouldn't be enough time if she wanted a custom gown.
"I emailed the wedding dress shops that I had made appointments with at 10:30 at night in a panic," she said. The stores helped her move up her appointments, but she still ended up having to rush order her gown.
O'Hara knew she wanted a unique dress.
"I wasn't trying to have the same dress as everybody else," O'Hara said. "And I kind of like weird stuff anyway."
"I thought it was going to be weird in, like, an architectural way," she added, listing interesting cuts, necklines, or accessories like capes as things she'd imagined.
"I always pictured it as white before I started trying things on, just because I hadn't really given a lot of thought to a different color."
With that in mind, O'Hara headed to The Sentimentalist, a wedding shop in Atlanta, Georgia, with her mother and sister to find her dream dress. Her original budget was $2,500.
The first dress she tried on was a floral gown with thick straps and a plunging neckline.
"The floral embroidery on this dress is what initially drew me to it," O'Hara said of the gown. "It's so unique."
"I ultimately decided against it because I didn't like how wide the back was, and I would have wanted to restructure the top to make it strapless."
"I wasn't in love with the rest of it enough to commit to all those alterations," she said.
O'Hara liked this dress, but it didn't photograph the way she imagined.
"This dress is a great example of how important it is to take pictures of yourself in the dresses as you try them on," she said.
"When I first saw this dress, I thought for sure it was going to be the one. The modern take on a sweetheart is very cool, but what I really liked about it was the texture, which wasn't as apparent as I wanted it to be once I had it on."
"Going back and looking at pictures helped me realize that," she said, leading her to say no to this gown.
The gray lining of this embroidered gown is what drew O'Hara to it.
"I loved this dress because of the grayish-purple lining — which maybe should have been a sign," she said.
"Also, I loved how the florals on this dress crept from the shoulder to the skirt, instead of being one solid pattern of flowers."
Despite the color and pattern, she wasn't totally sold. "I didn't like how wide the fabric was at the shoulders, which is something I would have altered, but the whole dress felt a little heavy so it didn't make the cut," she said.
But she noticed how much more comfortable she felt in a colorful garment as opposed to white.
O'Hara tried incorporating a robe into this floral gown.
"I was excited by the idea of soft layers on top of dresses," she said of her mindset while shopping.
"Here is where I first tried on a robe with a long train on top of one of my dress options. I think the robe ended up adding some unnecessary busyness on top of an already busy dress, but it could have been neat on another gown."
"This dress was appealing because of the champagne tint, but ultimately it felt a little tired," she said of the gown.
O'Hara liked the cape she got to wear with this look, but the gown itself was too busy.
"I came into shopping with the idea of wearing a cape on top of my dress, so I loved getting to try this one on," she told Insider.
"This dress was too busy for layers," she added, leading her to go in a different direction. She kept the cape in mind as she shopped, though.
This gown with a sweetheart neckline showed O'Hara that white was a problem for her.
"I loved how soft and light the skirt of this dress was, especially with the draping and the train," she said of the gown.
"I didn't like the lace on the top, as I was looking for something a bit more modern."
"Also, this dress was bright white, and at this point of trying them on, I was very tired of seeing white dresses," she said.
Her team decided to test out how she felt in gowns that had some color.
"This was the introduction of the concept of separates," O'Hara told Insider of this gown, which had a separate top and skirt.
"The top was very elegant and bridal, but it was structured and solid, so it felt fresh and modern," she said of the top.
"This skirt was also very cool. That long train nearly had me sold, but the whole thing felt like it needed something."
"I could have added a neat belt here, but it ended up getting outshined," O'Hara added. She kept the top in mind as she kept trying on dresses.
O'Hara tried the same top with a peach skirt.
"I still think 'wow' when I see this dress," she said. "I loved how the shine of the top seamlessly matched the skirt."
"Unfortunately, I couldn't get past the texture of the skirt," O'Hara said. "It didn't feel as soft as it looks in these pictures, and I didn't like having it on, so that's a bit of a deal-breaker."
She went back to the drawing board, looking for a more comfortable gown.
This gown was pretty, but ultimately too casual for O'Hara's wedding.
"This dress was very pretty, but I think I wanted it for a summer date night and not for my wedding," she said.
"That belt was incredible, though," and she kept it in mind as she shopped.
O'Hara liked this gown because it paired well with the cape, but it would have been pretty with or without it.
"I only considered it at the time because it looked good with the cape, and a cape would be so cool," she said.
"But every time I look back on these photos, I love this dress. The buttons down the front are a great detail, it had pockets, I love the way it looks on me, and it was so comfortable to wear."
"However, for some reason, it didn't stand out at the time," she said, leading her to pick another gown. "Maybe I'll go back and buy this one someday just to have," she added.
"I wish I could bottle how it felt walking out of the dressing room wearing this," O'Hara said of this color-block gown.
"The color was perfect," she said. "There was just enough texture to the skirt, and it felt bridal but definitely not too sweet."
"It made sense for how I understand myself as a whole person, and not just a bride."
"I also knew that this combo was over my budget, so I tried my best to love another dress this much," she added. Even though she loved the yellow gown, O'Hara kept shopping because of her budget.
"This dress ended up being in my top two," O'Hara said of this gown, which she tried on with two colorful skirts.
"It was very pretty and comfortable, and I loved all of my options for a colorful lining," she said, as O'Hara tried the garment on in both pink and ice blue.
"When I looked at myself in this dress, I kept going back to the phrase, 'It's just too sweet,'" O'Hara said. "It felt too dainty for my personality."
"I wanted my dress to be bridal and cool, strong, and bold," she said.
She found herself pulled back to the yellow gown.
O'Hara tried on the yellow gown again and loved it, but she was worried about the price.
"I walked away this day not buying any dress," O'Hara said, as she didn't feel comfortable going over budget without talking to her then-fiancé.
"I ended up talking with Andrew about our budget and purchasing this dress the next day," she said.
"This was a very, very good decision, and I will look back on this dress as a highlight of my wedding forever," she said.
"I was getting really nervous trying on dresses," O'Hara said of the process before she found her gown.
"I kept putting on gowns that were super pretty, and I was just feeling like I was wearing other peoples' wedding dresses," O'Hara said.
"And then when I tried on the big yellow dress, I put it on and there was a moment of hesitation where I was like, 'Can this be bridal?'"
But then O'Hara realized that anything can be bridal.
"I don't care," she added. "It's my wedding."
O'Hara also said the top she picked sold her on the yellow gown.
"Originally, I tried on the skirt with a more casual top that made it in budget, but it was like cotton," she said of the fabric, which made it feel like a daytime ensemble.
"So when I tried on the top with the sheen on it, it was a little bit more structured and had a deeper V on it that elevated the entire dress," she said.
O'Hara ended up adding a veil and a belt to the outfit as well. The combination gave the whole ensemble the bridal look O'Hara wanted.
The colorful gown was a surprise to everyone at the wedding.
"Nobody knew except for my mom and my sister," O'Hara said of the gown's yellow hue.
"My bridesmaids lost their minds," she added.
O'Hara advised brides to give themselves enough time to shop.
O'Hara first advised brides to make sure they shop early, so they have adequate time for alterations without having to pay extra fees.
"You feel like that's the high point of the engagement and the wedding planning, but do that first," she said of shopping for a gown.
"Don't save it, because you're just going to spend hundreds of extra dollars making sure it gets done in time."
She also said to have fun with the shopping process.
"Even if you find your dream dress at the first store, just keep trying on dresses," she said.
"You only get to try on wedding dresses once in your life, so keep trying them on just for fun. Drink some champagne and then leave and don't buy anything."
You can follow O'Hara on Instagram here.
If you are in the process of shopping for your wedding dress or have photos from when you shopped and want to talk to Insider for a story, get in touch at [email protected]
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