Wedding Fashion

A black and white snapshot of Eva and Kyle Martino from their Charleston wedding

As somebody who loves fashion, I was thrilled to shop for a wedding dress! To be honest, I had been reading wedding magazines from the first month Kyle and I were dating.  I wanted something elegant, timeless, and that truly made me feel like ME.  But I also wanted a major fashion moment, like most brides! LOL. Wedding fashion is so fun, and today I wanted to share an intimate look at the fashion from our Charleston wedding.  Our wedding was black tie, but I wanted to juxtapose a very elegant feeling with a relaxed attitude.  It think the fashion of the day reflected that! Read on for my selects of what I would try on if I got engaged today, as well as my picks for the groom!  I also included some gorgeous wedding guest fashion for under $200!

Kyle Martino sweetly kisses his bride Eva Amurri

Eva Amurri Martino greets her husband Kyle at their Charleston wedding.

As soon as Kyle and I got engaged, I started doing tons of research online– and I ultimately tried on so many truly stunning gowns.   But I could never have known that the journey to choosing my wedding dress would ultimately teach me SO much about myself!

Kyle and Eva Martino kiss sweetly at their Charleston wedding

Kyle Martino lovingly gazes into the eyes of his bride Eva Amurri at their Charleston wedding.

I kept hearing brides saying again and again that if they could have any dress they wanted, they would choose a Lela Rose. I was intrigued.  I went online, and the first dress I saw of hers was called “The Woods”.  It had beautiful, large-scale geometric floral lace covering the entire back, with a relaxed flowy fit and a gently off-the-shoulder shape.  It immediately made me feel emotional as I looked at it, and that was on a computer screen! I kept looking at tons more dresses, but that one stayed in the back of my mind.  I had an NYC trip planned to try on dresses with my bridal party and my Mom, and I scheduled an appointment at Lela Rose to try on the dress that I just couldn’t get off my mind.  When I slipped it on, it immediately felt like something I would have already had in my closet– in the best way possible.  I felt exactly like myself, only fancier.  I immediately could envision my wedding day and walking down the aisle in that dress to marry the man of my dreams…

A closeup of the wedding style at Eva Amurri's Charleston wedding to Kyle Martino

The details on Eva Amurri Martino's ornate Lela Rose dress

Then I walked out of the dressing room to show everyone– and the whole room pretty much shrugged.  They said I looked pretty but they weren’t Wowed.  I felt like crying.  “But I would take it in a bit, make it fit to my body a little more.  After alterations it’ll be perfect I think.” They all agreed that it was a beautiful dress but they just didn’t think it was The One.  I had imagined that moment that we’ve all seen in the movies– when the bride walks out in THE DRESS and the whole room starts crying, especially her.  It didn’t happen, and if it didn’t happen, then I guess that the dress wasn’t for me.  We left Lela Rose and went to another appointment at a big fancy department store.  They brought in champagne, and tons of gorgeous veils, and picked out a handful of dresses to try. 

Eva Amurri Martino poses in her Lela Rose wedding gown

The beautiful details on the back of Eva Amurri Marino's wedding dress, which she paired with white flowers in her updo.

The last one was a beautiful, bright white, very classic and architectural strapless by a BIG name designer.  It was fitted in the bodice, and then went in to a full skirt.  It was very “classic” and very southern.  And gorgeous.  I tried it on, affixed a veil to my bun, and walked out of the dressing room.  All my friends gasped.  My Mom started crying.  The moment was there, it was happening…but I just felt numb.  Everyone was saying how perfect it was, how beautiful I looked– but as I looked at myself in the mirror I felt like a different person.  A bride, for sure, but not me.  I didn’t own any strapless dresses at all– it felt so strange to choose one for my wedding day. But on paper, it did fit the bill.  The silhouette was beautiful and grand, and I did agree that it would be such a perfect dress for my big, black tie, southern wedding.  And I figured with the right accessories and jewelry I could really make it my own.  I decided to come in the next day to fit it, and get the process started.

A detailed look at the back of Eva Amurri Martino's gorgeous Lela Rose wedding gown

Eva Amurri Martino poses with her bridesmaid, wearing a lilac grey dress

When I got home to my hotel room, I sat on my bed in a daze.  Suddenly, I felt bit, hot tears falling in to my lap.  I didn’t feel how a person was supposed to feel after they found the dress they were going to get married in, that’s for sure.  I just felt confused.  I had planned on meeting a few of my friends at the appointment the next day to fit my new wedding dress.  I was supposed to call the department store and leave my credit card for the deposit.  Instead, I emailed the ladies at Lela Rose, and asked if I could come in one more time– alone.  When I went in the next morning and slipped that gorgeous dress back one, with the lace that reminded me so much of the garden where we planned to get married, I just knew it was “the one”.  I started tearing up in the dressing room– and I had that amazing bridal moment for myself, the only person who really needed to have it.  Afterwards, I texted my friends and Mom: “I decided to go with the Lela Rose.  I know it’s not all of your favorite one, but I’m in love with it, and I know on my wedding day you guys are going to love it too.”

Eva Amurri Martino with her mother Susan Sarandon on her wedding day

A portrait of bride Eva Amurri at her Charleston wedding to Kyle Martino

Little did I know then that trusting my instincts and my choices was going to be a life and marriage lesson for the books!  I still think about that decision as one of my proudest moments.  I’ve since gotten MUCH better about trusting my voice, but at the time– at 25 years old– I still hadn’t perfected it, and that one simple move was a huge deal for me.  I think it set the tone for me personally during the lead up to my wedding, and when I was in my wedding dress, I felt like the best and truest version of myself.  Kyle LOVED it, and when I came out of the dressing room on my wedding day, I could tell that my friends and family knew I had made the right choice.

A closeup of the wedding style at Eva Amurri's Charleston wedding to Kyle Martino

Eva Amurri Martino getting ready for her wedding while mother Susan Sarandon looks on happily.

I still keep my wedding dress hanging in our guest bedroom in plastic.  I like to look at it sometimes, because I still LOVE it that much to this day! Ha! The other day, Marlowe and I were talking about weddings, and I told her that I kept my wedding dress in case she wanted to wear it when she got married! Her response: “No thank you, Mom.  When I get married I want to pick out my own dress.”  LOL. Touché!

A quick note about groom style: it is just as important for a man to look classic and stylish on his wedding day as it is for the bride! An impeccable suit never goes out of style, and tailoring is key! Make sure your man goes in for fitting just like you do! I loved Kyle’s elegant Brioni tux, with a silk ivory bowtie.  He looked adorable.  I wish we still had it, but unfortunately it got trashed in the moving truck during our cross country move (Kyle lost a whole wardrobe box because the company had a leak in their van) Eeeek! I hope to replace it one day with another as an anniversary gift.  Maybe for ten years married!

Kyle Martino's classic groom style at his wedding to Eva Amurri

It is wedding season, after all, and if you have a full social calendar look no further! There are so many gorgeous dresses out there right now for under $200, and lots that are very versatile and can be restyled differently for extra wear! Here are my picks for what to wear as a wedding guest…

I want to know how you knew YOUR wedding dress was “The One”! Please share in the comments below!

The bridal party at Eva Amurri's Charleston wedding to Kyle Martino

Photographs by Tec Petaja.

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  1. Miranda says:

    I love the story of your wedding dress! It reminds me of mine. I actually don’t enjoy shopping with other people and felt so much anxiety when it came to shopping for my dress cause I was afraid of the opinions of others clouding my choice in dress. I decided to scout out some shops around town on my own just to see if they even had enough dresses for me to try in my price range before we got the whole gang together to have a dress fitting with bridal party and family. I walked into a small bridal shop that I knew carried a designer I liked and I kid you not, THE DRESS was right in front of me as I walked through the door. It pulled me like a tractor beam. I was all alone but I knew I had to try it on before I left. I slipped it on and the sample style fit me like a dream! I immediately started crying it was so perfect. The shop told me it was a sample size they don’t normally carry and were going to order a different sample size, so I could have that exact dress at a discount. I had the shop owner take a picture of me and I sent it to my mom and sister in law. I didn’t even ask their opinion, I just told them it was the one. My mom called me crying and said it was amazing and my sister called me yelling “yes! Yes! Yes! Get it!!” I didn’t have the champagne bridal party and mom all standing around crying with elation over the dress, it was just me finding the dress that fit my taste above all else. Regardless of their reaction all that mattered was how I felt! Like you said, that is such an amazing lesson to learn especially at the beginning of your marriage ♥️

    06.21.18 Reply
  2. Sarah Romano says:

    Same! My family and friends insisted I try on as many dresses as possible. When I slipped into my Rivini dress, I knew it was the one…but when I walked out to show everyone, I think I could hear crickets.
    I was told it was too plain, too expensive but when I got home I called the boutique and ordered it myself. I had to save every penny I made that year in order to pay for it myself. And I’m so glad I did. It was my dream dress. And still is.

    06.21.18 Reply
  3. Glenda says:

    I love your gown! So happy you went with your instinct! Perfect!

    06.21.18 Reply
  4. Tracy Hand says:

    This story resonated so much for me, although not so much for myself but for my sister. Myself and a few of the other bridesmaids in her wedding traveled along with her to 3 separate stores to try on probably 40+ dresses. She looked amazing in all of them and at some point all of the dresses started looking the same. She was overwhelmed to make the right choice based on all of our opinions that she never ended up choosing a dress on that day. I got a call about a week later from her that she went back to one of the stores on her own and found her dress and I was so happy for her! I am now a graduate student, but I was a professional baker for many years and worked with many brides. I feel like so much of a wedding is focused on pleasing others but I always told my brides to go with their gut and not ask for the opinions of too many other people in order to take the pressure off. After all, your wedding should be about marrying your person and having the time of your life!

    06.21.18 Reply
    • I totally get it! Sometimes you need that quiet in your own head to let your compass point you in the right direction!

      06.24.18 Reply
  5. Annie R says:

    At first the thought of wedding dress shopping was so exciting to me….until I started the process. Not many bridal salons have plus size or flattering dresses for plus size figures so I had to try on all these dresses and really imagine how the fit would be. Finally, my mother, who has impeccable taste if I might add, saw the dress I ended up choosing. It was awesome and was so me. Mama really does know best. It was nothing too over the top, but had this beautiful tulle overlay that draped to each side so you could see the dress underneath the overlay. Fast forward a few months later, the bridal shop sends a letter saying that they’re closing their doors, but luckily the dress has arrived and is ready for pickup. I ran to pick up that dress! I was actually able to bring it to a seamstress that added sleeves and a jeweled belt I got from M&J Trimmings in NYC. It was so elegant and perfect for our Spring wedding. 5 years later I’m still happy with my choice 🙂

    06.21.18 Reply
    • I’m so glad you were able to find your perfect dress! I always tell people not to forget that you can always make a dress your own– it sounds like you did just that! xx

      06.24.18 Reply
  6. Cara says:

    I had the EXACT same experience. The dress I loved, everyone else shrugged at initially. After being disappointed that everyone didn’t love it, I went for it anyway abc trusted my gut. On the big day, I felt beautiful and happy with my choice and they all agreed.

    06.21.18 Reply
    • The truth of the matter is that happy girls are the prettiest girls 🙂

      06.24.18 Reply
  7. Keelan says:

    I love how your mother’s dress perfectly compliments your dress. I think finding a mother of the bride/groom outfit can be just as challenging as finding a wedding dress!

    I found my dress in a roundabout way. While shopping with my mom, I tried on a flowy ethereal dress with straps which is exactly what I had envisioned wearing. I called my MIL to have her swing by the shop to see it. While waiting, the shop owner asked if I would try on some new dresses that they hadn’t seen on anyone else yet. It was a fun request! One was a ball gown with a long train that was totally not my style but it was fun to see. The other was a brocade modified A line with a strapless crumb catcher neckline. I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw myself in the mirror. I knew it was the one. I probably would have overlooked it on the rack. I am glad I was asked to try them on and ended up finding the perfect dress!

    06.21.18 Reply
  8. Tabatha says:

    I actually designed my own wedding dress and had a good friend make it for me! I fell in love with a dress I saw Bette Davis wear in a vintage magazine, and had the too styled after that. It had a v in the back with an antique brooch at the point, and the bottom was chiffon with the trim made from a set of vintage curtains I found when out thrift-shopping with my sweet dress-maker. My veil was thrifted, too, and my head piece was handmade by a seller on Etsy, and had swarovski crystals with an Irish flower (my grandmother’s favorite!) It was perfect.

    06.21.18 Reply
  9. Bee says:

    Loved reading this post and felt myself nodding throughout. I knew I didn’t want to make a big production out of shopping for a dress with so many people/opinions. Like you, I also wanted to feel like a slightly fancier version of my regular self. My friend had given me a stack of bridal magazines and I was flipping through one and saw an ad for a dress that gave me the chills. I looked up stores who carried the designer and started calling until I found a place who had the dress on hand. I went with just my mom, tried the dress on and liked it even more than when I first saw it, and my mom loved it as well. The shop attendants told me I should try on more dresses just to make sure. I tried on just 1 more dress and just knew dress #1 was “the dress”. So my wedding dress shopping took less than 2 hours and I chose a dress that my husband and I absolutely loved!

    06.21.18 Reply
  10. Kristen says:

    What a wonderful story, thank you for sharing!

    Picking my own wedding dress was nerve wracking! I went to several lovely bridal boutiques for try-on sessions, though the whole process just didn’t feel like ‘me’ and I didn’t find anything that I felt truly great in.

    One day, I was thinking of a French couture designer whose creations I love, though he rarely produces actual wedding dresses. After an extensive search online, I found a stunning white evening gown of his that I fell in love with. I ordered it, tried it on in my bedroom, and knew immediately that this non-‘wedding dress’ was my perfect wedding dress! I had it fitted perfectly to my body and I felt incredible on my big day; just what every bride wants!

    06.21.18 Reply
  11. Valerie says:

    Your dress is honestly one of the most beautiful dresses I’ve ever seen.

    06.21.18 Reply
  12. Jill says:

    I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loved your wedding dress! I’m so thrilled to read your thoughts on it because I had been dying to know the behind the dress story behind it for years. I actually bought two issues of People Magazine when the photos were published and put one in a scrapbook for “Dream Wedding Dress Inspiration”. Everything was perfection from you hair (I need to kno that hair color! …because it inspired me to start getting mine dyed auburn 😉 ) , to your makeup, and your moms dress complimenting it! It was literally my most fav bridal look ever! I’m so thrilled you stuck to your guns and got this dress! I can’t imagine anything else that would ever live up 2 it! I absolutely love your blog so much! Please keep being your beautiful self. All the best to you & your gorgeous fam! <3

    06.21.18 Reply
  13. Meaghan says:

    I ONLY took my mother dress shopping with me. Loved my dress but spent way more than I could afford and now it’s stained and probably discoloring hanging in my closet and I have no clue what to do with it. Maybe donate it…

    06.21.18 Reply
  14. Calley says:

    I saw a picture of a beautiful black dress in a magazine and I loved it so much I cut it out and kept it with me for years. When we got engaged we went to a lovely small business seamstress and asked if she could make it for me in white and she did such an amazing job. We were just starting out in life and had no money for a fancy wedding just a simple little wedding with family and a few friends. But this dream dress made me feel like it was the grandest most beautiful wedding I could ever ask for and that it was handmade for me made the whole day so special.

    06.21.18 Reply
  15. Megan says:

    I love your wedding dress story! I just bought my wedding dress a few months ago. I only brought my mom along because I didn’t want too many cooks in the kitchen, if you know what I mean. My mom and I knew my dress was the one, but some of my bridal party seemed less than enthused about when I showed them later. At first I was bummed they doubted my choice, but ultimately, who cares?! It’s how I feel in it that matters, and I know they will all agree when they see me in it in December.

    06.22.18 Reply
  16. Margo says:

    My wedding was dress was a gorgeous beaded halter top dress with full skirt and cathedral train I had bustled. Going in to dress shopping, I thought I wanted a simple, ivory sheath, no princess dress for me!
    I’m a jeans, t-shirt, & boots kinda gal, and thought I’d get a no fuss, no frills dress. Boy was I wrong! I tried on about 20 “plain” dresses, and my sister in law to be asked me to try on the halter style just for kicks….and what do you know, we had the “moment”! My advice- be open to anything & everything, even if you have an idea of what you think you want! You never know…. Until you KNOW. Eva, your dress was stunning & I love how your mom’s dress coordinated! You were a stunning bride!

    06.22.18 Reply
  17. CORREY L ONEAL says:

    Love that you stuck to your gut! I had to do the same for mine, but for other reasons. I was engaged several years before I met husband. So grateful that relationship didn’t work out (!!), but I had already purchased my dream dress before we split.

    Fast fwd 4 years later when I met my now husband, and I literally knew I was going to marry him the first date we had. I could only envision myself wearing that dress that i picked out so many years earlier. When it came time to try on dresses, my mom and future mother in law and bridesmaids all cheered me on to find “my dream dress” … but the truth way, I already owned it! So after committing to another beautiful option that wasn’t me, I went back to my original gown.

    AND I AM SO GLAD I DID! Our wedding was at an art gallery that was converted into a wedding venue for our day. I’m spunky and free-spirited, and I wanted our day and my dress to fully represent who we inherently are as people. To this day, I’ve never seen a dress like mine, and I’m so glad I went with what I loved.


    06.25.18 Reply
  18. Lauren Martin says:

    Thank you for this! I’m getting married next June and LOVE all of the planning, but my mom and I have been debating what the dress code should be. I would like it to be black tie but laid back as well, and I have to take the Midwest humidity into account for everyone’s sake. I want to say the dress code should be “Summer Formal” but my mom think that will scare everyone. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks again!

    06.26.18 Reply
    • I think Summer Formal sounds perfect! And to be fair, I think that would scare people less than Black Tie LOL. (As a funny anecdote, one of Kyle’s single guy friends showed up to our wedding in khaki pants, a button down shirt…and A BLACK TIE. Face palm LOL)

      06.27.18 Reply
  19. Molly says:

    I’m JUST getting around to reading this post now and I’m SO glad I did! It couldn’t be more relatable and it is the perfect example of how incredibly different everyone’s wedding dress search experience is. I think everyone expects to have an ideal experience when it comes to finding “THE dress” and it can be so hard to let go of that concept when it doesn’t happen the way it feels like it should. Your dress is absolutely stunning and the most important thing really should be to stay true to what you want during the whole wedding experience and you did exactly that! Also, I love that you chose my future wedding dress (we’re getting married in May and my dress is number 8!) for your favorites selection! It is exactly the opposite of what I thought I wanted but the moment I put it on in Anthropologie, I knew it was THE one!

    07.03.18 Reply
  20. Jill Harris says:

    I love your dress and how it was perfect for your shape. You looked stunning!

    04.25.19 Reply
  21. Laura Gourneau says:

    Hi Eva!
    I can’t believe you have a blog where you discuss your wedding and I found it! Like every girl, i’ve dreamt of my wedding day since I was young and secretly have an album on my iPad for wedding ideas and soon I get to put them to good use! I’m a southern belle from Nashville and I met my English Prince Charming 6 years ago and I am waiting for my ring (hidden in the house someplace), and our July 2021 wedding. I absolutely love your wedding style and was wondering in particular, where your mother of the bride dress is from? Is it also Lela Rose? Thank you for sharing your day with us!

    06.26.19 Reply