Trying on Wedding Dresses at Elizabeth Johns

A few weeks ago, I went to Elizabeth Johns in Morristown to try on wedding dresses. It was really a turning point for me in the whole wedding planning process. It’s no secret that I never pictured myself as a bride or having a wedding, but now that we are… I was really starting to feel overwhelmed. My friend Elsa strongly encouraged me to go to Elizabeth Johns just for the experience and she sent me a bunch of links to dresses she could picture me in. My parents had a tiny wedding and my mom has always said her one regret was not trying on dresses. So with encouragement from Elsa and my mom, I booked an appointment. I was planning on going alone and at the last minute asked two of Mike’s sisters to come with me. I cannot express enough how much fun it was and how grateful I am that I went.

I have DMed with a few people saying that they had similar experiences, so I’m mostly writing this in case there is someone out there who feels the same way that I did. Trust me on this… GO.

I’m a very visual person and I really think just seeing myself in a wedding gown instantly let me picture myself as a bride. It was, literally, like a light switch. I am almost embarrassed by how much I enjoyed it because I had been so adamant for years that I wouldn’t… but I guess you really can’t know what you don’t know. This is also, as you can imagine, a difficult time to plan a wedding and there are so many unknowns and things out of our control that this was a purely FUN thing to do. It was something to get excited about and, even with COVID restrictions (limited friends in the salon, everyone wearing masks, etc.), it was a bit of time where I didn’t have to think about the pandemic and how it would affect the wedding.

Elizabeth Johns invited me back to try on more gowns and to talk about what the experience was like and, well, I couldn’t say no!! Trying on gowns for fun? Count me in. *Cue “Never Let Me Go” by Jakaranda* (IYKYK)


1. Pick a bridal salon that carries designers you’re interested in. I’ve obviously never tried on dresses before and didn’t even think about how one salon might not carry a designer that another does. I was very interested in Amsale gowns and that’s how I landed on Elizabeth Johns. (Elsa wore an Amsale gown!)

2. Even if you have a style in mind, try on different designers and silhouettes too. This was probably the most eye opening to me… I went in thinking I knew exactly what I wanted and ended up loving a different style more. (That I thought I would hate.) Working with a great consultant helps as they’re able to see a few dresses on you and then give amazing recommendations that maybe you wouldn’t think of. Weirdly I’d think of it like applying to colleges. You don’t want to apply to too many and be overwhelmed by your options and you don’t want to apply to too few and not have enough. Try on one basic dress (like a safety school) and one more wild dress (like a reach). You’ll probably end up somewhere in the middle, but you never know!

3. In addition to how you look, don’t forget to check in with how you feel. At first I was so focused on how I looked (“is this flattering?” “does this work with my body type?”) that I wasn’t considering how I felt. I wish I had thought from Dress #1: Is this a dress I feel “myself” in? Do I feel good?

4. Bring people who will give honest but uplifting feedback. There is an element of vulnerability with trying on gowns. I loved having Mike’s sisters there in person to do a good mix of hyping and critiques, while still gently guiding you in the right direction. I also thought it was great to have someone there who had gone through it before (Mike’s older sister) because sometimes I felt like I couldn’t articulate what I wanted or how I was feeling and she was able to speak on my behalf.

For the second time around, I went with my friend Mekina who is an incredible wedding photographer if you need one!! Since this was purely for fun, I had a blast picking out dresses that were a little bit outside of my comfort zone. I think it goes without saying that I won’t share my dress until later 🥰

(Everyone wore masks inside. I did take mine off for a few of the photos but only when Mekina and Dina, my consultant, were on the other side of the salon with a zoom lens! As someone who has been wary of being inside anywhere other than my own home, I really appreciated Elizabeth John’s commitment to safety!!)

Anne Barge Blue Willow “Paloma”

Soft sweetheart full faille gown with asymmetric pleating on bodice with detachable swag straps and buttons to hem

This one felt very traditional to me. The detachable sleeves made me feel a bit like Cinderella!

Hayley Paige “Effie”

Tulle ball gown with encrusted pearl detail, illusion net bateau neckline and sweetheart lining, three quarter length sleeves and open square back, tiers tulle skirt with horsehair trim

This gown is gorgeous. Very winter princess. I LOVE the sleeves.

Amsale Nouvelle “Shea” + Kiera Elise Collection for Elizabeth Johns “Amore” Veil

Taffeta spaghetti strap A-line gown with sheer organza trimmed camisole neckline; Swiss dot cathedral length

This was my absolute favorite combination. Can we talk about how gorgeous that swiss dot veil is?!

Kiera Elise Collection “Bridget” Veil

Cathedral length circle cut veil with hand applied floral appliqué and pearls

I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful this veil is in person.

Mira Zwillinger “Verona” + Elizabeth Johns “Blaine” Veil

V-neckline and back mermaid gown with 3D floral appliqués

THIS DRESS. Even though it’s not super “me” I couldn’t get over how beautiful it was.

I also tried on a few shorter dresses. Elizabeth Johns has a bunch of options for rehearsal dinners, elopements, and courthouse weddings too. I have seen a trend of brides doing small ceremonies now in a fun, shorter dress and saving their gown for a bigger event down the line.

Above: John Paul Ataker “1142-1871” + Elizabeth Johns “Amy” Veil

Below: John Paul Ataker “2529-2112 + Elizabeth Johns “Amy” Veil

Huge thank you to Mekina Saylor for the photos and to Elizabeth Johns for letting me play dress up!!!

Elizabeth Johns has locations in Morristown, NJ and Ardmore, PA!

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Congrats!! I have been following your blog for a while and I am glad to see you are able to have this fun experience and try on beautiful dresses during these weird times. They all look amazing on you!! Your blog has been a great and also informative distraction during these times. Love from the Netherlands!


Omg you are ROCKIN that Verona!!! Can’t wait to see what you pick for the big day! Wedding dress shopping was such a fun experience for me too and I told any soon to be bride I met that they needed to prioritize the experience. Thanks for sharing!


The second to last photo gives me Parent Trap vibes! Just missing the top hat. All of these are beautiful!


I wore Anna Barge for my wedding. I absolutely love her classically beautiful dresses. I always wanted a bow on the back. My “the one” dress didn’t come with one and I got a custom bow made to match from Etsy. Loved!


Thank you for sharing this! I have always said I’d be happy with a court house on a Tuesday at noon and not telling anyone. I also pictured that meaning, a simple sundress or pulling a Carrie Bradshaw with a vintage no label suit. This makes me want to try on a wedding dress and wear one even if I have a courthouse on a Tuesday wedding. Thank you so much!!


I’ve been reading Over the Moon and they are showing small weddings due to covid right now… I love when the bride wears a short dress but still opts for a veil! kind of a fun!


I was married by the mayor of Cape May on a cold December evening. It was so perfect and fun in every way! If it wasn’t planned, it would have been an elopement. I cannot recommend it more!


Please tell me you’ll have a white top hat underneath the dress, so we can see the back….You look picture perfect in EVERY style. How is that possible? Can’t wait to see the final pick!


Carly, you look absolutely radiant! You are glowing and I cannot wait to see how your big day turns out!


Love these!!! I got engaged in Feb and haven’t been able to try on dresses because my family lives out of state and I can’t bring myself to go without my mom and sister. Living vicariously through you until I get to go 🙂


I wore an Amsale gown and absolutely loved it. The “winter princess” dress (though not Amsale) is stunning on you. Though truly, everything you tried on was gorgeous and looks great! I’ve been a long time reader and am so excited for your next chapter!

Chelsea Moser

Congratulations! You look amazing in every dress…especially that Hayley Paige one!


You look beautiful in all of them! And your happy smile is so nice to see in the midst of the pandemic sadness.

Ro // A Cup of Kims

These dresses and photographs are so pretty! I love them all, but I think the 4th one and the last one are so beautiful! I’m glad that you are able to have fun and enjoy being bride – even with all that’s going on right now. I hope the rest of planning goes well for you!


WOW that Verona dress is SO FLATTERING on you! It is gorgeous! You truly look happy in these photos. Congrats and enjoy the ride!


You look straight out of a magazine in the Verona!! The appliqué on it is so gorgeous.


Ahhhh! I was an Amsale bride (I wore the “Lauren”) and am SO thrilled to know you are interested in her designs. She is a STUNNING artist and I can so picture you in one of her gowns, too — classic with a twist!

Abby Smith

You are going to be the most beautiful bride! I am so happy for you! You are glowing!


Congrats on the engagement. I love the Verona! Is this an ad? It definitely reads like one. Do you get a free gown in return? Some transparency would be appreciated.


It’s not! I had gone myself and then they invited me back to do photos just for fun. I couldn’t say no to playing dress up again 🥰


Hi! Thank you for sharing about your experience trying on wedding dresses. This post was a fun read. While I appreciate and respect your honesty about not wanting to share much about your wedding, it seems a little off-putting that you would post about your dress a few days later for what potentially got you some sort of discount. That being said, wedding content is always fun, and I wish you the best during these nerve wracking times!


I didn’t get a discount! I already had my dress– this really was purely for fun! They invited me to come in to try dresses and I couldn’t say no to playing dress up for the day!

Brigid Devney-Rye

Such a great post! Can’t wait to see what you are going to choose. So glad you are embracing the wedding experience! I know you hadn’t pictured yourself as a bride but I always hoped you’d reconsider. So happy you are! This is so positive and exciting, just what we need these days!

Erin Rice

You are going to be a beautiful bride, love the music on instagram- so cute!


You look beautiful in all of these! That swiss dot veil is to die for. I really hope you take that one home with you! I LOVE a veil!



Such a fun post! As a bride, I am so excited for your wedding planning content!


The Shea gown and Swiss dot veil combination is stunningly gorgeous on you! You are radiating joy in these photos. I can’t wait to see the one you chose.

Julianne Buonocore

I’m a sucker for wedding dresses and this gave me all the heart eyes!!! Amsale and Anne Barge are totally you. I also love the swiss dot combo the best. Elizabeth Johns is spectacular – I went to the Ardmore one near Philly and although I didn’t find the one there it was one of my all time favorite life experiences. YOU ARE GORGEOUS! Adore this post.


Loved this! Your choices here are beautiful and so much fun. Thanks for sharing.

A Girl, A Style

You’re making me regret not properly trying on dresses (I was so stressed by the whole wedding planning process, I impulse bought a dress when I was actually in a store looking for a dress to wear to another friend’s wedding, and saw one hanging by the change room and ended up buying it an hour later, HAHA).

And I know it’s not ‘the one’, but absolutely *adore* the ‘Shea’ on you! So chic and classic and timeless!


Hello Carly, Bonjour Carly,
Cela fait plusieurs années que je lis et apprécie ton blog et comme je sais que tu apprends le français, je me suis dit que je pouvais écrire quelques mots. Ces robes de mariée te vont à ravir ! Ma préférence se porte sur des robes simples (je pense que c’est aussi ton style) donc n° 1 et 3. Dans la dernière, tu me rappelles Marylin Monroe… Félicitations pour toi et Mike, j’ai hâte de voir la suite,
Love from France (Toulouse)

Stephanie Roy

If you love Amsale, you may love the Canadian designer who made my dress, Anais Anette. I am obsessed with swiss dots and the dress I purchased has an entire overlay (it’s called the Sabine dress). Their styles are very similar to Amsale (elegant and simple). Sadly, our wedding was postponed from September 2020 to May 2021 so I’ll be waiting a few more months to wear it 😉
Best of luck with the planning!


I saw this on your instagram and was like…why do I hear my aunt? My Aunt Jackie is Jaqueline from Jakaranda, such a fun fact about my fam!

Congrats to you and Mike, Carly! You are so beautiful always, regardless of what you wear.


All the dresses on you are stunning. I was trying to find a way to explain the difference I saw in “Verona”. The other photos are more about the dress but the “Verona” showcases you as a woman and bride. I saw you before the dress. You are radiating joy and happiness!!

Dina Dolan

It was a pleasure assisting you at Elizabeth Johns Carly and suggesting dresses and veils. I love your analogy on selecting wedding dresses to college! Turns out my daughter went to Georgetown with you! Thank you for visiting Elizabeth Johns!


Love them all but the Verona….WOW!!
I had a courthouse wedding w shorter ivory dress and later the destination celebration w more formal full length. Both amazing memories. Follow your heart…what makes you feel amazing!