Aug 052015
 

Sometimes in the great search for that one perfect dress, you don't even know where to begin. The answer? With an appointment at a top-notch bridal salon. In our new August/September 2015 issue (on newsstands now!) we call out the best 50 bridal salons — big and small, luxury and budget-friendly, boho and traditional — across America. How did we go about creating such a list? We asked more than 1,100 real brides nationwide to weigh in on the best spots to find that dream wedding dress by rating and submitting their own gown-shopping experience. From precious, personalized boutiques in the South to giant wedding dress meccas in the Northeast to intimate indie shops in California, we found them all. So take note, brides-to-be! These are our readers' favorite bridal boutiques in the Midwest.

Ultimate Bride, Chicago
Owned by industry vet Elena Grapsas, this Oak Street salon specializes in swank labels like Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera. "But I never felt pressure to spend more than I wanted," says a bride.

M.H. Pomander's, Indianapolis
Bringing Mom is a must, say reviewers: Along with gowns from the likes of Lee-Ann Belter and Theia, the shop is known for its flattering MOB dresses. P.S.: In-house seamstress Erin Young is couture trained.

Laura's Couture Collection, Shawnee, Kansas
This chic boutique carries fresh-off-the-runway gowns from designers like Marchesa and Pronovias. Says one bride, "My mom and sister couldn't be there, so owner Laura Mease FaceTimed them while I was trying stuff on."

Roma Sposa, Birmingham, Mich.
Fashion-forward Detroiters, take note: Anna Castaldi-Roselli stocks her salon with haute designs from Vera Wang and Inbal Dror. Reviewers raved about the trunk shows: "After she knew my taste, my consultant suggested I go for one by Ines di Santo. I found the perfect gown and met the designer!" says a bride.

A & Bé Bridal Shop, Minneapolis
Owned by the same duo as Denver's Anna Bé, this laid-back boutique is beloved by boho brides, who tout the crazy-good selection of indie labels (Anna Campbell, Rue de Seine) and range of prices: Many gowns ring in under $1,500.

L'Atelier Couture Bridal, Minneapolis
At this gallery-like salon, you'll find gowns by hot designers like Jenny Packham and Mira Zwillinger displayed like works of art. As for the service, one recent bride told us that her consultant made a video to show the out-of-state 'maids how to bustle her gown.

See more: The Ultimate Wedding Dress Guide: The Best Necklines by Body Type

Fleur De Lis Bridal Boutique , St. Louis
Again and again, reviewers said that shopping here was the highlight of their wedding-planning experience. Not only is it the only salon in the city with sought-after designers like Rivini and Judd Waddell, but if you avoid a Saturday appointment you'll also be the only bride in the store.

Rhylan Lang, Omaha, Nebr.
Love lace? This chic salon is the state's go-to spot for ultrafeminine lines like Hayley Paige and Anne Barge. Area brides are obsessed with the private dressing rooms; each one has an elevated platform and enough space to fit even the largest entourage.

Amanda's Hyde Park Bridal, Cincinnati
At this intimate spot, each bride gets the whole shop — and a reserved parking spot — to herself. Says one, "I was greeted at the door with champagne and a sign that said, 'Welcome, Jennifer!'"

Something White, Independence, Ohio
This light-drenched salon is filled with gowns from hard-to-find labels like Leanne Marshall and Ivy & Aster. It's also the only Ohio store selling perennial fave Lela Rose. "I loved that they weren't afraid to stray from the poofy princess dress," says a fan.

Gigi of Mequon, Mequon, Wis.
City brides flock to this mecca outside Milwaukee for gowns by Peter Langner and Monique Lhuillier and spoil-you-silly service. Says one, "In Chicago, appointments are stacked on top of one another. Here, I felt like the only bride they'd ever dressed."

For even more of the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration, pick up the BRIDES August/September 2015 issue on newsstands now and available for download.

A Charming Country Wedding at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri

 Classic, Elegant, Fall, JLM Couture, Missouri, Monique Lhuillier, Preppy, Real Weddings, Rustic, Winter  Comments Off on A Charming Country Wedding at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri
Dec 042013
 

When a wedding has this much rustic, country charm, you know the bride and groom must have a strong connection to cowboys and moonshine. For Luke, 30, and Jen, 34, there was no question that their wedding would feature feathers, antlers, and plenty of cowboy hats. In 2009, Jen and Luke were both in Nashville for a Professional Bull Riding event. She was there to watch from the stands, while he was center-stage on the back of a bull. Jen quickly became familiar with the Professional Bull Riding world, falling in love with the sport as she fell in love with Luke.

In December of 2011, Luke got down on one knee in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City. The couple got to work planning their dream wedding in Missouri's Ozark Mountains, heading to a place they've loved and returned to for years - Big Cedar Lodge. They let the resort inspire their wedding, turning to nature and cowboy style, dressing it up for their rustically elegant celebration.

Just six days after competing in the World Finals, Luke donned his cowboy hat and Jen put on a gorgeous gown for a memorable night full of love and laughter.

The forest-themed invitation suite let guests know they were in for a woodland escape.

A Lazaro wedding ball gown with an embellished bodice and full skirt.

Jen wore a voluminous Lazaro ball gown with an embellished bodice. She topped her dress with a fur stole in honor of her late grandmother. She wasn't able to find her grandmother's, but purchased a beautiful stole at a vintage store. The stole has a hand-embroidered silk patch inside with a mysterious set of initials. "I'd like to think it belonged to someone else's beloved grandmother," says Jen.

Jen's simple bouquet featured white roses, scabiosa pods, dusty miller leaves, and ranunculuses.

The bride and groom at a rustic wedding at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri.

Bridesmaids in Monique Lhuillier chiffon dresses.

Luke paired his tuxedo with a black cowboy hat. His boutonniere featured two pheasant feathers.

Jen's bridesmaids wore strapless chiffon dresses and carried bouquets that matched the bride's. The groomsmen, like Luke, wore tuxedos and cowboy hats. Three of the groomsmen were also professional bull riders.

Bride being escorted down the aisle by her fathers.

Jen had both of her fathers escort her down the aisle to the outdoor wedding ceremony. Big Cedar Lodge's terrace and sweeping Ozark views provided a gorgeous backdrop for Luke and Jen's vows.

A sign for the bride and groom at a wedding at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri.

Jen's sister was responsible for the majority of the wedding's décor. Clusters of candles, logs, antlers, and feathers helped create the feeling of a gentleman's hunting lodge.

Western-inspired dcor at a wedding in the Ozarks.

Vignettes of saddles and rope, books, feathers and comfy, worn leather furniture kept the wedding as far as possible from a traditional ballroom feel. Cozy seating (and buckets of ice-cold beer) encouraged guests to wander and mingle throughout the evening.

A board covered in moss and edged with horseshoes served as the place card display. Guests' names were written on simple tags and hung with horseshoe nails.

Wedding centerpieces with antlers, roses, and hydrangeas in log troughs.

The simple, elegant tables were topped with troughs that appeared to be carved from tree trunks. Antlers punctuated overflowing arrangements of white roses, hydrangeas and fresh herbs.

The three-tiered wedding cake featured freshly-ground almond cake with layers of strawberry jam. The cake topper was a nod to the hunting lodge motif, as well as the bride and groom's love of the outdoors.

Later in the evening, guests headed outdoors to make s'mores over the fire.

The bride and groom's getaway car was a vintage pickup truck, complete with strings of cans.

Jen and Luke's advice is to stick with what you know and love. "We spent a weekend at Big Cedar Lodge a few months after we started dating. We both remember that weekend as the one when we first fell in love. It only seemed fitting to return for our wedding," says Jen.

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Big Cedar Lodge || Event Design: Julie Manna, Sister of the Bride || Bride's Wedding Dress: Lazaro || Hair: Jared Cluck of Studio 417 || Makeup: Melissa Britt || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Monique Lhuillier || Groom's Suit: Black by Vera Wang || Groomsmen's Boots: Ariat || Wedding Bands: The Jewelers of Las Vegas || Florist: Ron Johnson, The Thicket || Invitations: Tupy Boutique || Catering & Cake: Big Cedar Lodge || Favors: Moonshine from Big Cedar Lodge || Photography: Love Is a Big Deal

—Jaimie Schoen

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