A former bridal stylist surprised herself by falling in love with a sparkly wedding dress with custom sleeves
Elise and AnDre Walker married on July 28, 2022, after over a decade together.
Elise wore a mermaid-style wedding dress covered in sparkles to the wedding.
She had custom, sheer sleeves with lace adornments added to the gown.
It took AnDre Walker two years to convince his future wife, Elise, to go on a date with him ten years ago.
Elise, 25, and AnDre, 28, met in 2011 when they were in high school together in San Antonio, Texas, where they still live today.
"We met through choir class, and it wasn't until January 2013 that I finally let him take me on a date," Elise told Insider. "My parents were on the first date. We went to Olive Garden."
Elise and AnDre have been together ever since. Their relationship was long-distance for years because AnDre went to college before Elise. They stayed together as Elise became an account executive at Texas Weddings and AnDre became a security officer.
"We just stuck with each other," Elise said.
AnDre proposed to his high-school sweetheart in January 2019, and they finally tied the knot on July 28, 2022.
Because she works in the industry, it was important to Elise that her and AnDre's wedding felt like them instead of like every other wedding she'd ever been to or worked on.
"Here in Texas, it's very common to have a rustic, country wedding, but we're just not the type of people," she told Insider. "We wanted something with a little Texas flair but more traditional and with a little bit of modern thrown in there too."
The Walkers ended up planning a timeless yet ethereal wedding at Canyonwood Ridge that was full of pops of colors.
"I really loved warm, bright, colorful hues, so I wanted pinks and oranges and reds. I've been wanting that since I was like 15," Elise told Insider of her vision for the wedding.
"I've been planning my wedding since we started dating," Elise went on to say with a laugh. "It was a long time coming, but I made it come true."
She knew she wanted her dress to fit the vision she'd been curating for years too.
Elise worked as a bridal stylist at Impression Bridal when she got engaged, so she already had her "dream dress" picked out. But when she finally tried it on, she was disappointed. It felt too plain.
Elise was engaged when she started working as a bridal stylist at Impression Bridal, so it was a given that she would buy her wedding dress there, especially because she had her eye on a specific dress the store sold in May 2021.
"I made it a really huge deal of getting this dress sample in because I was like, 'that's my dress,'" she told Insider, as she had sold it to many clients.
But when the Houston Impression store sent the dress for her to try on, it wasn't what she imagined.
"I tried it on, and it was nothing," she told Insider. "I was like, 'I feel basic; it's not it.'"
So Elise tried on another gown to get her "dream dress" out of her mind, and she wound up falling in love with its stunning details.
After being disappointed by what she thought was her dream dress, Elise tried on a gown from Ashley & Justin Bride, named after the son and daughter of Impression Bridal owner Nick Yeh.
"My friend, who was also a bridal stylist, was doing my appointment, and she fanned out the train, and I instantly started bawling," Elise said. "Of course, it was my dress."
Elise said the gown was similar to the dress she thought she would buy, but the details on the Ashley & Justin dress set it apart.
Sparkles and lace covered the fit-and-flare gown.
The entire dress was made of a sparkly fabric, which made it feel special to Elise.
Lace applique also adorned the dress from head to toe.
The sweetheart neckline plunged in the center and was held together with a lace panel.
Elise added custom, sheer sleeves to the gown to make it her own.
"The dress originally had detachable sleeves, but I wanted the lace specifically put in certain places," Elise told Insider.
She ordered lace when she bought the gown so her ideal sleeves could be added to the dress.
The sheer sleeves featured floral applique and cuffed at Elise's wrists. The bride also brought the neckline up a bit, offsetting the sleeves.
Elise also added lace to the back of the gown to close up its original keyhole detail.
The dress originally had a keyhole back, which wasn't Elise's vision. She used some of the extra lace she bought to bring the back up.
She thought the intricate back looked perfect with the short train that flowed out from the skirt, as Parisa Mae Photography's images from the day show.
The sparkle detailing was one of Elise's favorite aspects of the gown.
"It's full glitter," she said of the gown. "So it's a statement. In the pictures, you can't see it as much, but in video, it is like a glitter bomb."
"I freaking love it," Elise added.
Lona Weddings provided videography for the wedding.
Elise said she also loved the dress because it made her feel "womanly."
Elise said she is on the shorter side, which often leads people to think of her as "cute," which wasn't what she wanted for her wedding day.
"I'm like, 'I don't wanna be freaking cute,'" Elise said.
But her wedding dress made her feel anything but cute.
"It made me feel womanly," she said. "I wanted to feel grown, and that's what I felt in it."
Elise paired a long veil with her dress.
"I knew I always wanted a long veil," she said. "When you walk down the aisle, and it cascades behind you, it's just ethereal."
She chose a cathedral-length veil with lace trim.
"I'm so, so glad I did because when we were at the altar, it was just beautiful," Elise told Insider.
She said she followed the advice she would often give to brides. "I'm like, 'this is the only time of your life you ever get to wear this accessory. You might as well buy a really long one,'" Elise said.
She also added a headpiece to her hair to still look bridal throughout the wedding day without her veil.
The headpiece was bejeweled with silver adornments, adding even more sparkle to the ensemble.
"I think that really made it bridal as well, having a headpiece, because, after the ceremony, you take the veil off," Elise said.
Sarah from Mission Style House did Elise's hair and makeup for the wedding.
Elise's dress, which sparkled and hugged her curves, was everything AnDre dreamed it would be.
Elise told Insider that AnDre had one request for the bride's wedding dress: make it fitted.
"I've always been a mermaid girl, so that worked out," Elise said, adding that AnDre loved her gown.
"He loves it, and he knew it was gonna be glittery or something sparkly because he knows me," she said.
He didn't see Elise until she was walking down the aisle, and to their surprise, neither of them cried.
"He always thought he was going to cry, and I thought so, too," Elise said of AnDre's reaction to seeing her walking down the aisle. "But instead, we were just happy and calm."
AnDre opted for a non-traditional wedding ensemble that featured a subtly patterned jacket and russet brown pants.
"AnDre's pretty opinionated," Elise said of her husband. "One thing that he really, really wanted was anything but a black or blue suit."
"So I searched the internet for a brown color that would go with his skin and his hair," she said.
A Stitch & Tie suit from Friar Tux ended up being perfect.
The off-white jacket had a subtle pattern, much like Elise's dress. AnDre paired it with russet brown pants and a coordinating vest.
His shoes had the same colors, and AnDre stood out from his groomsmen as they wore brown jackets with their ensembles.
"He was really happy," Elise said of how AnDre felt about his look.
One of Elise's highlights from the wedding day was when her mother saw her in her wedding dress. "She just cried," Elise said.
Elise's mom was there when she bought her wedding dress, but her father wasn't, as he was overseas when she bought it.
Her entourage videotaped Elise selecting her gown, and her dad told her he approved of it virtually.
However, he died in 2021 before the wedding, so he never saw Elise in the dress in person, which made her mom more emotional when she saw Elise dressed up on her wedding day.
"She just cried," Elise said, for both happy and sad reasons. "She was crying because I'm her daughter, and she was also crying because my dad's not here. It was both."
Her mom's dress was from Badgley Mischka, and Jenny Yoo designed the bridesmaids' dresses.
Even though he wasn't there, Elise told Insider she still felt her dad all around her at her wedding. She said her most important accessory was an open locket with her dad's photo inside.
Elise wrapped a locket around her wedding bouquet, which was created by Perry's Petals, along with the rest of the flowers for her wedding. She later had the flowers preserved by Texas Pressed Flowers.
The locket included a photo of her dad and the last picture she ever took with him.
Elise walked by herself down the aisle to music played by Terra Vista Strings, so the locket made it so that her dad was with her as she walked toward her soon-to-be husband.
"That was really, really special," Elise said. "I was like, 'I have to make sure the locket is open to make it feel like he's there with me.' So that was my most important accessory."
She also said she felt her dad's presence thanks to a visit from some dragonflies, as they remind her of her dad whenever she sees them.
To Elise's surprise, hundreds of dragonflies descended on the outdoor space of her venue on her wedding day.
"It was like a little sign," she said, calling it "magical."
AnDre and Elise jumped the broom at the end of their wedding ceremony because of its significance to AnDre's family.
Historically, people who were enslaved jumped over a broom to signify they were wed when they could not legally marry, Tyler Parry, a historian of marriage rituals in the African diaspora, previously told Insider.
It has continued to be a tradition at modern weddings today for some Black Americans.
The Walkers decided to embrace the tradition because of its significance to AnDre's mother.
Most members of his family had courthouse-style weddings, so AnDre was the first to have a big event. So for AnDre's mother, he and Elise would participate in the tradition for the whole family.
"She was like, 'This is for everybody. This is for your ancestors who couldn't get married, this is for your immediate family who couldn't have such a big celebration, and it's you jumping into your new life,'" Elise said.
AnDre's mother made the broom they jumped over and kept it as a family heirloom.
The couple's officiant Reverend LJ Smith of Texas Wedding Ministries also put a fun spin on the tradition, asking everyone in attendance to jump as Elise and AnDre did, celebrating them as they leaped into their married life.
The Walkers' reception was full of family fun and dancing.
Elise said dancing played a big part of the day thanks to their DJ Brandon Shabazz of The Premier Entertainment Group, who also provided the Walkers' photo booth for the reception.
AnDre's father was a hit on the dance floor, according to Elise, as AnDre made sure one of his favorite songs was on their playlist.
Elise said AnDre's dad is usually a "tough guy," so everyone was excited when he got really into dancing at the reception.
"We were all shocked," Elise said. "We knew it was his favorite song, but he got down to this song."
Their event also included a FêteFone, which is an audio guest book.
The reception featured fun pops of color, including the wedding cake's purple, orange, green, and pink decorations.
For instance, their wedding cake from Kristy's Kraft Shop was covered in purple and orange flowers.
PEJ Events catered the wedding, and Royal Fig provided their bar.
Elise advises brides to listen to what they want regarding their wedding dress and not anyone else.
"It's really about going with how you feel, especially because your mom and your sister and your best friend are all gonna have opinions," she said. "In reality, they should just support whatever dress that you want and that you feel your best in."
Elise also encouraged brides to be open to trying on wedding gowns that they might not expect themselves to like, as they may find themselves surprised by what they love, just like she was.
"That literally happened to me, but it happened to so many brides I've worked with," she said. "You just have to allow yourself to feel those feelings and trust your intuition because it's always right."
Elise loves how easy her relationship with AnDre is.
Elise thinks their relationship is so strong because it's built on a foundation of friendship.
"We're best friends. We've known each other since I was 14," Elise said of herself and AnDre. "We were friends first, even though he wanted me the entire time. We just formed a relationship that was like a best friendship instead of just trying to get with each other."
"It's just easy," she added. "If we fight, we argue for 10 minutes and then we're like, 'Okay, I communicated that wrong.' It's just easy and it makes sense."
You can see more of Parisa Mae Photography's work here.
If you wore an eye-catching wedding dress and want to talk to Insider for a story, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the original article on Insider