On October 1st, 2017, I was planning to be walking down the aisle on a mountain lake resort in Cashiers, North Carolina to marry a man who was at the time, the man of my dreams. The year leading up to that date was exciting, yet very stressful. I had just bought my first home in my dream neighborhood right outside of Plaza Midwood in Charlotte, North Carolina. With that brought the preparation of getting my 7 year old daughter ready to go to a new school and I was contemplating on a career change. There was so much on my plate that I was beginning to wonder if having a wedding in the first place was a good idea. It’s not that I didn’t love my then-fiancé, but weddings are EXPENSIVE. The conversation I had with one of my coworkers echoed through my mind every time I pinned a wedding idea on Pinterest. He and his fiancé weren’t even through planning their wedding and had already shelled out $35,000. Luckily, they had the help of their family but I wouldn’t have been able to afford such a wedding without taking out a loan. It just never sat right with me spending so much money on a ceremony for one day when there were so many other things that money could’ve been spent on. I refused to believe that you couldn’t have just as nice of a wedding while spending a fraction of what the average wedding costs today. With that thought process, I did research and tried to find ways to cut corners without sacrificing quality. My initial idea was to have a courthouse wedding at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County courthouse and then have a reception somewhere nice afterwards. My fiancé was not with that idea. He had a huge family and a long list of people he wanted in attendance. I, on the other hand had about 10 people in mind on my side that I would’ve really wanted to be there. Even after compromising on having 40 guests max, we still had a hard time with cutting costs. For one thing, the venue. We received an initial quote of $15,000 for the space and the food and beverage minimum. Nope...wasn’t going to happen. They then came back with an offer of $9,000 which wasn’t bad considering the amenities and the gorgeous mountaintop view. But then came the decor, the DJ, transportation, etc. When it was all said and done, our wedding was going to cost close to $20,000. It was almost as if as soon as a business heard the word, “Wedding”, prices were suddenly way more expensive.
Then came the wedding dress. Ohhhhhh, the wedding dress! I searched online for weeks for inexpensive wedding dresses. If I couldn’t cut corners with anything else, it was definitely going to be the dress. Doing Google searches would direct me to off-brand and international dress sites that ultimately ended up being scams. I wasn’t going to risk a few hundred dollars only to find out that I had been duped. Going into bridal shops were underwhelming. Most of the dresses looked the same. It was hard to feel like any of them were unique and spoke to me as an individual. For example, I love the color black. It’s very unusual to see me in a different color other than black. Being dizzied by a wedding dress store with white, ivory, off-white and cream colors everywhere, I whispered to myself, “Wear white for what?!” And their least expensive dress? $2500. 😩 The store offering me a payment plan didn’t soften the blow. I had enough bills. I just needed a dress for one day. I left feeling disappointment which also sparked my desire to have my own wedding dress store someday. I wanted to cater to not only those on a tight budget but those who wanted something different without having to search endlessly.
Soon after, my engagement ended which was in it’s own way, was an emotional and financial relief. We learned a lot about each other while planning our wedding and we’re to this day very good friends. However, the entire experience inspired me to create a store for women like myself who not only want quality but practicality. I love fashion and I for one know that you don’t have to shell out tons of money to look beautiful. Over the past year, I’ve partnered with fashion designers from all over the world to give you the dress of your dreams. So whether you want a simple courthouse wedding downtown, a huge fairy tale ceremony or you need a beautiful gown for any formal event, just know that we at Ashley Opoku would love to have a part in your story. ❤️
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