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  • Writer's pictureTracey Houston

Let's Get Carried Away with Wedding Belles

Updated: 5 days ago

Hello Belles and Beaus!

Every happy ending starts with a great story. Wedding Belles is no different!

In December 2012, my honey popped the question! I was over the moon excited to start planning our happily ever after!

engagement ring

Eager to find the perfect gown for our fall wedding, I ventured to Nashville as there wasn’t a bridal store in Clarksville, TN at that time. We opted to make an appointment at that one store. You know big-box bridal store everyone knows the name of. I was looking forward to going into a place buzzing with excitement in layers of lace and tulle and sparkle! Oh My! I couldn’t wait! So with my Aunt Lisa, her daughter, and my soon to be sister in law in tow we took out to Nashville for a bridal show and then my wedding dress appointment.

However, what unfolded shattered my excitement. As a plus-sized bride, I felt sidelined amidst the flurry of smaller sizes. Frustration mounted as I tried on dresses, only to be met with dismissive comments from the consultant. At one point I expressed to my consultant, "I love the top of the wedding dress, but I don’t like the skirt at all." In response, she uttered four words that still echo in my mind: "Well, honey it zips." With hurtful looks and comments weighing on my mind, I left feeling disheartened, knowing no bride should endure such treatment.  Upon hearing those words, my initial excitement gave way to a flood of frustration, tears, and a daunting fear that I might never find the right gown. Quickly, I changed out of the wedding dress and into my street clothes. When I exited the dressing room I turned to my aunt, who had missed the consultant's hurtful remark, stating, “Apparently I’m too fat to get married. Let’s go.” Well this sent my entire entourage into a tail spin. I went outside and I can’t be held responsible for things that were said once my departure.

Ultimately, we found a dress at another store, but that experience fueled our determination. They were nicer, but far from great. At least I didn’t leave that store in tears and I did find a dress I felt comfortable in.

Lisa's long-held passion for the wedding industry ignited our journey. We shared a vision: to ensure that every bride, regardless of size, experienced joy, and confidence during her bridal appointment. No woman should leave feeling pressured to conform to unrealistic standards. EveryBODY is beautiful and deserves to be treated as such.

Lisa and I made a firm decision: no woman should endure the rollercoaster of emotions I faced in that big-box bridal store’s dressing room. We recognized a need in Clarksville, TN for a family-owned hometown bridal boutique where every bride could feel valued and cherished, regardless of size, budget, or background.

Soon after, a remarkable opportunity presented itself. In an unexpected turn of events, Lisa stumbled upon wedding gowns awaiting a new home in her bank, thanks to a closed SBA loan. With faith and determination, she made an offer and entrusted the outcome to a higher power. She went home, prayed about it. A few days later we found out the offer had been accepted. To accommodate these gowns, we embarked on a search for the perfect location, envisioning our boutique in the heart of Downtown Clarksville, TN.

Although our dream location downtown was not immediately feasible, we discovered an old house nearby that held promise. Standing within its empty walls, we calculated the expenses, pondering whether our vision could sustain itself. Despite uncertainties, we remained hopeful, knowing that growth would come with time.

wedding belles first location house

However, our plans faced a sudden obstacle in July. A car accident left me sidelined, unable to contribute to both my wedding planning and the store's preparations. With my absence, Lisa boldly took on the challenge alone as the store's opening date loomed closer on September 1, 2013.

With my wedding set for September 21, 2013, deposits paid on everything, family with reservations, and travel arrangements made, the show must go on and I did it y’all!  I walked down the aisle despite doctors saying I wouldn’t be able to do it! Bam! Mic Drop!  

So back to the store….

inside the store stages and couch

In September 2013, our doors swung open for business. Armed with gowns from the bank and collaborations with a few designers, we eagerly embarked on our journey. The outpouring of support from the Clarksville, TN community exceeded our wildest expectations. Brides flocked to our humble store from near and far, some traveling hours to experience the warmth and inclusivity we offered. Our reach extended beyond state lines and even across borders, as brides from various states sought out our boutique.

Determined to cater to all brides, we stocked gowns at every price point and made inclusivity a top priority, ensuring that our collection featured sizes for every body type in all silhouettes. Our mission was clear: no bride should ever feel doubt about her body image or self-confidence because of the gowns we provided.

Before long, the success of Wedding Belles outgrew our initial location. Faced with the choice to relocate or shut our doors, we refused to settle for anything less than the ideal space to serve our customers. We embarked on a search for a new home that would better accommodate our growing clientele.

The following week, a woman approached us with an exciting proposition: she was renovating a 2 1/2 story building in Downtown Clarksville, TN on Franklin Street, the very area where we had initially scouted for a location. It felt like destiny! Without hesitation, we eagerly accepted her offer.

yes to the address

Throughout the fall of 2019, she worked on the building and we poured our heart and soul into designing the space for us.

inside bridal store

By February 2020, Wedding Belles had found it’s forever home! Our new location boasted an upstairs area dedicated to prom, pageant, and maids, a half-floor reserved for mother’s gowns and tuxedo/menswear, and downstairs was transformed into the bridal wonderland of wedding dresses we had always envisioned. It was the perfect realization of our dreams, a testament to the power of a great story leading to a happy ending. Wedding Belles is now poised to create countless more beautiful memories for all of our customers preparing for their big day!

inside bridal store

To all of our past Belles, we would not be here without you. To our future Belles, we can’t wait to meet you and become a part of your happily ever after!

xo tracey

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