While Leybold liked the straight silhouette it created, the off-the-shoulder straps prevented her from lifting her arms, which wouldn’t work for her wedding.
“I couldn’t move my arms, so that wasn’t going to happen,” she said.
After trying on the more casual dresses at home, Leybold realized she did want a more formal wedding gown.
“You can wear a white dress any old day, but something as formal as a bridal gown is meant to at least be a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she told Insider.
So Leybold headed to a bridal shop with one friend to try on dresses.
She went to The Sample Rack in Philadelphia, which only has sample dresses. The gowns can’t be custom ordered, and there’s often only one of each gown in a size in the store, so it’s important to buy a dress you like quickly.
“They are on the lower end price-wise, but are still a higher-end type dress,” Leybold said of the dresses in the store.
Leybold tried on this A-line gown first, drawn to the tiered lace design on the skirt. Although it was pretty, she didn’t love the dress.
“I don’t know what it was about it,” she said. “It just didn’t really feel right. I think I was uncomfortable in it.”
Leybold was surprised to find herself drawn to this princess-style ball gown.
“I was surprised that I liked it,” Leybold said of the ball gown, which had beaded detailing on the bodice and a tulle skirt.
“It does feel very American princess wedding, not this ‘mishmash of cultures’ vibe” that she was hoping to find in a gown, Leybold explained.
“And it was going to need a lot more alterations,” she added. “It was too small, so the back would need to be entirely redone.”
Leybold said that sounded risky and like it would cost a lot of money.
“It didn’t have the right feeling, and I also wasn’t emotionally attached to it. I wasn’t going to be emotionally upset if that dress was gone,” Leybold said.
But when she tried on this fitted gown, Leybold knew she found something special.
The fitted Willowby By Watters dress had a V-shaped neckline and geometric crochet detailing throughout the gown.
Leybold loved the pattern detailing on the gown in particular. It “felt like it could toe the line” between Leybold and Bhargav’s cultures, as she put it.
The dress was approximately $1,200, which was more than double Leybold’s original $500 budget.
“Besides our photographer, my dress is the most expensive thing happening at our wedding,” Leybold said.
The gown also had a dynamic shape on the back that Leybold was drawn to.
She was torn between this gown and the princess-style dress, so she wanted to sleep on her decision.
But then Leybold’s shopping companion asked her how she would feel if someone else bought the gown, preventing her from getting it since there was only one version of the dress in her size at the store.
She realized she’d be devastated if the dress was gone, so she decided to buy it that day.
The gown needed a few alterations after Leybold bought it.
Because the dress was a sample, it didn’t fit Leybold exactly right when she bought it.
First, it needed to be taken in and the straps needed to be shortened. “It probably would’ve been better if it was down a size, but luckily that’s a pretty easy alteration to make,” Leybold said.
But the biggest alteration was removing the gown’s train, which pained Leybold to do.
“Our venue is very small, we’re only having thirty people, and comfort is so important to me, so I don’t want to have a train,” she said.
“I’m going to be tripping over it all night or I’d have to carry it around, or someone else is going to step on it because our venue is so small.”
“It was too bad because I really thought it was beautiful. I was distraught,” she added.
As the March wedding date approached, Leybold and Bhargav realized they wouldn’t be able to have their event as planned because of the coronavirus.
They realized it was time to postpone on March 15.
Both of their companies implemented work-from-home policies, and travel restrictions were starting to be put in place, which was a problem because Bhargav’s family planned on flying to Pennsylvania from India.
They postponed the wedding to October, though they planned to get married at home in the spring of 2020 anyway, thanks to Pennsylvania’s self-uniting wedding option, which allowed the couple to get married without an officiant.
“It’s nice that we had the power to do whatever felt right for our relationship,” Leybold said.
A few days after they postponed the wedding, Bhargav got the idea to have a photo shoot in their wedding attire before the couple had to self-isolate.
“I think we were both mourning the loss of the celebration,” Leybold said. “We knew it was the right decision, but it was a sad decision.”
Bhargav suggested they see if their photographer could spend an hour or two with them from a distance before they had to totally self-isolate. They hoped it would make the postponement a little less upsetting.
“I would have never thought to do that,” Leybold said of the photo shoot.
“I’m really glad he suggested it because it was an extra special day,” Leybold said of her now-husband’s idea.
The day was also fun because Leybold had a pre-existing relationship with their photographer, Amanda Swiger, as she had previously done a boudoir shoot with her.
“She’s hilarious,” Leybold said of her photographer.
The couple had a blast taking pictures together.
“Amanda was just like, ‘Sometimes I have couples who don’t really want to be affectionate on camera or grooms who aren’t really into it,'” Leybold said.
But Bhargav was just as excited to be there as his soon-to-be wife, and he had no trouble showing his love for Leybold.
Leybold said the shoot was more fun because it felt a bit like the last hurrah.
“Knowing that we were going to be isolated for a few weeks, you know?” she added.
“It was a beautiful day in Philly, and there was just this resounding feeling of we’re all doing our best right now.”
“It was just like the embodiment of that for sure,” she said.