Advice & Planning

New-to-Dallas Bridal Designer Amanda James Creates a Custom Bride Experience

When it comes to their wedding dress, every bride wants to feel beautiful as they walk down the aisle. But hours of scrolling through Pinterest and browsing magazines for inspiration, on top of the time spent trying on endless options, can sometimes make the experience of buying a wedding dress much less enjoyable than actually wearing it.

Designer Amanda James proves that finding, or creating, that perfect wedding dress can become one of the most memorable parts of wedding planning. Her brand, Amanda James Bridal, is dedicated to making brides feel like the best version of themselves through modern and custom designs and intentional details all while creating an experience they will remember for a lifetime.

Using ethically sourced silks, intricate beadings, and novelty textiles from around the world, James designs romantic yet sophisticated, wedding dresses, pantsuits, and other bridal accessories. As an experienced designer and a self-proclaimed sucker for a good love story, she crafts each custom piece with expert detail, always acknowledging that, as she says, “there’s no order that’s not important.”

In 2018, James launched her brand at a studio in downtown Los Angeles where she says she gained a lot of momentum before the wedding industry plateaued during the Covid-19 pandemic. Ready for change, James relocated the Amanda James Bridal studio to a showroom in the Dallas Market Center in March this year.

“It just felt like a good time to really shake things up,” she says. “I landed in the Market Center because coming to a new city, it felt like a good idea to be in an environment where I was around like-minded people.”

James, who spent her childhood sewing dolls’ clothes and redesigning vintage pieces, says she always knew she wanted to be a designer. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise in Los Angeles, she began working in textile and women’s contemporary design. Before launching her first collection, James had never worked in the bridal industry though the idea had always appealed to her.

“It was a very natural progression [into the bridal industry],” James says. “I had a lot of connections from my years of experience, and I just love the romance and beauty of it.”

James captures this romance and beauty in her designs which she describes as sophisticated and whimsical. The polished construction and tailoring of her dresses is accentuated with modern, dreamy details. These elements are illustrated in her most recent collection, The Enchanted, which was initially inspired by the feeling that brides want to feel even more special and celebrated after the pandemic. “I wanted it to be kind of like a fairy tale that you could live out,” James says.

James’s collections are available on her website, but for a truly one-of-a-kind gown, brides can work with James to create a custom dress. Though her skill and expertise already set her apart, James’s dedication to fulfilling her brides’ visions turns the process of creating a custom dress into a memorable experience.

Gabriela Joy, who initially found Amanda James Bridal on Instagram, remembers the excitement she felt each time she made the drive to James’s studio for a custom fitting.

“It really is a custom experience. I picked out the fabric, and I told her what I wanted it to look like from beginning to end,” Joy says. “I adored the experience because I knew it was my own.”

After postponing her formal wedding ceremony because of the pandemic, Joy and her husband chose to have a civil ceremony. For the civil ceremony, she wore a custom gold slip dress and cape designed by James complete with beads from her husband’s grandmother sewn into the neckline to serve as her “something old.” For her formal ceremony, James combined her skill with Joy’s inspiration to create an elegant, modern pantsuit with a removable skirt.

“She made me feel special knowing that the vision I had would be something she could do,” Joy says. “Because she was very clear in wanting to make sure she understood what I wanted out of it, she brought it to life.”

While designing the perfect dress for someone’s biggest day comes with a lot of pressure, James says her success helps to remind her why she does what she does.

“It’s reinforced to me that I am a designer through and through,” James says. “That’s the part that’s easiest to me, the part I’m most proud of, and it’s the part that I love the most.”

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