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A bride didn't try on her see-through, floral wedding dress until the night before she got married

By Samantha Grindell,Anneta Konstantinides,

2023-06-01
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Toni Norton wore a custom wedding dress.
  • Toni Norton had a custom dress made for her wedding to her husband, Miles Norton.
  • Designed by Alonuko, the dress was almost entirely sheer and featured floral detailing.
  • The bride wasn't able to try on the dress for a fitting until the night before her wedding.
Toni and Miles Norton got married on May 13, 2023, three years after they met on Twitter.
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Toni and Miles Norton got married on May 13, 2023.

Toni and Miles Norton, who are based in North Carolina, connected on Twitter while self-isolating in March 2020.

A DM from Miles led to a three-hour phone conversation, and soon, they decided to meet in person at a garden on April 24, 2020. Toni and Miles told Insider that their connection was instant because they had a playful energy.

"We're doing cartwheels, we're doing foot races," Toni said of their first date.

The Nortons have been together ever since, and Miles proposed to Toni in December 2021. The Nortons run the sock company Miles52eighty together, and Toni is also a bodybuilder and influencer .

They planned their luxury wedding for May 13, 2023. Demetris Faison and Vanity Jones of De'Veilope Planning organized the event, which took place at the Cadillac Service Garage in Greensboro, North Carolina.

As they started planning, Toni had no idea what type of dress she wanted to wear.
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Toni Norton didn't know what kind of wedding gown she wanted to wear.

Toni told Insider she hadn't put much thought into what kind of wedding dress she wanted to wear, as she didn't anticipate she would get married.

"I never knew that I would meet Miles, that I would be married, that I would have a wedding at all," she said. "That was never on the trajectory."

When she realized there would be a wedding in her future, Toni started researching gowns online.

She fell in love with Danielle Brooks' wedding dress , which was designed for the "Orange Is the New Black" star by Alonuko Bridal .

Toni decided to hire Alonuko to design a custom wedding dress for her.
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Alonuko designed Toni Norton's custom wedding dress.

Gbemi Okunlola founded Alonuko in 2013. The company is known for its illusion gowns, as Okunlola engineered a special sheer tulle that makes it seem as though dresses are painted onto brides.

Her tulle hits a niche in the bridal market because her sheer fabric gives Black brides a seamless look, which few bridal lines offer.

"It's not just about having a brown option; it's about having a brown option, a beige option, a dark-brown option," Okunlola previously told Insider . "No matter what color skin you are, you should feel like the dress is for you."

When Toni saw Okunlola's gowns, she knew she wanted the designer to make her wedding dress because of her sheer designs.

"I really love the illusion of looking almost naked," she told Insider.

Okunlola pulled inspiration from Toni and Miles' first date for the gown's design.
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The gown was covered in floral adornments.

Okunlola designed Toni's dress while they spoke on the phone, as Alonuko Bridal is based in London.

"I didn't know she was drawing while we were talking," Toni told Insider. "We were just having a girl talk for about an hour where she said, 'How did you guys meet?' So I told her our love story."

In their conversation, Toni described her first date with Miles, telling Okunlola about running around the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden in South Carolina.

Okunlola became inspired by the flowers that filled their first date and heavily included them in the gown's design.

The gown looked like it was painted onto Toni's body.
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The base of the dress was entirely sheer.

Alonuko's signature sheer tulle made up the base of the long-sleeve, high-neckline dress.

Floral adornments covered the bodice and sleeves of the formfitting gown, tapering off on the trumpet skirt.

The see-through fabric was all but invisible.

The gown flowed into a delicate train that pooled around Toni's feet.
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The dress had a sheer look.

Ruffles gave the train volume, playing off the floral embroidery.

Toni's skin peeked out all over the dress, creating the illusion that she wasn't wearing anything from certain angles.

Toni didn't see the completed dress until the day before her wedding.
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Toni Norton didn't try on her wedding dress until the day before she got married.

Because the brand is based in London, Toni only had one fitting for her dress, and she only tried on the tulle at the time.

Toni didn't see the completed dress until Okunlola arrived in North Carolina the evening before her wedding.

To her relief, the dress was exactly as she imagined it.

"I felt incredible," Toni said. "I cried like a baby. Just lots of emotions putting on the dress, especially because of the detail from our first date."

Toni also wore a custom Alonuko veil to the wedding.
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The veil was custom-made.

Okunlola designed Toni's veil, which flowed over her head and had gems lining its hem. It offered a modern interpretation of the classic bridal accessory.

"It was just really beautiful to be in a veil," Toni said. "That's not something I would have done because not a lot of brides are doing veils anymore."

Shanteisha Simmons was Toni's makeup artist, and Well Dunn Hair Studio styled her hair.

Toni also wore the veil throughout her wedding ceremony, which was officiated by Al Morgan , and Miles didn't lift it until they kissed at the altar.

"That was a very beautiful moment I didn't know I needed," she told Insider. "I loved being a bride and then becoming a wife in that flip-over."

Miles was emotional when he saw Toni in her wedding dress.
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The groom cried when he saw the bride.

Miles didn't see Toni's wedding dress until she walked down the aisle, as the couple opted to do a first prayer without seeing each other instead of a first look.

Miles cried as she walked toward him, but he also just appreciated her style.

"When you think of a wedding dress, you don't think of something that beautiful and unique and different," he told Insider.

Stanlo Photography documented the Nortons' wedding day.

Miles also wore a custom look to the wedding.
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The groom's look was custom.

Demetris Faison, the Nortons' planner, designed Miles' look through his label, Dapper Couture .

He paired pale-purple pants with a white, asymmetrical jacket. The look was tied together by a white shirt with a bow tie and a purple sash on Miles' waist.

Faison told Insider that he could ensure Toni and Miles' outfits looked right together because he was both the designer and the planner.

"A lot of times where the bride and groom do not see each other's outfits, I'm the common denominator to come and marry the two together," Faison told Insider. "So when they do finally come and stand side by side and around flowers or a backdrop, nothing's competing with each other or somebody's too white or too ivory or too cream."

Toni said she was intentional about her wedding ensemble feeling like a one-of-a-kind moment.
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Toni Norton wanted to invest in her wedding look.

"We tried to think about everything, even down to our wardrobe, going into our wedding," she told Insider.

She went on to tell Insider that she didn't see much inspiration for Black couples in the luxury-wedding space, and it was important to her to show other brides who looked like her that they could have the wedding of their dreams.

"Everything really was thought out to be inspirational to other people no matter what your budget is. To be like, 'No, I'm going to think about these details and I'm going to execute them and I am as big as the most popular wedding right now. I can be that girl,'" Toni said.

"A couple of people said it's like the Black Sofia Richie wedding, and I was like, 'Oh, I love that,'" she added.

The Nortons also saw their wedding as an opportunity to give back to the people they loved.
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Their event was a family affair.

"I kept saying, 'This isn't my wedding,'" Toni told Insider. "This is my mom's wedding that she didn't have 30 years ago, even though she's still married to my dad. Or Miles' parents' wedding, who weren't able to have a wedding like us. So many people in our family have sacrificed for a really long time."

"So it felt really important to us not just to do something for ourselves, but to make every single person who comes to this wedding feel like celebrities," she added. "We really wanted them to put on their best duds and just be loved and catered to. It was important to us that everyone felt like the main character."

And for both Toni and Miles, finding someone who made them the best version of themselves was the highlight of getting married.
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The Nortons' said they loved their relationship.

Toni told Insider that Miles had given her a new sense of confidence.

"Miles knows who he is, he doesn't waiver," she said. "And that's allowed me to really stand in who I am and grow, and feel confident that I know what I know I am. He just encourages me to be my best version of myself. And that's really what I love about this relationship, that we get to have so much fun and be around each other 24/7 and not get tired of each other."

"The best part of this is that it's so easy," Miles added. "Toni's my best friend. I wake up, and I'm blessed to have her in my life."

You can read more about the Nortons' wedding here .

If you wore an eye-catching wedding dress and want to talk to Insider for a story, get in touch at sgrindell@insider.com .

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