Houston & Peach

Betty Cantrell said ‘I do,’ but now watch 2016’s Miss America ‘say yes to the dress’

2016 Miss America Betty Cantrell weds Spencer Maxwell

2016 Miss America Betty Cantrell married Spencer Maxwell on Friday, April 13, 2018, at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Macon, Ga. A trolley named for Otis Redding's "Dreams to Remember" waited outside to carry the wedding party to the reception.
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2016 Miss America Betty Cantrell married Spencer Maxwell on Friday, April 13, 2018, at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Macon, Ga. A trolley named for Otis Redding's "Dreams to Remember" waited outside to carry the wedding party to the reception.

During her year as Miss America, Betty Cantrell had a treasure trove of glamorous gowns at her disposal.

The Houston County native trail-blazed her way to the crown in two-piece evening wear she designed herself but enlisted the help of experts when choosing the most important dress of her life.

Eight months before becoming Betty Maxwell on April 13, the beauty queen traveled to Bridals by Lori in Sandy Springs where she filmed an episode of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta.”

Lori Allen, co-star of the show and owner of the 25,000 square-foot boutique, said she and fashion director Monte Durham don’t know anything about their customers before the taping.

“It’s not staged,” Allen said.

She remembers rooting for Cantrell to win the pageant as Miss Georgia in 2015 but met her for the first time at the shop last August while filming the show’s 10th season.

“Betty wanted to look like a bride, so she had a definite idea in mind,” Allen said in a phone interview with The Telegraph. “She didn’t want it to look like a pageant gown. ... But I think you can’t do away with the fact she was Miss America.”

Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell debuted her first album at the Cox Capitol Theatre in downtown Macon Sept. 22, 2017. The Middle Georgia native is pursuing a country music career in Nashville and wrote the title song "Nicotine" and "Sway" for her

The aspiring country singer and fitness enthusiast considered between 15 - 20 gowns during filming, Allen said.

After the show aired, Maxwell clarified on her Instagram account that she probably pulled 30 gowns but only tried on four before the fifth turned out to be the “one.”

Women “connect” with their wedding gowns and know when they find the right one, Allen said.

“It’s like fishing,” she said. “You can try and try and try until you catch one.”

Cantrell brought along her parents, maid of honor sister and her mother-in-law to-be.

Unlike some episodes, Allen doesn’t recall any controversy while shopping for Cantrell’s gown.

“I think the drama was all in her head,” she said.

Allen applauded the decision to exclude her fiance, former Monroe County sheriff’s deputy Spencer Maxwell, from the selection process. Getting the groom’s input or letting him see her in the dress ruins that moment when the bride appears at the end of the aisle.

At Cantrell’s wedding, the Brooklyn Duo’s version of “Love me like you do” crescendoed as the doors of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Macon opened to give Maxwell the first glimpse of her in the dress.

“I was waylaid with emotion,” he said in the couple’s YouTube video about the ceremony. “It was like, ‘Boom!’”

“Spencer almost fell to his knees,” his new wife said in the video.

The strapless, ivory trailing ball gown features flowers on the fitted bodice that are echoed in its flowing, sheer skirt.

“When she put on this Eve of Milady, she was done,” Allen said.

Once viewers and brides-to-be see the episode on TLC at 8 p.m. Saturday, Allen expects to see a boost in orders for the couture gown and other Eve of Milady style featuring her handcrafted lace..

“Eve is a real master of design,” said Allen, who has been in business nearly 40 years. “She’s one of the few that have lasted.”

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Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell, at left, and Spencer Maxwell pass well wishers after exchanging vows Friday at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church Friday afternoon. Beau Cabell bcabell@macon.com

Seeing stunning photos of Miss America 2016 in her wedding dress will make it even more popular, she believes.

“Especially in the South, young girls look up to her. How many girls actually do this? She had a goal and she went for it. ” Allen said.

For months, Mrs. Maxwell had been eagerly awaiting the show and was hoping everyone would tune in.

“You’ll get to see me find the wedding dress of my dreams and all the tears,” she told her Facebook fans.

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