Months later, that box – and a grad school project -ignited a very big idea.
After a month of painstaking trial and error, those stories became a living symbol of love: The Wedding Dress.
"There's reality to romance," Carrie says. "You don't have to buy into what everybody tells you to buy into."
Each dress is comprised of several books, cut with scrap booking scissors, then glued and taped together. Many of the books have been donated. Others were found in thrift shops.
She has designed 20 dresses so far, each sparking a new idea for the next.
The only rule she follows? Romance novels only.
Several of her dresses are on display at the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago in a collection called "Build Her a Myth: Romance Novel Dresses."