Shopping for a Wedding Dress

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I have had 3 dress shopping occasions so far, comprising of 5 different stores.  Of these, 1 was a blow-out sale type of event, 1 was a big box bridal retailer and 3 were local boutiques of varying sizes; I was extremely surprised by the results.

The blow out sale was a Brides Against Breast Cancer dress sale in town.  To be fair, this isn’t quite the magnitude of a Kleinfeld’s Blow-out sale or anything like that (you couldn’t pay me enough money to go near that.  no way am I risking death or dismemberment over a wedding dress that costs more than my car did! — but I digress), but that is kind of what I was expecting.   I was pleasantly surprised at how orderly and un-chaotic it was.  I didn’t go with the intention of buying; I jut wanted to try on dresses and get a feel for shapes and sizes, but there were many gorgeous dresses at awesome prices. If you don’t mind a pre-worn dress, I highly recommend checking their location schedule and seeing if there will be a sale near you.

IMG_20140104_145138At the BABC sale in my little changing corner.

A word of warning, if you are squeamish about people seeing your body, this may not be the way for you to shop for a dress.  Most locations have very few private changing rooms.  At the sale I went to, there was a giant room one floor below the gown sale where people were trying on dresses that was being affectionately referred to as the “naked room”.  I opted to claim a corner of the main sale room and tried on dresses there to avoid all the trips up and down the stairs lugging dresses.  I also recommend taking someone with you to help guard your turf and get you in and out of dresses.

I didn’t find my dress at the BABC sale, but if I sell my gown after the wedding, it will definitely go to them.

And then we had David’s Bridal. It was a complete and total fiasco.  It started when we arrived for my appointment and were not greeted by a consultant for an hour an 15 minutes (!).  Then she dissappeared fro probably another 30 minutes.  She finally re-appeared and took us to a changing room where she was helping another bride and left me standing there with no instructions for probably another 10 or 15 minutes before taking me into teh fitting room to try on the first gown.  I would then be left alone for long periods of time while she went off to help the other bride only to have her return with dresses that did not resemble in any way what I had asked to be shown.  The crowning blow was when the alterations lady arrived and told me that I did not need to wear a bra with my wedding dress.  I wear a size 36 G bra– there is no way on this earth that I would ever be able to not wear a bra.  Period, end of story. Moving on.  I am still in shock over that.

IMG_20140118_121117David’s Bridal-before I was told I didn’t need a bra!

The three boutiques were all mostly the same experience- very personalized and lots of fun.  Some consultants were better than others, but overall that is where I will continue to look for my dress.  Just because a store is a small boutique does not mean that they have astronomical prices.  All three of these boutiques had dresses of similar pricing to David’s Bridal.  You aren’t going to get a $99 dress at a boutique, but the quality of the dress will be much higher than that of the $99 dress, as will be the quality of the service and (probably) the attention to your needs by both the consultant and the alterations staff.

dressTwo of the small boutiques.  The third did not allow pictures.

Ultimately, shopping for a wedding dress is like shopping for anything else: it depends on the person doing the shopping and what their bottom line is.  For me, that was quality service and a consultant who listened to what I wanted and needed out of a wedding dress, as well as an alterations staff that can and will work with the exact specifications of my particular body shape.

None of these are the dress; you’ll have to wait until the wedding pictures to see that.  We can’t risk Mr. C stumbling across it before the wedding day!

For those of you who are married, how did you find your perfect wedding dress?  What was your shopping experience like? What tips do you have for other brides?

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4 thoughts on “Shopping for a Wedding Dress

  1. Nicole says:

    What a great post! I’d experienced the chaos that is Davids Bridal as a bridesmaid, so I avoided it at all costs (even though I could WALK there from my house). I agree that local boutiques are the way to go. Unfortunately, the one I had my heart set on closed a few months before I got engaged. I tried to go with my mom and sister when we were in the same place, but living 600 miles away makes that hard. I eventually found a dress online through OnceWed. After some alterations, I was really happy with this decision.

  2. carmabeth says:

    I totally agree about being in separate places. My mom has gone with me to some, but my sister-my maid of honor- has not been able to at all. Being spread out definitely makes it harder.

  3. Rose Harvey says:

    Wow. I’m sorry to hear you had such a negative experience at David’s Bridal.
    I went to a small boutique in Richmond and didn’t have much luck. I couldn’t find anything in my budget. I also had a hard time envisioning the final look of a gown because the sample gowns were so huge on me. I couldn’t get past how frumpy everything looked pinned together with clips.
    I also looked at the selection of white dresses at higher end department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom. I actually found a dress at Macy’s that I really liked but ended up purchasing a gown at David’s.
    I don’t really remember what my specific customer service experience was but I don’t remember being upset. That said I actually kind of hate when store clerks try to “help” me pick clothes. I feel so pressured haha! I’m like, “Leave me alone to shop the clearance rack and I’ll find you if I need you.”
    Glad you found a dress you love! I’m sure you will be a gorgeous bride!
    P.S. Where do you find bras?? I need 34H and have only ever found one at Intimately Yours back at school.

  4. carmabeth says:

    Rose- I usually wear Wacol brand bras which some Macy’s carry. Nordstrom’s also usually has a really good selection of larger sizes, Wacol and several of the other European brands that come in larger sizes.

    And I agree with you about having people help me find things in stores– don’t help unless I ask. But if you are going to insist on helping me, at least bring me what I asked for you to bring.

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