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.
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.
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.
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?