Sunday, April 26, 2009

Finding the Dress

I forgot that I hadn't yet properly posted about my dress when I gave you much more than a peek at it in my last post! I know most every bride loves her dress, and I'm definitely no exception. I love love love love LOVE my dress. Really.

I went to 4, sort of 5 stores in my hunt for "the Dress". First, my mom and I went to David's Bridal. It seemed like as good a place as any to start. At the time, I was looking for a very lacy non-satin ivory mermaid gown without a train, and with straps. Something like this:

These were my inspirational photos at the start of my hunt (and before I began blogging about all this shtuff, so I apologize for the lack of source links). The catch? My ideal budget of less than $300.

We made the mistake of visiting David's Bridal on a Saturday and without an appointment. Holy sweet bejeezus, was it crazy in there. Even though I'm very comfortable in my skin, it bothered me that there was no mirror in the dressing room. I had to come out and wait around for the other shoppers to vacate the mirror stand before I could see if it looked even moderately presentable. Also, the girl who was getting us dresses was very sweet, but also very distracted as I think she was simultaneously helping about 4 girls. Just about every dress that came our way was many sizes too large and we had no clips to help *visualize* what it might look like in my size. They were also all strapless, satin, a-line gowns with trains. I realize many of these things could be tailored to my specifications, but it wasn't exactly helping me figure out if a lacy mermaid gown was what I really wanted!

We left there fairly quickly and stopped in at the Dallas Vintage Shop. I've been there in the past while thrifting with friends and knew I had seen some vintage wedding dresses. Unfortunately, they really only had dresses in inventory at the time from about the 1980s and other fashion-impaired time periods, so we left there empty-handed as well.

We then tried a local store that shall remain unnamed that mostly specializes in prom and other formal gowns. They were advertising that they were closing out their bridal section, so their gowns were supposed to be listed at greatly reduced prices, up to something like 80% off. The catch was that the reduced prices were not listed on the price tags. You had to ask a sales clerk to go find a manager to see what the reduced price was. Odds are, if they were willing to go ask, you had already showed enough interest in the gown where they felt like they could only slightly reduce the price and get you to bite. I almost did. There were 2 gowns there I would have been okay with, maybe. I probably would've bought one of them if they were in fact greatly reduced in price. Instead, they only came down something like 10% and both were going to require a lot of alterations. The beading on one required a lot of repair. Also, they were nothing at all like what I was initially looking for. They just made me feel like a bride.. but not like me. Poofy and satiny and beaded and.. so not me. I'm very glad I didn't bite. The only good that really came of this shopping experience was that I discovered that mermaid gowns are exceedingly difficult to walk in. No thanks. I still wanted something that accentuated my slender figure, so A-lines were still out, but I was open to new ideas.

My mom and I then swung by my paternal grandparents' house. My grandmother had stored away several family members' gowns, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to try them on. Free and heirloom is right up my alley. I did some scheming with my aunt's dress that my grandmother made by hand a little over twenty years ago (I was hangin' out in my mom's belly during that aunt's wedding). It's very flapper-esque and absolutely beautiful. French lace overlaid on tiered chinese silk. It's an unfitted sheath silhouette and has no train. I liked it a lot, and kept it in mind as a possibility, but it really wasn't particularly flattering to my figure.

My cousin's wife's gown that my grandmother completely reassembled is gooorgeous. It fit me like a dream. Lace, lace, lace, with gorgeous long sleeves that I hadn't really considered but loved. A-line and with a train, but I considered throwing out those requirements for this dress. Unfortunately, my grandmother informed me that my very sentimental cousin doesn't want anyone to wear his wife's gown. I'm not sure why it's stored in my grandmother's closet in that case, but oh well.

We ultimately had the best shopping experience and found my dress at Anonymously Yours, a consignment shop that specializes in wedding gowns. That's right, my dress is preowned and I have absolutely no problems with that. In fact, being the thrifty shopper that I am, I absolutely love the fact that I bought my dress from a consignment shop. Everything in the store is clearly organized by size and categorically: formal vs casual, with train vs without train, strapless vs with straps, ivory vs white. The dresses are all cleaned and pressed, ready to be worn. In fact, they were in substantially better condition than the gowns I'd tried on earlier that day at the unnamed prom dress store, and for amazingly reasonable prices! Nicole Millers for $400, Vera for $600, and most every non-designer gown falling right around the $100 mark. The owner personally helped us. She's down-to-earth and very helpful - she even gave us great recommendations for other budget-friendly wedding services in the area. I swear I'm not being paid for this advertisement. I was just genuinely impressed with this store and can't say enough about it. If you're in Dallas and looking for a wedding dress, there's no excuse to not stop by here.

I tried on a few gowns that looked promising but none of them were quite right. We were about to leave (with every intention of coming back soon to check their ever-changing inventory) when we discovered that we had entirely missed the informal section. This section felt like home, and I just knew the One was hiding on its singular rack. When I put on The Dress, we all knew it. My face lit up, and my mom and the store owner beamed. The price tag read $150. Um, yes please?! It came to $161 after tax, and fell well within my budget that I'd almost given up for mediocrity earlier in the day.

Until I receive the rest of my bridal portraits, these photos my bridesmaid Kelsey took for me before the dress was hemmed will have to do. I present...

The Dress!

Other than the hemming, this gown fit me as though it was made for me. This begs the question.. did a 6 ft, size 4 girl own this before me? If so, was she a model? Because that's just ridiculous.

I apologize for the undie lines. I have some now that don't show. They are far from sexy undies, but sometimes you just have to do what works. I'll wear non-sexy undies for my slinky dress.

Boobs. Also, a detail shot of the minimal decoration. Kind of does double duty as something I think I've heard called a "modesty panel".

I loooove the draping in the back of my gown!

Doesn't the back frame my tattoo so nicely?! Also, I think on the day of the wedding, my mother will sew me in so that the zipper doesn't gap like that.

Are you completely satisfied with your dress? Are you also completely satisfied with the amount of money you spent for it?


Anonymous said...

I'm really happy with my dress. I ended up buying the first one that I tried on, which was pretty crazy. I bought mine at Circle Park Bridal (in Addison) and it turns out the lady that owns the shop grew up in the town next to mine back in NY. Small world I guess! The dress was a steal and although I have to get it altered, I'm still going to come in waaaaaaaaaaaay under budget. :)

Sweet Lorraine said...

@Jess - That looks like another really great option. When the rest of my friends starting gettin' married (which may be a few years - I'm "ahead of the pack"), I'll have to pass along that tip as well.

Miss Rye Bread said...

btw, your dress is gorgeous!!!

Color Me Green said...

i reaaally love your dress!

Sweet Lorraine said...

Gracias ladies. :]

Anonymous said...

Question - where did you get your dress hemmed? I took my dress to get alterations done and the lady quoted me over $200 to do the hem (there's no beadwork on trim on the bottom), a bustle (it's a sweep train so nothing extravagant), and to take it in a bit (again, not touching any beadwork). I feel like it's a little high....