As you may or may not have known, I am recently engaged! After the SHOCK of it all set in (read all about it here), I immediately starting “browsing” wedding dresses online. Let’s be honest: I am OBSESSED with clothes and looking for a dress immediately went to my mind first. This was my first sign that the dress was going to be one of the most important parts of wedding planning for me.
I am very particular about big event outfit choices and even more particular about the BIG decisions I make. Ideally, I like to give myself lots of time when making a decision so I can really think about what I want. I also realized that some dresses can take about 6-8 months to make, plus another 1-2 months for alterations. That’s a long time in advance and I definitely didn’t want to be rushed.
Some background: I never really thought about getting married, having a wedding, or anything else that comes with that. Therefore, I never thought about what dress I would want. I had no idea where to start. So if that is like you, then you should be able to relate here! I’ve learned A LOT during this process and am sharing my thought process behind my search and where I tried on dresses.
Finding Your Style of Wedding Dress
I first started trying to figure out what style I wanted by browsing Instagram and Pinterest to get some ideas. I
Another great way to help is by following the wedding dress designers for any dresses that I remotely liked. I also would follow bridal/wedding websites/magazines on Instagram. These include things like: Martha Stewart Weddings, Wedding Wire, Wedding Diary, etc. These kinds of sources post everything wedding related all the time and are more likely ‘tag’ the brand of the dress so you can follow that designer and learn more about their designs.
Once you find a designer you like, you can go to their website and search for which stores near you carry the dresses. If there isn’t a store near you, you can either plan a trip around it or wait until you’re on vacation near one and build that into the trip. You really need to try on the dresses for numerous reasons. First, the dress design is going to look completely different on your body and this helps you to understand more about what kind of style fits your body best and what kind of vibe you want to go for (example: high glamour or low-key bohemian).
Trying on Wedding Dresses
Once you know where you want to try dresses on, you usually have to make an appointment. I recommend going with someone (or two), although I can be a crazy person, so I went alone at times. You can also book a series of appointments in a day to make a fun day out of it. Some shops offer champagne, water, and maybe tea. You typically cannot bring a coffee into your appointment (for obvious spill reasons). Don’t forget to schedule a lunch in your day if you book the full day of appointments. Also remember to take LOTS of pictures of you in the dresses you like, the dress details, and videos of you in it. These help you compare the dresses you saw, what you liked and help find accessories that match the dress.
It’s also very important to keep your budget in mind when scheduling appointments. If you can’t see the prices of the dresses online, you can call and ask the shop before booking. Also, keep in mind that alterations for the dress can be another few hundred dollars, depending on where you go and what you need to get done. It’s great to try on styles to see what you like, but if you see something you love and it’s out of your budget, it’s a very sad thing.
Now to WHERE I shopped….
This is a wedding dress brand and the shop is only the “Grace Loves Lace” dresses. I randomly walked by this shop when I was getting my hair done at ION studio in Soho. I stopped in because the dresses looked beautiful from the windows and loved the whole vibe the shop had. Once inside, I learned that this brand is an Australian company and was immediately intrigued. I am THE BIGGEST fan of Australian clothes; especially dresses.
I was looking around the store at the dresses and the bridal stylist asked me if I wanted to try one of them on, and I was like, “WHY NOT?!” LOL. This was the first time I ever tried on a wedding dress and it was kind of a special moment. My experience was slightly different since I walked in off the street, but that shows because you CAN just walk in and try on the dresses. It won’t be the same experience if you make an appointment, but still do-able. I was able to sneak a
The price range is not too high with all the dresses under ~$3,000. After trying on a few of their dresses, I realized that while I LOVE Australian dresses, this was not the style I wanted for my wedding.
Floravere is a new Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) bridal company. I discovered them off the many Instagram and Facebook ads. There was one style I liked in particular that got me and I booked it! This was the first actual appointment I made on a day where I scheduled a few appointments.
Since this is a DTC company, they rented out a hotel room for my appointment. The hotel was a nice luxe hotel and the room was a suite, which gave a little more space. They offered me and my guests champagne (thumbs up for me, because I wanted to keep my guests happy). The bridal stylist who helped me was great and super helpful.
This is a bigger brand and you can find the dresses in stores all over the country. I saw a few beautiful dresses online and that’s what prompted me to make an appointment. Also, because Rocky Barnes worked with them for her wedding and I basically wear anything she wears.
Luckily, they have their flagship store in NYC and I could easily make an appointment. Once I visited the store, it immediately felt a little less intimate. While making the appointment, I made sure to tell them which dresses I liked online. However, when I got to the store they didn’t pull them in advance and had trouble locating them. I had to walk around and search through what seemed like endless racks while seeing other women also searching.
Once I picked which dresses I would try on (none of which I came there for), the experience was fine. We had a small section in the corner of the store and dressing area for me. However, the bridal stylist told my friends that champagne is only reserved for when you say: “yes to the dress”. I found this to be very weird.
Ultimately, I never felt that feeling I was looking for when trying on the dresses. I was still on the search! When we were leaving, we passed a woman that came in with us, and she and her group had champagne. This was not a pleasant experience. The dress prices can really range depending on the styles you select, and where you buy.
This shop is an interesting concept, where you shop pre-owned dresses or sample dresses from other bridal boutiques. Since most people really only wear their dress once, people can sell their dress after their wedding and this is a spot where you can not only get them but try them on first! It is very similar to Nearly Newlywed, which is the same concept however online only. Nearly Newlywed has a 5-day return policy and an “at home fitting” option.
So I decided to check out Our Story Bridal for a few reasons: (1) I wanted to see if they had the designer I already knew I was obsessed with and (2) see how the process worked (to share it with you).
The process is interesting. All the dresses are on ~4 long racks and are organized by size. They gave me a pair of white gloves with a ring of 5 tags and I was to put the tag on each dress I’d like to try on. It’s kind of hard to see each dress since they are on a rack and you are not allowed to take them off. Each dress has a tag that says the brand, size, if it was altered or not (and the height of the previous owner), along with the price (now and original).
While you are selecting, the consultant brings the dresses to a little room where you can try them on. There are 3 little rooms and a small pedestal off to the side if you want to use it. The rooms are very close together and it seems like there might not be a lot of privacy. I went during the day at an off-time and it wasn’t busy, so this wasn’t an issue. However, the consultant let me know that they are usually quite busy so not sure how private the session would be.
Overall, the prices are very good for the designers that are in stock. The dresses also looked to be in good shape. Since the inventory is always changing, you should be prepared to buy the dress on the spot because it might not be there at a later time. For me, it was hard to shop because I am so tall and a lot of the dresses are altered to be too short.
There are two spots: one that is exclusively Lee Petra Grebenau and the other which has a variety of designers; I visited the latter. I specifically visited this boutique because of one designer that I was searching for. There are only 4 shops in the US that carry this designer so I was SO lucky there was one in NYC!
This spot was beautiful. Everything was perfectly arranged. Honestly, I think it is literally IMPOSSIBLE to find anything that is NOT amazingly beautiful at this spot – although I am also biased because I ended up getting my dress here. Everything is gorgeous from the quaint little shop, to all the dresses hanging on the racks.
The experience was one of the best, as well. You make an appointment and they shut down the whole shop for you. When you walk in, you are greeted with a pair of slippers and asked if you’d like anything to drink. Then you have the whole shop to select dresses to try on. The bridal stylist walks you through each of the designers there, while also giving you their backstory. As you pick the dresses you like, the bridal stylist brings them to the back room to try on. This back room is then closed off from the rest of the store and natural light pours into the room.
I made two visits to this shop. The first visit was back when I was visiting the shops listed above trying to find what style I wanted. During this first trip, I found a dress I really loved from the designer I came there for. I didn’t buy it because I felt like I was still at the beginning of my search (also didn’t have a venue secured yet). I stopped my visits to shops for a while, but I couldn’t stop thinking about this dress.
As time went by, literally nothing could compare to this dress and in my mind: this was my dress. I stopped shopping until recently when I saw my favorite designer was having a trunk show at Spina Bride.
A BRIDAL TRUNK SHOW EXPLAINED:Bridal boutiques typically only carry a selection of the designer’s full collection and therefore, you may not get to see ALL the designer’s dresses. A trunk show is when the designer brings their entire collection to a bridal boutique for a limited amount of time (typically about 4-5 days only). Additionally, there is typically a little trunk show discount applied to the designer.
Since I knew that I was most likely going to get this dress due to the fact I could not stop thinking about it. I thought I might as well go when there is a discount – plus I’d LOVE to see all the dresses in my favorite designer’s collection. So I made an appointment to go the next day and went alone. I was excited to try on the dresses since I really only tried on a select few.
Literally, the first dress I grabbed in this new try-on haul gave me that feeling. The feeling that no other dress could replicate. It was the perfect mix of simple, yet elegant. Comfortable, yet chic. I knew it was my dress.
It had the same bodice (top part) of the other dress that I loved, but the bottom skirt part was much better for me. The has a simpler, softer tulle that I couldn’t keep my hands off of. I couldn’t believe that all this time I’ve been looking for something that could be better than the original dress I saw, that the same designer would be the one to top it.
The bridal stylist took my measurements, I thought about the dress for the rest of the day, and then purchased it the next day. I knew that no matter where/when we got married, I wanted to be in this dress.
I honestly didn’t think I was going to have THIS much fun planning the wedding. Don’t get me wrong- it definitely is stressful AF, but I think if you stay true to yourself and what you really like, you can make it a fun time.
*Once I have my wedding, I will go back and update this post to share more details and photos of my dress.*