January 4, 2011

Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress

Yes, this should be the easiest decision: I'd like a long white dress. Except they make a million long white dresses and when I start looking at one and then at the next one and at the next one I spend (waste) 3 hours on the computer!

I still have not found it. They say once you see it, or try it on, you'll know it.

I've only been looking online, I have not been to any "bridal store" yet, and the only one that comes to mind is David's Bridal where you can find dresses for $99. But do I want a $99 dress? And who is this David person?

By the way, this is one of their dresses that I kind of like (i'm not crazy about it, though):


I much prefer dresses by this Maggie Sottero, and I apologize for knowing nothing about this brand, but I have a feeling these dresses must be expensive (a first hint comes from the fact that they don't list prices):



But considering the fact that I would like to get married by the beach, big pompous dresses are not advisable, so I should also be looking into something simpler like this one:


As you can see, I'm still all over the place, but it's ok, for some reason I am so not worried about it, and I'm sure I'm never going to be like one of those crazy Bridezillas that go nuts planning their wedding day.

Hey, mine is going to be at the beach remember? So it will have to be a "relaxing" wedding. ;)

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I have been looking at wedding dresses online for a month now. Two weeks ago I decided to go for a first real-life look at these dresses, because I knew that there was no way I could pick a dress online, I needed to try it on first.

The first place I knew I was going to look at was David's Bridal, and while I didn't have great expectations I tried to go in with an open mind. I went with a friend and we both were a bit skeptic, but there is something about a huge space full of wedding dresses that makes you forget about your prejudices and lets the mind dream on.

Since the lady that was supposed to help me was not available yet, we started browsing around, and those were some very overwhelming 10 minutes!

Aisles and aisles of big white dresses, in all different sizes, most of them very beautiful. Funny thing is I was looking at price tags and not once I saw a $99 wedding gown! So I started looking for the $99 aisle, but again, no luck. These dresses were $699 and $1,299 and $899 and $1,099! I couldn't even find a $399 dress (Not that I was looking for one, but I've always heard about the $99 gowns from David's so I was just surprised that I couldn't find anything less than $500)!

I was finally put out of my misery and was directed to sit down and browse through the catalog and I was asked to pick anything that I wanted to try on. Oh yes, that I could do!

So with some help from my friend we picked out a few gowns based on what I thought would look good on me.

These are the dresses I first tried on:


I wanted to try this dress on because of the alter top. I had a feeling that there was no way I could pull a strapless top or that it was going to be uncomfortable, so I kept looking for straps of some kind. This dress was gorgeous! But it didn't feel right.  :(  I think one of the reasons why it didn't look good on me it was the color, not white, but ivory/beige. It seems that white is not the most wanted color as there are just as much if not more champagne and ivory dresses.

The sales person then wanted to prove to me that I could handle the strapless (every woman thinks she can't and then most women buy a strapless... he told me) so he brought me this dress:


And you know what? He was right! I could totally handle the strapless! The thing was so stiff and tight that it wouldn't budge! But, surprisingly so, it wasn't uncomfortable, and it was so beautiful the way it held up and made my waist look much smaller that it actually was. What I found uncomfortable, instead, was the skirt: it felt like I had a big queen-sized down comforter tied around my waist and now I was supposed to walk around in it!

So right away I learned two things: 1) I could do strapless  2) I didn't like big skirts

So the next dress was picked:


While this dress left everybody breathless, me included, there was still something missing. I was still looking for that dress that would feel just right, you know?


This one did feel great, but at the end we all decided that it was too much Hollywood for me (I felt like Marilyn Monroe!)  ;)

And finally, this is another big winner, at least because of the way it looked on me. It really looked nice! Which goes to prove the point that you have to try these dresses on, you can't just pick one based on what you "think" might look good on you. I would have not picked this one out of the catalog as a winner, but once I tried it on, it just made me shine!  :)


Of course, I didn't buy a dress on that day. I want to go for a second round of trying and I already have a list of dresses I want to try on. But I've learned a few things:

A) I can totally buy a David's Bridal dress. I thought I wasn't going to find anything I liked, but the exact opposite happened: I liked them all!

B) The money I want to spend on my dress is actually less than what I originally planned for: less than $600 would be ideal. And at this price range, David is the only one that can help me.  ;)

C) Big wedding gowns are a pain in the butt! I don't think I have the patience to drag a big dress around all day and pretend I'm comfortable.

D) I can go back and delete from my computer most of the "designer dresses" I've been bookmarking like this one from Pronovias because I would hate the skirt:


This one from Maggie Sotero because David's Bridal has one very similar to it:


And this Priscilla of Boston is being deleted because I am not going to spend $4,000 on this dress:


I also wanted to thank all the people that emailed me privately with suggestions on how to find a nice dress at a better price, and introduced me to the idea of consignment stores for wedding dresses, like www.encorebridal.com where you can buy used-only-once wedding dresses from all the big designer names. While this is a great idea on paper, a used dress from encorebridal on average still costs 3 times more than a new dress from David's Bridal.

So I decided that David's could be the right place for me. Their dresses are beautiful and they are affordable so everybody wins!

The only problem with frugality is that, sometimes, it can get out of hand... and so you try to spend less and less even when you are already spending so little.

What am I talking about? About me going on eBay to see if they have the David's Bridal dresses there for even less! And they do!

They have plenty of wedding dresses on eBay, and if you know the style and size you want, you could probably find something there at a bargain.

But since I think I'm getting some form of ADD (attention deficit disorder) or something even worse, like WMTO (wasting my time online), I now go to eBay to check on wedding dresses, but I mostly focus on the reason why these brides are selling their NEW dress (I guess I'm trying to learn from their mistakes)! These are some of the reasons:

Plans changed on our wedding and I ended up purchasing a different dress that I wore instead (I'm not sure how plans changes affect the dress...)

Never worn, new with tags from Neiman Marcus Paid $3100, will take $1200 or best offer. (No explanation on this one, it must have been painful!)

This is my size 8 wedding dress, never worn. I bought it too small as a final sale and didn't quite make my goal! (How much weight do you think you can lose??? The groom won't recognize you!)

This was my backup dress in case my other dress didn't fit, but it did. (This one lost the weight successfully)

Never Worn-Cancelled Wedding (Brutal honesty)

There are a lot of cancelled plans  :(  but also a lot of women buying dresses two at a time! Nuts!

Anyway, I think eBay has a lot to offer to anybody looking for an affordable wedding dress, and there are many companies ready to custom make you a dress for less than $200!

Something to think about...

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I'm a tortured soul!

I have been to David's Bridal twice already and now I know the dress I want: the one next to the last one I tried on.

It fit perfectly and it looked beautiful. It had nothing in common with the other dresses I had tried because it was:
a) a mermaid style and
b) out of my budget

David's doesn't carry many mermaid styles, that's why I hadn't had the chance to try one on, and because the three mermaid or "trumpet" dresses they carry all cost more that $1,000.

I had been trying to stick around the $600 price tag dresses, but those dresses are mostly A-line which look ok on me, and anything with a bigger skirt only made me look fat!

So on my second visit, after trying on all the dresses I had picked in my price range and not loving anything, I decided to try on "just for fun" the two most beautiful ones I had seen but I had mentally discarded because they cost $1,150.

And my reasoning for not trying them on before was also "why should I go for the most expensive ones? - they have plenty of other dresses for a lot less money". That's why I tried them on last. Just because. Just for fun.

Of course, the more expensive dresses turned out to be the ones that looked fabulous on me! Story of my life.

But let it be a lesson to anybody still looking or about to look for a wedding dress: try all different styles on! If you think you love the way a ball gown looks on paper but hate the way it looks on you, try also something completely different. Try the mermaid, try the A-line, try them all!

I thought I liked something like this:


I ended up looking best in something like this: 


So my quest for the perfect dress is over, but does it mean I'll go out there tomorrow and buy the dress? Of course not! It would be too easy and I don't do anything easy!

Thing is, I like the dress but I don't want to spend the money, or at least, I'm still not convinced about spending the money on it. And I hate the pressure of having to buy NOW in February for a wedding that's going to take place in August.

When I was at David's last Saturday the person helping me asked about the wedding date, so when I said August he gave me a warning look and said "you know it takes 15 weeks to order?" And now I'm going to go on and rant a bit...

Soapbox please!

15 weeks?!?!? Seriously??? Why???

They are not ordering a custom made dress, but only a catalog dress in the size I need. Why does it take 15 weeks to order/make??? There were so many women in there that I have no doubt they can move their inventory without a problem. You want to tell me there is no size 8 in inventory anywhere? I don't buy it.

At this point I'm pretty sure it's all a brilliant scheme... but let me explain.

Every bridal brand has their winter and summer collections, and they always have new dress models substituting old ones, which is a bit of a waste since you will probably only need one dress in your lifetime, so it would probably be just fine if they had a main collection sticking around for a few years or so. But that wouldn't be smart of them, and I'll show you why.

Say, the dress I liked, model 123 from David's, it's a new model from the summer 2011 collection. It just came out now and I have 15 weeks time gap if I want it, which means I have to buy it by April. What it also means is that if anybody buys it right away today, it won't be delivered until June. So before we see this new model 123 on a bride and most importantly on eBay or on "used wedding dresses" websites it will be at least June or July.

Now, if my wedding is in August, waiting until June to buy the dress is scary, because I might end up with nothing I like. And that's what "they" want me to fear, and cave in, and buy it now.

Also, the 15 weeks gap makes it so that later in June, if that's when a girl starts looking for a dress, model 123 won't even be in the store anymore and they will have all new models, so that when model 123 makes it to eBay on June, the girl that just started looking won't want to buy it because she has no chance of trying it on at the store since they don't carry it anymore.

So the trick is to start looking for your wedding dress waaaaay early, find something you love and be able to try it on at the store, have the time to wait until it goes on sale on the various discount websites, and if that doesn't work out, still have at least 15 weeks ahead of you to order something else from the store. I know, it's a lot of work, but it's the only way to possibly get the dress you want at a better price.

Off the Soapbox now.

Before I finish this post, I also want to share with you some good links.

Wedding dress inspirationMaggie Sottero - Pronovias - David's Bridal - Alfred Angelo - Eden Bridals

Wedding dress classifiedsweddingbee classifieds - eBay

Preowned wedding dressEncore bridal - Wore it once - Preowned wedding dresses - Recycled bride - Penelope's bridal - Sabrina Ann

As for me, I have four options:

1. Buy the dress tomorrow

2. Wait and see if I can find it on sale in June

3. Try to find something similar and used now or even later

4. Bring a picture to a seamstress and have it custom made

We'll see what happens...

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No, this is not the dress I want
Ok, so I thought I had a good plan about buying my wedding dress at the last minute, but my plan is starting to get me a little nervous...

Step by Step this is what I was planning on doing:

1) Keep an eye on my favorite dress on David's Bridal

2) Wait for it to be moved to the SALE pages or even better to the OUTLET pages on David's Bridal's website

3) Look for it also on eBay (new, not used)

4) Buy it at the best price I can find

So this past weekend I went on David's Bridal to check on the status of my dress and it was gone from the regular priced menus! I have to be honest and say that my heart jumped a little.

I ran to check the SALE pages and I scrolled through all of the dresses... but nothing.

Hmm. Would they put it directly on the outlet pages? That seemed strange.

I checked the OUTLET pages... all of the dresses... carefully... nothing.

Now my heart started to ache a little more. I had to quickly come to the conclusion that my dress had been either sold out or discontinued! There wasn't going to be a Step 2 of my original plan!

Quickly, I jumped on eBay, and searched for the dress... and for the first time ever... I found one! The very first one that has made it to eBay!

It's a size 6P (I would be more comfortable buying a 8P and have it altered), it's brand new with tags (that's perfect), but here comes the shocker, the lady wants $950 for it (this dress sold for $1,150 at David's but they would lower the price down to $950 every so often, during their sales)!

So this is not the right deal yet, but my eyes are wide open and I'm on the lookout.

In order to avoid jumping the gun too quickly, and buying for too much money or the wrong size, I've given myself time until July 15th. My friends are pulling their hair in exasperation, because they think I should have the dress already, but at this point I'm determined in proving them wrong (I hope I will...)  ;)

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This dress is out of the competition
Oh how I wish you girls could help me with this decision!

But since my fiance' reads the blog I can't post pictures of the dresses!!!

I am ready to purchase the gown, but I still have a couple of questions/doubts. Let me explain and you can chime in with your opinions (which always help me see things from a different prospective).

1) My top favorite dress: I have only seen one selling around, new with tags, but at the original price they were selling it at the store. So no discounts, and the size might be too small for me: size 6. So if I buy this dress, I might have to lose a lot of weight in a month, and I should have bought it at the salon since it would cost me just the same. This dress seems appropriate for a beach wedding, since it's lightweight while it offers me some belly support (my weakness). I've tried this dress on at David's and loved it. $950

2) Dress number two is a good deal. Discounted by 50% and brand new with tags. The size is a 10, which is what I need, because it's big enough to be taken in as needed (my small butt - I used to have a big one, now it's gone), and should fit my big stomach (which I'm hoping to reduce some). This dress is heavily beaded, and maybe too heavy for the beach, but I do love it. The only con is that I never tried it on, but something similar, and it looked great on me. $500

3) Dress number three I've tried it on and it looked great. I've seen it online, size 10, but not at great discount, only like 15% off. It might be the most appropriate for the beach. But it's the simplest of the three. Yet it would end up costing more than dress number two, which is a much more elegant and valuable dress. $650

Help!!! What do I do???

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Yesss, I bought the dress!  :)

It's one of the three I listed on my Wedding Planning: The Dress Part V post... but which one did I buy????

Well, after much thought, and going back to David's Bridal for one last try, I decided that it wasn't going to be the dress I actually almost bought! Number two, I'm sorry, you were so not right for me...

But let me back up a little:

On my second visit to David's (I've been there three times total) I tried this dress on (oh yes, we're going to look at some pictures today!):


It's a Galina Signature dress and it's very beautiful. Lightweight enough for a Summer wedding, and in the mermaid style that seems to fit me way better than an A-line wedding gown. Problem was that I have never seen this dress listed on eBay nor on any of the other websites where I have been looking for my dress at a discount price. Note: this is not dress number 2.


This was dress number 2! An Oleg Cassini I picked because it was the closest thing to the Galina above, but I had never actually tried it on at the store. I was able to find a great auction on eBay, which is still going on as of today, for half the price and I almost bought it. But because I was worried about the size (and the fact that I had never tried it on), I didn't buy it and decided to go to David's to see if I could try it on first. And thank goodness I did! This dress fit me horribly! Oh, it looked so bad! And it was so heavy and uncomfortable! Oh thank goodness I didn't buy it! It would have been $500 down the drain! Ok, enough of the drama. Bye bye dress number two.

As I re-tried the Galina and then the Cassini, I kept thinking about my beach ceremony and the whole beach wedding, and the sand, and the ocean and the beach again. And the more I thought about it, the more these dresses didn't feel right. They were beautiful dresses but not appropriate for a beach wedding. Heavy beading and summer waves just don't go together.

So while I was tempted to re-try my number 1 favorite again, which is this one:


I also knew that time was running out, and I hadn't found any good deals on this dress yet. And since I wanted to stick to my budget of around $500 and this dress costs $950 (when on sale), I decided not to try it on again (why say goodbye?), thinking that all in all, it wasn't a beach dress anyway. Adieu mon amour.

So maybe the mermaid was not my style after all.

So I decided to move on, and get down to business. The other reason why I had gone to David's was to try dress number 3, in a size 6, since I had been able to find a decent deal on eBay for it. All the dresses above fitted me in a size 10, so I had my doubts I could squeeze in a size 6, but I had to try the dress to find out.

I need to open a small parenthesis here. When I went to the store, they immediately asked for my name and all, so they knew my wedding was in a month (because I'm registered there). I told the girl assisting me that I needed to try on dresses that I could buy and take home that day, no 12 weeks wait for me. Well, they had the Galina in a size 10 ready to go, the Cassini in a size 10 ready to go... I'm not sure if because these dresses have been around some time already, or what, but it felt like whatever I was picking it was available to buy right there and then. So don't be too worried about having to buy your dress a year in advance, you can always find something, even at the last minute. Parenthesis closed.

Back to dress number 3, I felt a bit awkward asking the girl "please I want to try this dress, but in size 6" because she would have said "honey, you've been trying size 10s, why do you suddenly think you're 4 size smaller?"

So I just asked "do you have such and such dress available?" She went to look and came back to tell me they had it in a size 8. Good enough. I told the girl that I would try the size 8, and what do you know? Size 8 was a bit big on me. :)  So I asked the girl if they maybe had the size 6 for this dress, and what do you know? THEY HAD SIZE 6! And I tried it on. AND IT FIT ME ALMOST PERFECTLY! In my mind I just wanted to drop everything, go home and get on the computer and email the people with this dress in a size 6 and tell them that I wanted to buy it from them, today! Before someone else got to it first!

But I kept my cool and stayed a little longer. We actually bought a bridesmaid's dress and some jewelry, so I don't feel like a total user of the poor people at David's.

The girl actually brought me another dress, which I made the mistake of trying on. This new dress, not on my radar at all, didn't feel special or anything, but it did look made out of the right material and a nice color for the beach. It threw me off for a few minutes, but then I used it as an excuse to tell the girl that I had to sleep on the decision, and left the store.

Got home, sent a few emails, got a deal, the dress is already on its way to me. :)

So dress number 3 is my dress. It is simple, yet not so simple. There are much simpler dresses, while this one has some embellishments. I can't go into much more details because I don't want to spoil the surprise. This is the dress that felt right for the kind of wedding I am having. I think of the beach and I think flowy dresses, not structured and beaded dresses. I think of light and simple and comfortable. And this dress is like that.

The price was also good. Not an amazing deal, but I was able to save around $150 from the current price of the dress, and I remained in my budget.

Oh, what a relief it was to finally buy my wedding dress!

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3 comments:

Soos said...

Let me start by saying I got married a million years ago. j/k! My son is going to be 25 in a few days; you do the math! I was fortunate to have a friend's daughter sew my outfit - a very non-conventional ivory charmeuse jacket, long skirt with chiffon overlayer and lace camisole. I made my own headpiece which was net, pearls and silk flowers, and my long hair was rolled into a 40's updo. The hair was not so strange for me, as I would wear sometimes wear it that way, anyway. I did pay for the sewing, but in the whole scheme of things, did not pay a lot of money for my outfit. The sandals cost $100 - and I thought THAT was a lot!

Why am I telling you all this? For one thing, I live not ON the beach but in a hot and humid climate where there are lots of beaches - it's 3 pm now and 81 degrees! HOT! I remember taking off the jacket as soon as I could, and wished I'd picked a tea length skirt.

So, consider comfort as well as price and style. Will you ever wear the dress again? I wore the jacket and camisole with other things, so I felt I got my money's worth.

Here's a link to some ideas: http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&source=imghp&biw=1131&bih=592&q=wedding+dresses+hawaii&gbv=2&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai= My husband's niece was married on the beach here and wore a dress similar to the fifth one from the left on the first row. No, I'm not saying YOU should wear that, just giving you an example. The bride also wore white rubber slippers - flipflops to you! - which were comfy and very practical for walking in the sand!

My sister was married in Berkeley, in a lovely dress the price of a nice used car!

Elisa, whatever you decide will be right for YOU. And have FUN!

Daisy said...

I agree with Soos, the imp thing is to have fun and not be too stressed by all the wedding planning. As for THE dress, it's hard to say, to me, they all look alike. However at the same time all so different. I'm sure you will find the one that flatters you the most. Congratulations! I have ALWAYS wanted to attend an Italian wedding.

Daisy

Margo said...

If you aren't opposed to it, consider using a recycled dress. You can get a designer dress without the designer price.
Check out www.preownedweddingdresses.com
www.woreitonce.com
www.bravobride.com
www.encorebridal.com