Planning a Capital Region wedding: the dress

lauren wedding dress composite

All three were candidates...

By Lauren Hittinger

Lauren and George are planning a wedding in the Capital Region, and they're chronicling the planning process here on AOA. Last time we heard from them they were checking out catering. Next up: a wedding dress.

I never imagined that wedding dress shopping would be such a long and difficult process. All those wedding shows make it seem magical -- with infinite budgets, tears of joy, and champagne.

My dress process, on the other hand, is a lesson in frustration.

In the beginning I was so excited. I had scanned Pinterest incessantly and decided I was looking for a light, romantic dress with some sort of strap, and without a train. My budget was $700. I could do this.

Apropos
My first appointment was at Apropos in Albany. It's a nice enough shop that primarily focuses on prom dresses, with a small selection of wedding gowns. I picked them for my first stop because they carry a lot of dresses under the $1,000 mark. Even though I had an appointment, the process was treated very free form. I certainly got enough attention, with suggestions based upon my feedback.

Favorite dress: Technically a prom dress, my favorite was a $650 Sherri Hill dress with an airy bottom and a bedazzled top with straps. I really liked it, but I was concerned it was too gaudy. I also wasn't ready to settle after my first appointment!

lauren wedding Apropos sherri hill dress

David's Bridal
That same evening I stopped at David's Bridal in Colonie. The attendant was very helpful in picking dresses and listening to what I wanted. I found quite a few that made me feel like a princess -- in a good way.

Favorite dress: Ultimately my favorite was a simple strapless gown with some beading at the top. I thought it made me look tiny, and it was only $450!

Lauren wedding Davids Bridal gown
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After this shopping trip I emailed out photos to all my gal pals. Everyone loved the glamorous Sherri Hill dress from Apropos, but I just wasn't sure. The gems on the top looked great in photos, but were a tiny bit gaudy in real life and kept snagging on the veil I tried on.

A few months went by and I still had not purchased a dress. With less than six months to the wedding, I started to freak out. I tried to set aside my anxiety and I continued my search.
____

Jocelynn's Bridal
Jocelynn's in Clifton Park is spacious, and I liked that they had a binder of photos for all dresses they had in store. Unfortunately, they didn't really have the style of dress I was looking for. Jocelynn's dresses were very traditional, with beading, lace, and long trains. I tried on a few options, but nothing was close to what I was looking for.

Favorite dress: None of the dresses were what I wanted.
____

After my appointment at Jocelynn's, I was completely crushed and defeated by the whole dress shopping experience. George and I decided to raise my budget to a max of $1,500 to see if that opened up more possibilities. I Googled to find more bridal salons around here, but so many of the shops noted that their dresses start at around $1,500 and that you really need to order at least 9 months in advance.

Ugh.
____

Something Bleu
I called up Something Bleu in Saratoga Springs and they were very nice from the start. The shop itself is completely beautiful -- it's a bridal gown paradise.

Unfortunately, my experience fell short. The consultant helping me was nice enough, but kept having me try on gowns with features I didn't prefer. She insisted a certain fit looked great on me, and kept bringing dresses in that style, even though I kept repeating that I felt uncomfortable in the design. I tried on one dress that my two friends absolutely loved, but it was a bit out of budget. I can't blame the saleswoman for that because I was the one who wanted to try it on.

Something Bleu was redeemed by the owner, who stopped us as we were leaving. Sensing my frustration, she chatted about what I was looking for and even offered to reduce the price of a dress that my friends loved. In the end, it just wasn't the right choice.

Favorite dress: Fitted Swiss Dot dress with an illusion top, $1950.

lauren wedding Something Bleu dress
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So at this point it was January before my June wedding and I still didn't have a dress. I was stressed out to the max and just wanted to buy something already. That's when I shifted my focus to the trusted internet!
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eBay
I tried to buy a dress locally. I really did. After each of these unsuccessful shopping trips, I would spend hours online browsing used gowns, eBay, and online retailers.

In the end, I found a J.Crew dress on eBay that was my size and mostly the style I was looking for. At $900, I took a chance. And it works! I finally have my dress! There are a few alterations in my future, including adding little cap sleeves to my strapless gown, but I am thrilled to be done looking.

lauren wedding ebay jcrew dress
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So here is my PSA on this topic: Dress shopping can be extremely frustrating. My experiences locally were almost all positive, but I just couldn't find what I was looking for in my limited time frame and budget.

Thankfully, I did find a great dress for me -- even if there weren't any tears of joy or champagne.

Lauren writes about shopping, crafting, and living well on a small budget at The Thrifty Ginger.

More of Lauren and George's wedding planning:
+ Planning a Capital Region wedding: catering
+ Planning a Capital Region wedding: the venue

Earlier on AOA: Where to shop for a wedding dress?

Comments

Love J.Crew wedding dress! Seems you paid a bit too much though for one sold on Ebay. Esp. with not seeing it first, $900 - ouch!

On the J.Crew website you can get a dress for $500-800 if you are not buying their super high end ones. Which is really great for gals that can't afford a $$$$ dress!

Beth- Yeah, it was a bit of an ouch, but it was New With Tags. The dress I got originally sold for $3,000, and I was DESPERATE for a dress I liked. If I didn't buy this one, I was going to go for a cheaper one directly from JCrew (like you mention).

I wouldn't go so far as to say she over payed. Many of the less expensive dresses don't have much detail or as much fabric. Ones similar to this are easily on jcrew.com for over $2000. They have some more selection at their bridal locations, but expect a bigger price.

I think the dress looks great and if the bride loves it, who cares what she paid. Or if it was a good deal or not.

Although it's great that Lauren knew what she wanted, and found something similar, I think it's important to mention that brides should be open to trying on different styles and taking dress suggestions from their stylists. I know that for both my sister and myself, we came to our first appointments "knowing" what style of dress we wanted, and by the end of the day it was clear that style wasn't that flattering on us. We both ended up with great dresses - but not what we envisioned initially on Pinterest!

I also bought my wedding dress from eBay! After alterations, I spent a total of $150.

Lauren,

When you begin shopping around for a seamstress that will be doing your gown tailoring, please share! Finding a good seamstress/tailor to trust with your wedding gown is NOT easy.

I have a feeling I'm going to be ending up in the same boat as you- ordering a J.Crew dress from eBay or elsewhere on the internet as J.Crew no longer makes the dresses I once fell in love with; and my budget and time line are very similar to yours.

Thanks so much for all of this!

Lots of "gently used" wedding dresses at a Great Finds (Washington Ave. at Henry Johnson). Some are vintage. Jewelry and acessories there too. And it all supports Equinox!

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