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