A consignment Alvina Valenta. $2,300 from $4,631
I mentioned that I grew up in LA and that I love to shop in boutiques. What I didn't disclose, though, is that I love to shop boutique sales. Sample sales. Factory sales. All of the wonderful benefits of living in a major fashion metropolis (LA or New York) that you don't get elsewhere--designer duds at deep discounts. If you know where to look, of course.
A consignment Watters & Watters. $650 from $1,200.
So, I launched my search for discount wedding dresses and started scheming up ways I could get one for less. Of course I kept my eye on OnceWed.com's resale listings and Preownedweddingdresses.com. I even found the Nicole Miller (Dress #6) on Once Wed in my size. But every time I came across a dress I liked, I had trouble convincing myself to buy it. Either it was not returnable (not a chance!), it had been hemmed and was returnable but I'd have to pay for shipping (which isn't cheap), or--the biggest problem--it was still brand new. Some would say a brand-new wedding dress being resold might be tainted with bad juju. I don't necessarily believe this (some girls just find a second "right" dress and sell the first) but I still couldn't bring myself to put my credit card number down.
A consignment Badgley Mischka. $2,500 from $7,910.
That was when I came upon Julie Jones and her online consignment shop, Encore Bridal. The reason I liked Encore Bridal (over the two similar online shops above) is that Julie is based out of Manhattan Beach, California, and will set up shop for you at a few locations around town so you can try on the dresses you're most interested in. And she has an amazing selection. Right now on her site she has Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera and Alvina Valenta all for less than $2,000!!
Mr. Cowboy Boot: EXIT WEDDINGBEE NOW. PLEASE.
I met Julie at A Legendary Affair, a showroom for wedding and party planning. She was one of the sweetest people I'd met so far (showing up for a private dress try-on session!) and I wanted to buy a dress from her just because she wasn't pushy and she was completely honest, which I loved.
Now, onto the dresses. Please excuse my wet hair. I came straight from surfing to the dress try-on (with a shower at the beach in between!). That's what happens when you make me try on dresses in Manhattan Beach! I go surfing.
This ivory taffeta dress was very pretty. Love the train! It was soft and feminine. It had tufts of taffeta running down the side--you can see them a little in the bottom picture. But it wasn't form-fitting at all. It was a little frumpy. I apologize for the bad picture quality. We didn't figure to take pictures out of the doorway right off the bat (!).
This was the dress that surprised me in photographs. I liked it okay in the store, but then when I saw the photo I thought to myself, maybe I should be going for a mermaid/trumpet style after all. It seemed to flatter my body a bit more than the a-line dresses I'd been drawn to. Nonetheless, Julie muttered a phrase that no dress-seller should ever tell a bride (I think): "This is one of Marisa's most popular styles." This made me think of the hundreds of other brides who already owned this dress. I really wanted something unique and even though this was pretty, it didn't feel like...me.
Junko Yoshioka Jacqueline
This was almost it, girls. I almost bought this dress. I hadn't heard of Junko Yoshioka but I loved the layer of taffeta on the skirt and bodice. The lace that goes from the bottom of the bodice onto the top of the skirt and the velvet/satin thin ribbon at the waist made me swoon. I felt like a princess in this dress. I was SO close to buying this that it actually opened me up to spending more on a dress than I thought I was going to. This dress was $2,500 and I loved it so much, I was willing to drop the dough. That was a big uh-oh, though, because it also opened up a whole new world of dresses that I "couldn't afford" just 30 minutes before meeting Ms. Jacqueline.
Did you open up your budget at all for one dress? Did any dresses surprise you in photographs that you weren't too keen on when trying them on?