Yes to the Dress: The Long Way There

It's probably safe to say that most women have given a lot of thought about the dress they would be wearing on their wedding day. For a long time, I thought that I'd be wearing something very minimalist and modern, more like a v-neck or spaghetti strap sheath dress that hugs the body but flows flatteringly loose down my hips. That's what my BFF thought would be suitable for me, too. But after braving a 3-hour wait in line last week at the Monique Lhuillier sale, and trying on (among other things) the type of dress I had always envisioned myself wearing, I was disappointed to find out it doesn't work for me. I needed a dress with more structure.

After talking to friends and colleagues, I learned that many others had the same predicament--what looks good in our heads sometimes just doesn't look good in real life. Fortunately, when I first started off dress shopping, I tried to keep an open mind. Even though I really liked the minimalist and non-frou frou look, I kept looking for other things that would work, maybe even better than I would ever imagine. For instance, I knew that I don't like the mermaid-style hem, but I didn't want to ding it off the list until I've seen how bad it is for myself.

After seeing a lot of brides look stunning in lace dresses, I decided that I had to try one on. I instantly loved the look of lace an A-line dress I tried on at a boutique--so classic, fits me just right, stunning...but also can be very pricey. A staff member at the boutique where I first tried on a lace dress said lace dresses started at $3000. Aside from the sticker shock, the dress was also quite heavy. Hence, I set out to look for a lace dress that would not set me back several thousand dollars, but I was mentally prepared for the possibility that I was not going to find a lace dress within my price point. Indeed, a very pretty lace dress at the Monique Lhuillier sample sale was $3000, and something with more taffeta than lace was $2000. Yeah...so much for trying to score a lace dress at a sample sale price...

While I did not completely give up on the idea of getting a lace dress, I went back to the drawing board to explore other options. After looking at wedding blogs to see what independent designers are coming up with, I actually revisited something that I thought would have been too frou frou for my taste: tulle. Some Etsy sellers have come up with very pretty and fun yet sophisticated looks with the fabric most associated with poofy ballerina skirts. After seeing those designs, I actually wanted to try out tulle dresses.

I did a bit of research and talked to friends to scout out boutiques in the LA area that had sales and outlet sections, and those were places that I planned on hitting next with my friends in tow. However, a coworker called me up yesterday while shopping at Nordstrom Rack--she alerted me to a shipment of wedding dresses, of different styles and price points! I know that Nordstrom had a bridal suite (which someone else I knew got bridesmaid dresses), which is probably the source of such dresses at The Rack. I kept a healthy dose of skeptcism in mind, but had a good feeling about this. I called up a friend who lived nearby, and we met at the store this morning. I got there before she did, so I started loading up the shopping cart with all kinds of dresses, including one on the mannequin that instantly got my attention.

Within an hour or so, I walked out of the store with The Dress.

The Dress isn't quite perfect yet, since it needs a bit of alteration, but it's just the right style for me and suitable for the venue (a historical site). It is pretty and classic, yet constructed of layers assembled in a modern manner; the A-line dress skims my body in a flattering way without adding extra bulk. I love the fact that it is much lighter than all of the dresses I tried on so far. Nope, The Dress is not a lace dress...it is comprised largely of tulle and silk. When I saw it on the mannequin, I just knew I had to try it on. My friend said that she wouldn't have picked The Dress off the rack for me, but once I tried it on, it looked pretty and my face just lit up.

What's even better is that I wound up getting a $2000 dress for far less than half. Even with alterations, I'm saving a ton of money. So yes, it is possible to get married in style without breaking the bank. Here's a tip for dress shopping--first, come up with a budget for the dress; second, think about what cuts of your regular clothes look flattering on you (so that you can look for those attributes in a wedding dress); third, shop around at places high or low and try on all kinds of different things. That trying-on process will give you a better idea of what works and what doesn't work for you. If the dress is too expensive in one place but you really love it, remember which designer made it, what the style number/name is, and shop around.

You'll see pictures of the dress in due time. ;-)