Monday, June 23, 2008

The Hunt for the Dress: The Trilogy is Complete (Maybe)

I'm back from the wedding this weekend! It was beautiful and I promise to recap in a few days, but first I've got to finish up my "Hunt for the Dress" tale.

When we left off in Part Dos I had come across a number of great inexpensive dresses at Macy's, Nordstrom, Nicole Miller, etc. However, I didn't want to completely discount traditional bridal salons. Even though I was 99% sure I would find my dress elsewhere, I kind of wanted the experience of going into a salon and trying on dresses (how many times in your life do you get to shop for a wedding dress anyway??). Plus, I thought it would be a really fun mother/daughter bonding activity.

I visited two salons in Northern Virginia--a friend and I kind of went on a whim, no appointments. Making an appointment is nearly always recommended though!! I also visited two salons in Southern Virginia with my mom. Both times it was a great experience. Trying dresses on turned out to be much more fun than I ever thought, especially with my mom there!

So here are some thoughts I have on salons:
  • Just because you're on a smaller budget doesn't mean you have to avoid salons (this is what I thought at the start of my search). Different salons carry inventory in different price ranges. Some salons do carry inventory starting at $3,000, but others carry dresses beginning under $1,000! Do your research and find a salon that fits you. Price ranges are often listed on salon websites (check The Knot too). If you can't find it there, call the salon and ask!
  • In my humble opinion, one of the top advantages of salons if having a LOT of dresses in one place. Sometimes the convenience factor can trump the cost factor.
  • Depending on the salon, the owners or management may have the ability to drop the price a little. I fell in love with a dress at one of the NoVa salons I visited, but I knew it was out of my budget. At the end of my visit, I let the sales associate know I really liked the dress, but it was a little out of my budget. She spoke with the owner and they were able to offer me a 10% discount if I decided to come back and order the dress. I can't say if this is common, but it can't hurt to let the shop know you love the dress, it's just a little out of your reach.
  • Don't discount sample sales (haha, just a little shopping humor). If your budget allows for the purchase of a pricier dress (say in the $3,000), a sample sale with discounts of 60% can be an excellent way to save on your gown. That'd be a $3,000 dress for $1,200! Also if you really have your heart set on a specific designer, and you've made the dress a priority in your wedding budget, sample sales can make it more do-able.
  • Ask to see the destination wedding dresses! At one salon I visited in Richmond, I saw a wedding dress I just had to try on! It was super glamorous, lots of pleats, these gorgeous roses along the neck line. It was a dress from the destination wedding line of a very expensive designer. The price? $489! Many designers these days are making lines especially for destination weddings. The fabric usually travels a little better than say, a big taffeta ball gown, but that's the main difference. Most destination gowns I've seen are perfectly at home in a garden, a church, or a beach front resort!
Does anyone have other good tips for salon shopping?

Ok, this tale of the dress is quickly becoming quite the epic. Check back tomorrow for the final installment!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look for a bridal salon with their own house brand. These dresses are usually knock-offs of the more expensive designers and are way less expensive. There is one place in Raleigh, North Carolina called Victorian Rose Bridals that has a house brand where SIX of my sorority sisters got their dresses. They also will fit your budget, took 20% off of my dress. Great place and they steam and clean the dress as many times as you need. Helps if you have family in NC though--all of them did!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 8:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think knocking off 10% is almost standard. I was also offered to buy the sample at a great discount at a few places, where they had a sample sale planned, but it wasn't yet going on.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 9:24:00 AM  
Blogger erin*carly said...

ooh. can you divulge which NoVa salons you visited? i'm not quite up to the dress-looking phase, but i'm hoping to collect places and ideas to think about while the fiancé is out to sea.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 9:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone checked out OnceWed.com? They are great!!

Friday, June 27, 2008 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

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Friday, June 27, 2008 11:54:00 PM  

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