Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Wedding Dress Shopping: The Odyssey Begins

So this weekend I decided to start the process of finding a wedding dress.

Oh, I'm kidding, it wasn't quite that bad.  I did something a little wacky, though: I brought Mr. C-Ville along with me.  Yes, the groom is going to help me pick out a wedding dress.  It's a family tradition, but to be totally honest, I thought I was going to get kicked out of the dress shops. "You can't bring your groom with you!"  But the guy has taste, he knows dresses, and it's his day too, so why the heck not?

We were in New York, so first we hit the famous (or infamous) Kleinfeld's.

Of course you can't take pictures at Kleinfeld--the whole experience is designed to be as intimidating and overwhelming as possible.  They make you wait in a fancy waiting room in the lobby until your consultant is ready for you.  Then they lead you through an enormous room full of over-the top dresses and cooing brides trying on their veils till you get to the dressing room area, which is hallways filled with doors labeled with consultants' names.  (Are you getting an Alice in Wonderland feel yet?)  The consultant asks you some questions about your wedding and then sends you off to the storeroom for you to pick dresses.  All of the dresses we found in the storeroom were fugly.  I mean really, really, really ugly dresses.  We picked a couple and met our consultant back at the dressing rooms, and she had much prettier dresses than the ones I found.  How did she do that?  It must have been to increase the drama of "finding the right dress."  She insisted I take off my bra, handed me a corset, squished and poked me to get me into it properly, and we were ready to begin.

The result?  Eh.  I'd asked for a certain budget range and for some reason the consultant brought me dresses that she thought were "more reasonably priced." Maybe I looked cheap or something, I don't know.  In real life you can find clothes that look more expensive than they actually are, but certainly not at Kleinfeld's.  Even the "more reasonable dresses"--that were still really freaking expensive!--were kind of cheap and bedraggled looking.  You can tell that a lot of brides-to-be have squeezed themselves into those samples. 

(photo credit www.2bebride.com)
Here's one I tried on.  It looks pretty in the picture, and it looked ok on me, but the material really wasn't very nice at all.  Kind of scratchy.  

After that we went to a place in the Meatpacking District, Gabriella New York.  I wanted to go there because I like Amy Kuschel's gowns, even though I didn't actually end up trying on any.  But Gabriella was fun to go to because it's in a former warehouse with a service elevator (which is a little bit tricky to operate), and the space is very airy and loftlike.

The nice folks at Gabriella are crazy good salespeople.  They were so good about listening to what I wanted and found gowns that were well suited to what I imagine myself wearing on my wedding day.  The only problem is: they are really honking expensive.  They wanted me to try on this spectacular gown (sorry, I wish I had pictures, but they don't let you take any) which was an exquisite crochet fabric over silk.  When I tried it on, it was the moment!  I thought to myself, "this is my dress."  Then they told me the price and I almost fainted.  We might be able to fit it into our budget, though, if we give up things like food and a band and maybe the rabbi.

This is currently the second place dress, although I'm a little worried that the beading might be too much for a garden wedding.  What do ya'll think?

So now what?  Should I head to some more salons?  David's Bridal?  Should I have my dress made?  And how do you pick a dressmaker?  How did you kick off your wedding gown shopping?


Blogger Juliana said...


I am also at this point of finding the dress.

Although, I live in Barcelona, Spain, and the choices are not the same, I know about a very good shop that sells in the US as well, called Pronovias.

Maybe there you can find a really well made dress, in great fabrics and that are not so over budget.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008 9:18:00 AM  
Blogger Mrs. in May said...

I am a DC'r (ok Alexandria) getting married on Long Island. I have to say, I had the most amazing experience buying my dress in Saks in NYC. They are shipping the dress to Bethesda so I didn't have to pay tax! They were so nice, made me feel special (read: not fat like other places did and I am a size 8!). I highly highly recommend them and have heard that the store in Mazza is just as fantastic. Here are two other plusses, 1. I opened a CC and got 10% off, 2. they want you as a customer for life so unlike Kleinfelds, they don't treat you like crap after you make the big purchase. ok one more 3. they were totally not pushy and stayed right in my price range (probably a very low range for them) and my dress was significantly less than the top of the range I gave them.
I swear I don't work for them - lol - I just was so impressed with them I think every bride should have such a good experience!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I probly wouldn't bother with DB if I were you. After trying on dresses by the designers that you have, you'll definitely notice the difference in quality with the DB dress, especially in the quality of the fabric and the beading. I think the dress you've picked out is lovely, though. One other place you might consider is Priscilla of Boston. I found the Melissa Sweet gowns to be really lovely, but fairly simple. The fabrics were soft and luxurious. They aren't cheap, though, and I'm not completely sure what your price range is.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger ginagirl said...

Customer service wasn't a number one priority to me. I went to two sample sales - one at Amsale and the other at Marc Ingram Bridal Atelier, both in NYC. Even though it is a sample sale, the staff is more than solicitous. The discounts were fantastic. If you have the time, keep your eyes peeled for sample sales. I also went to the Bridal Garden in NYC. It also has sample or one of kind dresses. Part of the proceeds go to a charity organization for children called Sheltering Arms.
The only advice I have is be patient, don't compromise, and stick to your budget for the dress.
Good Luck!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Just Jor said...

I loved the dress shopping experience! Hitched in Georgetown and Ann's Bridal in Burke VA are having awesome trunk shows. Those are good ways to get a feel for a whole host of designers. Check out their sites and best of luck!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 2:50:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I also recommend Hitched in Georgetown. The don't have a huge number of dresses but the ones that have were nice...although overpriced for me, I was looking for less than $1000. I actually bought my dress at the second place I went to, Jeanette's in Manassas, VA. If you are looking for a great quality dress and an excellent price try places that carry Casablanca gowns. My gown is beautiful and I can't believe I have to wait over a year to wear it!:)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 4:45:00 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

Miss C-Ville,

I'm getting married in Richmond next June and I just bought my dress from Bella Rosa Bridal in Richmond. They were super nice and the process was great. I will probably not get my dress altered there, but the buying of the dress was a very pleasant experience. They have a good range of prices and designers and excellent deals on sample dresses. I bought a Lela Rose sample for over 50% off. I would have NEVER been able to afford that dress at the original price.

If you decide make an appointment, ask for Phyllis as your consultant.

Friday, September 05, 2008 10:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a horrible experience at Kleinfeld's as well. I went to Amsale up in New York and had a great experience, but I also went to Hitched in DC and loved that too.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely love that Matthew Christopher dress - although it is kind of fancy for an outdoor wedding! If you are going to look around in DC, I'd also recommend Hitched in Georgetown and also Promises in Bethesda (they have some less expensive but beautiful dresses). I ended up choosing at Christos dress at Hannelore's in Alexandria. They can be intimidating like Kleinfelds, but they have a ton of designers and in the end, my saleswoman was very nice. I really enjoyed the whole dress shopping experience - try not to stress and just have fun! Just remember that any dress you choose is going to look beautiful on you! I never really had that "this is the one" moment, because I thought all the dresses were gorgeous!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 9:38:00 AM  
Blogger weddingwhirlwind said...

Hi there! Noticed you found that picture from our blog, thanks for visiting. I didn't love Kleinfeld at all, I think they are overrated.

I got my dress at Morgane Le Fay, in SoHo on Wooster...Check it out if you haven't already found the dress.

Wedding Whirlwind

Sunday, September 28, 2008 5:16:00 PM  

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