Nathan already mentioned that I did some wedding dress shopping the weekend our parents were here. It was actually a fun experience for me and I was glad that I got to share it with my mom, Nathan’s mom, and my sister-in-law. I will admit that initially I was a little hesitant about the whole thing… I mean you have to get an appointment, let strangers dress you, and then there is all the emotional pressure to find the dress. Not just any dress will do of course, you are expected to know it’s “the one” when you try it on. You might even cry when you find it! All of which is not really me… I am way too practical for all that!
But as it turns out, maybe I’m not. Because I did find the perfect dress. And even though neither I nor my mom cried when I tried it on, I did pretty much know it was the one… because every dress after that was compared to it! (and really couldn’t compare).
Our search started on Friday in Santa Monica at Dina’s Bridal, a no-frills store run by a mother and daughter. It got great reviews online and I definitely had a good experience. They had a great collection of affordable (<$1000) dresses, with many less than $500. I was the only person in the store (I did have an appointment) so I got all the attention I needed from Gina (the daughter). I actually had brought a few pictures of dresses that I liked from various bridal magazines and Gina did a great job finding dresses that were similar. She also had me try a few other styles, but apparently I knew what I liked since the first two were our favorites! The only downside is that you can’t take pictures until you buy the dress so my Mom and I had to try to keep it all in our head for comparing later.
Then we headed to Montclair Bridal, a much fancier shop on Montana avenue in Santa Monica. I had guessed that the dresses might be out of my price range but my mom encouraged me to make an appointment anyways just to see the difference. Luckily I’m not the type to fall in love with a dress and justify spending $3000 on it… because there was one that was beautiful. Honestly, I could see and feel the difference… the high quality silk was lightweight and draped perfectly. And they gave me the royal treatment and made me feel like a bride… but really, $3000 for a dress to wear for one day? Not gonna happen! But if you are lucky enough to have a larger dress budget, then I do recommend the store. They were very helpful and knowledgeable. And they do have other dresses in the $800-1500 range as well. (Note: according to their website the store has actually closed even though I was there 3 weeks ago… not sure if that means people just aren’t buying expensive dresses these days or if something else happened.)
On Saturday Nathan’s mom and my sister-in-law joined us to check out Alfred Angelo and David’s Bridal in the Pasadena area. Neither was a particularly great experience. At AA, the person helping me seemed more interested in picking a dress for me that she thought was best rather than listening to what I wanted. After emphasizing that I wanted something very simple for a casual outdoor wedding, she thought this would be perfect:
Everyone else including myself did not agree. She also told me I wasn’t “fun” since I didn’t want a crazy dress… All in all, not a great experience with Alfred Angelo even though I did find one dress in the end that was pretty nice.
Then we went on to David’s Bridal. I hadn’t made an appointment because I didn’t think I was going to want to go, but since AA was so uninspiring we wanted to keep looking. We went to the location in Duarte, and it was pretty hectic. I had 4 different people helping me, they temporarily lost the example pictures I had brought, and I waited about 5-10 minutes in each dress until someone would return to help with the next one. They also didn’t seem to know their stock very well. The one thing I did like was getting to try on my size rather than one that was way too big and made to ‘fit’ with huge ugly clips. In the end, I didn’t find a dress there that I loved although there was one that was ok. It was also nice to take pictures (both at AA and David’s Bridal) since my bridesmaids don’t live in the area. Still, I kept thinking of the dress from Dina’s which I remembered being so much better, but without pictures to compare, it was hard to know.
Dina’s wasn’t open on Sunday, so I had to wait until the foll0wing weekend to go back with my sister-in-law and a good friend from work to see if the dress was a perfect as I remembered. And it really really was! Generally when making a large purchase like this I have to think it over a lot and basically know I’m going to buy it before I get there. But with help from my two friends and the amazing feeling of being in what was certainly “the dress,” I knew I could go ahead and get it. It was a little more than I was hoping to spend, but definitely within the right range (not $3000!) and very much worth it. I can’t show pictures or give too many details because Nathan will see this, but the dress is exactly what I wanted: simple but flow-y and feminine, plain but beautiful, and it made me feel amazing!
All in all, the dress shopping experience was a lot of fun for me despite my initial hesitation. And now one more thing is checked of the list… date, venue, caterer, and a dress! Next up: Colors. More on that to come!