A lot has happened since my last post—we’ve settled on an immigration lawyer, secured the rabbi, and are on the verge of putting a deposit down for our venue. More on that last bit soon, but for now I’m here to talk about my experience shopping for wedding dresses here in NYC.
Going against all the advice about holding off on the gown until you’ve chosen a venue, dress shopping is the aspect of planning I’ve thrown myself into first and most enthusiastically. It’s surprised me how much I’ve enjoyed the process (and how many shops I’ve been to—enough that I have to split this write-up into two parts), since I’m not much of a shopper generally. But since trying on gowns is one of the few activities I’m able to thoroughly participate in due to our long-distance situation, I’ve thrown myself into it wholeheartedly. Plus, it’s awfully fun dressing up like a princess and being fawned over by consultants. I’m also one of those people who want to see all the things before making any decision whatsoever, big or small, so with that let’s begin our bridal shopping tour.
This was my first stop, mostly because it was the only bridal shop around that could give me an appointment at a day’s notice—it’s been a real learning curve for me realizing how fast all things wedding, from gown appointments to venues to make-up artists, book up. I didn’t go into this appointment expecting to find The One—and indeed, I didn’t—but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. They have a vast selection at a range of price points, and while I expected the collection to veer toward the big and blingy they’ve got a decent array of styles in stock—including lines from big-name designers like Vera Wang and, beginning next year, Jenny Packham.
One thing I didn’t like so much was that they don’t let you look through the dresses yourself; rather, you’re given a catalog to look at and told to flag the dresses you like. As I quickly learned, some dresses that look gorgeous on paper are very different in reality—it’s especially hard to get a sense for materials and details like lace, beading, etc. from a photo. Nonetheless, I found quite a few dresses that seemed to meet my must-haves—which, at this early stage of my shopping journey, mainly consisted of anything but strapless—and my consultant brought them out for me. Several of them were big, princess-style gowns, like the one I’m wearing in the photo above, and while I loved the look I quickly realized that walking (let alone dancing) in a massive ball gown skirt might be a struggle for someone as uncoordinated as I am.
I get the sense David’s here in the States may be a bit lower-key than it is in the UK, believe it or not—I’ve read about UK brides going to David’s and only being allowed to try on three dresses, having to ring a little bell to indicate that they’d found a winner, and other nonsense. I think I’d have run out of the shop screaming if the David’s I went to had tried any of that.
This was the first of the smaller boutiques I visited, and it proved to be a good choice. They carry Pronovias, Rosa Clara, Matthew Christopher, and more, and they do let you look through the dresses. While I didn’t find a ton of styles that spoke to me—their stock veered a little too contemporary for my liking (or else too flapper, the one vintage style on the market that really doesn’t suit me)—there were a couple of standouts. The first was this gorgeous Pronovias number with an illusion off-the-shoulder top. I loved the way I looked in it, but as with the David’s ball gowns I didn’t love trying to walk in it.
Saja is the only single-designer shop I visited—I was drawn to the simple, clean designs and the Edwardian touches on some of the gowns. I had a great experience in the shop, and while I seriously considered the sleeveless number in the picture (which, I might add, was very easy to move in!) I ultimately decided it was just a little plainer than I wanted. That said, they have some lovely styles at reasonable prices, and their stunning 2016 collection, which was just released for Bridal Market, is not dissimilar to Claire Pettibone’s Gilded Age lineup. It came too late for me, since I’ll need to have my dress done and ready to take to London with me in May or thereabouts, but if you’re planning a late 2016 or 2017 wedding it’s definitely worth looking into.
Lovely won points for fun, festive ambience, but I just didn’t find many dresses I liked here—the collection, which includes Rue De Seine, Theia, Hayley Paige, and many more) veered pretty heavily toward boho styles, like the one above (at least as far as the non-strapless selection went), which just aren’t for me. My consultant, Debbie, was great, and when it became apparent that Lovely’s lineup wasn’t quite up my alley even suggested other shops for me to try. It truly is a lovely shop, and I’d recommend it (or its counterparts in other US cities) if you like the sorts of designers they carry.
This was another small boutique, and, though my consultant was very helpful, I was disappointed to find that they had only a handful of dresses that fit my requirements—by this point, along with strapless numbers sheaths and trumpet/mermaid/fishtail skirts were also banned. They did have a Pronovias gown I quite liked—similar to the one I tried at Designer Loft, but sleeveless and with a v-neck—but, again, moving in the huge skirt was a challenge. This is another shop where you don’t get to look through all of the dresses yourself, but I was satisfied that my consultant understood what I was looking for and pulled the most suitable options for me. Still, there’s nothing quite like browsing.
That’s it for now—stay tuned for the second instalment, featuring my visit to Kleinfeld!