Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wedding Dress Shopping

The only aspect of wedding planning I was truly nervous about was dress shopping. I am very particular and indecisive, so I just knew that finding "the dress" wouldn't be as easy as it was for most. Plus, I don't enjoy being the center of attention so getting on a pedestal and twirling around while everyone ooooh'ed and aaaaah'ed over me was really just not something that appealed to me. While I expected the experience to be challenging - I had no idea that it would take me ten stores, about 100 dresses, and four states before I found my perfect dress. However my persistence paid off - the moment I stepped into my dress I had "the feeling" that everyone talked about (and quite honestly I never thought I would feel) - that dizzying, butterflies in my stomach, overwhelmed with emotion feeling which instantly told me at long last I had found my dress.

I went to a wide variety of dress stores and am hoping that I can pass my knowledge onto other future brides. To keep things organized I will start with the stores I visited in NYC, followed by Chicago, then Indianapolis, and lastly in Ohio. While trying on dresses was fun, the best part of it for me was simply being able to enjoy such a special time with my mom. I absolutely loved spending the weekend in Chicago together trying new restaurants, staying at our favorite hotel, and ultimately just enjoying what we both knew was a once in a lifetime experience together.

Lovely Bride - New York: I visited Lovely Bride's Tribeca location while visiting New York City for a friend's wedding. The store was absolutely adorable - think Pinterest meets Anthropologie - and the experience was relaxed and easygoing. Highly recommended the bride looking for a more relaxed, whimsical look who are interested in indie designers.

Reem Acra - New York: I visited Reem Acra's flagship 5th Avenue location while in New York City for work, and the experience was top to bottom flawless. They only had one client per hour, so I had their entire shop to myself. The dresses were absolutely exquisite and the service was professional and sophisticated without being pretentious. Highly recommended for the bride wanting a feminine, romantic dress with exceptional attention to detail. 

Sarah Seven - Chicago: My mom and I visited Sarah Seven's absolutely beautiful Lincoln Park boutique, and although there was another bride, because of the way the store was laid out it still felt like it was just the two of us. The dresses here all have a very similar aesthetic (which I loved) which felt ethereal, flowy, and romantic. The service was warm and relaxed which created for an absolutely wonderful experience. Highly recommended for the laid-back bride who wants a unique look 

Alice in Ivory - Chicago: I found this store on Instagram and was so excited to check it out my mom and I planned a weekend trip to Chicago just to do so. I'm happy to report that the experience was as lovely as I had hoped. I still cannot get over how GORGEOUS this store was, and the assortment of dresses was absolutely wonderful. I honestly wish I could go back and try on more dresses there because it to me was exactly how dress shopping should be - as cheesy as it sounds it made me feel like a princess. Highly recommended for the modern bride looking for something unique.

BHLDN - Chicago: I will never forget reading about Anthropologie's new wedding store - BHLDN - first opening about five years ago. I thanked my lucky stars and was almost certain that come the day I got engaged that I would be a BHLDN bride. However, as much as I loved the store's merchandising and branding, I was a bit underwhelmed by the dress selection. I will say that the prices were absolutely amazing. Recommended for whimsical, vintage-inspired brides on a budget.

Marie Gabriel Couture - Indianapolis: This was the most "traditional" bridal salon I visited, and unfortunately I have to say it was by far the most negative experience for me during our entire wedding planning process. While they did have a good selection of dresses, the bridal consultant was SO pushy and disingenuous that it completely ruined the experience for me. She pulled dresses that were several thousands of dollars over my budget and didn't mention it to me until after I tried them on. When I found one dress that I loved, she told me that she would offer me 10% off but I would have to make my decision on the spot. I was emotionally exhausted by the experience and torn knowing that if I waited we would overpay for the dress by hundreds of dollars, and am a little embarrassed to say that the day concluded with me walking out to the car and breaking down in tears. Of course the next day they called and said they were able to extend the offer because I was a "special client," which obviously they knew they could do all along but they were just hoping to close the deal that day. It was an absolutely awful experience and I would never, ever go back. NOT RECOMMENDED.

MH Pomanders - Indianapolis: This tiny boutique was a block from our old apartment and I had looked into the windows dozens of times on walks with Yoda, so I was excited to be able to check it out. The experience was nice and relaxed, and the dress selection was pretty good but a bit too formal and "princess-y" for me. Recommended for the traditional bride.

Louise Christine - Dayton, OH: This adorable bridal boutique opened up last year less than two blocks from my childhood home in Oakwood, so of course my mom and I were thrilled to be able to check it out. I honestly could not say enough good things about our experience. The boutique is owned by a mother daughter team and it was obvious they had a genuine interest in getting to know us. I remember specifically them saying that their number one goal was for their clients to find their dream dress - even if it was from another store (something Marie Gabriel could learn a thing or two about!) The dress selection was a bit more traditional but absolutely gorgeous and the prices were surprisingly reasonable considering how lovely both the dresses and shops were. This was the most positive bridal experience we had by far. Highly recommended for all brides.

Hyde Park Bridal - Cincinnati, OH: Hyde Park Bridal opened up a block down from my apartment back when I used to live in Cincinnati. I will never forget going to their grand opening party with Ryan hoping one day I might be there shopping for dresses for our wedding. I visited Hyde Park Bridal with my mom, soon to be mother-in-law, and grandmother, and the experience was just lovely. The store was a pink dream, and lovely little touches such as a hand written sign out front of the store welcoming me and my family and glasses of champagne made our time at Hyde Park Bridal feel very special. The dresses were a bit more ballgown than I was looking for, but I still found a couple I really liked. Highly recommended for the feminine bride who wants to feel like a princess on her wedding day.

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