Sight Unseen

Maybe I’m an anti-bride. But with the amount of time/energy/creativity I’ve spent over the past months just thinking about the wedding, I doubt it.  However, the one area of being a bride I was truly and wholeheartedly dreading was dress shopping. I.HATE.DRESS.SHOPPING. This probably has everything to do with being a plus-sized bride, and not loving the shape I am in currently. I haven’t been losing the weight that I want to lose, and if I’m being truly honest with myself, I haven’t even really been trying. But there is very little about dress shopping that appeals to me. I hate the sizing difference, I hate the parade of dresses, styles, etc. Ech. Just give me a dress that looks good on me, preferably one that doesn’t cost a fortune, and I’ll be happy.


Bijou by Amsale

That being said, I still have my dream dress. Ever since watching Amsale Girls, on WEtv, I have been a *bit* obsessed with Bijou. I love the big messy flowers, the modified sweetheart neckline, and the ruched bodice of the dress, and although I don’t think I can really rock this dress (or the $8,000 price tag), that’s what dream dresses are for. I even went as far as to look into replica online sites to see if anyone had done it, or looked like they could do it well. I had to concede that this dress is truly one of a kind to Amsale and should not be replicated.

My budget for a dress is not huge; I wanted to keep my purchase under $1,000, which I thought was reasonable, but didn’t really know where to start. My friends and I were out to brunch one day, not far from a David’s Bridal, and the next thing I knew I was in the store, and my (very coercive) friend was strong-arming the David’s Bridal consultant into letting me try on a dress without getting my measurements taken or giving them ANY of my information. (Apparently, this is quite unheard of at DB, and I don’t know any bridal salon that will just let you come in and play dress-up!) I tried on ONE dress, and I bet you’re all thinking—that’s the one! I found the one at DB, when I wasn’t even looking! Sorry to disappoint. It was nice, and I liked it, but it was NOT the one.


Image via David’s Bridal

I put the thought of dresses out my mind for a while after that. Well, the active idea of shopping for a dress was out of mind. The idea of dresses was (and still is) ever present. I just love looking at wedding dresses, and found so many designers that I love, but at the end of the day, it comes down to budget. One night I was posting on the boards, asking for advice about replica sites, when Mrs. Mink (then Miss Mink) posted about this store, in Virginia, that sells designer sample dresses at extremely discounted costs.

Enter: Church Street Bridal, a store run out of a YWCA in Lynchburg, Virginia, where the proceeds of their sales go to women and children victims of domestic violence. Beautiful dresses AND a good cause? Why wouldn’t I want to buy from them? So, I did some research and planned to take a road trip down there during spring break while Mr. Ly was in Boston. I friend-requested them on Facebook so I could see the pictures of all the dresses they have in stock as they post them. About a day later, a post appeared in my news feed about a large shipment from Kleinfeld, and I was immediately interested. I really didn’t know much about their pricing, just that they had great prices listed on their site, but some of the dresses had some damage, or needed cleaning, new lace, beads, zipper replacements, etc. The Kleinfeld album was posted around noon, when I have my lunch at school, so I immediately started flipping through it. I fell in love with one of the dresses and immediately turned on my librarian brain. It was gorgeous in the photos, a plus-sized sample size (I didn’t even know this designer made plus-sized samples!), and just looked like me, for lack of a better description. I researched it price-wise, looked up photos on real-life brides, and looked at the info for the dress on Kleinfeld’s site and used dress sites. I had decided by the end of the school day that I wanted to purchase it. It was well within my price range, but what if I didn’t love it? I called my MOH right away to gauge her opinion on the matter. The reason I chose her is for this very reason: she gave me excellent, sound advice to make an appointment to try on a similar style dress or the same dress if I could find it before I purchased it. She’s so smart. But I ignored her anyway. When I called CSB, the saleswoman told me a bride had the dress on in the fitting room, and even though I had emailed earlier, if she wanted to purchase it, they had to sell it to her first. This solidified my want/need for this dress. When she (thankfully!!) called me back about an hour later, with the good news that the bride did not buy the dress, I immediately did. It was boxed up and shipped off to me the very next day.

I have my dress in my possession (well, at my parents’ house—but it’s only 10 minutes away, so I can visit it all the time!), and I am totally in love with it. It has a bit of my dream dress in it, and it makes me feel beautiful. And for a sample dress, it has little wear on it (just a few places under the hem where it had been on the floor). A few spot cleanings, a good steam, and whatever alterations I’ll need, and I’m set!

For a split second, I felt sad that I had missed out on the whole trying on dresses thing that a bride gets to do. But then I remember how miserable I am, shopping all day, trying on a million things and not loving anything, and I did not want to do that. And at the end of the day, I have a gorgeous designer dress that I paid a fraction of the price for.

Has anyone else ever bought a dress over the internet without even trying on anything like it first? How did it turn out?


Mrs. Lyre

Wedding Date:
January 2013
For The Love of Love: Before God & Everybody
Inspiring Details: Pine Cones
Add a comment


  1. Member
    steph01924 308 posts, Helper bee @ 1:00 pm

    Wow! I hope my search is that easy, lol. I’m also ‘plus sized’ so I’m not looking forward to the dress hunt, and like you, I don’t want to spend that much (def. under $1000). I don’t have strong visions of how I want to look either…I’m putting that search off until later in the planning process!

  2. Member
    KYbride86 307 posts, Helper bee @ 1:00 pm

    Wow, you’re brave! Congrats on finding your dress so easily!

    Are you gonna show pictures? Please say yes :)

  3. Member
    ktlmtm 21 posts, Newbee @ 1:00 pm

    allure has a womens section for plus size brides that are amazing, that’s where i bought mine, and it was less than $1000

  4. Member
    ktlmtm 21 posts, Newbee @ 1:01 pm

    and i bought it online, but i did try it on in a salon first.

  5. Member
    Miss T-Rex 688 posts, Busy bee @ 1:04 pm

    Awesome! I’m soo glad that worked out for you! I know its hard to shop for things when you’re less than satisfied with how you look.
    Pictures? :)

  6. Member
    scottishmrs 3213 posts, Sugar bee @ 1:11 pm

    I got an Alfred Angelo dress. Many of his are under $1000. I paid under $1000 for my lace-up beaded bodice ballgown with a train even with my alterations! And his designs do not change price in the plus sizes (they all come in plus sizes too)!

  7. Member
    TiffyBee 39 posts, Newbee @ 1:15 pm


  8. Member
    lmoss78 345 posts, Helper bee @ 1:15 pm

    I ordered my dress online, got it for a great price and I personally felt great in it. I’m not a big shopper and I did not miss that dress shopping experience, though I know my mom and sister feel like they missed out. Glad you found your dress!

  9. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 1:15 pm

    It sounds like you were meant to have your dress! But, where are the pictures?!? I can’t wait to see it :)

  10. Member
    paw 871 posts, Busy bee @ 1:18 pm

    Please do not make us wait until after the wedding to see it!! I can handle until tomorrow, but please don’t make me wait until January! :) Glad it worked out for you and you found a great cause to contribute to!

  11. Member
    Almost Mrs.P 2056 posts, Buzzing bee @ 1:18 pm

    Wow, this makes me want to check out Church St Bridal! Are you going to share pics of your dress?

  12. Member
    priyathescientist 1514 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:29 pm

    Good for you for snatching up that dress! I actually love trying on dresses … just not in the store. I’d rather model them in the comfort of my home. In other words, I’m a HUGE online shopper.

  13. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:48 pm

    I thought about doing a similar thing… I’m absolutely in love with a Maggie Sottero dress, and I have been looking online at sites where I could maybe find it for cheaper. I’m a little nervous about purchasing a dress that I never tried on in person, but I buy a lot of things online that I’ve never tried on and just make them work. It’s my dream dress, so it might be worth it. I still might go try to find similar dresses in store first though.

  14. Member
    CurlyRN 355 posts, Helper bee @ 1:57 pm

    I am a Church Street Bride also!! I bought the dress without trying it on…just put a lot of faith in the photos, my seamstress….lord it was trashed and ordered it.

    It is at my seamstresses now, nearly complete. Even with the 20+ hours she has spend on repairs, its a lace Jim Hjelm from Kleinfields, it is not even halfway to the price that it is in the store. This dress is still being sold in NYC at $3800.00. I saved huge.

  15. Member
    madtowngirl 1787 posts, Buzzing bee @ 2:26 pm

    Miss Lyre, so happy to hear you found your dream dress!! Good for you. Wish I would’ve known of this website earlier! I was the same as you–never tried on a dress style like mine (although I did go shopping), and just impulsively ordered a replica (the original was no longer being sold). But, I love mine as well! :)

  16. Member
    RapunzelRapunzel 812 posts, Busy bee @ 2:57 pm

    I’m going to repeat the chorus and exclaim: pictures, please! I’m sure it’s so gorgeous and it’s great you found it so easily!

  17. Member
    lolalovesjosh 98 posts, Worker bee @ 3:01 pm

    That is so great! Although I did get to try mine on before buying (I bought it at a trunk show), it was kind of a whirlwind purchase. My dream dress was well beyond my price range and this was the first one that even came close so I snatched it up :)

  18. scepter Member
    scepter 333 posts, Helper bee @ 4:36 pm

    I can’t wait to see it!

  19. coyote Member
    coyote 1960 posts, Buzzing bee @ 5:36 pm

    That is so exciting that you found your dream dress so quickly! You are so brave for purchasing it without trying it on, but I will say… I tried on SO many dresses and all it did was make me really irritable and cranky… You’re not missing out on much!

  20. Member
    sugarbox 226 posts, Helper bee @ 6:27 pm

    These dresses are so beautiful,i love them.

  21. beanstalk Member
    Mrs. Beanstalk 770 posts, Busy bee @ 8:19 pm

    I LOVED Amsale Girls!!! Is that show still on?! Bijou was my personal fave too! I can’t wait to see your dress!!!

  22. msdragon Member
    Mrs. Dragon 814 posts, Busy bee @ 8:28 pm

    I bought my dress online! I’m happy it seems to have worked out for me so far, because I was convinced I’d hate it and have to send it back. I’m excited to see yours!

  23. msfairy Member
    msfairy 976 posts, Busy bee @ 4:41 am

    That original dress is gorgeous, I can’t wait to see what you ended up with – and that’s awesome that the proceeds of your dress went to a good cause and you saved some money. I also bought a dress site unseen, and it didn’t work out. And the dress shopping experience was fun at the beginning but I ended up hating it at the end.

  24. sunhat Member
    sunhat 1453 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:47 am

    I want to see it so badly! I drove 2.5 hours away to a plus-size bridal salon so I could have the “try on” experience just like everyone else. I didn’t want to start my dress experience being frustrated and sad because I couldn’t try anthing on. I love that you went with your gut knowing that you hate dress shopping and went for it. It was meant to be!

  25. Member
    KristenK 189 posts, Blushing bee @ 7:59 am

    I bought a sample dress and am in LOVE with it! Saved 80% on it and it still looks it was ordered in just for me! Congrats on finding your dress!!!

  26. mink Member
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 12:25 pm

    Hooray for CSB brides!

    As I think you know, I never tried on my dress until the day I picked it up. I still had the traditional experience. I originally thought I’d buy a sample or secondhand gown and went to four salons to try on dresses and figure out which silhouettes worked for me.

    I’m an Amsale Girls addict, too. I’ve been tweeting WeTV about a second season, hoping they’ll be back!

  27. Guest Icon Guest
    BMoreBride, Guest @ 1:20 pm

    How can I get in touch with Church St Bridal?! I’m a budget shopping, big dress dreaming bride as well. I would absolutely make the trip for great bargains and a great cause!

  28. painauchocolat Member
    painauchocolat 2298 posts, Buzzing bee @ 4:32 pm

    Wow, are you ever brave! :) When you know, you know… and I guess it doesn’t matter if that moment happens in a fitting room or online.

  29. Member
    WangYue 36 posts, Newbee @ 12:26 am

    You may ask those online shop for photos about their real dresses. I think you may search on and ask for photos. They could make the dress in your own measurements.

  30. Member
    kkm2013 7 posts, Newbee @ 12:12 pm

    You have given me motivation to go ahead and take a chance at buy my gown online.

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