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?