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
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  1. beanstalk Bee
    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!!!

  2. msdragon Bee
    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!

  3. msfairy Bee
    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.

  4. sunhat Bee
    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!

  5. 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!!!

  6. mink Bee
    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!

  7. 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!

  8. painauchocolat Bee
    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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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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