When I was tracking down somewhere to try on dresses from Alyne, it was right after their first line was released; they did not have many showrooms and I wasn’t quite to the dress stage, so I waited.
By the time my mom and I were ready to check out styles, there were two feasible towns where I could try on Alyne dresses: Fresno, California and Portland, Oregon. My mom has to go to Fresno often enough for work (and I used to), and it is an easy enough drive from my house. Thing is, neither of us really enjoys the drive. And I really was hoping to include my grandma in the dress process. My parents already had a long trip to the Portland area planned for my grandma’s birthday (she lives an hour away), so I bought a flight and met them up there. I set up appointments with two bridal boutiques, Silver Lining Couture and AniA Collection. I emailed the dress shops the different styles I was interested in, and they indicated they had “similar styles” but not the ones I was specifically interested in. Both boutiques have a no-picture policy (booo), so we had to come up with a plan of action to remember details.
We had made a plan to pick up my grandma and drive her up to the appointments, have a little lunch, and then bring her back home. The day of, she called and said that she just didn’t have the energy to come up. This fell into the upsetting category. The day before she had driven up to my uncle’s house (just outside of Portland) for dinner, but that tired her out. (Really it had more to do with her not wanting to leave my step-grandpa at home for the day.) While we are hoping that she will be able to make it to our wedding, I also wanted to make sure she was involved in the wedding planning. She is not a spring chicken and has had several major medical issues that still impact her life, so while she still makes pretty significant trips there is no guarantee she will be present. So this last-minute cancellation hurt, and it also hurt my mom.
With both of our feelings hurt, we headed out to check out wedding dresses and tried to make the best of it. So I threw on my Spanx and brought my wedding shoes to try on dresses. I was a little nervous about sizing because I am most certainly not a sample-size bride, but I prepared myself emotionally so I wouldn’t be too upset if I felt like a giant stuffed sausage.
At Silver Lining I learned what “similar styles” means: it means we don’t have anything like that but we want you to come in and try things on anyway. Seriously, there was nothing anywhere close to what I was looking for; everything had flowers, sequins, embroidery, lace, and sparkles. They had lovely dresses but not what I was looking for at all. Now being the good sport I am, I tried on different styles just to make sure I wasn’t misguided in my target style. I can’t remember everything I tried on, though I did try on some Alyne dresses and many others. We were caught off guard by one dress that was designed in house; it was something like this (but not—I couldn’t find a picture of the actual dress online):
Image via Lea-Ann Belter / Classics Collection / Alyssa (The real dress I tried on was not a Lea-Ann Belter but designed in house.)
Just a reminder: a strapless lace dress was almost the opposite of what I was looking for. But when my consultant zipped me in and put a sash around my waist it really shocked both my mom and me; we really liked it. And the best part—it was under $1,000 new. There were two cons: my mom wouldn’t be making it, and it was a bit heavy/warm (it was a cool summer day in Portland, so being warm then I knew would lead to melting in the Kansas City heat at our wedding). We still had one appointment to go, so we headed down the street to grab a cup of coffee.
My tardy sister and niece joined us at the coffee shop before we headed to the second appointment at AniA Collection. The consultant was great. I showed her the styles I liked and shockingly (not) they didn’t have a single Paloma Blanca dress I liked (or anything remotely close to it). The consultant did a great job pulling together a few dress options that might work. I think I tried on a total of five dresses at AniA, and there were two really nice styles that we found:
Image via Lea-Ann Belter / Algonquin Collection / Amelia
Image via Watters / Escalante
Now, when I was trying on dresses there were a couple of important things I did. I wore my Spanx, put on my shoes (to see how I looked at the correct height), and tried to dance and move around. It was also important to notice if the dress made me feel warm on a cool Northwest day. Dresses with a polyester lining made me significantly warmer than dresses with a silk or cotton lining.
I really liked all of these dresses, and at this point my mom and I both started considering the idea of buying a dress. The Lea-Ann Belter dress was so light and comfortable, and I loved that Lea-Ann dresses are customized to each bride so there is minimal tailoring that needs to be done when it comes in. The Watters dress was very comfortable and had pockets (which is awesome), but it had a polyester lining and made me a bit too warm.
Our solution to no pictures in the salon was a sketch pad. My mom had brought in a sketch pad and pen and had sketched details of the dresses. We both thought that we could make a similar dress to the Watters Escalante without much difficulty (only with a comfortable lining). We could attempt to get somewhat close to the Lea-Ann Belter style, making some modifications that would really make me happy (no cap sleeve).
After trying on more than 10 dresses I still had not been able to try on a simple strapped wedding dress (boo). So I started checking out pre-owned wedding dresses to see what simpler dresses looked like on real brides…