bridal salon visit #5

March 20, 2010

Destination #5: Bella Wedding Bridal, Los Angeles (Yelp)

This post ends the bridal salon visit series… woohoo!!! So now you know the ending to my story :)

I had planned a day full of Koreatown wedding salon visits and Bella Wedding was my first stop (which ended up being my last!). A couple of good friends had raved about the owner of the salon (Mrs. Yang) and reviewers on Yelp always said that Bella had the best selection and price… so needless to say, I had pretty high expectations and hopes for Bella Wedding!

For those who aren’t familiar with dress rentals, what typically happens is that they have dresses in the store for you to try on and choose from, and then the salon will order a new dress, alter it, rent it to you, and then either re-rent it or sell it later. Interesting business model, no?

Bella Wedding had a pretty good selection, based on the other places I had seen. It was definitely nowhere near the size of Bay Area Bridal or Trudy’s, but it felt like there was a better selection there than at Glamour Closet, for example. I knew which section of the store I would like (cleaner, a-line, etc) and noticed a few that I liked. I showed Mrs. Yang the ones I had liked and she pulled a couple for me to try on.

Unlike the previous bridal salon visits, because I was in SoCal, I asked some more people to join in on the fun- this time it involved my mom, my aunt, my 10 year old cousin, and Lena, my MOH. Thankfully having more opinions didn’t drive me nuts (as I hear it sometimes can) but what basically happened was I tried on a couple of the dresses I had liked and although I liked the first one a lot, neither one was an overwhelming “Yes!”.

Then, Mrs. Yang brought out a different dress- one that I hadn’t pulled and one that I probably wouldn’t have chosen for myself. It was lacey and had a lot of beading, but because I had learned my lesson before, I tried it on. And… well, it was the dress! Everyone I came with liked it and just to make sure, I re-tried on the first two dresses that I had liked… which reinforced how much everyone had liked the lace dress.

It was at this point that Mrs. Yang brought up budget (whoops!) and I didn’t realize that lace type dresses always came with a higher pricetag! We talked about it and went back and forth, and I ended up getting the dress for a good price (which was at the very high end of what I wanted to spend). Yay! My mom and I loved Mrs. Yang- she was so kind, honest, and knew dresses really well. I’ve called and stopped by the salon since choosing the dress to get the alterations fitted and to make random requests or ask questions and I’ve never had any regrets about choosing to rent from Mrs. Yang & Bella (and therefore cancelling all my other appointments… aha).

I have reservations about posting the dress here, but I’ll say that it’s a Pronovias brand and it’s a couple of years older. In fact, a week or so after finding the dress, I found out that a friend who got married in 08 actually wore the same dress! What a small world! I didn’t realize it was the same dress because she had altered/modified it a little more (neckline, beading, etc) but I don’t mind one bit :)

Wedding dress, check!

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bridal salon visit #2

February 10, 2010

Destination #2: Bay Area Bridal, Cupertino (Yelp)

A few Saturdays back, Bryan and I took a trip to the South Bay to meet up with a few friends who lived in the San Jose/Fremont area. Inbetween lunch and dinner, a good friend & my Maid of Honor, Lena, joined me in visiting two of the more well-known stores.

Bay Area Bridal definitely had a different feel than my visit to Glamour Closet. When I walked in, they had me sign in and then showed me these huge binders full of dresses and asked me to pull out the ones that I liked. I pulled about 10 images and then met with Jessica, my consultant for the day. The people of Yelp LOVE Jessica so I made sure to ask for her when I made my appointment.

Lesson learned #2: Different bridal consultants make a huge impact!

She was kind of younger, Chinese, and definitely knew her stuff. She asked my budget and then told me which of the dresses worked within that range (less than $1000). One of the dresses she removed I actually had really liked, so I ended up trying on 1 dress out of my desired price range, 2-3 that I had picked from the binder, and another 2-3 that Jessica picked based on my feedback and comments.

Jessica took me into a glorified fitting room and helped me getting into one dress… then the next, the next, etc. She was cheerful despite how busy she seemed, and offered feedback whenever I asked. There were a handful of other parties there at the same time, but I didn’t really mind. I ended up liking two of the Maggie Sottero dresses I had tried on (Adele and Madison, I think? both between $800-900) and then the too-expensive dress that I had asked for- Mikaella 1409 ($1210). They let us take pictures so I have a few to remember the dresses- including some with veils. I don’t really love love veils, but I once overheard a conversation where the mom or consultant or friend basically told the bride, “Your wedding is the only day you get to wear a train and a veil, so do it!” I’ll probably follow her advice. :)

Because the wedding’s coming up so soon, I’m unable to go the normal route and order a dress from the maker and have it shipped here, etc. Instead, I’ll probably end up buying a sample dress (I think I’m a size 10, mayyybe an 8 depending on the dress) and hopefully bargaining a little.

As I left, Jessica gave me her card and all the info on the two dresses I had liked and told me to call her if I ended up finding another dress I liked somewhere else because they could always try to make it work here too. I left Bay Area pretty content since I had found a couple of things I liked and that’s always good news!

Some conclusions/thoughts:

  • I like Taffeta! It’s not as clingy and has a slightly more casual feel, which would work with the outdoor ceremony/reception. I’m not attached to it, but definitely something I’m thinking about.
  • Pockets are definitely as awesome as they sound. Maybe they’d be too dangerous because I’d be so tempted to stick my Blackberry in my pocket…
  • I prefer straight over sweetheart necklines
  • I’m probably going to end up with a strapless dress (despite all my non-strapless ranting earlier) purely because of selection and options available
Okay. Next stop, Trudys!

bridal salon visit #1

January 30, 2010

Destination: Glamour Closet, San Francisco (Yelp)

As previously mentioned, I’ve never gone wedding dress shopping for myself or with any of my friends. I started doing some casual Google-ing and Yelp-ing to try to get an idea for where I could go and how this whole Most-Important-Dress thing works.

I knew I wanted to check out the Koreatown rental places in Socal (like Bella and Shin Bu) but since I’ll have limited time in SoCal, I thought it would be a good idea to start checking out dresses in the Bay Area to get an idea of what I do and don’t like.

Good ol’ Yelp gave me plenty of places to ponder and not only was Glamour Closet was on the top of the list, but one of my previous brides had gotten her dress there and it was near my work. Score! We picked a day when we had coinciding free lunch breaks and walked/bussed our way over.

It’s a pretty space, with hardwood floors and about 10 or so racks of dresses. I don’t know why I expected it to be a lot bigger but it was actually pretty small and only had 2 changing/dressing areas in the back. Diane helped me and she had gave me a little bag of pink clips and told me to clip the styles I liked. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I had brought a few magazine tear-outs and a few printouts of styles I liked… but those stayed in the purse. We got there around 11:45 and that was bad timing because two other girls had come in at 11 and were there til about 12:30 or so.

Lesson learned #1: Make appointments ahead of time!

The racks were set up by style or flare, with the ballroom/big poofy dresses on one end, the mermaid/trumpet style in the middle, and then the more A-line and column dresses on the other end. I made a point to look through all of the racks, twice. The first time through, I clipped about 8 or 9 dresses and then the second time through, I took off a few of the clips and ended up with 5. After a scan of both the dresses and their prices, I knew I wasn’t going to find my “dream dress” here, so I made it a point to try on different types of dresses to get a feel for what kind of styles and materials I liked.

No pictures, for now, but conclusions and thoughts for the next salon:

  • No duchess silk satin (too heavy) and nothing too thin
  • Try regularĀ silk satin
  • No column, mermaid, or trumpet styles
  • I liked A-line and modified A-lines- try more of these
  • UnlikeĀ this dress, most v-necks go way too low for my liking
  • Almost everything has a low, low back

I have not lost all hope! I’m going to visit Bay Area Bridal and Trudy’s this weekend… *crosses fingers*

Despite planning and coordinating dozens of weddings over the past few years, I’ve never been involved in the whole dress decision for one reason or another. To be completely frank, I’ve grown rather bored of wedding dresses and have probably said that I don’t care about it… which is a lie. Of course I care! I just care a lot more about the photographer (love) and dessert and venue and paper and… you get my drift. I just don’t have as many preferences about the dress!

After a friend’s wedding, the boyfriend made an offhand remark about how everyone’s dress looks the same and proceeded to describe the “typical” dress (strapless, low back, lowered-waist, etc). I didn’t realize how right he was until I started to scroll through my Google Reader and grew even more bored with wedding dresses. Horrible, right? I feel like the dress is “supposed to be” the most glamorized, girly, exciting part of the wedding (a la “Say Yes to the Dress”)… but maybe just not for me?

I’m now torn between a few different dress philosophies:

1) I don’t care about the dress, so I won’t invest too much thought, money, or time in it. Go to David’s Bridal or some other XYZ Bridal Salon and find a non-designer dress, get it altered (inevitably), and be done with it.

Cost: probably less than $500 and 1 day of trying on, deciding, then getting alterations there or somewhere else

2) I don’t like most dresses and don’t want to spend a lot of money, but I’ll try really hard to do something different and go the resourceful-determined path of ebay/craigslist-ing and pre-owned wedding dresses to hopefully find something cheap(er) and unique that I love.

Cost: probably less than $500 but a lot more time spent researching/searching/trying on and then getting alterations done separately

3) I want to get married in less than 6 months and although I don’t care that much about the dress, I should! Find a free weekend to go to SoCal and visit the LA Koreatown bridal salons (like Glamour Closet or Bella Wedding) where you can rent a high-quality, designer dress (or even one custom-made).

Cost: probably closer to $1000 and hopefully 1 day of trying on dresses and it sounds like most of these places handle alterations in-house

Don’t get me wrong, I love dresses and dressing up! It’s just a lot of money for a dress that I’ll never want to or get to wear again. There’s also the issue of, who am I going to go shopping with?? My mom is not the biggest fan of shopping but if I shop in SoCal, all of my future-bridesmaids are either in NorCal or abroad.

More thoughts on the dress to come…