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 #4

February 17, 2010

Destination #3: Jessica McClintock Outlet, San Francisco (Yelp)

So technically this was not a bridal salon- it was more of a wedding dress outlet. To compare, it was kind of like a TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack… no plushy carpet, no pretty decorations, just lots of racks of pretty intensely discounted dresses. Based on Yelp and the comments of a few friends, I didn’t have high hopes to find THE DRESS at the outlet, but hey, you never know! The mere possibility of finding a dress for less than $100 was pretty dang enticing.

Lena, my MOH, and I coordinated our schedules and figured out the Muni schedule so that we could take an extended lunch break and trek out to the outlet. After reading some of the Yelp reviews, I was expecting some kind of crazy sample sale madness, but t was WAY less crazy than I had expected, maybe because it was around 11am on a weekday. Lena and I were among the only people there, so we had lots of space to comb through the racks and pull things we liked.

The larger half of the store is dedicated to bridesmaids dresses (or party/special occasion dresses, I guess) in a variety of colors. There were maybe 3 or 4 dresses in purple and so we looked at the one we liked and Lena tried it on. Unfortunately they didn’t have the sizes we needed, but if they did, the $60 price tag would have been a really good deal. We would have had to get them altered so I guess it would cost more but… whatever. Everything’s final sale there, so we moved on!

We then combed through the racks of wedding dresses and pulled almost anything in my size just for the sake of trying it on. There were maybe 5 or 6 different styles I pulled from the racks, which weren’t organized by size or style or anything like that. We went into the huge-o changing room (locker room style, no pictures) and tried on the dresses.

I didn’t like most of the dresses, but the last one I tried on caught my attention. It had a small train (unlike all of the other dresses) and even though it was simple, it was simple in a pretty, minimalistic way. I actually hadn’t wanted to try it on because it looked too simple, but I’m glad I did.

Lesson Learned #5: Looks can be deceiving! Try and try again!

I LOVED the price tag (~$60?) but the only real problem with the dress was that it was too short in the front (hovered over the ground instead of on in) and I wasn’t sure how much work it would be to get it altered. Juuust in case, I tried on a few other dresses in the same size but the same issue came up– too short :( It was a weird issue because it didn’t come up at any of the other salons, but good to know, I guess.

Another random note- given the nature of the store and the changing room, all of the dresses were really dirty on the bottom and along the train- so cleaning fees are something to consider.

Given the return policy and how I wasn’t 100% in love with the dress, I left it there. I figured that if I didn’t find any thing I really liked in SoCal that coming weekend, I could fall back on the $100 plan B… B for SUPER budget-friendly!

bridal salon visit #3

February 11, 2010

Destination #3: Trudys, Campbell (Yelp)

Trudy’s was kind of a mix between Glamour Closet and Bay Area Bridal for me. It had the huge selection and dozens of consultants running around, but it also felt a little more luxurious. They had lemon infused water and small cookies available when you walked in– that says something, right?

I didn’t see a super unanimous love for any one consultant, so I didn’t ask for anyone in particular when scheduling my appointment. It’s funny, actually, how I ended up with an appointment. I had called and was told that they didn’t have anything that fit my availability so I kind of gave up. Buuuut, then, I was perusing the website and they have a form you can fill out with preferred times to schedule an appointment. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try again, and guess what? Appointment confirmed. Wahoo!

Lesson learned #3: Try and try again!

I was introduced to Sheryl when I got there and she walked me over to a really quiet part of the salon and asked me some questions about my date, preferred styles, size, budget, etc. She then disappeared for a little while perusing the hundreds of dresses around. She had a very different approach to everything than Jessica at Bay Area Bridal. Rather than just bringing me dresses I had picked out or liked, she kind of tried to problem solve and brought different types of dresses each time. I could tell she was really trying to find something perfect for me.

I had mentioned my whole no-strapless dream but also admitted that I knew it was really difficult to find based on what I had already seen. But… she was so nice about it! I could tell she was really trying because she brought me a couple of dresses with straps initially, one that I kind of liked from Mori Lee. Lena and my other friend didn’t really like the dresses she had brought out, so out she went again. Tried a couple of strapless dresses that were just okay- I think there was a little too much beadwork and embellishment on them. Then she kind of asked about lace and brought out this lacey beaded type dress with straps and a high back. I tried it on and initially didn’t really like it, but when I turned around and saw the high back, I LOVED. Seriously girls, high back is so pretty. Hahahaha… the rest of the dress didn’t look quite right or fit quite perfectly (the bust in particular) so I took it off and tried more.

Then, when Sheryl was looking for more dresses, I noticed the price tag on the lace dress. $400. WHAT THE. $400?!?!?! I tried it on again… she tried to show me how we could alter it and such, and I seriously, seriously considered buying the dress. In the end, it was a no- but seriously, $400? I was really surprised because the dress was really different than anything I had ever imagined wearing on my wedding day… but I was glad I had tried it on and went through that experience.

Lesson learned #4: Try on dresses you would never imagine wearing. What do you have to lose?

By this time, I was getting a little bit of wedding-dress fatigue so we thanked Sheryl and left. I didn’t expect to get hit by wedding-dress lightning, but I’m definitely hoping I find my dress this upcoming weekend when I go back to LA. *crossing fingers!*

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 regular silk satin
  • No column, mermaid, or trumpet styles
  • I liked A-line and modified A-lines- try more of these
  • Unlike 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*

more white dress thoughts

January 16, 2010

Now, don’t hold me to this, but I think I’m going to opt for a non-strapless gown. I want to make some kind of hugely broad generalization and say that 90% of wedding dresses these days seem to be of the strapless variety, but for a lot of different reasons… I’m thinking of going for something a little different.

I did a wedding dress survey of on Amelia Lyon’s blog because I noticed she seems to shoot a lot of LDS weddings and apparently LDS weddings require covered shoulders or something like that. Anyway, it provided a lot of examples of what is possible outside the realm of plane jane strapless white dress. By the way, I really really like Amelia Lyon’s style and editing and everything… If something ever happened to Jerry & Ingrid, I’d probably try to make friends with her :)

Nancy’s dress:

Now, this dress is not an LDS dress by any means… but I think it’s the most beautiful dress I’ve ever seen. I can’t possibly imagine wearing one like it, but it really made me stop and admire it’s beauty. I mean, WOW right?!

Anyway, an easy solution to add sleeves is just to put on a shrug… and I’m thinking this can be done tastefully and in a way where the shrug and dress compliment each other, like Alicia’s dress:

I’m not a huge fan of the bodice with the lace or beading/embellishments, but the overall fit/style I like.

The next two dresses are interesting. I’m not sure how these dresses have sleeves, but it looks like they were originally strapless gowns and they had an alteration done where sleeves were added???

Kaitlyn’s:

Very simple with no lace/embellishments and just some wrapping action… right?

and Kelly’s:

I like the way her dress and her veil look together… (the/a veil is definitely a topic that will be further addressed at a later date)

I’m definitely curious to find out how much this costs and how easy it is to do… can it be done to any kind of fabric or are there a lot of specifics involved? This would potentially be a good solution because there are SO MANY STRAPLESS DRESSES… okay, I’m going to stop saying that (even though it’s true).

Then, there are dresses that are actually made with sleeves!

3/4 sleeves like Morgan’s:

If you click through, you can see the details of her dress. I don’t like the design on the bodice, but I really like what it looks like from this perspective.

or short sleeves like Jenn’s:

So cute! I’m actually surprised by how much I like this dress… so here are some more images:

I started this post thinking I didn’t like the whole drop-waist trumpet style… and I’m not sure if this is that, exactly… but I think I like how this dress fits! … doh. What am I saying? I have to try it on. Body shape plays such a big part in the fit! Well, just a thought.

I didn’t notice this feathery detail before, and I’m not sure I’m crazy about feathers, but I definitely see why there needs to be something special at the focal point since the lines of the dress point to that corner.

Another shot of how the dress fans out.

As I was scrolling through weddings, I came across this dress- Stephanie’s:

I’m not a fabric expert, but I’m guessing this dress has flow-y chiffon at the bottom, giving it a totally different look from the more structured silk(?) type materials. Pretty, no?

As I’ve been told, a preliminary visit to a bridal salon to try on dresses and get an idea about preferences is crucial… but just thought this would be a good way to think some things through and bookmark my favorites.

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…