The Dress

I thought dress shopping would be easy, since I love dressing up, and I thought I had a good idea what kind of dress I wanted. Basically, I wanted something slinky and sexy and modern, not pouffy and lacy and princessy. I wanted Casablanca Style #1831!

(Not THE dress)

However, when I tried it on, it made me look kinda dumpy and short – and I’m 5’11”! It took me three or four shopping trips just to stop feeling weird in a big formal gown, and all I could think was “Why does it have to be white?” This is partly cuz I’m super-pale and look bad in white (and worse in ivory!) and partly because I was getting tired of the Wedding Industrial Complex’s notions of what a wedding dress should be (white, cheaply made, exorbitantly priced).

Also, at less than 6 months out, I was running out of time to order dresses from certain manufacturers. I think I tried on about 70 or 80 dresses over two weeks. I found lots that looked OK, but nothing that screamed “The One!”

This one was nice, but I decided the skirt would look dated when I looked back at my wedding pictures.

(Also not THE dress)

I loved this one, but it didn’t love me (clingy 100% silk + love handles = yikes!)

(I WISH this were THE dress)
Tara Keely 2705

Finally, I decided just to get the one that made my waist look the smallest. Ta-da! (Please excuse Missy Poutypants – she probably hasn’t eaten in days!)

THE Dress!

It is, of course, very princessy and pouffy, but it wins the smallest-looking waist award hands down. I found it at Mon Ami, the biggest and one of the most expensive bridal shops in Southern California. I tried on a sample that they’d marked down from $1,350 to $700, and it fit like a glove. However, it was the wrong color for me (café), and it had a ballpoint pen mark on the front, snags in the bodice, makeup stains inside, a broken zipper pull and a missing brooch at the hip. The shop would not budge on the price, but they said they’d put a ribbon on the zipper pull and assured me they could get the stains out. Oh, and they would gladly sell me a new brooch for the hip.

I read Bridal Bargains by Denise & Alan Fields, and I felt like I was being taken for a ride. So I started looking for the dress online. The salon wouldn’t let me take a picture, but I did know it was an Allure gown. As it turns out, it was one of those “no label” gowns that manufacturers don’t advertise so that you can’t find out how much they’re worth. They sell them to bridal salons for $300–$500 and then the salons mark them way up – in this case, to $1,350! I was lucky enough to find a picture on a British dress shop’s website, and then I found an eBay seller who was selling the dress through her shop in the Midwest. She sold me the dress brand new, in Diamond White, for $500, including shipping!

It was supposed to come in the first week of December, but she called me just a few weeks later and said it had arrived! Here are some gratuitous pictures of the dress in her shop.

What is Patrick wearing, you ask?

He’s wearing this snoozeriffic budget number from Jim’s Formalwear (the sneer costs extra!). Actually, he looks really good in it, but it’s probably the one area of the wedding I don’t have strong opinions about, so we went with his request to look like James Bond.

I was kinda stressing out that we’re going to be wearing formal clothes at a 9am wedding – definitely an Emily Post no-no. But I want the dress I want, not something that ettiquette says I should wear. And Patrick wants to look like James Bond!

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8 Responses
  • Tracy
    July 2, 2013

    Oh my gosh I can’t believe you got a dress PLUS shipping for $500. I am so not keen on the whole internet searching. It tires me out and bores me. Do you have any tips on how you searched for such a deal? (I’m also not eBay-savvy)

  • Jessica
    August 29, 2012

    Thanks a million!

    • Carrie
      September 4, 2012

      OK, I finally sent it, so hopefully you’ll see it in your inbox, not spam…

  • Jessica
    August 29, 2012

    LOVE your dress! I’m also fair skinned and thinking about wearing diamond white even though many say to go with ivory. Were you happy and comfortable with your diamond white decision? I think it looks great!

    Also, your wedding is very similar to what I’m planning — 9 am ceremony at SBP, brunch reception at the Attic and IllumNations DP for ~30 people. Do you have a copy of your BEO posted anywhere just so I could compare?

    • Carrie
      August 29, 2012

      Hi Jessica! I think whether or not you look good in white vs. ivory depends on your skin’s undertones, not how pale you are. I have a lot of yellow, so ivory would have just made me look sallow. And honestly, after I bought the dress, I didn’t think about the color ever again. I don’t think it’s as big a deal as the wedding mags make it out to be. Re: the BEO, I can email it to you tonight, so check your spam folder for a message from 🙂

  • Sally
    January 27, 2012

    Your dress is beautiful, love the style and especially the brooch.

    • lurkyloo
      January 27, 2012

      Hey, thanks!

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