Pretty shortly after I got engaged last year, I started looking for a wedding dress. Amid stressful planning and less than enthusiastic decision making, this was my one enjoyable activity – looking for the right dress. It provided me the perfect excuse to peruse some of my favorite dress stores online several times a day, sometimes even during my office hours. (Don’t tell anyone!)
I gave myself a $300 budget and went to work. Here are some of my finds, some dresses I would love to see someone else walk away with, and the stores that became my go-to options when looking to forgo the outrageous prices of bridal boutiques and the likes.
I quickly realized that anything with the label “wedding” or “bridal” in it would be accompanied by a gigantic price tag. So I started looking for long white or off-white dresses that could serve as a wedding gown without being labeled as such, thus mitigating some of the outrageous price hikes associated with wedding-anything. Some of my favorite places to search were J.Crew, BCBG Maxazria, White House Black Market, Ann Taylor, and Nordstrom. I mostly looked for simple long gowns with an interesting neckline:
At J.Crew, I fell in love with this elegant number above but never actually came to try it on. In the end, I decided that an ivory or champagne colored dress would work better with my darker skin tone than a crisp white. The $450 price tag was also a bit outside my budget but still a reasonable find.
Nordstrom turned out to be by far my wedding-dress-heaven! They have an actual wedding dress section with an abundance of designer stunners for very reasonable prices. Many a nights were spent watching TV and perusing their pages and pages of white dresses. This Calvin Klein dress spoke to me with its soft buttery color and flowey layers of gauzy fabric. Unfortunately, it didn’t look as good on me as on the model but I would still highly recommend this dress to someone taller who could pull it off. And the $178 price tag is nothing to complain about!
This $388 Aidan Mattox dress was not available while I was shopping around, but as I pulled up the site in preparation for this post, I instantly fell in love with this unique neckline and eye-catching detail. This is definitely a dress I would have tried on (…it’s too late now, right…?)
Yet another dress from Nordstrom that was not avilable to me but I have to showcase for its pretty capped sleeves and jewel adornment. This $344 Aidan Mattox dress is definitely worth a second glance.
This BCBGMaxazria dress, also available through Nordstroms, nearly made me want to get a short wedding dress. I had always imagined myself in something long and flowey, so this didn’t quite fit my mental images for the day, but I agonized over this one quite a while. I adore the flower embellishments adorning the hemline and accenting the top. The cinched-in bodice paired with the A-line skirt is guaranteed to create a flattering silhouette and it is just so pretty and elegant. I was even willing to stretch my budget and shell out $398 for this one.
I also perused Ann Taylor’s Wedding site which used to offer a small choice of bridal gowns. Meanwhile it appears that they only offer bridesmaids dresses, but they’re worth visiting for their elegant and stylish alternatives to many others. I especially love their bold use of colors similar to the J.Crew bridesmaid options.
For my own wedding party comprised of the wonderful and very stylish A., I knew that I had no decision to make. I gave A. free reign to find whatever dress she’d like to wear for the day and I had no reason to doubt that the outcome would be anything but beautiful. I was delighted with her choice of this navy J.Crew dress with its elegant rushed neckline and tie-waist. I loved it even more with her bold choice of fuchsia pumps and a purple clutch, which brought in our wedding colors.
For myself, I settled on this long Grecian-inspired champagne-colored BCBGMaxazria dress that adhered to my demands of an off-white hue and an interesting neckline. I found the deep ‘V’ of the neck to be unique and with just the right amount of jewels to be eye-catching without being over the top. I found this one the BCBG site for just under $300 (not sold as a ‘wedding’ dress, just part of their regular collection). Since the neckline offered so much visual interest on its own, I forwent a necklace and opted for a dangly pair of earrings instead.
Overall, I couldn’t have been happier with the result. The dress I chose was the ‘right one’ because it was so me and I felt very comfortable and at ease in it. My only question now is, what to do with it for the future?
The lovely Sherry of Young House Love dyed her wedding dress a stunning charcoal and still wears it for special occasions. I always thought that I would like to get more mileage out of my wedding dress than just the one night, so I’m looking for ideas! Should I shorten it to knee-length but keep it the same color? Should I dye it? Should I do both?
I would love any suggestions or advice from you and I will keep you posted on its fate! Thank you in advance! S.