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In Defense of David’s Bridal*


*For Example

by Maddie Eisenhart, Digital Director & Style Editor

In Defense of Davids Bridal* | A Practical Wedding

It’s been over five years since Michael and I got engaged, three since our wedding, and a little more than two since I started working professionally in the wedding industry. And in that time, I’ve learned something very important: the indie wedding industry can be just as dangerous as the mainstream wedding industry.

It started when I was planning my own wedding. Michael and I were a couple of broke kids who wanted to have a different wedding than the ones we’d been to before. We wanted something informal and casual, something Michael could wear jeans to. But we also wanted it to be stylish. Just, you know, effortlessly so. (Because that’s a real thing.) So, armed with something like $5,000, we set out to plan a wedding that would feel like a giant party, that would look good in pictures, and that would feature ocean views to boot. For 250 people. NBD.

In Defense of Davids Bridal* | A Practical Wedding

At first, it was kind of fun. We enjoyed doing the research to find our awesome venue, I liked picking out the menu items for our reception (lobster stew, hell yes), and honestly, for a while it was kind of entertaining to make color palettes during work. It was mostly a fantasy at that point, but with a few key elements completed we were beginning to feel like our wedding was going to be different and stylish and also, easy. But then our wedding started to require actual decision making. And things got more difficult. Our budget, turns out, wasn’t as lush as we’d originally thought (right…) and our DIY projects weren’t exactly finishing themselves (oh, DIY means DO it yourself? I didn’t realize there would be trying involved). And slowly I found myself in a prison of my own creation.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but in asserting that we would do things differently or more consciously, I’d created just as many restrictions for myself as I would have if we’d decided to have a platinum wedding (see: refusing to buy invitations because they looked too “polished” and instead laboring sleeplessly for a week over a handmade invitations created using a stupid Japanese screen printer that now lives in the bottom of my closet).

But nowhere was this truth more evident than in my dress search. You see, the dress, to me, was the symbol of our wedding’s cool factor. I wasn’t going to have some generic ball gown from David’s Bridal. That’s what people having regular weddings do. (Retroactive apologies for my snobbery.) I had to have something cool and beach chic that no one back home would be able to imitate. Except it also had to hold up my boobs (not an easy feat) and it had to be less than $200. Again, NBD. Until I started looking and (surprise!) couldn’t find my dress anywhere.  (I also refused to go anywhere that required me to make an appointment, assuming that an appointment automatically came with a $2,000 or more price tag. But, whatever. Details.) So I tried non-profit sample stores, department stores, regular every-day stores, and nothing fit the bill. (Or my body. Stupid sample sizes.) I went to Nicole Miller and tried on the most magnificent dresses ever, but they were about $1,500 out of my price range. Finally I settled on this BCBG evening dress, a steal at $100. And I loved it. Mostly.

In Defense of Davids Bridal* | A Practical Wedding

Except two weeks before my wedding my mom and sister staged an intervention and expressed their concern that my unlined tiered dress and big boobs were a surefire combination for a wardrobe malfunction. And also, you could see my belly button. Whoops.

So in a frantic panic, I took to Google and went on a search for a replacement.

Which is how I ended up in the showroom of the only David’s Bridal in Manhattan two weeks before my wedding trying on a dress made out of what I’m pretty sure was windbreaker material.

And you know what? I have no idea what I’d been snubbing my nose at the whole time. I went in, I gave them a style number, they brought it out to me. When it was too long, they brought it out to me in a petite. It fit without alterations, and in my street size. (That’s right. No more crying in the dressing room because a size double what I normally wear won’t zip up.) I walked out $500 poorer. (Okay, my mom was $500 poorer. But I should mention they let me give them her credit card number over the phone. So DB gets double points for ease.) And I carried my dress on the train home. It was hands down the easiest part of the wedding planning process. And the dress didn’t look too shabby either.

What did I learn? Well, it’s easy to tell yourself you’re keeping sane by not buying into the big wedding industry business. But you can drive yourself just as crazy trying to have a cool indie wedding, too. Because you know what? Cool indie shit takes work. Also, sometimes the WIC does actually provide things to you that make life easier. Like, for example, a whole warehouse of dresses in your size and price range. Or a playlist you don’t have to think about. And the brilliant thing is, having a wedding that’s authentic to you and your partner means that you can participate in WIC-approved stuff without feeling guilty or suffering accusations of selling out.

So whenever someone comes to me and expresses concern that David’s Bridal might be the only place they can find a dress in their size and price range with minimal effort, but they somehow feel that it’s wrong to go there (as if the wedding Gods themselves would be offended) I give them a virtual high five and tell them to go for it. Because sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do to keep yourself sane while planning your wedding. Shame blasters at the ready.

Editor’s Note: But whatever you do, just make sure you give David’s Bridal a fake name and e-mail address when you fill out that little info card or they will haunt you until the day you die. Seriously.

Top photos: My wedding, by Eve Event Photography

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is the Managing Editor of A Practical Wedding. She’s been writing stories about boys and crushes since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) in the art of talking from NYU in 2008. In her spare time, she takes pictures of people in love. Maddie lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband Michael, her Mastiff named Juno, and her roommate named Joe.

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  • http://www.queerskiesahead.com TheQueerBird

    I’m totally on board with the “box-type store are not necessarily the enemy” BUT I’m also reluctant to say good things about David’s.
    Our experience as a lesbian couple was pretty crappy there. We went to one in the Boston area and got a very chilly reception. While we ended up buying our dresses there, we had another miserable experience at our fittings. It all felt very “it’s okay to be gay as long as you act like you’re straight”. Hopefully this is not the case for everyone…

    • Gigi59

      For the opposite experience: My wife & I went to a David’s Bridal in Buffalo and had a wonderful experience. They were extremely helpful and were totally okay with us as a couple. Obviously it depends on the staff and management of the particular store.

      • http://youlovelucy.tumblr.com youlovelucy

        I think it definitely depends on the store. The store I went to north of Atlanta was amazing, I never had any problems with my wedding dress, and the staff was superb. Meanwhile, I went with my bridesmaids to a location in Macon (equidistant from everyone) and the staff was absolutely abhorrent and actually lost my sister’s dress, then shrugged it off like it wasn’t their problem. I think my bridesmaid dress shopping experience would have been loads more pleasant if I’d acted on the bad vibes I was feeling and cut and run.

        TL;DR, cut and run if the DB people are jerks. ;)

    • Stalking Sarah

      Out of the three stores I visited, one didn’t care I was gay, one thought it was great, and one was truly shitty about it. I think it depends heavily on the store.

    • Maddie

      YES. This is a totally valid point. David’s Bridal experiences really do vary by store (as is evidenced by the few comments above). It sucks that it’s such a crapshoot, and it extra sucks that they treated you shitty. I think the store reviews online are usually a good indicator of what to expect, but I think it might even vary so much as what salesperson you get, because something tells me they probably don’t have the most stringent code of conduct…

      • Heather L

        I totally agree with this. I went to one with my MoH and they were super helpful and really friendly and awesome. Then I went to a different one with my mom and the associate kept giving me shit about not wanting a giant puffy dress (But HOW will they know who the BRIDE is if you’re wearing a BRIDESMAID DRESS?!?!?!1!1 Um, I dunno lady, I’ll be the one fussing with a ring and some handfasting cords?) and kept bringing out ones that were a size too small. So yeah, totally depends on the store.

        I actually ended up ordering a prom dress from them online.

      • Stacy

        And sometimes Davids Bridal is literally a crapshoot. With all the poop references I couldn’t help but share…

        Several years ago I went with my friend to see her dress and try on bridesmaid dresses. While going into the dressing room I had the pleasure of stepping in a squishy pile of poop. All turned out well. My wonderful friend was ever the unbridzilla and took my flip flop to the bathroom to clean it. The only negative was that we should have totally gotten a discount for that.

        Oh well. We still laugh about it today.

        *Note I also had a sinus infection so there was no “warning signs.” Also I don’t hold David’s Bridal accountable for what someone (hopefully a child) did in their dressing room.

        • http://www.stalkingsarah.com Stalking Sarah

          I suppose the only appropriate response here is…

          Holy CRAP!

    • Sarah

      My wife and I had a similarly bad experience with DB – in Manhattan no less. I wish we had never even tried to put ourselves down as brides. Because neither of us was getting a traditional bridal gown (read: white), they pretty much treated us terribly, probably because we were spending less. I got a bridesmaid dress (knee length and blue), which I loved, and yet they made me hate every minute of dealing with them and it. They also tried to charge me the “bridal altering fee” even though my dress wasn’t a gown! And the dress’s crappy zipper broke on the morning of my wedding.

      I’m glad other people have good experiences there. And for the price I was able to get away with for my dress and the alterations, I don’t know where else would have been better. But yeah, I can’t ever really recommend it without a warning about all the silliness they put me through, and how unfriendly the people I interacted with there were.

  • http://www.lilredsbasket.com Stephanie

    Well said! It’s a whole lot of work having a non-WIC wedding, and sometimes it’s better to spend a few extra dollars and save your sanity (and relationship).

    I got my dress at DB for $99, but you’re right – they won’t quit calling/emailing me!

  • Rachel

    Haha, that editor’s note at the bottom is critical. I accidentally gave my phone number to David’s Bridal (and I didn’t even buy a dress there, in the end!) and not only did I have them calling me incessantly, but they also gave my phone number to a bunch of other ‘related’ vendors. It reached the point where I was getting 5 or 6 phone calls a day from either DB itself, or vendors who had been ‘referred’ to me by DB. I kept asking them to stop, but that didn’t work, so I ultimately had to call their head office and threaten legal action before they did anything about it.

    • KB

      Amen – I think that’s half of their bad reputation among brides, the information-selling thing.

    • http://youlovelucy.tumblr.com youlovelucy

      Someone else mentions this in the comments below, but it’s important to read the fine print, especially so with bigger chains like DB. There’s a box on their forms that you have to check to keep your name/email/number off their mailing list. I didn’t have any problem with cold-calls or emails, so that’s the magic bullet, I think.

      • Rachel

        This might be a Canadian thing (different privacy laws maybe?) but I actually wasn’t given a form to fill out. When I booked the appointment, they asked for my phone number over the phone, which they then apparently sold. So in my case, I didn’t have the option to check off the no-spam box. I did (thankfully!) give a throwaway email, but I didn’t think to give a fake phone number! Lesson learned :)

      • Kaitlyn

        That doesn’t always work. I specifically opted out of BB&B putting my registry info online at weddingchanel.com. I checked the box and wrote in big letters that my registry was not to be sold. Guess what I found when I googled myself….

      • Cali

        I totally checked the box that asked them not to call/email me, but they did it anyway. Probably depends on who’s doing data entry that day. :-P At least they stopped post-wedding… but for a few months there I literally was getting calls every single day either from DB or from places trying to rent me tuxes, or sell me flowers, or telling me I’d “won” some bridal package or other. Crazy!

        • Liz

          Has this policy changed recently or something (hopefully)? When I was getting married a few years ago, they completely harassed me and my bridesmaids. But, I’m in a few weddings now, and haven’t had the same result.

          • Sara

            They did this to me, but when I went back in to pick up my dress I asked them to take me off and they gladly did..

          • http://www.stalkingsarah.com Stalking Sarah

            I think they’ve gotten better. I definitely checked off “do not contact,” and I got a couple of calls, but when I explained that I hadn’t given permission for that, vendors quickly took me off their lists and never called again.

      • Senorita

        I went to DB once to make sure I wasn’t missing out on anything and I had luckily been warned beforehand about the phone number/e-mail thing, so when they asked me for it I said I preferred not to give it. Well… they were SUPER b***** about it. Like at one point she said “do you *want* to try on dresses in our store today?” and almost didn’t let me.

        What are our rights on this? Do you have to give it to them?

        • K

          You are always within your rights not to give out your personal information. There is absolutely no reason why retailers need to have your personal information to sell stuff to you.

          Remember, they are not doing you a favor. You are thinking about spending money in their store, which is what they want — it is the whole reason the store exists, for heaven’s sake.

    • Cass

      I think the biggest problem with this is that they completely misrepresent why we’re shoveling over our information.
      When I went dress shopping, they had me fill it out to help the salespeople with my fitting. The store was so hectic and I just wanted to try things on that I didn’t question this. I don’t remember seeing ANY fine print, and no one told me how that information would be used.
      I feel like this is stepping way over the line of any ‘helpfulness’ their related vendors might give.
      (A bit annoying that my info ended up with a building/remodeling company, when I live in a 2nd floor rental in a large apartment complex.)

  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

    This post is so so true. I had this experience in regards with our decorations. Like you say: “Cool indie shit takes work.” And often it is also pricey.
    When I was looking at those “picture-perfect indie weddings”, made to look handmade, I fell in love with centerpieces made of vintage pretty tins, old chipped china or mismatched colorful glass vases, filled with flowers that looked so fresh and wild and colorful and like hippie me and sister just wandered off to the woods to pick them up on our way to the ceremony. Yeah, right, may I laugh at myself.
    We went to flea markets and antiquaries, and it turns out old shit is often very expensive. I am not saying it can’t be done, if you have more than a year to plan, you can slowly create a collection by thrifting here and there (and asking your loved ones to help you on the massive old-junk search) at affordable prices.
    In the end what worked for us was super cheap vases from Ikea (some looked like old milk bottles, but in pink, and some others looked like green ErlenMeyer flasks, for the science geek in me). Bonus points: we still use them all the time, and they doubled up as more-or-less intended favors.
    And we had that sylvester flower look: carefully articulated by our genius florist. It seemed very natural and simple, but trying to recreate it is not that easy (I’ve tried at home since). Florists have a certain expertise and knowledge for a reason. (I am not saying here you should not or can’t do your own flowers, you totally can, in fact, I did the flower-girl baskets and fountain flower decorations a day before, but you get the point: simplify when possible and get help when your sanity requires and your budget allows).
    Of course if making something makes you happy go for it…

    • Newtie

      So true! I have two good friends who spent a TON of money and time on chipped vintage plates for the reception – way, way waaaaay more costly than just renting “regular” plates. Someone should really go into the chipped-plate rental industry, they would make a killing.

    • Maddie

      Oh don’t even get me started on my decorations! I had a complete meltdown two days before the wedding because our table runners also looked too “polished” and I didn’t have time to spray paint them (they were bamboo for the love of Pete. I don’t know what’s polished about that.)

      I think it’s just evidence to the fact that no matter how lazy and laid back your wedding might be, sometimes the wedding industry still has a sneaky way of making you feel not good enough.

      • http://www.stalkingsarah.com Stalking Sarah

        There was so much stress that my wife and I avoided simply by realizing that we were too lazy to get involved.

        Grand plan of hanging decorations all over the ceiling of the venue? Eh, too much work! Venue had a disco ball, lights, and would have all our nice tables. It looks TOTALLY fine. Lovely, even!

        DIY seating board with people’s names with a cute theme? Seemed like we were asking for trouble with last minute changes, so we scrapped that, too! (We did regular placecards instead, and pre-printed some just-in-case blank ones.)

        Looking back at this, I realized — lazy means only doing the things you really care about. I loved DIT-ing our ceremony, and I didn’t give a rat’s ass about hauling our chuppah across multiple state lines. But, as it turns out, we just really didn’t care about some of the other things — so we just cut them out! I’m proud of us for doing so.

  • Steph

    Love this post! i was a happy, unashamed, DB bride :)
    I’d been a bridesmaid in a wedding of a friend a few years before and loved that they carried samples in my size (even more rare if you are above a size 12, which i definitely am) and I loved the affordability. I went all blinged-out ball gowny, and for $600 my dress looked just as fancy as several friends who got theirs at the “chi chi boutiques.” I can think of few things more practical than that :)
    My only “complaint” (which at the time bummed me out a lot more) was not being able to find a dress that I loved in my size for the $99 special (I’m the same gal who brags loudly about my cute Payless shoes whenever I get the chance. I seriously get a “bargin hunters high” when I find something that looks good at a great price lol). Thanks again for the pro-DB post. Great way to start my work week :)

  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

    BTW; Maddie, I love your BCBG tiered number it is super cool. Did you resell it? Wore it again? Painted it?

    • http://youlovelucy.tumblr.com youlovelucy

      OMG, painted it, yes. That dress would be so killer with an ombre dye job!

      Whoever makes that happen can thank me later.

    • Maddie

      I *wish* I’d painted it! I think it might still live at my MIL’s house, though I also bought an extra dress mid-panic that got donated to high school girl’s who can’t afford prom dresses (because seriously, that’s a hot prom dress, right?)

      Sigh, I loved that dress too. Though in hindsight, that is kind of a lot of belly button. :)

      • Jessica

        As someone who is more excited about buying expensive lingerie for the wedding than the actual wedding dress, my only thought was “it’s not something a Kiss Me Deadly girdle can’t hide!!”

        You should dig it up and take it out on a date, because that is too pretty to be in a closet!

      • http://www.sarahhoppes.com Sarah

        I love that bcbg dress, but the one you got at DB looks like it could stand up to a lot of dancing and general frolicking. I do love me a dress that allows for frolicking.

      • Christy

        I think the dress you ended up in was much more flattering and highlighted your waist in a gorgeous way – though you looked beautiful in both.

  • Alice

    This is a super refreshing read. Our wedding was two years ago and I sort of felt like a failure leading up to it in that after spending eternities on our DIY invites ( I even made the envelopes for some illogical self-punishing reason), I wanted nothing to do with wedding planning at all. So I just had our caterer handle all the details with my only request being white flowers. So our wedding, at least in terms of aesthetics, was rather standard but it really didn’t matter. It was still amazing. And as I see friends planning weddings now, it seems like there is even more pressure to have unique indie weddings than a mere two years ago. I even notice the same sort of pressure for the holidays and kids parties and oh just about everything (thanks pinterest).

  • LIZ (SINCE 1982)

    “Well, it’s easy to tell yourself you’re keeping sane by not buying into the big wedding industry business. But you can drive yourself just as crazy trying to have a cool indie wedding, too. Because you know what? Cool indie shit takes work.”

    Oh gosh, yes, this. It’s so tempting to look at all the “thrown-together” gorgeous DIY weddings in the indie blogosphere and forget that that “effortless” look often does require a whole lot of effort. Before you know it, months into planning, hip-deep in projects, you’re driving yourself up the wall wondering what kind of magical powers all those internet brides had that you obviously don’t.

    I was in a wedding like this a while back. The bride wanted everything to look “easy” yet chic – which is great! But translating that into reality was a nightmare, because in her mind “easy” should literally just happen with no intervention by humans. When it was time to choose bridesmaids’ dresses for a bridal brigade scattered across several states, for example, she offered no input (because that would be cheating?). We were just supposed to divine the sort of look she had in mind and show up in dresses of our own choosing that suited it, perfectly coordinated or charmingly mismatched (as opposed to hilariously wrong together). After a while, luckily before we had all pulled our hair out by the roots, the MOH made an executive decision and bought a dress at DB. Armed with her color and style info, we picked out a range of short dresses in a gradient of blues. Everyone was happy in the end but it took coordination and clear communication. I wouldn’t call it effortless.

    • Kat

      I think that “Magical power” many “indie” brides have is cash flow…a great cash flow easily buys you a really great wedding planner/decorator/florist/decor rental company who can throw your weirdly sketched ideas together in no time. I’m definitely lacking that “magical power” for my wedding but really making up for it in resourcefulness.

      • Maddie

        YES. Cash flow, or a serious commitment to the cause. To be honest, that’s where I was lacking. I wanted my wedding to look indie cool, but I didn’t have the money and I didn’t want to put in the effort to make that happen.

        I think of it sort of like shopping for vintage clothing. If you have the money to go to a nicely curated thrift store, you have a decent chance of walking out with something nice. But if you don’t have the money? Well then you should be prepared to wade through the racks at Goodwill (or several Goodwills) looking for something that fits the bill. And sometimes you don’t want to put in the effort (which is fine.) Sometimes you just want to go to Target and buy something off the rack.

        • Kat

          yeah I’m also not that committed to the cause… which is why I ended up at DB for my dress, it was just easy. But thankfully I also have very resourceful friends and family and healthy doses of “do-what-you-wantitis” towards other people’s attire and “seredipititis” towards my attire…like finally finding a wonderful necklace by chance at an antique market yesterday.

        • LIZ (SINCE 1982)

          YESSSSSSSSS. It’s like the classic project management pyramid of on time/under budget/perfect quality: you can pick any two, but not all three. So yes, you can have the magical indie fairyland of your dreams, but it’s going to cost you either $$$, or months of research and DIY. And if you want to spend neither all that time nor all that money, fairyland is probably not in the cards.

          Which is not to say whatever gets done won’t be amazing – it just may not match the vision you originally had before you realized exactly what it would take to accomplish.

      • K

        Another magical power (underrated, IMO) is not giving a crap. I guess I had a very “indie” wedding — backyard, no professionals involved, $5K budget, I made my dress, etc. However, while I cared about our guests enjoying themselves and them having good food and drink and so on, as far as flowers, decorations, perfectly aligned tables, seating charts, table runners, or even my dress making me look better than I ever had, I didn’t care. This made it pretty easy to do things cheaply, because at least half the things on the most simple bridal checklist I could find were eliminated from consideration for just being too much trouble.

        For instance, it never occurred to me to give a thought to whether our reception would truly express who we were as a couple, until I read some posts/comments online on that subject, but if it had I still wouldn’t have worried, because anything that is cheap and no hassle expresses who we are PERFECTLY.

        That said, if you do care about the pretty details or are a project-loving person, that’s who you are, and you should act accordingly. To thine own self be true, and all that!

  • Jenna

    There is a check box at the end of the David’s Bridal form that you have to check to NOT be on their call/mailing list. Bridesmaids too! Read the fine print! :)

    I didn’t and they were calling me AFTER the wedding. Ugh…

  • Meghan

    DB fan here! I not only wore a David’s Bridal dress (gown?) for our wedding in August, I had an all-around positive experience with them, and try to encourage others who are “anti-big box” to consider them.

    When shopping for a dress, I visited three stores, and tried on dresses at two. Being super-stubborn about budget, I didn’t really consider dresses at the first store (Nothing under $900? Umm, no.). The second store had absolutely no dresses that I liked enough to try on. So I ended up at DB with my mom, sister, and best friend. Seriously – best shopping experience ever. I had made an appointment there, so I had an attendant assigned to me. They had me mark the dresses in the catalog that I might want to try on, and the attendant pulled them all – IN MY SIZE (that’s right – no awkward giant clothespins that make it impossible to tell if you like the dress). I must have tried on 8 dresses there. And then I tried on the two finalists again. And the attendant was, well, attentive. But not in a suffocating manner – never pushing me to decide or to buy. She pulled together accessories for me to try on with the dresses to give me a better vision of what they could look like.

    And I did buy a dress there. First day of shopping (hallelujah – I hate shopping). Bonus points – I only had to have it hemmed and bustled – the bodice already fit perfectly. In my normal street size! I actually bought the dress at one location and had it altered at a second location because it had just opened and was much more conveniently located. Both places were great. Oh, and I ordered my shoes online from DB, too.

    Anyway – love your post, Maddie. There’s a lot to be said for doing what’s right for you as opposed to doing the “right thing” in indie chic non-WIC world.

  • Zoe

    My main problem with them — how can they afford to sell dresses at such low prices? I don’t know anything about the conditions for the workers who make the dresses (and sell them, for that matter), but if I had to guess….

    • Kat

      but it’s really no different than the other fancy wedding dresses that come from other non-DB stores. Except for a few rare exceptions most wedding dresses are made in similar places…there’s just a higher profit margin off those dresses, and maybe better quality fabrics.

      • Zoe

        Apologies if this is off-topic to the general thread, but I’m curious how you know this? (not meant to be read in a snarky tone, just really curious)

        • Kat

          See Amanda’s response below.

          My sister’s Maggie Sottero dress was from a shop somewhere in Asia and although her dress cost a few hundred more than my DB dress. Do any sort of googling/binging about wedding dress manufacturing and you’ll find that most of them along with most of your clothes are made overseas and in many questionable circumstances.

    • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

      Yeah, I get you, but unless you go to a local designer, buy local materials and have the dress made special for you, (which can be super expensive), or have a friend / mother / sister with those skills it is not an easy trap to avoid.
      I was super sad to see a “Made in China” tag on my Pronovias dress (I thought I was getting Spanish lace, made at the Barcelona factory that I drove past so many times).
      Even high-end designers like the french Cymbeline have workshops in Vietnam (though the lace is supposed to be made in France, as well as all the final details and adjustements).
      All of our clothes (if you get stuff on the high-street) are most probably made in far-away lands in unknown or dubious conditions.
      So should we go back in time and all be seamstresses? I really would like to have an answer to this.
      I like to think that even a mass-produced product can be done in a human, environment friendly way, if you choose companies that care, but maybe I am delusional.

      • zoe

        Hmmm… I know that many/most dresses are made in countries like China, Vietnam, etc and that’s not necessarily bad. But for DB prices to be so much lower than others just strikes me as suspicious.

        We shouldn’t all be seamstresses, but these conditions won’t change unless consumers vote with their pocketbook (for wedding dresses or otherwise). That’s not to critique this bride or any bride — just something that should be on our radar, I think, rather than simply hoping for the best.

        • Erica

          I suspect it’s more that there’s less overhead at DB. A DB shopping experience is usually more bare-bones than at a traditional bridal salon. I can’t imagine how much the bridal salons I’ve visited spent on decor, lighting, and providing extras like champagne. Plus, since it’s a chain they can buy everything in bulk which probably cuts costs as well. Finally, the materials and lace are generally of lower quality (i.e. Maddie “trying on a dress made out of what I’m pretty sure was windbreaker material” haha). I also don’t think I would be able to immediately tell the difference between her gown and a more expensive one, especially in photographs.

          Don’t forget that there is an insanely high markup on most bridal gowns to begin with, too!

        • Teresa

          I ordered my dress from J.Crew and spent $450 on it. While I was there, the sales person (who was WONDERFUL, I seriously can’t say it enough how great and helpful she was) explained to me that the reason they are cheaper is because they are basically mass produced, the same way it would be if you bought a sweater from there. Most designers, even if they are made abroad somewhere, order each dress specifically for a person. So, you go to a bridal salon, pick a dress, they order your “size” and the dress is constructed for you, because you ordered it. It is why most dresses take 6-8 months and ordering from J.Crew took 3 days. I have a feeling that David’s Bridal operates very similarly–they have a warehouse of dresses and one is plucked off the rack and sent to you when you order it! I think this has more to do with the cost than where it is made. It’s probably way easier to make 100 dresses than to make only one when it is ordered. It doesn’t make your dress any less beautiful and special, just cheaper! Woot!

          One thing I did recently learn about DB is that they will not alter a dress in a way that changes the dress significantly. My sister-in-law was looking at dresses there and found one she liked. She asked them how much it would be to remove the train so it was all one length and they told her that their seamstresses would not do that–they weren’t allowed. She could have bought the dress and had it tailored somewhere else, but they themselves couldn’t do that for her. Just an FYI.

        • Maddie

          The materials on a lot of DB dresses are TERRIBLE. (And I say that with love.) I wasn’t joking when I said mine felt like windbreaker material. I’ve bought dresses from Walmart with nicer feeling fabric.

          • Anon for Now

            Maddie,

            I felt that way about DB’s stuff too. I was in 2 weddings in years past and the gowns I wore in them came from DB. The wedding from a number of years ago – the dress was fine. The more recent one, i wasn’t pleased with the fit but the material was ok. When we went there 2 years ago looking for gowns for my bridesmaids, the material was incredibly cheap and the dresses didn’t fit well at all. We went with Alfred Angelo – another chain, but the dresses fit everyone and the material wasn’t cheap-looking. I was glad I didn’t look at DB for my own gown b/c of that.

          • Amy

            My friend’s DB dress was great until we attempted to zip her up 3 hours before wedding time. Zipper mechanism popped right off the zipper! Fortunately we were able to sew her up with a little luck, a sewing kit, and some dental floss, but man that was a stressful half an hour.

            The photographer (who was there at the time) said she has seen this happen multiple times with DB dresses because they use such cheap zippers. It made me feel a tad relieved that my (already purchased) DB dress had a corset back instead of a zipper one.

        • http://ccwishon.blogspot.com Christine

          I feel like this is another example of “the best is the enemy of the good.” Sure, it may not be possible for us to all have handmade, local, organic, etc. wedding dresses, but this doesn’t mean we have to throw in the towel — just because you can’t get a totally 100% sustainable wedding dress doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cognizant of where your dress is coming and aim for something more responsibly produced (both in terms of workers’ safety/health and environmental impact).

          That being said, it also doesn’t mean that you have to a responsible shopper 100% of the time (for example, when you are super stressed out and just need to get a dress already!)

          Just my two cents :)

          • meg

            Having read some of the research (Planet Money made a great video about this last year) the real issue is that unless you’re buying indie and handmade (something I TOTALLY encourage you to do if you have time/ money/ access, but not shame yourself if that’s not an option that works for you) all wedding dresses are made in about the same conditions. The difference really is cost of materials/ overhead/ the amount you’re getting gouged. DB works on economy of scale: they need to make less off each wedding dress, because they are going to sell loads, so their marke up is very low. Vera Wang works on the economy of luxury: they’re only going to sell a few, so their mark up is astronomical. And a note here: as someone who did her research to write a book about it, I do think the wedding dress industry is largely horrible… though oddly in some ways, I think DB’s is the least of the offenders (yeah, their stuff is cheaper, but they are not gouging you, their business model is smart, and they tend to treat you pretty well in store no matter what your budget or body size is.)

            There are alternatives, but as Maddie points out, they don’t tend to be easy. I did have an indie/ cool/ affordable/ sustainable wedding dress. I bought vintage. But finding that dress took me *a year and a half* (no shit), and I’m a perfect vintage size, and I’m an experienced vintage shopper, and I live in an urban area with high quality vintage stores some of whom have wedding dress sections. That’s, uh, not everyone’s situation.

            For me, one of the key issues this (and wedding planning, and writing about it, hence my fascination with APW) bring up is the way we view wedding life and regular life differently. If our planning conscious weddings leads to us thinking about ethically sourced garments, and that makes us shop for ethically sourced clothes in our real life (instead of the mass produced in horrible conditions clothes 99% of us wear 99% of the time), that’s brillant, no matter what we buy for our wedding dress. But if we’re just setting up an arbitrary rule for our wedding dress that we don’t ever use again in our real lives, we’re making our wedding planning harder and not really effecting real change.

            Can’t win them all, the best is the enemy of the good, do your best, etc. But all interesting issues to consider.

        • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

          I saw this video a while back, and it was really eye-opening as to how much mark-up there is…
          http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/04/03/149929993/why-did-my-wedding-dress-cost-so-much

        • Senorita

          I know it’s not an option for everyone, but if people are interested there are a bunch of designers whose dresses are made here in the US

          http://wedding.theknot.com/special-wedding-features/fourth-of-july-wedding-ideas/articles/wedding-dresses-made-in-usa.aspx?MsdVisit=1

          The fact that my Kenneth Pool was made in the States makes FI smile more than pancakes on Sunday.

          I also feel like there’s a group of dresses we’re leaving out in between DB and thrifted vintage…

          Pre-loved!

          That $6,000 Kenneth Pool I’ll be rocking down the aisle cost me a cool thousand and won’t need a single stitch of alterations. Again, I know this doesn’t work for everybody, but it’s a great option to keep in mind, especially since it’s the “greenest” shopping out there.

    • Laura

      If this is a big concern for you (and it’s a totally legit one!) – go vintage. It can definitely take more work to hunt one down, but they’re clear of this particular issue.

      • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

        If your budget allows for it you can also have a dress custom made if you can find a great seamstress, to avoid the same concerns with higher end boutiques and styles.

      • zoe

        Or not even vintage necessarily — but used/recycled!

        • meg

          And APW sponsor Pre-Owned Wedding Dresses is a great, woman owned small business (that supports this site!), if you want to go used.

          • sfw

            Yes to Pre-Owned Wedding Dresses! I had decided that one of the ways our wedding would manifest the equality in our relationship was that now-husband and I would aim to spend about equal amounts of money on our day-of attire. So I went to DB with great shame for being so un-indie and then I went to several small boutiques with great shame for my tiny budget and then I realized that wedding dress hunting was simply NOT how I wanted to spend my wedding planning energy. So I went on Pre-Owned Wedding Dresses. It took a month or two of regularly checking their inventory, but one afternoon my to-be-husband and I drove across town with a fistful of cash and came home with my wedding dress (which had already been shortened and bustled to perfection). It was so painless and cost effective and sustainable — I was happy with the dress and with how we went about getting it. But still the WIC was in my head and I was embarrassed that I did not have an amazing story about standing in some one-of-a-kind boutique and seeing the dress and crying in the dress and instantly knowing it was the one. It took me about up to the wedding day to get over that ridiculousness, but ultimately I did. Thanks to APW for affirming that buying a wedding dress does not have to be a life-changing experience!

          • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

            Does the Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress still exist? I assume it needs willing donors to happen. (And I totally understand if that’s something you’ve phased out as the site’s grown.)

          • meg

            It’s less willing donors and more willing recipients/ staff time :)

        • Anna

          Renting a dress is also an eco-friendly option!

    • http://fancystephanie.wordpress.com Stephanie

      I purchased my wedding dress from DressilyMe, a factory in China, and I paid $240, including shipping. It was a really fancy dress, with pickups and tons of embroidery. So that’s about what it costs for a wedding gown from China. It might even be less, if the designers get them in bulk. I don’t know. But that leaves a HUGE profit margin if the designer sells the dress for over $1000, let alone $700 like David’s.

      And most designers get the dresses made in China.

      • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

        Yes, I got these two bridesmaid dresses (for my little sis’ wedding) from a Chinese online shop (lightinthebox) and they were about 80 USD each, maybe 100 USD -ish with shipping and taxes. The service was super good, and from what they say they work in good conditions, with local seamstresses. The dresses are really made for you, according to your specifications. I agree that getting stuff from China or other countries is not necessarily a bad thing.

        Like it was mentioned, voting with your money is what we need to do (that’s what I meant with choosing companies that “care”). Going vintage, and pre-used dresses (though those were also made somewhere) seem good options too.

        Local seamstresses as well, but really, not always cheap (I tried).

        In the end it is the same as with food, pretending to get *cheap (er)* stuff often means not the best conditions during production, and I would rather pay for quality and good practices in regards to the environment, animal welfare etc. , together with getting local produce, etc.

        For clothing items I do find it harder to be coherent and consistent though.

      • http://www.stalkingsarah.com Stalking Sarah

        Interesting — I had thought about that, but was scared to risk buying something I couldn’t touch.

    • Margaret Thatcher

      I’ve read in several places that they aren’t actually any cheaper than similar dresses in regular boutiques, they just focus on the lower end. So you aren’t getting any more for $500 at DB than you would at, say, Kleinfeld or someplace–it will still be a polyester dress with few frills and details and probably no lace–but the difference is that DB made a name on those sorts of dresses and has a store full of them, while Kleinfeld stocks about three of those dresses and focuses on silk, chantilly lace, and designer names. DB seems cheaper because they just don’t carry very many expensive dresses, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a bargain, because you’re still getting exactly what you’re paying for.

      That said, they do have some really cute dresses these days, and if you don’t mind polyester without many bells and whistles, it’s probably the best place to go.

      • Rachel

        David’s Bridal dresses are almost certainly not ethically made. They have a business ethics manual, but it uses a lot of slightly non-committal terms like ‘seek to’ and ‘aspire to’ “work with suppliers who uphold ethical standards and provide a safe and fair working environment for employees”. That being said, the majority of pricier designer dresses aren’t either. That doesn’t make it right, but it does mean it’s not something that DB can be specifically targeted for. If you want more information about it, you can check out this guide to sweatshops here: http://www.greenamerica.org/PDF/GuideSweatshops.pdf – they give May’s (which owns David’s Bridal) a rating of C – not terrible, but not great.

        Like the commenter above stated, your best affordable option (if a local seamstress isn’t in the budget) if the ethics of where your dress comes from is an important issue, is to go second-hand.

        That’s not to knock people who buy from David’s Bridal – I think everyone should do their best to make ethical decisions, but I also get that people choose their battles. For me, not buying from sweatshops is really important, but there are other ethical issues that while I do my best to make the most ethical choice most of the time, I’m not always perfect (for example, I live in the country and therefore drive a car to work, although I could technically move to the city and commute by bus, but that’s a choice I’ve made). Make the best choices you can given your circumstances, and try not to feel guilty if you occasionally have to make a choice that isn’t ideal.

        • Pamela

          I get that for most women, a wedding dress is the single most expensive article of clothing they will ever buy, and so of course a lot of thought will go into that purchase. I know for me, though, it seemed hypocritical to fuss about DB manufacturing practices, since I typically buy my regular clothes at Target, Old Navy, Nordstrom Rack, etc. Yes, at $500, my wedding dress was the single most expensive item of clothing I’ve purchased to date. However, over the course of my lifetime I’ll spend many times that on my everyday clothes. It seems like it would be a better use of time and resources to try to find good “regular” clothes since we buy them on a regular basis, rather than getting wrapped up in the ethics of a dress we will wear one time. I’m sure that there are people here who *do* try to dress in ethical clothing 100% of the time, but I’m not sure that’s all of us.

          Just thinking that if we want to start working on ethical clothing choices maybe we should start with socks and underwear and blouses and that sort of thing, rather than wedding gowns?

          Although I do understand that wedding gowns symbolic in a way that socks and underwear are not!

          As a side note, I didn’t love my DB shopping experience, but I’ve had worse. And knowing that every dress was available in every size was awesome! No, my dress isn’t super high quality material, but it didn’t itch and it looked cute, and that was good enough for me! I don’t wear designer clothes in my regular life, so it would have felt weird to me to go for a designer dress for my wedding.

          • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

            Your point about socks and underwear is great. Oddly enough, in the last 2 weeks I just started replacing mine and my husband’s with stuff from PACT (eco-friendly products that support social justice projects). I love their boy shorts and my husband really likes their “trunks.” :) And I promise I don’t work for them, but was super happy to find cute ethical underwear…. It’s pricy, but I decided it was important to me. Plus right now they’re having a sale. :)

  • http://bigweddingsmallbudget.wordpress.com Barbra

    I don’t know that I would actually classify David’s Bridal as part of the WIC. I mean, I guess I never thought of everything non-indie as part of the WIC. I always thought of the WIC as telling you that you needed to spend gobs of money and buy all the things because this is your one special day. David’s Bridal definitely contributes to the pretty, pretty princess thing, but a store that makes dresses so affordable isn’t exactly on board with the spending gobs of money thing. Spending $500 on my wedding dress made me feel like I was thumbing my nose at the WIC, not being part of it.

    • KB

      I totally get what you’re saying, like it’s nice that they make the wedding dream affordable for everyone. But I personally thing they’re an example of the WIC for the pretty-pretty-princess reason that you said, and also the cookie-cutter, manufactured, look-alike wedding that it perpetuates in terms of style. It’s like a wedding factory.

      • Laurel

        Plus, $500 is still a lot of money for a polyester dress. I don’t know many people who would normally pay DB prices for what they’re getting.

      • Liz

        Yeah, this is what I was going to say, too. Especially because the term is sort of ironic and silly, it’s hard to have a real “definition” of what WIC is, but to me, it’s anyone profiting from the elaborate deception that weddings must be 1. perfect and as a result 2. stressful. Especially now (anyone been to a DB lately? They do invitations, favors, photography…) DB is all about that glossy-magazine-image wedding, and all of the several components that requires.

        Speaking of the-David’s-Bridal-of-today. Many of their ads right now are of girls in birdcage veils and short dresses hopping out of vintage cars. I wonder what that says about the WIC, subculture becoming mainstream, and just the shifting face of what a “perfect wedding” is.

        • meg

          Yes in general, but specifically yes to what started out as ‘indie’ becoming mainstream. And EXPENSIVE, you guys. This is something worth writing about separately, but look at the fine print on most of the indie-handmade weddings you see, and you’ll see a wedding designer (and sometimes a stylist as well). While there is nothing wrong with a wedding designer (and there are some great affordable ones in the APW community even), watch yourself before you imagine that that handmade wedding was easily crafted and thrown together by the couple, when in fact, it was done by the pros.

          Indie is big business these days in weddings. And that’s not wrong, but it’s not always what you think it is.

          • Emma

            This, exactly. Though I’d expand “expensive” to “special and unique.” That’s often what the indie wedding community dictates — your wedding, including your dress, must be one of a kind, or at least very, very special. That’s broader than the old WIC, which mandated VERA WANG, but also narrow in its own way. After all, you can accomplish one of a kind by making the dress yourself, or by spending a lot of money at a high-end salon. But the attitude is that if your dress is from DB, it’s not special. It’s cheap and mass produced and hey, do you want your wedding to be cheap and mass-produced?

            But the pressure to be special can be every bit as constraining as the pressure to spend a lot of money. And no one’s wedding is cheap and mass-produced, regardless of what you wear. So it’s really just an issue of making choices that make sense for your situation and budget. Which, for many very awesome brides, might mean going the DB route. Or the JCrew route. Or whatever. There’s no “right” wedding dress for everyone. I’m glad DB is available as a choice, personally.

          • meg

            What Emma said.

    • Kelly

      It’s not so much the cost part for me, but the “whole package” they try to sell. You go in to try on dresses and they have reps there who come talk to you from limo companies and photographers and caterers and venues and on and on and on…. I was like “I’m not even having a limo!” and they wouldn’t let go.

    • MDBethann

      I would put DB in the WIC category b/c they try to package everything for you – “oh, don’t you need X? Don’t you need Y?” And, as some ladies have pointed out, they automatically send your info to other wedding vendors (or even their own in-house contractors) unless you opt out of the service.

      While I can see how some might find that helpful at a time when you either (a) don’t know what you’re looking for b/c you’ve never been in a wedding before or because (b) you love one-stop-shopping, I think it’s part of a Wedding Industrial Complex because it automatically presupposes you have to have X, Y, and Z to have a wedding, which, as is often talked about on APW, is not true.

      This doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means it tries to put you into the mind set that weddings have certain specific commercial elements.

  • Abbie

    I have to hand it to DB–they were helpful, friendly, and I saw lots of happy brides in there in “looks” they wouldn’t have been able to afford at other shops in town (you know, the ones with the champagne bars. WTF is the point of that anyway? There you have your huge overhead expenses!). I ended up wearing a $170 dress from Neiman Marcus and everyone was blown away at how perfect it ended up being for me. Embrace the online Bridal Shop!

    Big fan of Etsy and all the hardworking people on the site, but I couldn’t/wouldn’t have been able to get the simple elbow length tulle veil I needed in time for the wedding once I realized I had forgotten it. Walked into DB and lo and behold, it was mine for around $15. Definitely give them a fake email, which I think it a good idea or all wedding vendors except the ones you choose to work with frankly.

  • http://ruthadelia.wordpress.com Ruth

    This is a great post and a great lesson. I’ve been snubbing David’s Bridal myself, but the truth is, I know I’ll need either a petite or a highly customized dress, so maybe I should give it a try (or I could just ask to borrow Maddie’s because it sounds like we’re twins :D).

    Now that I’ve had an APW education, I’ve been developing the idea that a non-WIC wedding simply means a wedding that reflects the couple’s values and is comprised of meaningful, thoughtful, intentional elements. Sometimes that might include elements that WIC tells you that you “must do.” The difference lies in the reason you choose them. If you go to David’s Bridal because they have a dress in your size, in your price range…well…that sounds practical to me! It seems pretty non-APW, in my view, to avoid any store because you’re “not supposed to go there.” Indie weddings sometimes feel like a WIC in sheep’s clothing…so to speak.

    • Kate

      Yes they definitely have petites. I’m short and between a 16 and 18 and I think some petites might not be available 18 and up but might be able to be special ordered.

      • Kate

        Correction, they do have 18 P overall in some…

  • http://youlovelucy.tumblr.com youlovelucy

    Never has any decision of mine been met with more looks of disbelief and/or wary side eyes than when I’d tell people I was getting my dress through David’s Bridal. However, I stuck to my guns because I had my reasons.

    One, it was close to my house (less than 2 miles) and easy. Two, I didn’t want to spend a lot. Three, my style sense didn’t really evolve much past the age of seven (it’s still socially acceptable to wear neon rain boots and tutus as a 26 year old, right?) and I don’t put much thought into anything I wear past, “this covers everything? Check.” So, knowing that I did in fact want a white, mostly traditional wedding dress, my strategy basically became: try on dresses with stepmom. Buy whatever dress makes her cry the hardest. This works because my stepmom is stylish in a classic way that I’d love to be able to emulate, and she is a mid-level sentimental crier. Where DB fits in is that if you ignore the dresses they push heavily, they do have a good range of styles.

    So that’s what I did, and I ended with a $300 (including alterations) dress. Did I love it? Well, I don’t really have such strong feelings for clothing, but I definitely enjoyed the hell out of my dress and I felt really good wearing it. I consider that a win.

    Also, one of my favorite planning memories centers around the delightfully sassy representative that helped me pick out dresses.

  • Stalking Sarah

    My wife and I both got our dressed at David’s Bridal and were very happy with them! My advice boils down to this: Make an appointment. Do NOT, under any circumstances, go on a weekend in January when everyone and their sister just got engaged over the holidays. Read the Yelp reviews — most stores have some, and they will give you the names of people to request/avoid when you make your appointment. And obviously, make sure you check the box that doesn’t allow them to sell your info!

  • Martha

    I have had no trouble with David’s in the past – both weddings I have been bridesmaids in got the dresses through there and it was fine. For my own wedding I just didn’t like any of the blues David’s offered and I initially panicked, thinking I would have to ask my bridesmaids to spend more than $200 on a dress they would most likely only wear once.

    I was pleasantly surprised by the prices at the store where I purchased my dress – and because they were offered a discount because I got my dress there, the BM dresses were totally comparable to David’s!

    I think so much of a David’s experience is based on the individual store – the 2 I have been to were completely friendly and helpful. On the flip side, there is a boutique bridal store I remember visiting with my sister during her dress search and it was terrible! You weren’t allowed to look at the inventory yourself and everyone was horribly snooty to us – which was a huge turn off for us.

    The best advice I can give for dress shopping – of the bride and BM variety – is to look everywhere, even the places you wouldn’t think of – and don’t rule any store out.

  • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

    It’s so easy to miss that the indie chic weddings can be just as pricey as the ones that are clearly WIC/faux traditional. Then even beyond the price the amount of support work to go into an “indie” wedding seems like it could induce a heart attack.

    My wedding, at one point, was going to look like an amazing indie backyard BBQ for our extended family and friends. In the end we changed our mind for a number of reasons but a big one was how surprisingly expensive it was going to be to throw that party combined with the obscene (to us) amount of work it would have taken to get it done.

  • KB

    I am a fan of this post. I look at some of these wedding blogs with indie weddings and think, “Wow, that’s an adorable idea” and then realize that it costs one bazillion dollars to make some of this stuff happen, unless you know a wedding planner who’s willing to give &^$% to you for free or you already have these items (like a Victrola, or mismatched Tiffany-style vases, or 55 antique brooches for a handmade bouquet, etc.).

    Plus, what people don’t consider is the TIME it takes to do all this indie stuff, especially from the DIY angle. For example, I felt some shame when I hired a florist because I had a somewhat complex vision but I KNEW that I could make kickass centerpieces myself. But then I realized that I would also have to set them up and my friends and family, while they are wonderful people, they would most likely get in the way rather than be helpful about it (as in, harassing me as to why I’m wasting all this time on the centerpieces when I should be getting ready and not appreciating that crafty stuff calms me – or saying “Let us do this!” and doing the exact opposite of what I told them to do). So I would end up being more stressed about how and when everything was going to be set up rather than spending time just chilling and having a good time. I don’t want to be cracking the whip on my wedding day and, honestly, the likelihood of that decreases when you hire someone to execute your “vision.” That part in Meg’s book is SO right – sometimes you’re paying someone for the convenience of not thinking about whatever you’re paying them for. You just need to own that.

    • meg

      “r you already have these items (like a Victrola, or mismatched Tiffany-style vases, or 55 antique brooches for a handmade bouquet, etc.).”

      Like a Victrola. Hahahahaha!

      • Laurel

        A friend of mine got one as a Christmas present one year. Not sure if it works.

        • meg

          Oh. I know friends with victrolas. Working ones. But those kinds of indie kids are not ever going to use them for their weddings. Too cool for… whatever. It’s how it goes, I think ;)

          • Laurel

            TBH this strikes me as kind of judgmental, though I can’t figure out whether you’re judging the indie kids for being too cool or the people with the Victrolas at their weddings for not being cool enough. Regardless, my friend with the Victrola is not too cool for anything. That is one reason I love her so much.

            My broader feeling is that the whole vintage-whatever look is pretty accessible if that’s already your style, which is basically what KB was saying to begin with, but that people who actively thrift end up with a lot of the less common stuff. I have all kinds of weird stuff courtesy of my ongoing junk shop problem, and I’m not going to judge someone who hauls their Victrola or collection of vintage silverplate or whatever out for their wedding.

          • meg

            Nah. I *love* those friends. It’s just fact. Most of them don’t even have weddings, let alone styled ones (obviously that is not me). My jworld just intersects (lovingly) with the true hipster you can’t even call them hipster it’s so… Whatever. And the funny thing is, that’s what ‘indie’ culture tries to re-package and sell. Which is the whole conversation: be what you are, and don’t let the WIC on one hand, or the indie market in the other try to pressure/ sell you something else.

            PS working Victrolas are AMAZING, listen to one of you get a chance.

      • Kate

        Now I really want a victrola at my wedding!!

  • Sara B

    I got my dress at David’s and loved it. The service I got was outstanding both times I went (once to “shop”, the 2nd time to “double check and buy”), though I know the service can be very different at different stores. I got the type of service I expected from a higher-end shop. I’m also a plus-sized gal, so there were TONS of options for me. The consultants never made me feel odd or uncomfortable about needing the larger sizes, which they had samples of so I didn’t end up pinned into some tiny size trying to figure out what it might look like. I ended up with a lovely all-lace dress, champagne colored, with straps. Wide straps. At a very reasonable price. They do try to push their other wedding accessories (shoes, hairpieces, jewelry, etc.), but I just politely turned them down when the subject came up because I had my own ideas that didn’t mesh with their options.

    However, I found they do somewhat expect a Squee! Found the dress! moment. The 2nd time I went in, I went by myself to try on the dress one last time before I bought it. I had both the manager and the consultant working with me, because it was a Tuesday night and they were bored. I decided to buy the dress and the consultant giggles, goes prancing across the salon, and comes back ringing this bell wrapped in tulle, exclaiming that I found my dress. She then forces the bell on me, saying “Now its your turn!!!” So there I am, in a dress, on the platform, sort of randomly dinging the bell while the few other people in the place stare. Super odd feeling.

    • Kat

      Yes, I had the same bell dinging weirdness experience. I had already changed out of my dress and was waiting at the counter with the dress to pay for it and the sales lady said “oh that’s weird I hadn’t heard a bell ring yet… you didn’t ring a bell!” Apparently while in the dress you’re supposed to ring some special bell while yelling out some phrase I can’t remember now and make a wish for your wedding day; if it comes true you’re supposed to email them and let them know that it came true.

      Long story short they wanted me to get back into the dress to ring the bell…didn’t happen, so I just rang it at the counter with all the sales staff gathered round. I appreciate what they’re trying to do with it, it just felt a bit strange.

    • Kate

      That bell ringing sounds crazy and hilarious! I think I’m thinking about the same dress from DB. Although they’re retiring it now and I may have missed the chance to buy so I can try some smaller shops. S you and I may need to talk!

      • Sara B

        Kate, check online! They may have some sizes on there that might not be in the stores if they’re retiring that one. I wrote a review of the dress on their product page online (I am in a photo holding red flowers). I loved the dress and felt absolutely beautiful. If you get the dress, make them take off ALL the beading under the arms. Took 3 days for the irritation to go down!

        • Kate

          Sara! I bought my dress yesterday!!!!!

  • Moe

    Free advice: The last wedding I was in, the bride gave us a DB color and let us choose our own style dress. Check out their outlet section online for some rock-bottom prices. I got my dress for $35. They have wedding dresses for cheap too.

    Just to emphasize what everyone has said, DO NOT, EVER give them your personal information. NOT EVER!!!!

    I‘m a career bridesmaid. I’ve been a DB maid 3-4 times, a high-end boutique maid, and a dress-shop maid a few times as well. (In east Los Angeles there’s a strip of dress shops on Whittier Blvd. that are Hispanic-owned and operated where a dress can be made for you. They’re cheap and affordable and if you’re lucky the dress will fit you and will look like the one you ordered.)

    DB is a great option if you want dresses that are affordable, or you have a wedding party scattered across the country. The two times I’ve been in there with a bride I felt like I was at a car dealership instead of a bridal store. My friend had ‘the moment’ when she discovered ‘the dress’ and after we all had a nice sentimental moment our consultant quickly turned into a wheeling & dealing slick sales person talking about financing options and alterations that were very expensive.

    So realize that if you buy a dress at DB, it is a business transaction. I think that goes for any wedding vendor indie or mainstream. This is a business. It’s your special day with all of the emotional expectations and attachments but at the same time there is a budget, a contract, an agreement, a purchase, or a transaction involved.

    • Newtie

      This is such a good thing to keep in mind. I went to a very chic, tiny bridal boutique with a friend because she wanted the “full dress shopping experience” – the champagne, the fluttering sales clerks – and you know what? Essentially the same thing happened – she was trying to have her big moment, and the sales clerks were trying to subtly pressure her into purchasing a dress 1K over her budget, and to complete the deal within the hour. Dress shopping can be ruthless.

      • Moe

        Yes!! It is!!! It’s cut-throat!

        Now that I’m a bride I admit I have fallen into the desire to be a ‘different’ bride. I was looking for a minimal modern dress that didn’t scream “bride”.

        My search brought me to Nordstroms on a weeknight after work. I tried on two very similar dresses one was a bridesmaid dress for $175 in ivory and the other a desinger dress at $1500. The salesperson tried to convince that I would look much better in the more expensive one. Besides being nearly identical, neither one were very flattering to my plus-size frame and big boobs.

        I was one of the last appointments of the evening and I was getting dressed to leave the sales staff was gathered for a meeting with their manager that I could over hear. “Our numbers were very low last month, but I know we can pick it up this month ladies. Let’s try to make some sales!”

        I found my dress elsewhere.

      • http://dinnerlove.com Steffany

        Ugh, that happened to me too! I wanted a non-white short dress but went to Priscilla of Boston to try on a few different styles and evaluate whether I might want something more traditional after all. I decided on Priscilla’s because it was more high-end that DB, and having been to DB before for my cousin’s dress search, I wanted something more fluttery and champagne-laden. There was no champagne (guess I should have found a more chi chi salon for that) and the sales lady was very annoying. Every time I stepped into a dress that made me go even slightly starry-eyed she would start in with “Is this your dress? IS THIS YOUR DRESS??” Not only did the experience make me not want to buy a dress from Priscilla, it made me never want to step foot in another bridal salon ever again.

  • Newtie

    Yay for this post! My wedding (kind of had to be) truly low-stress – I was in grad school and working, and both my husband and I were having major crises in our families (think major life-threatening illnesses on both sides). We just didn’t have the time or energy to plan “the perfect wedding.” You wouldn’t BELIEVE the grief I got from my indie friends – constant comments like, “I saw this burlap-inspired table cloth that wasn’t really burlap it was some rare fabric from Thailand whose making helps support homeless children and instead of cutting it you fold it into origami shapes and stitch 50 burlap origami pieces together to make a really cool table runner and maybe you should do something like that for your wedding? It’d be so much cooler than just having strips of cloth as table runners?” etc. I know they were just being enthusiastic, but they made me feel like I just couldn’t be a cool enough bride.

    Anyway I got my dress at DB. I did so because I spent about 6 months researching dresses on line and realized I probably couldn’t afford anything else (they have some amazing deals, yo!). Also, after six months of looking at pictures of dresses, I had only seen ONE I liked – and it was from DB. So I went there on a Wednesday night at 6 pm, asked to try on that one dress, it fit like a dream, and I bought it. Easy-peasy.

    I do recommend going on a weeknight during dinner time, instead of going on a weekend. I also specifically said I didn’t want a lot of help or input from a sales clerk, and they left me alone, which I appreciated. I recommend specifically saying so if you don’t want all the attention.

    • meg

      “I saw this burlap-inspired table cloth that wasn’t really burlap it was some rare fabric from Thailand whose making helps support homeless children and instead of cutting it you fold it into origami shapes and stitch 50 burlap origami pieces together to make a really cool table runner and maybe you should do something like that for your wedding? It’d be so much cooler than just having strips of cloth as table runners?”

      <3

  • Sam

    ” And the brilliant thing is, having a wedding that’s authentic to you and your partner means that you can participate in WIC-approved stuff without feeling guilty or suffering accusations of selling out.”
    This.

    Just like who we marry… How we marry shld be a personal, sane choice… No?

  • http://youlovelucy.tumblr.com youlovelucy

    As a side note, I think “In Defense Of” would make a really cool series.

    Like, in defense of all-inclusive venues, traditional catering, etc etc. I know there are probably posts in the archives that may defend those things already, but I still like the idea.

    • One More Sara

      After our wedding is over, I could totally write “In Defense of: Hotel Ballrooms.” I’m long distance planning, and so many things have been simplified by having an all-inclusive venue. I’ve been fairly confident in all our choices so far (thanks APW!), but the one I sometimes question is the choice to have the reception at a hotel (it’s too normal! wedding factory! cookie cutter! WAAAAAAHHH).

      But I totally agree… I would love to see more “In Defense of…” posts.

      • Ana

        Yes! I would totally write “In Defense of Wedding Planners”!!!

      • Jashshea

        Yup yup! Going to a wedding this weekend in MA at a hotel ballroom. I couldn’t be happier that I don’t have to think about hose/tights/boots (or having a DD). Good for guests and good for those doing the planning.

    • meg

      Mmmm. You know I love a good devil’s advocate argument.

    • http://youlovelucy.tumblr.com youlovelucy

      Now adding “In Defense of Traditional Catering” to the “Posts to Write for APW” list.

      On the plus side, I’ll be crossing off graduate post very soon!

    • Shiri

      I would totally write a “In Defense of Using Your Wedding to Hash Out Your Family Issues”, though for the next day I might want to write the counter argument.

      • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

        I could write the in-defense of the all-inclusive venue but I think the benefits are pretty self explanatory and detailed in the book and some wedding graduate posts already.
        Would that be interesting for the site?

      • meg

        HAAAAAA.

  • Sarah B.

    God, did I need to hear this! Thanks for the sanity-restoring read.

    I’m getting married in May and started planning a few months ago. My vision of a effortless indie wedding was so specific in the beginning that I thought for sure I’d have enough time and energy to execute it — I’m creative and resourceful (mostly), so I’d just need the time and energy, right?

    Wrong. As I found myself prioritizing things to fit into our (modest but by no means tiny) budget, my dress was one of the first big sacrifices. Indie designers wanted more than I could pay. And that’s how I ended up scoring a lovely, comfortable, ethereal, not-at-all-fussy dress at David’s Bridal for just a few hundred bucks. While many of the dresses there were too big or embellished or sparkly for my taste, but they had something for me — and I love it.

    As the date approaches, I struggle with not DIY-ing enough or being offbeat enough — even though I know all that really matters is what our wedding is fun and authentically “us”. Stress isn’t a requirement for wedding planning. David’s Bridal alleviated stress by allowing me to look and feel beautiful without dropping $1500-$2000 on a gown. For that, I’m thankful!

    P.S. I should mention that I shopped in Cleveland, OH (Strongsville, to be specific) and everyone there was really kind and accommodating and professional. I recommend.

  • http://blindirishpirate.blogspot.com Blind Irish Pirate

    I hate to say it, but WORD.

    I mean, I still kind of snub my nose at DB, but the concept about what you are talking about (re: practicality turning into the impractical): WORD. WORD. WORD.

    • meg

      Exactly.

    • Shiri

      Yes, exactly. I’m not so on board about DB but it isn’t about that, it is so totally about the restrictions we put on ourselves and the many kinds of reverse snobberies. Go Maddie!

  • Leslie

    Seriously needed to read this today. I got a dress for free from my mother’s coworker, and I have all sorts of conflicting emotions about it. It’s beautiful, but it looks like A Wedding Dress. But it’s free! But it’s so WIC! But it’s free!

    I think realizing that not everything has to ooze individuality and special-ness and accepting incredible gifts will go a long way to keeping me sane in the lead-up to June.

    • http://www.snippetsof.blogspot.com Sarah E

      Maybe jazz it up with your own accessories that suit your taste- a sash, a colored crinoline, a funky brooch, a cardigan over it, whatever cool jewelry you like? Might be a good alternative that adds some “you-ness” on the cheap- especially if you add some of your favorite stuff you already own. Good luck!

      • Gigi59

        And don’t forget the funky shoes – bright shoes go a long way towards countering The Wedding Dress look!! (mine were shiny purple!)

  • http://www.kristinyc.wordpress.com kristinyc

    Another DB bride here! I don’t know how many times I felt like I had to defend that choice (especially as a New Yorker – everyone seemed shocked that I wasn’t going to Kleinfeld).

    I loved my dress and had a great experience with it, even if it was a little embarrassing telling people where I got my dress.

    But yeah- don’t give them your real email address, ever. They’ll sell it to way too many wedding vendors.

    • meg

      Also, come on, people. It’s not like Kleinfeld’s is better, its just ‘spensive.

      • http://www.stitch-witch.net Christina McPants

        Honestly? I went to David’s Bridal and Kleinfeld’s. DB was the typical retail store experience, even with the usual ‘wait, two brides?’ stuff. I had a horrible Kleinfeld’s experience (probably poorly colored by the TLC filming, ugh) and wish I’d gone somewhere else. The dress I ended up getting probably would have been $600 cheaper.

      • Shiri

        I know I probably shouldn’t admit it, but in this thread it might be ok: I loved my Kleinfeld’s experience. I did go in knowing very clearly what I didn’t want and who and I am and very much what my budget was, and had a really lovely time there. But I do think I might be the exception, for those not looking to show off money in dress form.

        • Ana

          Shiri, that is totally the space to admit it! I live close to NYC, but not in it, and my mom and sister (city peoples) were pushing the big Kleinfeld’s et al marathon shopping day – so totally not right for me, though my mom and sis would’ve had a ball! Marathon shopping/being fussed at turns me into a surly 13-year-old. I loved my (mostly solo online) wedding dress shopping experience because it felt right to me. If my sister decides to get married and do the white gown thing, I will totally go to Kleinfeld’s and sip champagne and give opinions if that’s what feels right to her – because that’s what practical weddings are all about!

          • Shiri

            Oh, I know what you mean. Marathon shopping was the worst. But, I went to Kleinfeld with my aunt, had two young and easygoing sales ladies, and there was no champagne in sight. There were lots of women in 10k gowns and many, many older women giving their opinions of my dress (once I finally went out on to the main floor), but for most of it, it was just me and my aunt in a small room with two ladies.

            And you’re right, that ease and doing what is right for you is what practical wedding are about!

          • LIZ (SINCE 1982)

            Are you me? I have the exact same reaction to shopping for myself with others and have always felt kind of weird/deficient that such a commonly accepted bonding experience stresses me out so much. Good to know I’m not the only one!

      • http://kristinyc.wordpress.com kristin

        Definitely! I have friends who had great experiences at both stores (and terrible experiences at both)…

        My dress was $600. WORTH IT.

  • http://www.piercedwonderings.com Lynn

    I had a great experience at DB, even though I didn’t wind up buying a dress there; my mother made my dress. My best friend was insistent that I have the experience of trying on dresses and all that fun. I was terrified of the idea because I don’t really like me in dresses and as a plus-size woman, shopping isn’t a whole lot of fun for me. Shan and I had some pretty in-depth, difficult discussions about why shopping is such a painful experience for me. For her fashion is this magical thing that can change your whole experience of life.

    She finally told me, “Trust me. I won’t put you in anything that doesn’t look fabulous.”

    So I agreed and she was right. She put together a look book for me and had her own cocktails in her purse. Essentially it was just the two of us (I don’t know where our “consultant” went), and we had a blast! Everything she put in me did look great, and in the end there were two dresses that I liked, which started the hunt for a similar pattern.

    • http://www.stalkingsarah.com Stalking Sarah

      now THAT is a quality best friend!

    • http://www.alacartealbums.com jeliza

      Cocktails in her purse? I need a friend like this when I have to go clothes shopping.

  • Moe

    Oh and I must admit that I too have fallen into the indie-bride syndrome. After looking at all the countless vintage-rustic-french-garden-glam-chic wedding on the blogs they all began to look way too much alike. They didn’t feel like me or my groom either. He’s not a suspenders and bowtie kind of dude. I set out to plan a unique wedding (on a tiny budget) without using a single mason jar or scrap of burlap.

    So now with the wedding just a few months away I am trying to manage my DIY projects that include applying a rusted-patina finish to galvanized steel buckets and hand cutting my modern DIY invitations. (I was going for a warm-modern-industrial look for my wedding)

    I opted to order my dress custom-made online, and my maids are ordering from Little Borrowed Dress.

    Thank you APW for reminding me once again that my value/worth is not directly associated to the type of wedding I can plan and that ultimately I am free to do things as I choose without feeling I have to conform to the WIC.

  • Midwest Melissa

    David’s Bridal is so great for people who are not skinny. It made me feel SO GOOD about my body to be able to try on dresses in my size. Other stores made me feel bad – some dresses wouldn’t even go on at all.

    Tip: It’s worth it to take off work in order to make an appointment at a non-busy time. Also, not all of their dresses are affordable – there’s quite a range.

    My bridesmaid dresses were from there. I picked something stretchy out of the catalog’s mother of the bride section which looked like a party dress, emailed the link to my girls, and they all ordered online. No one needed alterations, not even the pregnant girl. $75 each.

    • Maddie

      YES. That was the best part about shopping at DB after going to a sample store that literally had only 6 dresses in my size. And I think I was a street size 8-10 at the time? And they TOPPED OUT there. I mean…come on.

      • http://ahobbitatheart.blogspot.com/ rachel

        For real. I had dealing with chronic illness the year before we were engaged/during our engagement, and had gained about 50 pounds- I was already feeling incredibly insecure about myself, and the last thing I needed was to not be able to fit any dresses in the store. I didn’t get the vintage, gorgeous lace with straps that I wanted, but I did get a lovely dress that fit me and my style at DB.

      • Janet

        As a fellow plus size bride I have to jump in here and say that I did NOT have a good experience at DB. While they had lots of plus size dresses in stock, most of them did not go above a size 20-22 and the few they had above that size were for dresses I had no interest in.

        I’d been looking for a tea-length dress and was super excited (initially) to shop at DB because their catalog had tons of super cute new tea-length dresses that came in plus sizes! I was very disappointed when I started trying on dresses to find out that all but one of the tea-length dresses I had marked were not available in sample plus sizes. Additionally, they over booked the bridal appointments that morning and my sales-lady was trying to juggle THREE separate brides at once.

        The one tea-length they had in a sample size I could try on was nice, but it did nothing to make me feel like a bride. I honestly felt like it was just a pretty dress and a not cheap dress at that (above the $500 mark). My mother and grandmother really liked the dress a lot and I let myself get caught up in the moment and agreed to buy the dress. Thankfully, one of my bridesmaid saw that I was really unhappy with the dress and brought me to my senses before I swiped my debit card. I told my mother, “Sure I could buy a nice dress for a few hundred dollars, but that’s all it is. A nice dress. I don’t feel like a bride in it.” Subsequently, I left the store empty handed.

        Luckily there seems to be a growing market in bridal salons catering exclusively to plus size brides in the DC Metro area. I found Curvy Girl Bridal in Fairfax, VA and made a Sunday morning appointment. (Finally a salon that is open on a Sunday!) I was the only bride in the store that morning and had the undivided attention of the sales girl. And then there were the gorgeous dresses…oh it was wonderful to be in a store where every single wedding dress (and bridesmaid/mother-of-the-bride) on the rack was plus size!

        Amazingly, I found a beautiful designer dress w/in my budget that made me feel exactly how I want to feel on my wedding day when I walk down the aisle to take my vows with my future husband. The staff was wonderful and they understand how a dress should fit a bride with curves. Mostly though, I found a wedding dress that made me feel beautiful AND I wasn’t just settling because I couldn’t find a plus size wedding dress.

        While I’ve done my best to not let the WIC/DIY/Indie wedding drama get in my head and our wedding planning, it did teach me one thing. Not to settle. There are choices out there. You can view/try on/meet with/etc. lots of choices in the WIC, but as long as you keep your head you stay true to yourself and your budget you can make the industry work for you.

  • Courtney R

    Awesome post! Just a thought for those out there on a budget (who isn’t??) that want a pretty, unique dress for WAY cheaper — take a look at bridesmaid dresses that come in white/ivory! DB has lots of options for bridesmaid dresses, so that might be a good place to try this strategy.

    I had looked around for quite awhile to find just a regular dress in a pretty print that was fun and inexpensive, but no luck (thanks to last summer’s bold geometric 80s throwback trends). So, I went to a great local dress shop and looked at bridesmaids dresses instead. It ended up being a lot of fun, once I got past feeling weird about the fact that the girl next to me was trying on these huge elaborate gowns while I was in everything from magenta to navy blue to yellow dresses. Keep in mind that you need to look past the color that you’re wearing to see the dress — but with one of my ‘maids and a very helpful saleswoman, we found a beautiful dress with a really cool lace back for around $200. It was an all-around win — had my “this is the dress moment!” (despite the sample being in black!), found a unique and beautiful dress that no one else will likely have seen on a bride, and was well within my budget!!

  • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com Rachel Wilkerson

    So my grandma is making my dress, but I wanted to get an idea of what I actually like on me first (because really, how do I know?!) so I wanted to try on some dresses in a store. I felt guilty going to a higher-end salon where I knew I’d be wasting their time, so I decided to just go to David’s Bridal one day after work, for (I hoped) a more low-pressure experience. All I really wanted was to get an idea of silhouettes. And I have to say, I had a great experience and liked a LOT of what I tried on. Like, really liked. Ultimately they didn’t have what I was looking for (WILL NO ONE MAKE AN OFF-THE-SHOULDER DRESS WITH SLEEVES?!?!?) but I really was impressed by what I did try on and the saleswoman was really sweet. It was WAY less WIC-y than I expected.

    That said, I felt oddly embarrassed about going there, and this post did a good job of explaining that sort of inexplicable snobbery that I think a lot of people feel toward DB. I don’t know where it came from, but I couldn’t help feeling like I’d be judged for going to David’s. Solid post!

  • Kathy

    After a fairly depressing experience at a super hip cool indie salon where they shoved size 14 me into their size 4 samples, I’ll definitely give them another look. I’m just so wary of all the polyester…

    • http://theaftercath.blogspot.com Cathi

      The polyester isn’t so bad. Yeah, my dress felt cheap to the touch, but it looked beautiful, was comfy enough on the inside, and –best part — was 1/3 the weight of a “real” dress. I was able to drunkenly dance my butt off for hours in Chicago August heat without passing out.

    • Emily

      Oh god! This happened to me while trying on bridesmaid dresses! I told the woman there was NO WAY this size 4 dress was going to fit me and she insisted I try it. My hips just laughed and laughed and laughed as I tried to get it on. When she gave up on that, she had me put my arms through the sleeves and held it in front of me like a paper doll. So ridiculous. haha

    • Kate

      When I called to make appointments at smaller shops I left voicemails in which I specifically asked if they carried sizes for a bigger girl, they were happy to make me an appointment but did not answer my question. I have to reschedule, I think I’ll be following up more thoroughly this time.

  • http://bookedup.posterous.com nicole s.

    I had a really positive experience with David’s Bridal in central NJ.

    My mom had a health issue a few months after our engagement, which dramatically pushed up my timeline for certain things, like picking out a wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses. Not only was the staff very helpful during our store visit, the woman who assisted me the day we purchased our dresses called on the morning of my mom’s biopsy to send us some positive thoughts.

    It was the sort of one-on-one attention I imagined was only possible at a bridal boutique and her unexpected kindness was such a beautiful part of our wedding planning process. In the end, my mom continued to be in remission and I became a big David’s Bridal supporter. You just never know where you are going to find great customer service.

    • Catherine B

      Oh wow, this made me tear up. Best of luck to you both.

  • SaratogaJen

    I had a great experience at DB. The salesperson was totally helpful and I tried on a ton of samples in my size and she gave us great tips on what would look good on my body type. Ultimatly, we didn’t buy my dress there because my mom didn’t love the quality and we took the knowledge we gained to another store and got a higher-quality gown.

    Also, great for MOB and MOG dresses – both my mom and DH’s mom (and our grandmothers, I think) got their dresses there. My mom’s came in the wrong size (I think it was a petite/women’s size issue thing) and they returned it and got her the right one in plenty of time. Very helpful to her. (This was in Albany, NY.)

    And – totally cool that Eve Event did your photography! They did ours, too – so pleased!

    • http://twitter.com/irisira irisira

      High five, fellow 518-er. (And, fellow Jen!) :)

  • mariela

    My first dress shopping experience was at David’s and it went gloriously! As a plus sized bride, I was absolutely terrified that the experience would be dreadful and I’d be stuck with about 3 different options, non matching what I had in my head. I WAS WRONG. David’s had a good selection of dresses, some on sale! And they have those often useful slimming tools for girls my size. The first 3 dresses I tried on made me feel more beautiful than I’d felt in a while.
    (In the end, it actually comes out cheaper having Crafty Broads make my dress from scratch than buying the one I liked at David’s then getting it altered to be what I really want.)

  • http://townhousetohome.wordpress.com adria

    Word.
    I bought my dress at Alfred Angelo (which is totally a chain akin to David’s Bridal). They were great to me, the size ordered was the exact same size I wear every day, they had TONS of sizes to try on, all samples in all ranges, which was awesome as I am not skinny, at all. To boot, I bought it on sale, for $350 off, and then all of my bridesmaids received 30% off of their dresses because I had purchased mine there. My dress was not inexpensive, but it was totally within my budget. The bridesmaids spent right around $100 on their dresses, and two out of three have worn them twice already…so, I call that a win!

    And let me tell you how many people questioned the brand of my gown on my wedding day? Not a single one. They only thing they told me was how beautiful I looked, and how much they loved my dress. There is a small percentage of the world who can tell you which designer made what just by looking at it…

  • Big L

    This post has prompted me to make my first online comment ever. This so hits home for me – in very many ways I am the anti-bride, and my (numerous) attempts to find a dress in chic indie-appropriate stores were 100% miserable. The fact that I hate sparkles and flowers and ruffles was totally unacceptable…let alone my extremely unusual size (I’m 6’3″). Reluctantly I ended at a David’s Bridal and within 24 hours had a dress that fit for $350, less than a third of what I had assumed was a minimum budget for dresses. Is it made of recycled organic hemp? No. But trying it on didn’t make me feel ugly and financially hopeless.

  • jules

    This post was fascinating. In Colombia brides on a budget can actually RENT a wedding dress and all that goes with it (underwear excepted). You go, pick it out, pick accessories, wear it and then return it. But of course the WIC is trying to pressure brides into buying a dress. However, when a monthly salary is roughly 400 dollars (for the middle class) spending that on a dress is simply not happening for most people. Still, it is becoming more frequent for people to be slightly ashamed for renting the dress, since a lot of media coming from the USA focuses on “buying” the dress.

    • http://theaftercath.blogspot.com Cathi

      I’ve been told it’s the same in Israel, and was actually the same (at least as far as dresses go) in the US several decades ago. My mom, who got married in 1972 which was the last time she thought about wedding things, spent months asking me why I wasn’t renting a dress, that buying was stupid. I agreed, and would have rented if I could have!

      • http://www.boxandbrownie.com Hannah

        That’s changed a lot in Israel in recent years but a lot of brides do rent the dresses. In other news, they have some of the tackiest weddings EVAAAAHHH it’s so awesome.

        I did the whole bridal boutique thing and was *nearly* sucked in to spending $4k on a dress…when my whole wedding budget is $15k, maybe $20k. In the end we had to move to the US from Sydney and I am going to David’s Bridal this week. I can drop $1k on a bag from Balenciaga and use it every day for five years but the idea of spending that kind of dough on a dress I am wearing for eight hours just doesn’t sit that well with me…

      • Sarah

        Israel definitely focuses on renting dresses — they usually give you the rental price first before the purchase price. I had to specifically ask for the buying price, and got some really strange looks.
        They do have amazingly tacky dresses here…but those are the high end expensive ones. There are also some amazing designers who create lovely and unique dresses — all made in country.

    • http://www.ouatinreallife.blogspot.com Erin

      I totally rented my dress for our wedding in Mongolia (where we live and my husband is from) and almost everyone I know here has done the same. It’s not cheap per se, but it’s certainly much cheaper than buying a dress and makes it more affordable for most people here to wear a wedding dress!

    • http://www.empapers.com Eleanor

      Wow, that makes SO much sense!

  • Cali

    I love this article, because it totally goes with my experience! I started off convinced I was going to DIY *everything* and have everything filled with quirky, indie details. Then I got overwhelmed and realized just how much time/money that was actually going to require, and my now-husband and I decided we were just going to go for simplicity. There were a couple of things we really wanted to do that we did (filmed/edited a video invitation because we’re both filmmakers, wrote our own ceremony from scratch, and had a bunch of costume stuff for people to wear because it was the weekend before Halloween), but we let most other things either fall by the wayside or get done in the simplest way possible. And I adore the way our wedding turned out. I wouldn’t change a thing. :-D

    Also, after years of swearing up and down that I would *never* buy my dress from David’s Bridal, that is absolutely where I ended up getting it. It was my favorite dress by FAR, and it was impossible to beat the price. Long live DB.

  • meg

    Two fun facts:

    1) I went to a bunch of salons, high end, low end, David’s Bridal. I actually had a good low pressure experience everywhere, but I was dead honest, “I’m not buying anything today, period. I’m just looking. But you can dress me up in WHATEVER YOU WANT.” I went at slow times where they were otherwise bored, and salesladies loved me. I wasn’t going to be a sale, they didn’t have to bother trying, and I was a live doll for them.

    2) David’s Bridal was the only place that let us take pictures of me in the dresses, which was really really nice.

    • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

      Only one place let you take photos in the dress? That boggles my mind (as someone who has never done dress shopping and can’t quite imagine going into a bridal salon).

    • Jess

      Fun fact: when I was trying on dresses (by myself, because I was not big on the whole shopping party thing), Priscilla of Boston told me that I could not take pictures in the dress because it was “against their policy.” Newly-graduated lawyer me remembered that the FAQ section of their website said you could take pictures in the dress. I whipped out my smart phone and proved them wrong so fast… I had a pretty good shopping experience after that – they realized they couldn’t pressure me!

      Still don’t understand the “no pictures” thing. I guess it just ups the mystique-factor for the salons because you’ll be less likely to take the pictures home to mull it over, and you don’t have any you-in-it pictures while you wait for the dress to come in…

  • Granola

    I like the thought of this post, and I think Maddie’s advice is spot on.

    However, my complaint about DB isn’t emotional but practical – a lot of their dresses are made really poorly for the cost. I spent $150 there recently for a bridesmaid’s dress that’s really poorly constructed with crappy material. I know that same amount of money could have bought a much nicer dress from a different wedding store – ShopJoielle for instance, which is where my bridesmaids got theirs. I think sometimes DB seems like it’s a really inexpensive option when it’s not.

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      True about Joielle. A bridesmaid dress I bought from them was about $135, I think. And their service was AMAZING.

  • thursday

    Decisions are not my strong point, and I was originally fretting over Finding the Dress that would Reflect My True Identity. I tried this lovely little used dress boutique, and they were wonderful and I wanted to give them all my money, but I didn’t have that Moment.

    As it turned out, my actual “Dress Moment” was staring at myself in the mirror at David’s Bridal, thinking “This looks good on me. It is one of the many styles I like. And if I buy this now, I never have to think about dress shopping again.” (Except I do have to think about getting it altered. Can we make giant clothespins on the back of your dress the new indie trend?)

  • Jennifer

    I also struggled with my decision to buy my dress and bridesmaid dresses from DB… because it seemed too “cookie-cutter” and “mainstream”. But really, it worked out perfectly. My wedding dress fit my style and was affordable (!!)… plus the overall process was quick and painless. Even better, with bridesmaids scattered throughout the midwest, it was great that they could each hop over to their local DB and purchase their dresses. Also, since DB has multiple styles of bridesmaids dresses in the same colors and fabrics… I was able to allow my bridesmaids to pick the style they liked the best. AND the bridesmaids dresses were actually cotton (shiny cotton!) with pockets! (YAY POCKETS!!)

  • Mary

    That is definitely not an exaggeration about them haunting you until you die. No shit, I pretended to be my sister, and told them that my fiance died and it really upset me every time they called about the wedding. Boom, no more phone calls. My husband was kind of pissed that I told someone he died, but whatever. It got them off my back. :P

  • Sara

    As a five time Bridesmaid, can I just add that David’s bridal is fantastic for this? Unless all of your girls are local, David’s Bridal was a dream for my weddings in Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois. It was easy to coordinate and get similar looking material for different styles, or make sure the dresses were the same. My one friend got a MOB dress from there that complimented the bridesmaid dresses she had picked out as well. Plus the attendants do not mess around, they are very efficient. Plus, even the one time I ordered two months before the wedding, it was in on the exact day they said.

    The one non-david’s experience I had with that, they were so delayed it was almost panic inducing. And I once was asked to be a bridesmaid, but the shop the girl went to wouldn’t add a dress two weeks after all the other girls placed their order. I was asked late (since another girl dropped out last minute) but it was only a couple weeks off of when the five other girls went in and the wedding was literally 7 months away!

  • Amy

    One minor note about the fake email address thing: Please don’t spontaneously make up an email address to give to vendors. Create a email just for junk and give them that one. Somebody went car shopping in Cleavland with my email address and I’m still trying to dig my way out from under all of the spam.

    • Ana

      One of my friends does this and it actually has the word “junk” in the email. So when they ask “Can I have your email address?” at the cash register she sweetly recites “storejunk@domain.com” or something like that. Everyone gets what they want!

    • K

      I just say “I don’t give out that information.” and if they come back at me I say “You don’t need my personal information to sell me this.” I have yet to have anyone refuse to accept my money.

      • One More Sara

        Sometimes when a sales person asks my mom for her phone number, she replies “Can I have yours first?” They usually get really awkward (and 13-yr-old me turned bright red at her side), but they almost always drop it after that.

        • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

          Bahaha, that’s kind of awesome.

  • http://newcomfortfood.wordpress.com JenMcC

    Thank you so much for this!
    I am in the throes of wedding dress angst, and your post is so useful for me to hear. I started my dress shopping by trying on some gorgeous gowns at small, independent dress stores, thinking that was a good way to avoid the WIC, but something I didn’t realize initially was this: “small independent store” kind of equals “couture” a lot of the time. Yeah. So that was too expensive. And the the more mainstream wedding dress stores I’ve been to have been too.

    I’ve tried on so many really lovely dresses, but I just *cannot* bring myself to spend thousands of dollars on a dress. I mean, I *could* do it, but in the same way I *could* put a week’s vacation on a credit card. It’s possible, but also a bad idea for me (and with a vacation, I’d at least get to go somewhere for a week, whereas the dress still just gets one day – one day! – of special use).

    I’m getting more and more anxious about finding a reasonable dress option, and one of my best friends has been trying to convince me to check out David’s Bridal for awhile. I’ve been resistant for many of the reasons you give, but reading your post – and the comments – has made it seem like a really reasonable, affordable and low-hassle option – all of which are adjectives I need more of in my wedding planning. So I’m totally going to go to there now.

  • Emma

    It’s interesting to me that so many people have such negative opinions about DB, yet JCrew doesn’t seem to come in for the same amount of criticism. I mean, JCrew’s bridal department isn’t the juggernaut that DB is within the wedding industry. But they sell a similarly priced, ready to wear product. Why is JCrew okay and DB supposedly more problematic?

    I wonder if there aren’t class issues involved. Despite the similarities in price point between their bridal styles, JCrew is aimed at an upper-middle-class clientele. DB, however, has a less high-end reputation. Yet I’ve seen a number of dresses from both places up close, and I’d say the quality is about comparable. So this seems to be largely an issue of style (JCrew is more modern, DB more traditional). I guess I’m just confused as to why it’s necessary to defend DB — I understand why it might not be your thing, but I can’t imagine what is wrong with it.

    I’d also note that these attitudes about DB are more pervasive than you might think. I was watching TV with my boyfriend a few months ago, and a DB ad came on. He kind of mocked the jingle (which is, indeed, awful), and I said, “Yeah, but I’ll happy buy a dress there if I can find one I like.” He was shocked; he thought DB was “too tacky” for me. But I’ve seen dresses I like on their website, and it’s one of the few options available in my budget. I thought it was interesting that even a guy who knows almost nothing about wedding dresses knew that you’re not supposed to like David’s Bridal.

  • April

    Love it! And I can SO relate. I tried on at least 50 or more dresses in various styles and pricepoints and vowed to never ever ever step foot in a DB store. And then: I bought my wedding dress from DB. Oh, the irony.

    After falling out of love with Dress #1 and with only 9 weeks until my wedding, I walked into a David’s Bridal. The lady who helped me was in her mid-50s and very polite. Miraculously, she didn’t ask why I was alone. She didn’t ask why my mother wasn’t there. And thankfully, she didn’t speak in chirpy tones or use the words “Special Day”. So far, so good. I told her I needed something elegant and not overwhelming. She studied me a moment, asked my shoe size, bra size and dress size, then walked away and returned within moments with ONE dress. I decided to humor her and try it – I didn’t expect to like it (and seeing as how it was the ONLY dress she brought me, I already had in my mind I’d leave empty handed). Well, I tried it on, loved it, burst into tears (yeah, yeah – I know) and then plunked down my credit card. No regret. It wasn’t the couture gown of my dreams, but it was just right and that was good enough.

    I’m not saying everyone is gonna find what they’re looking for at DB, but I’m glad I gave it a second chance.

  • Laura

    Arrgh boobs! It’s frustrating that most wedding dresses come with pre-fab boob compartments that are never proportional to my particular requirements. At first glance, it seems like I’d have to exclude 95% of styles based entirely on the shape of the top, which only makes the already-harrowing process of dress shopping that much more challenging…

    But – based on 15 years of experience dressing my topheavy figure – I have this sense that, with the proper undergarments and tailoring, I could comfortably wear just about any dress that isn’t completely backless. I just wish there were more information available (on the interwebs of course) as to what kinds of feminine support systems (probably a bit more substantial than just a bra) work with different dresses, as well as what kinds of alterations can be made to dress bust areas, and how much such changes would cost.

    Maybe APW can do a boob post. Or, more specifically, a post on how to use underwear and seamstresses/tailors to maximize dress options without maximizing your budget. #APWHowTo ???

    • Maddie

      Wanna know a secret? 90% of the reason I chose that DB dress was because I could wear it without a bra. :)

      And wear it without one, I did.

      • KC

        I find that hilarious, as probably 90% of my initial dress requirements were built around being *able* to wear my favorite bra underneath.

        (I’m assuming we reached these opposite conclusions due to a similar aversion to uncomfortable stuff… but I just wasn’t smart enough to realize that there were dresses where additional “structural support” was optional?)

  • http://www.michelleedgemont.com Michelle Edgemont

    Mads, I got my dress at David’s Bridal too. I stopped in to try on dresses two days after I got engaged as, pretty much, a joke. I started with the poufy ones, then the lacey ones, then the cheap ones, and the expensive ones. There was no way in hell that I was going to get a dress there – I thought, “eek. David’s Bridal?!? Gross. Too mainstream and polyester.” Apparently my taste was a lot higher than my budget.

    Then, my mom made me try on something she found in the Mother Of The Bride section. I put it on and started crying. Yep, I got married in something from the Mother of the Bride section at David’s Bridal. It was the complete opposite wedding dress story I dreamed up for my way-too-cool-and-hip-and-indie-and-off-the-beaten-track bride I thought I was.

  • http://twitter.com/irisira irisira

    Maddie, where was this post 3 years ago? Oh, right. You were living this hell 3 years ago, right along with me! I STRESSED MYSELF OUT over wanting an “indie” dress and “indie” bridesmaid dresses, because I wanted to have an ethical wedding. Which we mostly did. But FFS, I originally planned on having JCrew for my bridesmaids and then had this existential crisis over it and drove my bridesmaids nuts. (They were lovely about it, fortunately.) I originally planned that because it was easier FOR THEM. Which should have been a priority in this case.

    This was, in part, because I had buyer’s remorse over my dress, and I think this post would really have eased my mind. One of my good friends got married a year after I did and in a David’s Bridal dress that her SIL bought her as a gift on clearance, and it was STUNNING. My husband and I were blown away at how stunning she looked (I mean, she’s lovely anyway, but you know what I mean), and he didn’t believe me when I told him it was a DB dress.

    My SIL did DB for our bridesmaid dresses this summer. Were they cheap material? Yup. Was it a cheap price tag to go with it? Yup. I’ll never wear the thing again, but so what else is new with BM dresses? Even the nice ones never get worn again, and I’d rather pay less for it.

    I think this is good advice in general, though. It doesn’t need to be David’s Bridal, it can be anything. I don’t shop for ethical clothes in my every day life – I mean, I’d like to, but it’s just not realistic. We don’t have textile factories in the US anymore. I really wish we did – yeah, clothes might be a little more expensive, but I bet they wouldn’t be as bad as the Corporations want you to think they are. Wedding dresses are similar to that. Sure, you can buy used or vintage, but as Meg pointed out way above, shopping vintage for your wedding dress isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Stop beating yourselves up ladies – it ain’t practical to send yourself spinning uncontrollably down that rabbit hole.

  • Jamie

    I bought my dress from DB and the world of shit I got from some of my ‘friends’ was crazy. They went on and on about how ‘gross’ DB dresses were and how only ‘trailer trash’ would shop there and that everything they sold was ‘disgusting’. I actually went home and cried after hearing this and I stupidly let it impact how I thought of my dress.

    However, I don’t regret it at all. And as far as my shopping experience went? Amazing. I got kind of light headed while buying my dress and my consultant was just so awesome. I was really stressed out about not only the wedding, but about giving up my job and moving to a new state and everything that goes along with that.She got me a bottle of water and sat and talked to me about long distance relationships and how to make moving easier. She told me about her own experience when she and her husband were doing the LDR and how she didn’t realize how truly lonely she was until she moved to be with her husband. She was like a therapist, it was awesome.

    My brother is getting married this summer and as a bridesmaid it is such a pain in the freaking ass to deal with this fancy bridal boutique my future sister in law is making us buy from. First, the dresses aren’t all that great as far as quality goes. Second, I’m spending a bazillion dollars on this dress when DB has the same damn style in the same damn color. And third, I live 6 hours away from everyone else and it’s logistically a nightmare. Why are we buying from the fancy shop and not DB? Because when I mentioned going to DB, her sister said “Ewwww!!! Gross. We are not going there, that place is for trash!” Awesome. My love for my brother prevents me from saying anything. I put a smile on my face and passed my credit card over, knowing that after this wedding is over, some high school girl who can’t afford a prom dress is going to look beautiful in this dress.

    And as far as the emails go: I just clicked the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the emails. Boom. Emails stopped.

  • Sheryl from SG

    Thanks for this article Maddie! I am right smack in the middle of making decisons for my wedding dress, photographers, etc. And I really didn’t want to go down the WIC route (in Singapore this largely means getting a package from a bridal studio). We have a small budget but also don’t have the luxury of time to go hunt / research for alternatives, and in Singapore there are very few alternatives. So we sort of decided that we will have to go down that route anyway and I was beating myself up about a little. So this really came at the right time to remind me that we just have to do what works for us and be happy about it :)

  • Louise

    Geez is this so true! I didn’t get my dress at David’s Bridal (the sheer size of the store was truly too overwhelming for me to even consider making an appointment) but I felt the same way getting my dress at J Crew. I only went shopping for a dress for a “backup” because I had wanted to make my dress (insane. I also wanted to craft every other little thing for the wedding, which I actually did, by the skin of my teeth). I fell in love with a dress. It had been discontinued and they offered to put me on a list to get it if one in my size got returned. I went home and tried to put it out of my mind. Looked around to get a used one (no guilt there–used = ok in my mind), but no luck in my size. Had lots of angst about wearing a chain store dress, until my now-husband asked, “you wear J Crew clothes in REAL life, right? Why is this different?” Oh, right… Such a smart man. A few weeks later, I got an email saying that the dress in my size (on deep discount) was on its way to me. And then I realized I could be done with the dress decision. It was just so ME and CHEAP and DONE.

    So, yes. CHEERS to indie weddings being a ton of work, and to taking advantage of the WIC if it can actually simplify your life for once.

  • Kara

    I got my dress at David’s Bridal after being dragged around to all manner of “bridal salons” and having extremely lacy frilly mostly gaudy “not at all my type” gowns foisted on me. I’d set my heart on a dress in a DB catalogue and when I tried it on, it just wasn’t the one. I went pawing through the racks and found a gown that had some bling on the skirt that caught my eye. It didn’t look much on the hanger but when I tried it on? I knew it. I came out of the dressing room, my Mom saw it and said (and I quote) “I’d never have chosen that one for you, but its the one isn’t it?” I tried on a few more but kept coming back to That One Dress. We found a similar one online and ordered it. It arrived and the color of the beading was PINK not white like I wanted. I tried it on and promptly got back in the car to head to DB. The online dress got returned and I ordered That One Dress. All my maids ordered their dresses through their local DB and they were all happy. A gown that suited them, and their budget, in my color choice.

    All up, when my gown was ordered it was on the $99 discount sale and ended up being $300 off. I needed some alterations and guess how much that added up to be? $300. From the inital try on to alterations to bridal portraits to wedding day to second reception, I got to wear my gown 7 times. After my wedding, Mom washed it in her washer (!?!) and it came out none the worse for wear.

    Overall, I was more than pleased with my DB experience. I’ve not been haunted by them as I made it clear I was moving overseas permanently after I got married. Not everybody needs to have a super expensive, bespoke, designer gown. Yes, you want to be in the stunning gown that turns heads, but you can get a good deal from DB or other retailers.

  • http://www.jerseycityvegan.com Emily

    I was determined to find a vintage dress… but after searching endlessly online, I finally admitted to the fact that I am not a 25 inch waist and therefore not going to have a vintage dress. So, I went to David’s Bridal. I ended up finding The Dress, the third one I tried on, and with a couple tweaks and alterations, I had an amazing vintage-looking dream dress! The best part? It was an end of season sale and I got the dress for $99! Also – it was the only one left, and fit me perfectly. I’m convinced that was meant to be my dress. The experience was everything I was looking for… sheer delight, giddyness, and full of love, with my sister, mom and future mother in law. I never in a million years thought it would be a David’s Bridal dress… but like you, Maddie, my opinion is forever changed! I can’t wait to marry my partner Melissa this October, in my beautiful vintage-y David’s Bridal dress!!!

  • Pingback: And Still on the Subject of Dresses… « The Anti Wedding()

  • http://www.empapers.com Eleanor

    Hear hear! If there was anything I would do over it would be my dress (for both weddings) I had the one for Munich made – NEVER again, too stre$$full and if you don’t like it in the end, too bad!

    For our U.S. wedding I had the idea that I would find some great wedding dress for pennies in a Salvation Army somewhere and alter it into something cool and unique (magically with my non-existent sewing skills.) When the dress failed to materialize a friend convinced me to go to a hoity-toity (Amy Kuschel) wedding Salon by Union Square in SF. I *did* find a great dress – A floor model, the last of it’s kind for a ‘steal’ at $1000. What I didn’t realize was that it had to be cleaned, and only at this special place in San Mateo, then altered at another South Bay place. I made several North-bay/South-bay sojourns in the course of two weeks all for this fucking dress – the costs, including gas easily added another $500. The grouchy bride meter was on high.

    The (very nice, I must say) people at the super special dry cleaning place offered me a deal on post-wedding cleaning and ‘preservation’. I said thanks and thought ‘FU-HUH-CK that!’ as I left. My dress is now folded up in a plastic dry cleaning bag in a box in my closet, with smashed up cookie bits on the ass, dance floor sweat stains in the pits and busted buttons on the back, and that’s exactly what I want to remember about our wedding!

    I would probably get one of those J Crew jobs if I was going to do it all over again. Many of them are like $500!

    Anyway, great post.

  • Emma

    Thanks for this post. Let’s also hear it for the JCrew brides! For me, JCrew was the easy, inexpensive option. I don’t particularly like shopping and had a small budget, and I had no idea how to find some cutesy vintage dress.
    Great selection at the store in NYC, and I love the dress I bought there. I handed over my credit card before I even knew the dress was on sale for just $172. (I also got a sash from Etsy that made it a little more sparkly/unique). My husband asked me to quit telling everyone how little we paid (hello WIC – everything must be expensive!), but I was proud that I found a great dress on sale.
    I also went to David’s Bridal with my mom, and I didn’t find anything that was right for me – the service was fine, but I thought the materials looked less nice up close, and they had hardly any dresses with straps, which is what I was looking for. But as always, do what works for you!

  • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

    I refused to go to David’s Bridal because I had a very bad experience there as a bridesmaid where I felt like the bride was treated like royalty and bridesmaids like crap because they knew we had no choice about buying the dress. But after reading the comments, it sounds like this was a problem at that specific store. I avoided the whole problem of bridesmaids in different states by just having them pick out any short navy blue dress they liked or already owned. I get though that it’s not an option for most color schemes.

    I did get my dress from J Crew, the only place I shopped, and was ecstatic to have the dress shopping over with in an hour. What I liked specifically about J Crew was that I felt like they were charging me for a wedding dress what they would charge for the same dress in another color as an evening gown. The material looks and feels expensive and the dress was $450. I also like that J Crew gives a teacher discount, though sadly they stopped offering it on wedding dresses a couple of years ago.

    I had my irrational “But it’s not special enough for my WEDDING DAY” moment when I was considering $5 fake pearl and rhinestone earrings from Target. Then I thought “But I love Target!” and bought the $5 earrings that went perfectly well with my mom’s pearls and my friend’s hair comb, bringing my total jewelry costs to $5. Well, plus the wedding ring.

  • http://thefeministmystique.blogspot.com Shannon

    I love this post! I completely succumbed to the indie-wedding fantasy, and I am not indie in the least. Like seriously, I wear Lilly Pulitzer and have a monogrammed tote bag. So I don’t know why I thought I, of all people, would have a more “authentic” wedding if I wore a handmade, vintage dress.

    In the end, I found a used dress I loved, but it is fairly traditional with Alencon lace, a sweep train, covered buttons, even a bow! When I went to actually buy it from the bridal boutique I was sobbing and sobbing and realized that I was disappointed in myself for not buying a vintage one off etsy or finding one at a thrift store. Which is ridiculous because I love my dress (and didn’t go into debt buying it). Like others have said, the indie-wedding WIC can be just as constraining and demanding as the traditional WIC. You don’t need a Vera Wang gown or a handmade one to have a great wedding dress. You just need to love it and feel gorgeous in it.

  • Zen

    Both the countries I got married in knew not of David’s Bridal, but I had a similar angst-storm over my dress — I got absurdly knotted up over having something SPECIAL and DIFFERENT and not spending too much (despite being able to afford it), and went on a ridiculous journey:

    1) Bought vintage late ’30s/40s dress off Etsy. Dress arrived smelling to high heaven and yellowed by age, with rips in the fabric (which was kind of a ’30s version of polyester). Spent more than the original price of the dress on alterations and repairs. Took it to the drycleaners in hope of getting rid of smell and whitening the dress. Drycleaning had no effect; washed it in the bathtub at home with very mild bleach fingers crossed.

    Came out whiter! Woohoo! Went away for 2 weeks and came back to find the metal inside the gorgeous original cloth-covered buttons had rusted, and they were now all spotty brown.

    Spent a couple of anxious days painting the buttons white again with nail polish. (Possibly lowest point I hit in course of wedding planning.)

    2) In the 2 weeks away, swanned into an American vintage shop and bought a charming ivory ’50s dress that didn’t smell, had no faults, and was properly ivory.

    3) Secretly decided to write off ’30s dress as a total loss and replace it with ’50s dress. Freaked out that a short dress would be inappropriate for a cathedral wedding and that my new in-laws would all disapprove.

    4) Went home and explained concerns to my mom. Mom brought me to a tiny bridal salon (admittedly it was a small business owned by a local female designer, but there aren’t really big bridal salon chains back home, and her dresses were made in China …). I bought the standardest of standard wedding dresses — strapless, floor-length, polyester, train-possessing, white, fluffy, with a pink ribbon on top — and forgot all about it for the rest of the year until the wedding.

    5) 2 weeks before the wedding, started vaguely thinking that it might be nice to have a bolero sort of thing on top of the dress. Did a couple of Google searches and found a ’70s Peter Pan-collared white cropped top for sale on an online shop selling Russian vintage. Bought it and wore it with great glee on the day.

    It all worked out in the end, but I can see now that 99% of my problems were caused by my brain’s insistence that my dress had to be INDIE and DIFFERENT. The irony is that I wore the ’50s dress for one of the weddings and … it was the least comfortable of the three dresses I wore. (It had that sort of poky netting stuff underneath that makes skirts stick out, and causes itching to the legs of little girls stuffed into party dresses over the world.) I still loved it, and I’m glad I got to wear real vintage on both my wedding days, just because I love vintage clothes and will likely wear both pieces again. But I could definitely have spent less time worrying about having the right kind of wedding dress.

  • Radiantly

    Very good timing! I just tried on dresses for the first time yesterday – I live in NYC and my budget is $600 plus maybe for alterations. Went to kleinfelds first and had a great saleswoman who totally got me. I told her my budget was under $1000 and she basixally took me to the only designer that started somewhere near there. Then one other dress was $3400 but i loved it… started thinking of ways to dream up the money. It was italian, silk, one shoulder with a funky strap, a flowy white silk chiffon trainy thing that would look beautiful flowing in the breeze. My friends quizzed me and made me explain to them why i loved it. Then we went to Davids Bridal. It was crowded and the dresses were also almost all poufy. And heavy. My wedding is late July and outdoors! Almost left and partially due to my notions of what DB dresses are like, I didn’t want awful polyester. But THEN in the Vera Wang section I found it!! A Greek goddess dress also one shoulder, and so comfy and gorgeous, and its $630 plus alterations! It was too easy, really I didn’t react very strongly, just stood there like duh, and my friends all agreed that it was better than the Italian one anyway. Which it is!! So I am still going to look a little more just because I only just started to look and its fun, but now am so relieved to have this dress as a 99.9 percent the one. And to think I was going to spend 100+ hours with my friend designing one!! Yay!!!

  • Kaya

    OK, I know I’m late to the party, but I just started wedding planning and stumbled on this post at the exact right second. I went to DB almost as a joke with my mom to start dress shopping — we figured I could try on dresses there to get a sense of what styles looked good on my body, and then go “real dress shopping.” But then while I was there I found a dress that I’m madly in love with. It’s tea length (perfect for my arboretum wedding & community garden brunch reception) with an illusion neckline and cap sleeves, and I haven’t found a picture of a single dress I love more than it on the whole internet. Plus it’s affordable! But I’ve managed to develop a total complex about the dress because it’s from David’s Bridal and I never in a million years imagined that I’d get my dress there. So thank you for this post! The dress that I found at David’s is exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for, and it’s for me. Feeling embarrassed about the dress that I fell in love with because of where it’s from is a total waste of energy, and I’m more practical than that.

  • CMS

    For those more ethically conscientious, it would be worth taking a look at DB’s Ethical Sourcing Policy. They have a rather strict code of conduct for their suppliers, leading me to believe that you won’t be seeing them involved in some sweatshop scandal on the other side of the world.

    • Bethany

      I had no idea! Clearly I’m not as informed a shopper as I should be, but this makes me love my DB dress even more. Thanks for sharing this tid bit of awesome

  • Mandielea

    I had heard alot of bad things about David’s Bridal and was worried about making an appointment. As it turned out, I recieved waaay better service there and they had a waaay better selection for a plus sized gal such as myself compared to the locally owned shops in my town. They provided me a slip and bra to try dresses on with and none of the other places did that. Plus they were really helpful and actually listened when I told them what I was looking for. I found the dress of my dreams there!

  • Jane

    Oh man, I wish I had read this two months ago! I just bought my dress at David’s (due to budget restrictions) and was feeling depressed about how lame I was. THANK YOU!!

  • Erin

    Heading off to David’s Bridal this morning to look at dresses. Was feeling a bit off about it and now feeling much better! These are all the reasons I made my DB appointment in the first place. Thanks!

  • charlie

    As a UK bride, we have had our first store of DB open recently. I went to a wedding event as was given £50 off voucher. I scoffed that in the grand scheme of wedding dress prices, £50 was peanuts! (I had no idea of David’s Bridal prices at that point!) I searched thousands of stores/vintage shops/charity shops etc, trying to find that exclusive ‘one’, with no luck. Decided to have a look at Davids Bridal, tried on 100 dresses that were not me, heavy and puffy and felt totally disheartened! Then my sister came out with a light/simple lace maxi and I fell in love. I tried it on and it looked BEAUTIFUL! Almost laughed when I saw the price tag, £395 – well under half of my budget, then got £50 off! The wedding is in 6 months and I cannot wait to wear my bargain basement beauty!

  • http://www.emilyaltphotography.com/ emily alt

    Maddie. I always knew we were cosmically connected.
    And now that I see you and I had the SAME WEDDING DRESS FROM DAVID’S BRIDAL. And we both looked hot as H E L L in it, I am only more sure that we are separated sisters at birth.
    Rock on sister.
    Great post. As per usual.

  • Lena and Aggy

    I was once bridesmaid for a slightly indecisive friend who originally thought us all getting our dresses made would somehow be easier and cheaper than just ordering them online. And then, after two months and 50 email chain messages of “Getting a wedding dress made is the devil”, she caved and picked one from David’s Bridal.

    And we all paid $150 and got free shipping and made 13 other girls very happy after we all donated them to a local thrift store (because nope, couldn’t wear them again). And it was easy. And life was good.

  • Micah

    Thanks for this post. Stressed the boutiques wouldn’t be able to deal with my small budget and ample body, I went to DB. It has been a great experience and I was surprised at how pretty I look in strapless.

  • Suz

    Reading all the comments here… I’d been avoiding David’s Bridal because of the high prices and fear they’d try to sell me something outside my minuscule price range. I had no idea the $1500 dresses they have online that I love were considered bargain basement “trailer trash” dresses. NOW I’m going to give them a try. Maybe they will have something in my budget after all.

  • http://www.haveyouseensam.com Sami

    I had the exact same experience. I was SO SNOTTY about DB – but in order to go wedding dress shopping with my mom, it was really my only option (she lives in a small town and takes care of my special needs brother, so she can’t travel to Denver where we have more options).

    I did have a girl next to me trying on all of the exact same dresses, which made my dress feel collassaly un-special, but when I tried it on, and started accessorizing it (belt, fur, shoes, etc.) in my head, I knew it was my one – and I appreciate the modest price tag so I had $$ TO find some cool, vintage-inspired additions to really make it my own. :

  • wedding lehenga choli

    Looking awesome in a wedding dress. http://www.kalazone.in/sarees_traditional-lehanga.html

  • Adeline Presley

    Hey, now that is what I call a gorgeous gown! I am for sure getting this pendant http://goo.gl/pH1SwZ to go with this gown.

  • Normal Deviant

    I am so happy to hear that you were able to find a lovely, trouble-free dress from DB. What happened to you is incredibly rare. I worked at DB for a year and it is not a coincidence that that is the year that my depression hit its strongest blow. Really what it comes down to is attitude. I had an awful management team and my coworkers where so competitive (DB employees are paid on commission) that no one talked or tried to be friendly. I could tell as soon as I met a customer if they were going to have a good experience or not. More often than not I had to work with brides with the attitude that DB was junk/trailer trash/overpriced/money-mongers. I had so many people come in to “have fun” and try on dresses-not actually looking to buy, that was money and time out of my pocket. Oh, and they didn’t pay commission until our earnings hit 200$ per hour. Then we could actually make minimum wage. Also, you didn’t have to pay for alterations, you were lucky. The alteration specialists in our store didn’t speak English-they also worked for commission. Alterations is where the unhappy brides developed and plotted litigation. Then again I would work with brides like you, who were easy to please, had an idea of what they wanted, a realistic budget, a realistic idea of bridal dress expectations, and actually wanted to buy a dress. Those were nice days. I feel bad for ranting at your article (which makes some excellent points) especially so long after it was published, but I am channeling a lot of fears for my own upcoming D.I.Y. wedding. My budget is $4,000. I might be able to get a nice dress for $500, but my family is fighting tooth and nail against this. They think I can borrow or rent a dress. This isn’t an option in our culture. We need to change our cultural attitude towards marital expectations. It’s not all about the dress, it’s not all about the bride, in fact the only thing that should cost less than the dress are the shoes that match rather than the dress being the most expensive thing purchased for the wedding. Weddings in general should not cost as much as a nice car or a decent house. Weddings should represent how the couple wants to live their lives and throwing money at a short, one evening party where everyone comes to witness marital rites only represents how fleeting our respect is for marriage. That is why I am trying to suppress my worries about a dress and instead organize a week long meet and greet of friends and family. My marriage will be the union of three families (my and my fiance’s family, and our friends) and I want them to be one big family and celebrate that, not just me and my man dressed nicely.

  • Priscilla

    My ex-boyfriend dumped me 0ne week ago after I accused him of seeing someone else and insulting him. I want him back in my life but he refuse to have any contact with me. I was so confuse and don’t know what to do, so I reach to the internet for help and I saw a testimony of how a spell caster help them to get their ex back so I contact the spell caster and explain my problem to him and he cast a spell for me and assure me of 2days that my ex boy friend will return to me and to my greatest surprise the 2 day my ex boy friend came knocking on my door and beg for forgiveness. I am so happy that my love is back again and not only that, we are about to getting married. Once again thank you drcharlesspelltemple@hotmail.com . You are truly talented and gifted….Priscilla