*This is a paid post from an APW Sponsor*
Let me guess. You’re looking for a wedding dress that looks like a wedding dress, but is outside of the “strapless puffy white ball-gown” box. In your dream world, you’d like something with some sort of sleeve, or maybe a plunging V-neck, or maybe some sexy beading. You’re thinking that if it were blush or barely grey, that might be cool too. You want it to actually fit your personal style—but super hot, obviously. You want to feel like you in a majorly gorgeous wedding dress, not Bridal Barbie.
Oh. And you have under $2,000 to spend. In fact, maybe you have $1,000 or $300.
You combed the APW (Indie) Wedding Dress Pinterest board, came up with a zillion good ideas that you excitedly told your partner/best friend/anyone that would listen. And then you started pricing wedding dresses, and you realized that all those stunners in Martha Stewart Weddings that are quirky but beautiful are around $10K. And that even the mass-market artfully stylish wedding dresses are WAY out of your price range.
Not A Dress Over $2,000
Enter The Wedding Party in Berkeley, California. If you happen to live in the Bay Area (or, frankly, in Southern California or a neighboring state) The Wedding Party is your answer. This is their business model:
The Wedding Party specializes in simpler wedding gowns that lean toward less traditional and less formal. The wedding gowns range in price from $800–$2,000. We also have a great collection of simple bridal, featuring short dresses and dresses without trains, in the $300–$700 price range.
The Wedding Party is the business I wish I could go back in time and shop at for my wedding. They’re not just a store with a smart business model (because with not a single gown over $2,000, you can try anything on knowing you’re not going to absolutely financially destroy yourself), it also is run by two of the nicest, smartest, most supportive women I’ve met in the wedding industry. And they also happen to have killer taste.
Here at APW, we love The Wedding Party so much, that we use them as the source for dresses for most of our shoots. (You can see a bunch of killer Wedding Party dresses picked by yours truly on our large scale backdrop tutorials.) And now that I’m in the store somewhat regularly to try on dresses for work, I can say that I have never once walked out without finding a dress that I would have worn for our wedding. Here are two of my most recent picks:
(David looked actually crestfallen when I showed him the second photo. And he loved my wedding dress.)
New For Fall: Sleeves. Color.
But the best news yet is that wedding dress trends have finally caught up with what we’ve all been dying for. And The Wedding Party knows what you like, and has ordered the best of the best. (Last time we were in, they showed us what’s coming for fall. We’re aiming to photograph it for you in September, because it is. so. good.) They described their new dresses coming by the end of August this way:
This season we’re seeing an incredible range of necklines: bateaus, V’s, scoops, cowls, etc. We’ll see an influx of sleeves—from caps to bracelet to full length, 2015 is all about the sleeve. Strapless no longer dominates the market place—a huge relief for so many! Color will also be strong next year, with colored linings and colored dresses bringing a whole new look. Embellishment is also coming on strong—vintage beading and striking accents make the dresses bold and stylish. The best part is that we don’t even have to wait until 2015—the new dresses arrive late summer, early fall!
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room—body shaming and wedding dress shopping. For so many people, wedding dress shopping is a horrific experience of not fitting into sample gowns, and then being asked if you’re going to lose weight for the wedding (like you’re the problem, not the damn dress). But not at The Wedding Party. In fact, they are so supportive and informative that after interviewing them, I wrote Ten Tips For Plus Sized Wedding Dress Shopping (if you’re currently wedding dress shopping, this is a must-read, plus sized or not). Here is how Maddie summed up the experience of actually trying on dresses at The Wedding Party, as a not-exactly-sample sized lady:
Shopping at The Wedding Party was one of the single most empowering experiences I’ve had all year. I had prepared myself for a terrible shopping experience, the kind where none of the dresses fit and nothing looks good on you, and you spend the better part of an afternoon trying not to cry or feel horrible about yourself. Instead, the women at The Wedding Party made me feel empowered and accepted, and they did everything in their power to help me understand that what we were doing is a process. First, they let me touch and feel everything in the store, which made me feel like I was in control. Then they worked tirelessly with me to find dresses that would look good on my body, and when I suggested dresses that definitely weren’t going to fit, they didn’t try to deter me from trying them on anyway. It was a fun, collaborative effort, and I felt confident putting my trust in them. In the end I found not one but three dresses I felt amazing in. What I appreciate most about Jennifer and Clara is that they are really attuned to what you want, personally. When they were trying to squeeze me into a sample gown that was just a tad too small, they continuously checked in to make sure I was comfortable and, you know, breathing. When I told them to go all in and zip that sucker at any cost, they listened. If I told them I was feeling uncomfortable and wanted to stop, they would have listened. They treated me like a person, cared about my opinions, and made me want to turn back time so that I could do this for real at my own wedding.
The Wedding Party Loves APWers
And best of all, not only do Jennifer and Clara, the owners of The Wedding Party, really get you. (Clara has been reading APW since almost the beginning, which is a pretty sure sign that she’s your people.) But working with you over the course of the year has allowed them to make their store even more awesome. Since you guys want things like… sleeves! And dresses that are stylish! That has allowed them to buy even more creatively, making their collection even hotter. They described working with APWers this way:
APW Readers strike me as independent women, with a sense of style that reflects their personality. They are able to articulate what they want, while maintaining an open mind and a willingness to try things on. Ultimately, they like to collaborate with us on the project—it feels more like a team venture and less like we’re the consultants and they’re the brides. Our APW brides have presented us with an opportunity to diversify our collection in ways that are outside the box of traditional bridal. There are many ways to be a bride, and many ways to wear a wedding dress. More than anything else, the dress should reflect the bride’s personality. APW brides come to us with this in mind, opening the door for a truly unique dress. From colored dresses to custom necklines, we’ve seen some beautiful creations with our APW brides. It has been a blast!
And really, what else is there to say. The Wedding Party operates by appointment only, and trust me when I say you want to have an appointment for the fall when those new dresses hit the racks. They’re going to be spectacular. (And you’re going to stay sane and solvent.) In fact, you might enjoy the whole wedding dress shopping process as much you imagined you would back when you were just dreaming on Pinterest. Imagine that.