This Is What Wedding Dress Shopping Dreams Are Made Of BHLDN's New IRL Salons are A+ by Meg Keene This is a paid post from an APW sponsor. Many of us on the APW staff like to talk about how when back when we got married, you had to walk uphill both ways in the snow just to buy a (terrible, overpriced, strapless) wedding dress. And while it’s easy to joke, we all know that the traditional wedding dress salon experience was, is, and generally remains fifteen kinds of terrible. I’d list all the ways, but why bother, because we’ve all watched Say Yes to the Dress, and wept over the average $5,000 budget, the required year-in-advance purchase, the absolute mystery around what anything costs before you walk in, and the lack of sample sizes for women over a size six. But 2017 is here, and the wedding salon experience is finally, finally changing, thanks to the amazingly smart and talented team at BHLDN. IRL WEDDING STORES THAT #SLAY Over the last few years, you’ve probably heard us wax poetic about BHLDN, the Anthropologie-owned wedding brand that is basically what my 2009 wedding dreams were made of. BHLDN has created an online shopping experience that encapsulates all that is good in weddings: fashion-forward looks, not secret(!) prices, dresses you can order and return on a normal timeline. But until recently, if you or your mama wanted to have a dress shopping experience that was more than just pulling a dress out of a box and trying it on in front of the floor length mirror in your closet, you were out of luck. So we couldn’t be more delighted to find out that BHLDN has decided to get into the IRL wedding dress salon game, with fourteen locations in major metropolitan areas around the United States. And because there is nothing we wouldn’t do for you guys (particularly if it involves spending a day playing in mountains of tulle), we packed our bags and went down to the new Anthropologie & Co. in Palo Alto to give their brick-and-mortar BHLDN a test run. Result: I think one of our models might marry her brand-new significant other just for the dress. (We support this as a solid life choice, riiigghhhhttttt?) WHAT MY WEDDING DREAMS ARE MADE OF Shopping at BHLDN is everything my wedding dreams are made of, in a way that I’ve never gotten to experience up till now. Not because my wedding dreams are so impossibly lofty, but because the wedding dress industry is generally so terrible. And finally (FINALLY) somebody got it right. (I’m sure the fact that they are staffed by women who have all recently planned weddings or have friends that are getting married has a 1:1 correlation to why they’re killing the game.) WHAT IT’S LIKE TO SHOP AT A BHLDN STORE When we walked into BHLDN we were met by sales associates that were not working on commission. (Times this happens in normal wedding salons: approximately zero.) They were delightful and wanted us do have a good experience but had zero attachment to the outcome (or the price tag). Once I got over how beautiful the BHLDN salon is—it’s more or less the best of Pinterest IRL—I was delighted by how much variety there was. In all of my years in the wedding industry, I’ve never been at a shop where I could easily try on short wedding dresses, wedding separates, wedding gowns, wedding jumpsuits (swoon), and non-white wedding dresses. Plus the range of prices was huge, and what you got for your money at every price point seemed like a wedding miracle. (I fell in love with this dress below, which costs $2,400, but easily looks like a $10,000 dress). And to top it all off, while BHLDN had a stunning range of wedding accessories, from traditional to more hip, and the stylist also had access to the whole Anthropologie store. So when I wanted something a little edgier to pair with my wedding separates, they ran down stairs and got me some chunky jewelry. And when I was looking for something bright to pair with a swank ’70s jumpsuit, I was able to grab these Loeffler Randall shoes from the Anthropologie shoe section. (Which… may have come home with me as a late Christmas present…) Almost every woman on our team, from models to production interns, found a dream dress (or, um, five) in that store. I could have spent half the day trying on every possible combination of wedding separates (something I hope will take over the industry soon), but until the day I have time for that, I might get this to wear around the office. I KID! But I seriously am pondering saving up for this sweater: So if you’re about to start wedding dress shopping and are dreading the choice between the traditional salon experience and ordering a dozen dresses online then hoping you remember return them within the appropriate window of time, then the new salon experience from BHLDN might be the dress shopping experience of your dreams. This post was sponsored by BHLDN. If you’re looking for gorgeous, affordable wedding dresses and a store experience that makes you feel empowered, then head here and make an appointment for yourself at one of the new BHLDN salons. BHLDN’s salon experience is available at fourteen different locations including New York, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and the Bay Area. CreditsPhotography: Jamie Thrower for A Practical Wedding | Venue: BHLDN Palo Alto | Hair and Makeup: Yesenia Guinea Meg Keene Founder & Editor-In-Chief Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.