Dress Shopping, The Lovely Edition

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

There haven’t been many updates of late about the Practical Wedding itself, but that’s just because when you are 16 months away from your wedding most news days are slow news days. And too much of us is tres boring, no? But, this weekend, I went wedding dress shopping with two of my girlfriends, and it was so much fun that I had to fill you in on the details.

We started with brunch at Brenda’s French Soul Food, which was indescribably tasty. Always fatten yourself up before dress shopping, I say. Next, we decided the easiest way to get where we were going was by cable car, so on we hopped. The cable car trundled it’s way up the hill, right past Grace Cathedral, where my parents got married 33 years ago. I got a little teary then, for the only time that day.

Our appointment was at a high end dress shop with a huge selection. It was filled with dresses I couldn’t/wouldn’t afford, but I was getting desperate. I hadn’t seen a single dress that I was even vaguely willing to consider, and without some real ideas, it seemed impossible to even think about getting a dress made, or visualizing it into existence, or whatever the game plan is.

I ended up with the worlds nicest helper. When I told her I didn’t care about prices since I was just getting ideas, not buying, she actually clapped and hopped up and down. Off she tore to the vault o’ bride, from whence she emerged with at least 10 dresses. I’ve heard a lot of brides say they went into the shopping experience with firm ideas, and came out with a different dress. But stubborn me? Nope. Everyone thought my idea of long and lace was a little dubious and possibly old fashioned, until I put one on. And then, happiness and joy! Long and lace was lovely! Of course it was $5K, so did not buy it, but at least I know what I like (though retro dress shopping approaches apace!)

Funniest moment of the day? Me standing in front of a mirror in a ginormous wedding dress with a long train, a cathedral length veil, and some fake flowers.

Girlfriend: (teary)
Me: Huh.
Girlfriend: Oh, if only David could see you now!
Me: I think he’d say that this was a little bit much.
Girlfriend: God, remind me not to marry someone that cynical. I need some romance.

Now a sneak peek of the dress that cost too much, with the train that I am to clumsy to have:

Meg Keene

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.

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  • you are hilarious. I love this look. $5k? Yikes. I’ve heard great things about netbride, pearl’s place and other online retailers. You can punch in the name, # of the dress you love and the usually have it for a great deal! And having someone local make a dress for you is also a great option.

    Can’t wait to see what you choose!

  • Anonymous

    That sort of looks like what Jenna Bush wore. If it is, then David’s Bridal is coming out with a replica of her dress. I also some sheath dresses I loved at Black House White Market and Nordstrom’s. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Duh, I already checked” but I wanted to feel helpful.

  • Meg

    We didn’t take a picture! Next time, next time. All pictures were of course on the sly. And it was Lazaro. I met him in person as well (it was a trunk show) and he was super chill and really nice, not even a little bit what you would expect.

  • Denise

    I think I tried on that dress too! Were you at the Bridal Galleria? I had the world’s nicest helper there also, and was bummed that I didn’t end up getting my dress from there, just because of her. I think her name was Shauna? Anyway, I found a long and lacy Pronovias dress that was under $1200.

  • looooooove that dress! it is beautiful! and your line about “valut-o-bride” had me cracking up.

  • Awww…This makes me wish I had tried on some dresses with family.

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    I love love love the bottom of that dress (is it Monique L’Hullier? I fell for a lace sheath by her but it was ÂŁ4000!) Can we see a picture of you in the princess dress?! Please? Pretty please? Go on!

  • I think long and lace will be lovely too!! Not old-fashioned at all.
    Yes, there was a dress at the shop where I bought mine that was FAB-YOU-LOUS fabulous, and it too was $5K. It was pleated – you know, like your grandmother used to do to her skirts. Awesome!! I have never seen another one like it. But, oh well, I couldn’t really spend that much on a dress, so it was not meant to be….

    Good luck with the dress shopping/experience. Keep us updated!

  • Meg

    Denise: Yes! Where did you find yours?

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    Ooh, Lazaro dresses are gorgeous. I fell for a bridesmaids dress by him but I couldn’t find it to try it on. It was stunning. And my experience has been that men in the wedding industry are usually a lot nicer than women in the wedding industry. I may just have had bad experiences but nearly all of the women I have come into contact with have been foul but the men have been lovely and super helpful. A really expensive and well known London floral designer even told me how to recreate his most famous bouquet myself, step by step. I was shocked after all of the horrible ‘wedding women’ I met!

  • denise

    Although I got married in SF, I live in LA so just ended up getting my dress at a bridal salon down here. I really wanted to get it up there, but with fittings etc. it ended up being much easier. And my 2nd bridal consultant was just as wonderful. Once I got serious and she knew what my budget was, she didn’t pull any of that “Oh, but you CAN’T put a price on such an important dress!” crap. She refused to let me even try on dresses that were way out of the range. My dress was reduced because it was a 2007 style, but even so, I think Pronovias prices are very reasonable, and my dress looked well-made compared to others’ in that price range.

  • Meg

    Denise! Where in LA?? My family is in LA!

  • denise


    I went to a place out in the Valley called Lilli’s Bridal. Leanne was the woman who helped me. I’m not sure if she’s still there anymore, though. I think she had recently moved and the commute was killing her. Anyway, it’s not a snobby place (well, that wasn’t my experience) and they had a decent selection in the $1100-1500 price range. They also have this back room with discounted samples. I’ll send you a link to my wedding pics if you’re interested.

  • Oh, this is so exciting! I can’t wait to see more!

    I have had the same experience where you try something you think feels ridiculous and your loved ones get all teary… very amusing!

  • Nell

    I found my dress in the store and then went online. Same dress, custom made to fit, shipped for free, and got it in a month! The store price (with those poofy underthings that itch like crazy and not including the fittings that are a must have) $850, and it would that an entire college semester to get to my hometown. The online price, $150. I love the idea of a wedding dress, but I will only be wearing it for four hours…unless I decide that I want to be a zombie bride for my first married Halloween ^^. I highly recommed dhgate.com, just make sure you check the ratings before you buy!