Friday, April 30, 2010

Dress Stress: It's (practically) over!

As Greg sneaked into his last post, I did indeed buy my wedding dress. Not just *a* dress — as Greg was suspicious of — *my* dress.

I held off announcing this on the blog until I'd told my bridal party (to be revealed later!) when I was in San Francisco this month. They know how crazy I can be, so they weren't too weirded out by my quick decision.

I ended up going the used route, though with some nice quirks that really sealed the deal. First, I checked out what was available in my area and in my price range using the awesome advanced search on Preowned Wedding Dresses. I knew I couldn't just find a pretty dress, buy it final sale and pay for shipping across the country. I luckily found a designer gown that was my aesthetic and my size, and within a few days of e-mailing and calendar-swapping, I took the Metro a couple of stops and tried it on.

Confession: This actually happened before my mother-daughter David's Bridal trip. You know, the time when I still didn't know what was right on me. The time when I was sans mom. Ugh.

For those reasons, I told the seller I had to think about it. She took a few photos and e-mailed them to me, which within seconds were in my mom's inbox. And she was cautiously happy, as was I.

Enter mom's last-minute business trip and David's Bridal excursion. I told her that her presence was "a sign" — yes, I'm one of *those* people — that she had to come see the used dress. Cue angels singing.

 My mom's kind of singing angel - Frankie Avalon as Teen Angel in "Grease," one of our family faves.

The seller had gotten other offers, but she liked that I was local, the first to have contacted her and had cash in hand. We went, we loved, I paid. :)

Having gotten my shopping addiction from my mom, I knew it was really special to both of us for the dress shopping to be a team effort. And the fact that everything just happened to work out — the local seller, the business trip, the great deal — makes the dress so much more special for the big day.

P.S. The dress does need to be hemmed, so that's why I say "practically" in the title. Hopefully there's no stress with that.

P.P.S. The seller had her wedding outdoors in Hawaii — how great is that? What a cool story my dress has...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wisdom from "Say Yes to the Dress"

This weekend, Sharon endured the Dodgers' visit to Washington (two games in person, one game on TV). Since I figured I owed her one, we watched the Season 5 premiere of TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress."

I'm usually pretty opposed to the Exploitation Channel ... errr, I mean, TLC ... with shows about people with too many kids, who are too fat to leave their own homes, or who are barely 4 feet tall as adults.

Anyways, SYTTD did a nice episode showing brides who were in violation of fashion consultant Randy's "rules" for dress shopping, which I'll paraphrase:

(1) Don't keep shopping for dresses once you've bought one.
(2) Don't try on a dress that's out of your price range.
(3) Don't keep secrets from your consultant (such as, "I already have my heart set on a dress I saw at another store").

It's easy to see how any of these three can result in disappointment.

I don't think we've explicitly announced it here, but Sharon bought a dress a few weeks ago. It's sitting in a garment bag in our closet, and I've been admonished not to touch it or look at it in the 365+ days until our wedding.

Yet SYTTD episodes continue to clog our DVR. Maybe Sharon is in violation of Rule 1? Even more so the woman whom Sharon bought the dress from; she bought five wedding dresses because she couldn't decide. Such indecision can be expensive, as it's hard to sell a dress, even unworn, for what you paid for it, not to mention the hassle involved. Maybe it's better to do a little more thinking before whipping out the credit card?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sharon's San Francisco trip

Sharon is wrapping up a 5-day trip to San Francisco to scout out a pair of venues and accomplish other wedding-planning chores. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, I've been holding down the fort in D.C.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A monster of a proposal

Greg mentioned that I absolutely love mascots, so how could I resist a mascot *proposal*?!

The Phillie Phanatic (of the Philadelphia Phillies) is all sorts of gleeful, and Olympic skater Apolo Ohno is the lucky, lucky groom. :)

(source found via the Phillies' official Twitter feed)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dress Stress: The two-dress debate

I love deals and getting the most use out of everything, so having just one dress for the wedding seems like my logical choice. Fall in love with a gown and milk it for all it's worth; simple, right?

Some brides like to get a separate dress for the reception. It can be a more playful look to match a party atmosphere or a simpler number just to be rid of the pouf and train. Even the most mainstream bridal designers have caught onto this need and offer tons of options for short dresses.

Walk down the aisle... (source)

... then dance the night away! (source)

However, having a seamstress put in a bustle — in which the train is lifted up onto the back of the gown via ribbons, hooks or buttons —  has become the norm in solving the moving-around issue.

In my case, the main reason for getting a second dress is cultural. The traditional Chinese wedding dress is called a cheongsam/qipao (or some variation on those spellings) and is usually worn today by brides during the reception. The dress usually features red and gold, and some pretty phoenix or floral design.

An example of a cheongsam. (source)

A Weddingbee blogger decided on a cheongsam for her wedding and describes the experience very well (complete with lots of photos!). Formerly a co-host of "The View," journalist Lisa Ling even put a modern spin on the look for her wedding.

Making the dress change has been done in about half of my family's weddings (the few I've been alive for). Two aunts and a cousin decided to make the switch out of their white dresses for their Chinese banquets (sorry, no photos since they happened in the days of non-digital film and they're at my parents' house).

And that brings up another question: How often does a bride wear something so traditional if she's not having a Chinese reception? (The traditional-ness of the reception is a whole other issue, but as of now, we're looking into other options.) I wonder if it would look out of place or cheesy.

For now, I'm shying away from getting a cheongsam, but there's also something to be said for keeping some tradition in such a big celebration.

Do you think I should get a second dress and why?

P.S. There is another reason why a two-dress bride you may be, but that's usually a matter of shopping, hehe!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dress Stress: The used route

Even before making the mother/daughter trip to David's Bridal, the idea of buying a used dress had piqued my interest. Gone are the days of having such a thing be a curse on a marriage. Tough economic times have pushed brides to recoup some of their expenses, and there's a sense of camaraderie in making someone else's big day super special with a dress she wouldn't be able to afford otherwise.

A quality dress at a fraction of the cost? I'm game.

Some of the main online marketplaces for dresses are
Preowned Wedding Dresses, Once Wed, Recycled Bride and old local standby Craigslist. The first site is my favorite with the ability to search by street size, dress length, ZIP code, designer and more.

Preowned Wedding Dresses' fab advanced search. (screenshot

In some cases, the dress you get might not even have been worn at a wedding. Many times, newly engaged gals will get overly anxious and snatch up a dress quick, fearing they won't find anything before the big day. Or they'll just change their minds. That's how you can luck out with getting a great dress, new with tags and without having to wait for it to be manufactured. Or salons will try to make way for new styles by selling their gently tried-on samples.

The catch is that 99 percent of the time, the dress will be final sale, with the buyer usually paying shipping costs. The majority of people who are successful through these sites likely have a specific dress or designer in mind and know what size they'd be because they've already tried it on at a bridal salon.

Quality is the biggest concern, and sellers are good about explaining a dress's history, such as if it's had any alterations or if there are traces of dirt. They give measurements, and best in my book, they provide pictures of real people in the dresses! Even if you don't like the idea of used, these sites may be a good resource just to get perspective. Photos of hungry, grumpy models can really turn you off to a dress.

Now it was just a matter of searching around and seeing what higher-end designers I even clicked with...

What's your take on going used for a wedding dress? Too much of a stigma attached? Or does it make simple budgetary sense?