If you’ve been reading along my crazy wedding planning journey, you already know that finding a wedding gown was challenging for me, to put it mildly. By the time I chose my dress, I had shopped at ten different dress salons on two different coasts and tried on easily 50-60 dresses. Just typing that made me exhausted.
At first, it was fun. I mean, trying on beautiful gowns is FUN. But, as the months wore on, I became anxious and worried. I was starting to doubt that I could find a gown I loved. I was seriously considering ordering a replica gown from a Chinese dress shop. Eventually, I was able to narrow it down to two, which I asked you lovelies to vote on. And vote you did! And guess what? I actually listened to you! Don’t say I never give you anything.
Here’s my beautiful gown, Melissa Sweet MS251004, from David’s Bridal.
(Side note: David’s Bridal, please, for the love of god, NAME your gowns! No one wants to call their gown by a stock number. It’s just gross. I know it’s more work for you, but I don’t care. You are a giant monster of a company. You can figure it out. I know you can.)
In case anyone is curious, I named by gown Bette. Because reasons. So there.
This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Brides Against Breast Cancer event in Pasadena at the Brookside Golf Club.
Brides Against Breast Cancer sells all brands of new designer and “gently worn” wedding gowns in all shapes and styles. Their “Nationwide Tour of Gowns” will contribute over $2million dollars this year and provides free support programs and services for those impacted by cancer. Education, nutrition, exercise, support and therapy are just some of the many programs and services they support, all designed to help cancer patients, their families and caregivers. Brides Against Breast Cancer will distribute over 10,000 breast “self-exam” cards this year. 2 MILLION DOLLARS. Wow.
It was my first time volunteering for this event, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I arrived at 8am, ready for anything!
First, a little business to take care of. Excuse me a minute – this message is just for my fiance.
OK, I think we’re alone now. I have something to say that may make all of you throw your hands up in frustration. I think I’m changing my mind about my wedding gown. I know, I know. You don’t have to say it, I know. I’m annoying myself. It’s awful.
If you’re new here, you can read about all my dress shenanigans here and here and here, and well…in many other posts as well. If you read my interview with Silver Charm Events, I spoke with Liz about my plan to get a dress custom made from a replica shop in China.
I am getting cold feet. (About the DRESS, not about Bob the Builder. Also, B the B, if you are reading this, I swear to God, GO AWAY!)
Here’s the short version. Well, as short as I can make it.
Two weekends ago, I went back to the LA bridal salon where I fell in love with the (way over budget) Jenny Packham May Blossom gown. I went and did some spy work, to get more information to give to Jasmine’s about the construction of the dress. Jasmine’s doesn’t have a pattern for the gown, they will construct it only from the photos I provide. I have amassed a LOT of photos of this bad boy. They say they can get 90-95% accuracy with this method. Anyway, two good friends (one who is also a costume designer) came with, and when we left she shop, they said, “Well, that’s not going to be easy to replicate.” Which I already knew. I did. But having someone say it to me gave me a moments pause.
A few days ago, I was stalking the Jasmine’s thread of Weddingbee, like you do – (well, like you do when you’re me) – and I noticed that some of the gowns that brides were receiving lately had some errors. Sizing, mostly. But, it made me think.
We have about seven months until the wedding.
If I order my dress from Jasmine’s, I won’t have it in my hands until late July/early August. If it’s not right, I only have two months to find a replacement dress. Do I really want to spend five months colloborating on a dress, worrying that it might not be perfect? I know myself well enough to know that honestly, imperfections drive me crazy. Is that really a gamble I want to take?
So, like any insane, Type A bride-to-be, I searched for a back-up dress. Actually, if I’m being honest, I already had one in mind, but this past weekend, I went to see it in person. And I love it.
It’s a Melissa Sweet ballgown, and I have been in love with her designs since she was with Priscilla of Boston. Long time readers will know the depth of my frustration with P of B. If you care to fall down the rabbit hole, read here and here.
Anyway, now I am in a pickle. I don’t think I want a back up dress. I think I only want to order ONE dress. So, do I order a replica of a dress that I love, and hope I am not disappointed that it’s not exactly like the original? Or do I go with the sure thing that already exists in the world?
I am breaking my own rule and posting photos of me in dresses.
(Bob the Builder, you better not still be reading…seriously.)
I’m putting it to a VOTE. Yup. My brain is scrambled. Tell me what you think.
For the purposes of the poll, please note: Price is not a factor, they are virtually the same price. Also, I was 20 lbs. heavier in the first pic. So, keep that in mind. Also, sorry for the scary faceless photos.
#1: Should I get a REPLICA of this dress? 90-95% accuracy, remember.
#2: Or this dress? Exactly this dress (in a size that actually fits me)
Oh, and you may have to wait until after the wedding to see what I chose. Because deep down, I’m evil like that. Sorry.
Two deals in one week? Both from Gilt? I think Gilt is fast becoming my new BFF!
Y’all know how I feel about the (ridiculously overpriced) beautiful stuff at BHLDN, so I’m stoked that it’s on sale today. Because, for real? No one should be paying full price over there. They have officially LOST THEIR MINDS when they set the prices at BHLDN.
Anyway, I digress. Here’s my faves from the sale:
Tulle Era Dress by BHLDN
Available in very few sizes, but such a beautiful dress! You could also rock this at your engagement party or rehearsal dinner. Gorgeous!
Vivacity Silk Dress by BHLDN
Killer bridesmaids dress! Love the color, love the price ($129)! And it’s available in many sizes. This is actually making me re-think my bridesmaid dress choice!
And, this time, your groom gets some love too!
Tuxedo by Jack Victor Studio
Also, clutches! Which I strangely want for the wedding, even though I KNOW I won’t use it. Have you ever seen the bride carry a purse? Whatever. This is a lovely clutch. Go buy it before I do.
Palm Springs Convertible Clutch by Inge Christopher
Ok, kids. Things are literally selling out as a type this. So, just get over there and shop before everything is gone!
I am in a real dilemma here, kids. I have been saving my pennies for a while now in order to have a healthy dress budget. And I have succeeded. But, now that I am getting closer to having to part with a very real, not-so-small amount of money on a wedding gown, my practical side has totally kicked in.
All this money for a dress I will only wear once –
(maybe twice, if we go ahead with our plans to have a Los Angeles reception too?)
If you frequent bridal message boards, like Weddingbee, you can certainly hear about (and see!) a lot of dresses made by Chinese dress shops like Jasmine’s Dress Shop. I spent HOURS the other day, having fallen down an internet rabbit-hole of Chinese replica dress research. I even emailed them to see if they had ever replicated my Jenny Packham May Blossom dress. (They haven’t).
Let me refresh your memory:
This is the original image from the Jenny Packham website, that Jasmine’s has posted on their site.
Jasmine’s Bridal Shop has this dress listed with a base price of $344.87. Yes, that’s right. Three HUNDRED dollars. I can tell you the retail price for this dress is $5600. Five THOUSAND dollars. Now, that $350 (ish) is just the basic polyester fabric, with their premium grade craftsmanship. If I upgraded both the fabric (to partial silk) and the craftsmanship (to designer grade), the price would be $674.44. With a few more tweaks (adding buttons to the back, extending the train, etc), it would come to about $800.
Y’all that would leave me with SO MUCH extra money to spend on cool things like a photo booth, and other things that I don’t even know that I want right now but will probably want at some point in the next 362 days.
It’s so tempting. But, it feels like such a huge risk. What if I go ahead and order this dress, and they get it wrong? I mean, they don’t have the pattern there, they are just going by the photos. This is from Jasmine’s own website (the bolding is me):
* Please note that our items are hand-made replicas, and they cannot be 100% exactly like the items in the photos. Just like hand-painted pictures, painting the same image twice can never be exactly the same. Each listing is for making you an item which is about 80-90% like the item in the photos we have provided (Premium Grade), and you can upgrade to 90-95% of accuracy in the Grade of Service option for most items. Before production, you must provide additional photos of the dress you want replicated if you have them available, as we only replicate according to what we can see in the photos. For what we cannot see or cannot see clearly, we will have to improvise according to the rest of the dress design which we can see. If you have any specific requirements, you must inform us prior to production to avoid any possible alteration fees.
* About our Quality: At Jasmine’s Bridal Shop, we take great pride in the dresses we make. Every dress is crafted using materials of top grade quality, and with great attention to detail and design. Before we ship the dresses, we email our customers photos of the finished dresses to ensure that the dresses meet their satisfaction, and our quality team goes over every inch of every dress to ensure perfection, as well as triple checking all the measurements.
So, since the Jenny Packham is a relatively simple design, it’s really all about the pickups on the skirt, which are delicate and intricate. And what if that’s the 10% that they have to “improvise”? And what if I order this dress and hate it, and then I am out $800?
What if? What if? What if?
A lot of the dresses I see on their blog and also Weddingbee feature dresses with a lot of embellishment – lots of lace, lots of beading. And they do that very well, it seems.
Original Mori Lee dress (that I would never, ever wear):
Original Mori Lee dress, style 2172
And the Jasmine’s Replica:
Jasmine’s Mori Lee replica
Not bad, right?
This is a replica of another Jenny Packham, the Aspen:
Replica Jenny Packham Aspen
And the real Aspen
(you might recognize this as a dress that Kate Middleton wore, but she wore it in teal):
Jenny Packham Aspen
They do take returns within 7 days of my getting the dress, so if I hate it, I could always send it back and just lose half the money. I don’t know why the simplicity of the dress has me so worried. If they can do a huge, ruffly thing like the above ball gown, certainly they can do something more classic? And the above Jenny Packham looks good? Right?
This weekend was the NY Bridal Market, which meant that I was stalking twitter and facebook for any and all updates from the runways like, well…a stalker.
If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever care about bridal runway shows, the answer would have been a resounding NO.
But not today! Today I want to buy ALL THE DRESSES! I swear to god, even the ones that aren’t my style or I know would look hideous on me…I still want them.
Here are my favorites from Bridal Market. Woo HOO!
Monique Lhuillier Photo credit: Brides.com
A lot of sleeves this season on the runway! Looks like the designers are catching up to Princess Kate finally! I love this dress – it’s simple and elegant, and still a little sexy. LOVE.
Theia Photo credit: Brides.com
Are you kidding me with the bead work on this dress? I mean, come ON. I am such a sucker for beadwork, and especially deco-inspired beadwork like this! Love it. And I also love that the model is carrying her bouquet at the correct height. Brides, take note: Hold your bouquet with (almost) straight arms – people want to see your dress!!
Alfred Angelo Photo credit: Brides.com
Honestly? Normally, I just ignore Alfred Angelo. I (almost) never like their designs – they always seem a little “off” to me. Like the bodice and the skirt don’t always go together. And, they were the first to jump on the “We have the Twilight dress” bandwagon, so just…barf. Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is, I super LOVE this dress. It’s clearly a rip-off of an old Priscilla of Boston gown, but that’s ok with me, since PofB went out of business. I’ll take a knock off PofB, sure! I may actually go try this dress on when it hits the store. I drive by the store everyday anyway.
Douglas Hannant Photo credit: Brides.com
There is nothing to say here, except: STUNNING.
If you are a regular reader, you’ll know that I met designer Anne Barge at Kleinfelds, and now we are BFF’s. Ok, not really. Here are some of her gorgeous new dresses. I want to wear all of them.
Anne Barge Photo Credit: Nordstrom Pinterest
Anne Barge Photo credit: Nordstrom Pinterest
Anne Barge (look, you can see my BFF Anne in the background!) Photo credit: Nordstrom Pinterest
And, my beloved Jenny Packham, look at this back!
Jenny Packham Azalea Photo Credit: Martha Stewart wedding Twitter feed
And last but not least, this amazing Badgley Mischka gown. I die.
Photo credit: Brides.com
If you want to see more brand new bridal fashion, Brides has the most comprehensive coverage, it seems. I’ll be looking at pretty dress photos for days!!
When we last left off on the Great Moxie Dress Search, I was loving the fact that my beloved Reem Acra was available at a slightly more reasonable price point. I did go to see it in person, but we’ll get to that later.
Once I planned my venue scouting trip to Philadelphia, I figured I should do a little NYC dress shopping. I mean, yes…it’s early in the process to buy a dress. Sort of. But, I was going to be at MoxieDad’s in CT, and that’s only a short train ride to my beloved New York City. Plus, then MoxieMom and The Professor (Bridesmaid S) could come along. So, I made an appointment at Kleinfelds. But we’ll get to that later.
I started to worry that I would fall in love with a Kleinfeld dress just because it was a Kleinfelds dress. I was afraid that I would be swept up in the moment. I clearly watch too much Say Yes to the Dress.
So, I made some appointments in Los Angeles. I figured the more information I had about what I liked and what looked good, the more prepared I’d be for the epicness that is Kleinfeld.
I had my eye on a specific Watters dress, the Napa, that I could not find in any real life salon in Los Angeles. I called all of them. No one had this dress.
Watters Napa with bolero
But, Panache Beverly Hills assured me they had many other Watters styles, and that I should come in and take a look.
On a sweaty Saturday afternoon, MOH CraftyPants and Bridesmaid LuLuB and I went into Beverly Hills. I came armed with my list of preferred Watters dresses, complete with style numbers, style names and dress descriptions. I handed the list to my consultant, and to my surprise, she had none of them. That’s right. NONE.
But since we were already there, I browsed around and picked out a few dresses. In a sea of poufy princess gowns, one gown spoke to me from the racks. As I looked at it more closely, my consultant said, “That’s a little over your budget.” Echos of past episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress” swirled around my brain. I knew what to do. I’ve seen this scenario a million times! I was ready. I was prepared. “I’ll try it on anyway.”, I said. Bridal FAIL, you guys. FAIL.
DON’T EVER DO THIS.
But, it was the only dress I actually liked. In the whole store.
This is not a small store.
I’m not going to show you photos of me in any of the dresses, because Bob the Builder reads this lil ole blog, and I don’t think he will be able to not look.
But I will post the model pic.
Because I do not look like a model. Especially this model, who needs someone to tell her a joke and bring her a sandwich.
She is Jenny Packham‘s May Blossom, and she is $1,560 over budget. Yeah, so…yeah.
Dear Model, Please look happier. You’re getting married!! In a very expensive gown!!
Isn’t this dress dreamy? You can’t tell from this awful photo, but the skirt is made of the softest ivory silk chiffon, and the bodice is a matte satin with a chiffon overlay. It’s ruched and folded in an upside down triangle, so your eye goes right to the beaded detail at the waist. It’s very Art Deco, it’s very gorgeous, and I totally know why it costs what it does. The pickups in the chiffon are so delicate, and as far as I can tell, they are tied (?) and then handstitched. The whole thing is just so delicate and feminine and romantic. Le sigh…
My consultant offered me an appointment during the Jenny Packham trunk show, which would only make the dress $1085 over budget. But that’s before alterations, shoes, veil, accessories. It’s a slippery slope.
Better to just walk away…
What are today’s lessons?
1. Don’t try on dresses that are over your budget.
2. Don’t believe a salon when they tell you they have a specific dress. They are probably just trying to get you into said salon.
Licking my wounds, we went to get salads for lunch. I still had another dress appointment later in the day. Check back in for my experience at Lovely – both in Los Angeles and New York!
(MoxieBrides are bi-coastal!)
So, tell me…what would you have done? Suck it up and gone over budget? Start a kickstarter campaign for the gorgeous dress? Or would your practical side take over, like it did to me?