a journey toward non-traditional wedded bliss, with style

Pretty, Pretty Dresses November 16, 2008

I’m still astonished that after over a year of complete immersion in wedding planning and reading wedding blogs and magazines, there are still so many wedding dress designers I haven’t heard of yet. Like Sharon Bowen, whose site I randomly found yesterday when I was idly veil shopping. Her dresses are artistic and gorgeous, and range from princess to punk.


I don’t know if it’s just the lighting, but the pale yellow tones in this dress are soft and pretty, and I love the flower detailing in the front.


This reminds me of Marie Antoinette meets Bride of Frankenstein, but somehow in a good, fashion forward way.


Play Dress Up at Olivia Luca May 22, 2008

Normally I’m not a fan of virtual dressing rooms, but the design your own gown feature at Olivia Luca is pretty awesome.

You start off by selecting your skin tone on a sliding scale and then from there you can choose from hundreds of combinations of bodice styles, necklines, skirts, fabrics, and colors. The prices seem very reasonable, and they offer lots of fair-trade and eco-friendly fabric. They also offer the same feature for bridesmaid dresses. Even a quick look through the photo gallery is worth it, to showcase the dresses and for the cool tunnel vision photography effect.


Monique and I meet again May 5, 2008

Somehow in my frenetic weekend schedule I managed to squeeze in a Monique Lhuillier trunk show to try on a few more dresses. Even though I’m mostly decided on my final two contenders it never hurts to exhaust all your options…and I’ve made it a point to do just that. Who doesn’t love trying on dresses?

Since I can never get away from my English major tendencies, let me sum up my experience with an analogy: Monique Lhuillier is to Wedding Dresses as Apple is to Technology. I adore Apple products. They always look adorable and more streamlined than anything else on the market, have relevant advertising with sweet music, and I will put it out there that I’m pretty much addicted to my I-Pod. The issue with Apple is that once you start, it’s hard to go back especially if you’re a sucker for packaging like I am. Of course as Drew very reasonably points out to me, their products cost much more than an equivalent, though less adorable, options do.

The Monique Lhuillier dresses felt the same way to me. Judging on advertising and reputation alone, Monique Lhuillier dresses are top of the line. Her fabric is gorgeous, the details exquisite…I can attest to all of this. However, they do come with an enormous price tag, starting just under $4,000 but most of the dresses running from $5,000 to $8,000.

So really it comes down to priorities. Especially with the style of dress I’m attracted to, there wasn’t anything stellar enough for me to justify the price tag. But at the same time, I’m 99% sure I want to buy a Mac Air so if there had been a dress that felt like the one, I may have been powerless to resist…

This dress is stunning in the picture and on the rack, just not on me. Maybe the sizing of the dress was just too off, or maybe it wasn’t fitting right after so many people trying it on, but the pleating on the bust stuck straight out. I mean, really straight out. I looked like one of those lizards with a neck ruff. Whatever it was, it was more funny than flattering.

There weren’t any parts of this dress I didn’t like. The billowy effect was Grecian and pretty (although I know I would snag the side panels on something almost immediately). It just wasn’t love…

This isn’t the exact dress I tried on, but it’s very close. The bodice on the one I tried on didn’t have beading, and had a slight frayed edge right around my waist, which was a subtle unexpected detail I loved. But again, it didn’t have that little something extra I’m looking for.


Online Window Shopping April 1, 2008

While I always say I am an avid online shopper, I think a more appropriate term for what I do would be online window shopping. Of course when I got engaged, my random browsing took on a new focus. I do feel that in many ways the internet is the best planning tool a bride can have. Not only is it free (which big, glossy wedding magazines are NOT, although I have accumulated far too many already) but there are infinite ideas, inspiration, and tips if you know where to look.

Its also possible to take your online wedding planning to the next level: ie purchasing your wedding paraphernalia from the billion of internet vendors that exist. For things like invitations and accessories I’m all for it, especially because the internet allows you the freedom to shop for what you really want which might not be possible in your hometown. But as I get deeper into planning my own wedding, I’ve found there are some things I don’t want to compromise on.

I’m all for saving money, and I’m certain that there are many reputable online dealers where you can get designer bridal gowns at knockdown prices.Yet while this may well be selfish, I want to splurge not just on the dress itself, but on the experience of buying the dress. I’ve already hinted at my hatred for David’s Bridal, and that mostly springs from the fact that when I tried on dresses there, I felt like an assembly line bride. Not to mention the terrible petticoats and girdles they shove every customer into prior to trying on gowns, regardless of your size or shape. The experience as well as the dresses feel so manufactured.

So far, I’ve had much better luck with small bridal boutiques like La Jeune Mariee in Worthington and Saks Fifth Avenue Bridal department which is much smaller than it sounds. Most of the dresses are more expensive, but the whole process felt individualized and relaxed. Both of the women who helped me sat down with me first to talk about my personal style and devoted their attention entirely to me. As of now I’ve narrowed the dress hunt down to four that have drastically ranging prices from $600 to $5,000. Whether I choose one of these dresses or something totally unexpected, I’m glad I’ll have the luxury of doing it at my own pace and in a comfortable environment.

However, I do want to say, here and now that I don’t believe in either vacuum sealing your dress in a box never to see the light of day again, or saving it for your daughter. The odds that she will want to wear a dress that reflects your style and your taste are slimmer than Victoria Beckham, and the more money you spend on your dress, the more ridiculous either of these options become, at least for me. I’m undecided as to what I’ll do with my dress after the wedding…maybe I’ll get it altered so that I can wear it as a cocktail dress. Or maybe I’ll cater to gutsier girls than me and sell it online.

Whatever I do, it probably won’t be as clever as the site that sparked this unusually wordy post. Check out The Thousand Dollar Dress if you’re in a similar predicament, or you just want some more of those inventive ideas the internet is all about.


Bargains and more at Monsoon March 24, 2008

I’ve already posted some fairly gorgeous flower/feather hairpieces as veil alternatives, but the only downside was their relatively high cost. I understand that a higher price tag from designers like Haute Bride and Leah C. comes from the handmade quality and customizable options that they offer, but like any girl I also love a good bargain. These cheekily named hair “fascinations” from the UK store Monsoon are not only fabulous but much cheaper, even with the unfavorable exchange rate for the dollar right now. Sure they may not be made out of quite as luxurious materials but they look lovely to me.


The store itself is also worth checking out, with a full range of pretty things from clothes to home goods, and even some simple bridal gowns! Wrap that all up with the company’s commitment to supporting fair trade and multicultural products, and you’ve got one stop wedding/decorating/fashion shopping with a conscience. Thank you to Harrods Girl at I am Fashion posting about this store!

To the left is an example of one of Monsoon’s bridal gowns. I’m partial to anything with a sweetheart neckline and the textured quality the embossing gives the dress is really appealing too. If you’re looking for this no-fuss, streamlined look for your wedding they have quite a few options and they also offer outfits for bridesmaids, flower girls and ring bearers.

On the fashion front, this black openwork top has a chic Art Deco feeling and has the versatility of being dressed up or down easily. Coincidentally it also has another one of my weaknesses, namely fabric covered buttons. I may have to order it.

To complete the shopping circuit, I really like this bedding collection. Since we are in the process of shopping for a new house or condo (very exciting!) I have decorating on the brain. As of now, I’m pretty decided on using calm, tranquil colors for the bedroom and this subtle blue, green, and gold floral print would accomplish that nicely, I think.


Non-Wedding Wedding Dresses March 9, 2008

Filed under: fashion,gowns,style,weddings — laragale @ 10:43 pm
Tags: , , ,

One aspect of wedding planning that I feel the most conflicted about is “the dress.” The proverbial gorgeous gown that causes your mother to weep with joy as the dressing room door swings open, and gives you the unmistakable fluttery feeling in your stomach that says that this is the one. Unfortunately, however, this feeling usually comes with a fairly hefty price tag attached.

Now, I love fashion. I’m also willing to spend a good amount of money on pieces I love, especially when the photographs of that particular outfit will be on my wall for years to come. But what continues to perplex me is the mark-up on wedding gowns just because they are wedding gowns. A similar gown in another color, with the same quality fabric and construction, even by the same designer will sometimes run you thousands less.

In this spirit I’ve put together some of my favorite non-wedding wedding dresses. I think that wearing something slightly unusual down the aisle can create just as much of a statement as a beaded princess ballgown with a ten foot train. Plus, as I like to remember, what you save on your gown you can spend on your shoes!

Carmen Marc Valvo

Who says the bride has to wear white? The color is fresh and gorgeous, and the billowy chiffon would be beautiful for an outdoor wedding. This dress is $1,190 at Neiman Marcus.

Vintage Dress

Vintage dresses are another way to make an entirely unique statement. This sweet lace dress could be dressed up or down depending on how you accessorize. A bargain at $485 at Antique Dress.


I think this dress is stunning. Its feels Grecian but not in an overbearing way, and I love the silvery blue details. A bonus perk is that it is only $238 from Nordstrom.

BM dress

Badgley Mischka makes lovely wedding dresses, but they usually retail from $6,000 to $10,000. This gown has the glamour factor with the embellishment and draping seen on many designer bridal gowns, and as evening wear is priced at $995 from Saks.