Anybody who knows me knows that I’ve been dreaming about this dress ever since I can remember. I have books dedicated to wedding dresses. I watch Say Yes to the Dress more than I’d like to admit. I had extremely high expectations and to be honest, I was worried that I wouldn’t find anything that matched my dreams.
I was wrong.
You know what they all say, you try it on and you just know. Psh, I thought that was a bunch of baloney. Especially as I kept trying on dress after dress…nothing felt right. Nothing felt like me. I found beautiful dresses everywhere I went but nothing felt like my wedding dress. Soon, it felt like the timeline was getting shorter and shorter, well actually it was. We had to move the wedding up four months (read the story here).
In one last ditch effort, my mom and I drove all the way down to Sea-Tac to try to find my dream gown. We went to one bridal store to start off the morning and I was not pleased. We actually worked with the owner and she was quite pushy, telling me that I needed to walk out with a dress that day or else I would never find anything and I needed to take the sample dress that I had tried on (first of all…it was ugly. Secondly, it was dirty from everyone trying it on and she wasn’t willing to clean it for us). We walked out of there empty handed. Not even a business card in tote. 10/10 don’t recommend.
So feeling a little discouraged, we decided to go to this shop called Pearls & Lace. I was a little apprehensive, they don’t take any appointments you just walk right in. From the outside, it certainly doesn’t look like much but inside it is bridal gown heaven. There were more dresses in here that I’ve ever seen in my life. Not quite the level of Kleinfield’s, but it’s up there. Basically, it’s a renovated apartment building and each “apartment” has a different designer or style of dress of all different price points. You help yourself, there isn’t a salesperson that puts you in or out of the dresses (taking away the awkward getting naked in front of a stranger thing) and you get to pull the dresses yourself (meaning you only try things on that you’re interested in AND that you approve of the price point. That’s a huge perk). Coming from the pushy saleswoman, this was such a sigh of relief!
They even had, my favorite part, a sales rack. Now if you know anything about me, you should know that I love a good deal. I live for a good deal. Finding my wedding dress at a discount?? That’s the ultimate goal. I had been trying on sale and sample gowns on for a while now, especially considering our new time frame. They always seemed to be the wrong size or in pretty bad shape. But I decided to try some on just in case. None of them really caught my eye or looked promising, I was drawn to all the other gowns in the store. Well I tried on a couple at first, total bust. Then there was this one dress that actually my mom had pulled from the sale rack. It had beading all over with this really unique gold and silver thread throughout. However, it was 4-6 sizes too big and it was strapless, one thing I was very much against. But I decided to try it on anyway because why not? We weren’t on a time limit and it was sitting in the room. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight because of the sizing issue and the strapless but the bottom of the gown took my breath away. Oh my goodness. It’s a modified ball gown, which is completely different from anything I had been looking at (so far I had loved more fitted gowns, surprising. A lot of soft fit & flare). There was just something about it that was just magical.
I tried on the rest of the dresses we picked out but kept coming back to that one sample dress. Something about it just felt right! But it needed a lot of tailoring. The sizing was way off and the top was far from what I wanted or needed. We had one more appointment to get to so we put the dress on a temporary hold to sleep on it and try to get in touch with a seamstress to see if my vision would be possible.
Our last stop was a store called Blue Sky Bridal. If you are looking for a dress but you want to save some money but don’t want to compromise on the quality or look of the dress, you need to add this shop to your list. It’s a consignment store but not just any consignment store. They treat their gowns with such care that there is not a piece of string or loose bead anywhere to be found. They have a large selection in various sizes and lengths to fit any bride and their budget. I was very impressed! Most of the gowns came from designer labels as well, for well over half the price. These dresses have either been worn by brides or models for photo shoots so they have only been out of the showroom once and they are in pristine condition. Only the best will do! I appreciated the fact that you still received the bridal experience as well. They helped you shop and narrow down your options on the sales floor and helped you step into the gowns as well. There will be only one or two other people in the whole store, I happened to be there by myself so it was just my mom and the saleswoman, so you really get to feel the center of attention. I almost fell in love with a gown there, you can see it below. Without a doubt, if the Allure Couture gown was not in the picture, this would have been the one to come home with me. But after sleeping on it and talking with a seamstress (who happens to be a good friend of a friend!) I felt confident with my decision to go with the Pearls & Lace gown from Allure.
Erin McSwain was our seamstress. She’s a good friend of our wedding coordinator, which is how we were connected. She is absolutely amazing. She listened to the concerns I had about the dress and made all my dreams come true. We were able to order some extra tulle and lace from the dress so that the top would match perfectly. From there, we constructed the illusion neckline and added the lace to bring everything upward and to eliminate any cleavage. We also made the veil out of the same tulle as it had a slight blush undertone and proved difficult to match. I used an extra piece of lace to wrap around my bouquet so that it would also match my dress just for a little extra touch. We took a lot of the layers out from underneath to bring down some of the ballgown shape and make it a little more manageable. As for how she made it fit without taking apart the dress? That remains a mystery to me. That’s Erin working her magic! I can hardly believe it’s the same dress. She even made the bustle for us since it didn’t have one built in, surprisingly. Moral of the story? If you decide you want to buy a sample dress or want to go the route of having a custom dress made, find a good seamstress that you trust and has the experience to back to it up. If so, the sky is the limit. Trust their expertise and all will be well with the world!
I included the model shots from the Allure Couture website below so you can see how the dress fit originally (or was supposed to fit) and then some wedding pictures so you can see how it has changed! I never would have thought that I would be able to wear a one of a kind dress on my wedding day. It still feels a little surreal. It all came together so perfectly.