Attire & Accessories Forum

Wedding Dress Shopping - which type of store is best?

I am going dress shopping in May, and I can wait! I am trying to decide which stores I want to  go to, so I was curious for thoughts/opinions on going to a more boutique, need an appointment store vs a bigger, no appointment needed store? There are both types near me, all which have good reviews. Anyone with experience, good or bad, at either? Thanks!

Re: Wedding Dress Shopping - which type of store is best?

  • I went to both types of stores and for the most part I preferred the ones where I needed an appointment and had a consultant.  The consultants have seen many different girls and body types and can put you in dresses that you wouldn't normally pick out for yourself.  If you read many of the posts, most girls don't end up with the dress style they felt they wanted.

    At the no appointment needed store - I had to fend for myself.  I had to have a friend help me in and out of dresses, the mirrors were always occupied (I went on a busy Saturday and the place also sold bride and pageant dresses).  I had to pull my own dresses and guess what might look good on me (never stepping out of my comfort zone).

    For your first store, I would highly encourage you to go to one where you have a dedicated (or at least mostly dedicated) consultant to help you try on different shapes and styles.


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    Anniversary
  • Thank you! This was exactly the kind of insight I was looking for :)
  • What type of "larger" stores are you thinking of? When I went to David's Bridal I still had a consultant (granted, she didn't have the time or effort to follow up with my like some of the consultants at other, smaller boutiques).

    I do agree that having a consultant is really helpful. At the very least, because she can pull dresses more quickly than I'd be able to find them. Plus, to me, they all look the same on the hanger.
  • hyechica81hyechica81 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Comment First Answer
    edited March 2014
    it all depends on what you want do you want a unique dress something that has not been seen before or hardly seen? do you want something say like a davids bridal dress that has been all over the internet and web?

    i went to davids tried on 2 dresses on a weekday on a whim i did not like both of them and everything else i wanted to try on they did not have and the consultant was helping  me and 3 others at the same time not what i wanted davids tends to have the consultants work with more than one bride

    i hit up some local places and that was such a better experience i had one on one with a consultant i was given  free range to look at gowns i got to try on as many as i wanted in my price point i was not rushed or pressured into purchasing something. i am plus size so i found 3 places that had gowns one was a sample store nothing in my bridal size fit right older style dresses.

    second store small shop owner/consultant handles all the brides, lots of options from different designers i got to see all the dresses and decided if i wanted to try them on . ended up going back and purchasing my mori lee 3098 it was 1000

    3rd store dresses were on racks but the racks were a little un oraganized i got to try on 7 dresses but nothing caught my eye and the consultant did not get my vision

    what i reccomend you do is figure out your budget what you can afford

    some affordable designers are mori lee, jasmine, venus, bonny, allure, morie lee has gowns starting at 500
    some more pricier designers are lazaro, pronovias, hayley paige those start at about 2500 and up

    look up some designers dresses see what you like do a store locate for your area call up some of the salons give them your max budget and say do you have anything for me also ask them what size samples they have so you can make sure you can try on dresses.

    i would def check out smaller salons vs the national discount ones you will have a better experience
  • We went to as many stores as we could cram into a four day schedule.  You never know where you'll find the dress!
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  • I didn't have the typical experience. I went to one place associated with a YWCA that gets designer sample dresses donated (Kleinfeld, RK Bridal, local shops with Maggie Sottero, Mori Lee, David Tutera by Faviana, Lazaro, etc). The dresses are priced significantly less than the tag price, frequently 10-25% of the original cost, and the proceeds all go to the YWCA. I'm a street size 8 (bridal size 12) and had a ton of options. I tried on 7 dresses, 5 of which I really liked, and 2 of those that I loved. I had a heck of time deciding, but ended up with THE dress for $350 instead of $2,000. For me, of I had too many dresses to try on I would NEVER be able to decide! Enjoy dress shopping!
  • Go to David's or another chain first to get a taste of dress shopping and narrow down what you like and don't like once its on your body. Then go to a smaller one and get more attention, so at that point you are more able to articulate what you want or don't want, and have experience with other dresses to compare it to.
  • Sometimes it is nice to go to a bigger store like David's first. This gives you the opportunity to try on many different styles you may prefer and get an idea of what style fits your needs and style best. Then you can go to a smaller boutique and have a more narrow idea of what you're looking for and can see the designs they have for you.

    I will say both times I went to shop I went to "bigger store", not David's but they were not boutiques per se. At both stores you could pick out dresses and have the consultant help you in the fitting room. And get this, every single dress I picked was awful! I talked with the consultant and she actually picked more out for me that were n the style I liked. She also picked a few that were similar but a little different. She actually ended up picking out MY GOWN. I almost didn't even try it on but as soon as she zipped it, it was heaven.

    So the best advice I have is to be open-minded wherever you end up going. Try on multiple differnt styles and fabrics because you may just end up loving something you neverwould have tried on otherwise.


  • vmj23vmj23 member
    First Anniversary First Comment 5 Love Its First Answer
    I went to 2 store's - David's and a boutique.  I didn't have a bad experience at either, but did end up buying from the boutique.   At David's the consultant was working with another bride as well. She basically grabbed a bunch of dresses and stuck me in a room with them to try on myself.  She'd bounce back and clip me on occassion, but i was more on my own. I found a couple options there but nothing I really l oved.   At the boutique it was a much more attention.   I was the only bride at the time and my consultant much more focused on me.  After a couple of dresses she knew exactly what I was looking for and pulled my perfect dress.  I didn't want to rule out David's, which is why I went there first, but when I went to the second place, the dresses were more of what I was picturing.  
  • I have been to both boutique stores and chain like David's. I live in DE and I have to say the experience I had at David's left something to be desired. It could have been the consultant I had that day was flustered or had an overall bad day, but she was very curt and when I explained to her that I do not like the way lace looks on me, for the 95th time, she still brought me 3 more lace gowns to try, all in size 16 and up, when I'm a size 6. I understand sample sizes aren't going to be exact, and most likely you will be trying on a dress that is too big/too small, but it was as if she didn't put any effort into looking in my size range. It felt to me as though she was saying "we're big enough around here to not need your business." When I went to 2 local boutique stores, both sell bridal and prom/pageant, I had the the attention of my FMIL as well as the consultant who put every effort into helping me find the right color and shape to complement my body type. I am a curvy girl at only 5'0 and never in a million years thought a mermaid or fit and flair would flatter me as I am a little self conscious of my lower half, but the consultant said "you never know til you try" and OMG she was right! The way the dress hugged my hourglass and hit in all the right places brought tears to my eyes! It's just a matter of who your consultant is and how willing you are to try things out of your comfort zone, but I definitely like the feel of a smaller boutique than a chain store.
  • labrolabro member
    First Anniversary First Answer First Comment 5 Love Its

    I didn't go to any large chain stores like David's. I visited three boutiques, two of them twice. At the first boutique I went to the consultant helped me pick out a variety of styles because I told her I was open to trying something new. I narrowed down the style that flattered my body the best and stuck with that general silhouette at the other two stores. I picked out two or three favorites from each boutique and scheduled second appointments with all of them on the same day. I ended up buying my dress from the first boutique I visited. I had a great personal experience at all three but I think I clicked with the consultant at the first store the most and had the best experience with her.

    When my BFF got married she shopped at David's and had no trouble finding her dress there. The only thing I didn't care for with that particular experience was you didn't really have a private area with your friends and family to look at the dresses you were trying on. Instead, you were out there with all the other women and their families and basically trying to have a "moment" with 20 plus strangers hanging around. She also didn't get a lot of personal from her consultant because the consultant was trying to juggle multiple other clients at the same time. At all three of the boutiques I visited, I worked with the same consultant each time and her attention was entirely focused on me.



  • I didn't go to any large chains. I went to a small privately owned boutique where I had to make an appointment. I had such a great experience. And I found my dress. 
  • I like the idea of the small boutiques better. But not all small boutiques require appointments. My sister and i were going to an appointment at Lovely in Soho and walked past a brand new boutique that opened. Karen Willis Holmes. They just opened on february 1st. We were early for our lovely appointment so we just walked in to look around. They said we didn't need to make an appointment and could try on some gowns now. My sister tried on a couple gowns and ended up cancelling our Lovely appointment. She loved the store and the personal attention from the consultant. Also we liked that they didn't use those huge clamps on the gowns. We were able to get a better idea about how the gown would look from the front and the back. We loved the girls there too! So personable and they were able to truly understand my sisters theme. Can't wait to go back. 
  • I went to a chain (Alfred Angelo), and it was the only experience I had (mostly because I knew EXACTLY what I wanted, and that's what I got).

    I had to make an appointment, and my consultant was awesome.  She was local, so she knew my ceremony site, and was able to inform me if a dress would be too formal for that site (my sis pulled a gown she wanted me to try on).  It was nice having someone with that sort of information, especially for a bride who perhaps doesn't know where to begin. 

    She also was able to answer many of my questions as I was a complete novice about wedding gown shopping.

    I suspect that your experience will vary store to store.  I don't think there's a "right" or "wrong" place to shop for a wedding gown.

    Except for a knock-off Chinese wedding gown.  That's the "wrong" place to get your gown.
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