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Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Woes of a Vintage Bride: Wedding Gown

About a month into my engagement, the ritual wedding planning has begun. I really felt like I had no idea where to start so my sister and I took a trip up to the Reading Bridal District (about 30 min away).

As we are driving on Reading, approaching our destination, I am already feeling weary of the ominous sea of white tulle, lace, and fluff. We happen to see Talk of the Town, a vintage shop that I had just heard about and was well aware might be on the way to the bridal dist.

"Ooh Kelly let's just go in there" I begged my sister. She convinced me that we should at least see ONE bridal shop before I got completely sidetracked.

So I pick European Bridal, unknown to me, the most expensive boutique in the area. I walk inside and am immediately bombarded by a saleswoman who began drilling me with questions about the wedding. All of the answers were along these lines: "um, I haven't figured that out yet" or "I don't know" or "the location? well probably Cleveland.... oh that's not what you meant was it?"

Then she asks me what kind of dress I think I would like. Now here's a question I can answer right? Wrong. I thought I could just look around and pick out what I wanted to try on. Wrong. She proceeds to tell me that "I can't leave you alone in the store". So she picked out dresses that she thought I would like. So weird.

She returns with some HORRIBLE dresses.. She gets me a corset and I try the first one.... it is a sample size of 10 or 12 (which I come to find out they ALL are) so she has to clip me in with these industrial metal/rubber clothespins. I look and feel ridiculous so naturally the next step is to parade out of the dressing room and into the room (arena) with all the awaiting friends/sisters/mothers of the brides-to-be. Then you have to step on a pedestal and look at yourself while everyone talks about what they like and don't like.

I only had the patience to try on a few more to the point where I decided to definitely rule out any dress that weighs more than me. I knew I wanted something sleek and sophisticated, all the lace and tulle on huge fluffy dresses just isn't for me. So we walked upstairs to the Couture section. Bad idea. I actually found one that I thought was quite gorgeous and flattering. But it was about $4000. And even for all that money, it had this jewel beading all around the bodice that wasn't quite for me.

At this point I knew that I wanted simple and sleek which ruled out about 95% of the dresses for sale. Don't get me wrong, all of the dresses we saw were amazingly beautiful but just weren't me. I felt like I deserved a break at this point so we finally went back to the vintage shop and it was so fantastic! Feeling back in my element, the owner and I got to talking and apparently she had been in Catherine's Closet, the vintage boutique that I worked at while living in Honolulu. Vintage is such a small world and I just love that!

We then had a great conversation about vintage wedding dresses:

Vintage wedding dresses are somewhat hard to come by for a couple of reasons:

(keep in mind I am looking for a formal wedding gown... not just a wonderful vintage dress that could work for an informal wedding, that would be MUCH easier!)

  1. Vintage wedding dresses are pretty hard to keep. The upkeep is expensive because the fabric is so fancy and because of the white/ivory tones. There are almost always yellow stains , rips in the lace, or missing pearls/buttons.

  2. If people keep any one article of clothing, it's going to be a wedding dress.
  3. Even if a vintage store can keep real vintage wedding gowns up to par, you won't usually see much selection in one shop. If you're lucky you might find 3 or 4 wedding dresses in any given vintage store and they won't come in other sizes or styles. They will either fit you or not. They will either suit your tastes or not.

  4. This leaves you with vintage reproduction. I LOVE vintage repro as long as it's made by a legit company. In other words, vintage repro is much different than just your costume-y pink ladies/gangster type deal. Good vintage repro companies use actual patterns from the desired era but make it a bit more modern (wearable) usually by substituting a more comfortable material. Plus it's brand new and won't have your stains/rips/etc. So all this being said, vintage repro that makes good wedding gowns is hard to come by as wel

So what have I gained from all this? I have at least decided a few things about the wedding dress:
  • I am going with Vintage Reproduction: I had a place in mind and this trip confirmed it! As much as I love vintage, it will be nice to have a new dress that's just my size and style. I have however, decided to wear an amazing vintage dress for the reception dinner. Some people on my side of the family will recognize it.... it was my mother's wedding dress!! It screams "MOD" and it's just adorable. It's a short shift dress, seafoam green with ivory lace details. I'm very excited about that.
  • Sleek, simple, sophisticated for the design seems to be the most flattering on me

  • I am NOT spending $4000 on a dress... that is ridiculous!


  1. to say "i'm excited" would be an understatement. i was thinking of you yesterday and am so excited you posted this today, because my call would have gone something like this:
    "yes, um, hi. so, like, you're getting married, right? yeah, um, sooo.... what's going on with that?"

  2. yes - I'm sure I'll be wedding planning A LOT over the blog. But pretty much that's all that has gone on thus far. But now I'm thinking that instead of a vintage gown, a nice sensible khaki pants suit might be better - don't you agree?!? Or perhaps, some jorts.

  3. Jorts are definitely wedding appropriate. Perhaps a Canadian tuxedo for Brent?

  4. Denim + denim = a happy marriage right?