Anthropologie launched a new bridal section this week, BHLDN (inspired by the dutch word for “to keep”), and I will readily admit that a large chunk of it is freaking gorgeous. The words ethereal, offbeat, and just plain pretty filled my mind. Then I looked at the price tags.
Goodness gracious, my Persephoneers, that shit is steep. However, in the grand scheme of the Wedding Industrial Complex, it isn’t even close to outrageous. If you have looked at the J. Crew wedding section, the prices are similar, and J. Crew is considered pretty reasonable if you troll the major wedding blog comments sections (I don’t recommend doing this much if you are going for non-traditional; you will NOT fit in). There are two dresses that are $600, but the majority hover in the $1500 range and a few run up to $4000. Don’t get me wrong; I like nice things. I own a few pairs of shoes that cost more than my rent at the time, and when I had disposable income, I spent it on clothing. Lots and lots of clothing. However, I like to use the cost-to-wear ratio calculation: the amount of money something costs divided by the usefulness and wear-ability regularity. I have a pair of Jimmy Choo boots that were quite pricey, but I wear them so often, almost daily during the fall and winter, that their cost to wear ratio has them working out to being cheaper than some budget flats from Old Navy. When it comes to wedding dresses, my ratio sensibility made it impossible for me to fathom spending a grip of cash on a dress I would wear once. So where does one begin?
I tried the bridal boutiques, tried to get into the idea of a poofy princess dress. At one such shop, the pushy owner bullied me into trying on multiple dresses that I loathed. The fabrics were stiff and itchy, the colors cheap looking, and the price tags astronomical. My mind was boggled by the amount of money being charged for an article of clothing that showed none of the tell-tale signs of a well-made garment simple because it was white with a crinoline inside. The owner also informed me that “[I] wasn’t fat, [I] was just wide.” The fuck? What stranger says that to someone? I was going to have to get more creative in my search. It was off to the mall for me.
Department stores with a prom section are a great first step. While there is a ton of gaudy crap screaming to be purchased by teenagers struggling to be awkwardly sexy at a school dance, there are also gobs of really adorable full-length gowns and tea- or cocktail-length dresses. Think of how many strapless, full-skirted brides you see pictures of, whether it be in magazines or filling up your Facebook feed. While there are gorgeous dresses that fit this description, think of how striking it is when you see a bride in something different, something quirky. Branch out from white, move away from full-length, find a dress that fits your style instead of letting tradition, society, or even your friends and family push you into the cookie cutter mold. Department stores also have the bonus of having a larger run of sizes. A few I think are adorable.
Check out your local thrift stores, Salvation Army, and Goodwill stores. A large number of wedding dresses find their way to these stores in nearly new condition and you can find some excellent pieces. Don’t give up if one doesn’t fit off the rack or if it isn’t exactly the style you are looking for. If you get a cheap dress, you can take it to a good seamstress that can turn it into something fabulous, just like Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink.
I ended up finding my dress at BCBG for just more than $250. They typically have at least six to ten different styles of white or ivory dresses in any season, and tons of gowns and dresses in every color and style imaginable.
If only the pocket gouging stopped at dresses. Nope, my Persephonauts (have we come to a consensus on a nickname yet? I’m just going to keep throwing them out there), they will get you wherever they can. Take a look at this really quickly, $160 for a birdcage veil with absolutely no adornment. Now peek at this-
Birdcage veil with blue feather fascinator – total cost – $4.75, and that’s only because I bought a yard of tulle (at retail price, not Anthro’s bulk discount rate) so there would be extra to work worth. My best friend’s mom made it for me, and it was perfect, exactly what I wanted. How on earth can a company justify charging that much money for a tiny piece of fabric? Because it’s for your wedding and they know that people get carried away with having everything be absolutely perfect so they will empty their wallets to achieve the dream. Do. Not. Buy. It. There is nothing in the world that could justify that price unless the freaking thing could grant me three wishes as well. Before you spend a bunch of money, ask around your group of friends or family, even your co-workers, to see if anyone is handy with a needle and thread. I could not believe the outpouring of help we received in so many areas of the wedding, this one included. People love weddings, people love to help. My best piece of advice to you this week? Let them.
One area where I will not push skimping or settling is your shoes. You are going to be in them for many, many hours; don’t buy cheap ones that will make your feet sweat or expensive ones that pinch your toes. If you don’t wear heels, don’t buy 4-inch stilettos with the rationale that it is only one day and you can suffer through. You want to be comfortable, but this is also an opportunity to have some fun if you decide to stick with more traditional items elsewhere. I knew I wanted my shoes to be my “something blue.” I hit all the usual suspects, zappos.com, Nordstrom, Off 5th (the Saks outlet; it’s amazing), Macy’s, I even hit up Payless to check out the dyeable shoe situation – I do not recommend this. I tried thrift stores, consignment stores, and finally stopped by this little designer shoe boutique in a pricey pedestrian mall near my office. Earlier when I mentioned I spent a large portion of my money on shoes? No longer my reality, what with the mortgage and all, so I try to avoid these shops as the pretty, pretty shoes all want to come home with me. I walked in with my mom, sister, and nieces in tow, and there, high on a perfectly lit shelf, sat the most stunning blue peep toe slingbacks I had ever seen. I reached up and plucked them from their perch, gently stroking the soft and supple leather. I turned the shoe over, searching for the price of the footwear that had captured my heart. There was no price tag. This is one of those stores where if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford them, and I was teetering on the verge of heartbreak. I asked the clerk, sheepishly, I admit, the cost and availability of my size. She ventured to the stockroom, returning with the second to last pair, in my size, and 50% off. My heart, it soared, and my mom, seeing the joy they brought me, bought them for me, for she is the best mommy in the whole wide world.
And they were perfect.
Next week: A timeline/to-do list to help with all aspects of planning. If you have any special requests, comments or ideas, please leave them in the comments or send me a message.