Aside from the foremost joy of getting to marry my best friend, one of the wedding things I was really looking forward to was getting to try on gowns of all sorts - including ones out of my typical style and comfort zone (since I never know what might be a pleasant surprise!). I've received numerous requests to share my search with you guys, and was of course excited to do so.
Isn't this Tadashi Shoji lace dress perfect for a shower, rehearsal dinner, or other bridal activities? Please note I have a little excess fabric clipped back behind me. I also found several beautiful white lace dresses for less, below (click on any of the images to shop):
Unfortunately, most bridal shops I went to did not allow photography of any kind. I was told this policy is to prevent people from going home and replicating the gown - which doesn't quite make sense to me since detailed photos of all the dresses I tried on are available online. Blogging aside, as a customer I would've loved the option to go home in a relaxed and sane state of mind, and review photos of how the dresses looked on my body before making a big purchasing decision (not to mention, share photos with relatives/friends who couldn't join the appointments). Nevertheless I respect the store policies, and just won't have too many styles to share about.
The only bridal shop I've visited so far that openly allowed photos was BHLDN (Anthropologie's wedding brand). The Chicago boutique where I had my first appointment happily let us snap dressing room photos, and the Boston store had no issue with me taking these shots. The most affordable wedding dress I've tried on so far is this Tadashi Shoji number which was simple yet romantic and elegant. The belt does not come with it, but a statement belt of some sort is key in my opinion to accentuate the waistline.
Making this petite-friendly: For dresses with pretty edging or trim detail on the bottom, make sure that trim can be removed and re-attached after a hem gets shortened. It looked like (also based on the website info) the scallop trim here is transferable in case the dress needs to be hemmed. True to the reviews online, the dress isn't as mermaid-cut and shapely as the model makes it appear. This is not necessarily a bad thing since a tailor then has enough material to "shape" the sides based on your own curves and exact bust, waist, thigh and knee placement. Sizing starts at 00 regular, and reviews indicate it runs about a size big.
Next is this corset + full skirt set by Watters which was probably my favorite look at BHLDN. Although I do like my share of fit + flare shorter dresses, I never would've imagined myself to gravitate towards this princess-y ballgown look for a wedding dress. It turned out to be very flattering having a floor-length skirt flow from a higher waistline. Please note I'm standing on a dressing room platform in the photo below, so visually subtract at least ~6 inches in skirt length for reality.
My dark phone photos don't really do this set justice, as the corset detailing was gorgeous and the grosgrain ribbon waistband + tulle skirt was ethereal. I also did not mind the unconventional nude pink color. The main issue I had with this was how weighty the skirt was - I was told it's made of 60 meters of soft tulle which felt like several pounds (perhaps would be better hemmed). Below is Watters' own shoot, which I adore down to the vintage-inspired birdcage veil.
Making this petite-friendly: Bridal "separates" versus a 1-piece dress can work nicely for petite women, or actually any woman who has torso length or waist placement that doesn't usually fit standard sizing. It's harder to alter a set-in waistline on a one-piece dress, especially if it has embellishments or if the shoulders can't be raised, but it is easy to shift a skirt waistband up and down to the perfect spot and then taking in the width. You can also mix a different top or bottom half with separates to change up your look from the ceremony to reception.
Please note in all of my wedding dress photos on here and Instagram I'm trying on a sample size (ranging from 6 to 12), so the bust cups are not the proper size and extra material is clipped back. Based on my friends' experiences, every single one (regardless of size or height) got a decent amount of alterations on their dress even after ordering their appropriate size, in order to achieve that perfect fit. For petite ladies who really want to minimize alterations, a few retailers like J.Crew, David's Bridal, and Ann Taylor do offer ready-to-wear wedding dresses in petite sizing.
Readers who are married, I'd love to hear about your wedding dress story as well as any recommendations for custom gowns! Please also feel free to share a photo with me here - I have been absolutely loving all of your stunning dress pictures!