Hidden Wedding Dresses
November 29, 2016 11:21 AM   Subscribe

I took the dive into wedding planning and tried on dresses. It was fun, but everything felt pretty formal (and really expensive). I have seen interesting and more budget friendly dresses at places like Modcloth and so now I wonder: what other companies or stores carry wedding dresses?

Once upon a time, I saw a dress at ASOS that was perfect, but is now gone forever. I found out that even Target carries wedding dresses online (which I'm fine with, just as long as the return policy is not terrible). Are there other surprising places to find a wedding dress (or something that could pass for a wedding dress)?

I found two beautiful dresses at David's Bridal, but are out of my price range and seem a little too formal for my bar/restaurant afternoon wedding. I would like to go a little less formal, not white, and under $900. Sparkles, lace, and color are welcome. Added level of difficulty: I'm a 22W. I would be open to purchasing from someone on Etsy, but that rabbit hole is deep.
posted by thefang to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (31 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I bet you'd like Tadashi Shoji: sparkles, lace, color, and very nice cuts well within your budget. Available at lots of department stores as well.
posted by The Giant Rat of Sumatra at 11:34 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Check out eShakti.
posted by cleverevans at 11:36 AM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

I found my dress at Weddington Way. Like you, I was looking for something not-too-fancy and not-too-expensive. Although they are technically focused on bridesmaid dresses, they have a lot of good options in neutrals and off-whites that might work for you.

In doing a little internet sleuthing it looks like my specific dress isn't around/for sale anymore, but a good search term I found was "reception dresses." Apparently these are dresses that extra fancy people get to change into for their wedding reception when their actual wedding dress is too fancy/crazy to dance in (!), but they're still generally white or off-white and many hit just the correct level of fanciness for what I wanted. Also, because they're intended as a "second" dress, the tend to be more affordable. Here are some examples from BHLDN to give you an idea, although quite a few companies have these.
posted by rainbowbrite at 11:37 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

BHLDN has some really lovely dresses, and some of their options are more casual/affordable/cocktail style, if that's what you're looking for. When I was wedding dress shopping, I'd had it in my head that I really wanted to wear their Annabelle dress (it's technically a bridesmaid's dress), mostly because it looked pretty in pictures and is pretty cheap for a wedding dress. Jenny Yoo designed that dress, and that and some other beautiful bridesmaid dresses she designed that could pass for a wedding dress are carried at Nordstrom, if there's one near you.

That being said, I was ultimately underwhelmed when I tried Annabelle on. If you love those styles that you found at David's (and they are beautiful!), maybe keep looking for sales? I ended up getting a really gorgeous dress there for sale. If you haven't gone into David's for a try-on, I recommend it. It's not exactly a strawberries and champagne experience, but they really know their shit when it comes to styling curvy brides. I found that ultimately, as a curvier bride, I really liked how those structured heavy-duty Davids Bridal dresses made me feel. My dress really holds things together and makes me feel confident! I only suggest this because you mentioned liking those kinds of dresses already. It's your wedding! I promise nobody is going to begrudge you wearing a beautiful fancy-ass dress.
posted by cakelite at 11:40 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Plus size wedding dresses from Kiyonna.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:47 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have literally no idea why I remember this, as I have zero interest in wedding dresses or even weddings, but I distinctly remember seeing someone recommend a shop called Kiyonna for wedding dresses in some mefi thread long ago about finding dupes of Modcloth dresses.

And hey would you look at this: they seem to have a lot of options in your preferred aesthetic!
posted by phunniemee at 11:47 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nordstrom and Nieman Marcus and even Bloomingdales all have dresses in nonwhite but weddingy colors in their non-wedding lines. They may not be very traditional, but they will be much cheaper. Mine was about $200 and the alterations were about $70.
posted by soelo at 12:02 PM on November 29, 2016

Yep: department stores, including actual fluffy white dresses (online, at least, and there are probably bridal departments at the larger stores). Macy's For the Bride section. Nordstrom Wedding Suite. JCPenney Wedding Shop.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:12 PM on November 29, 2016

Also, David's Bridal has a huge selection and price range. It might be worth telling them "I like X style, I want Y thing, and I want to spend $Z" and seeing what they have. If you want a different color, you could also check out their bridesmaid lines, which are cheaper and come in a lot of colors.

I got my (size 24W) dress off the rack at David's during their spring sale and IIRC it was under $400.
posted by oblique red at 12:13 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Adrianna Papell does evening dresses - since you're not looking for white, they have a lot of options in a great price range.

BHLDN is fantastic, but they don't go above a size 16
posted by Mchelly at 12:14 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ann Taylor and BHLDN and J Crew do not carry plus sizes, y'all.

Have you checked out the bridesmaid dresses at David's? They are generally way cheaper and usually come in tons of colors (including white and white-adjacent).

Lace halter gown
Lace top, mesh skirt
Drapey waist, lace top
Another drapey waist
Lace with sleeves

For the record, I am of the opinion that your dress should be as froofy and sparkly as you want -- you will not be overdressed.
posted by Siobhan at 12:15 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

[A few comments deleted; as noted, poster needs a 22W, so suggestions should carry that size.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:22 PM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's lacking some of the sparkles, but azazie might be good to look at? They're reasonably priced, and you can try on dresses at home to get a feel for your size or give them a custom size. I agree with Siobhan, though-- no matter what you choose, you won't be overdressed!
posted by veryhappyheidi at 12:37 PM on November 29, 2016

Azazie has bridesmaid and bridal dresses in plus sizes in various colors.

You might also like Dolly Couture - they specialize in retro-type dresses. Give them a call - they might have a sample for sale. I remember looking last year and they had sample dresses in various sizes for like $400.

I bought my champagne-colored fat girl wedding dress from David's Bridal for hella cheap. Don't discount David's - there are some beautiful and cheap dresses in there. I've seen a lot of casual-type brides wear Adrianna Papell beaded sheath dresses and if you wait until after Christmas, you might be able to snatch one up on clearance.
posted by kerning at 12:37 PM on November 29, 2016

Lindy Bop has a lot of the same Modcloth dresses for a fraction of the price. Plus I believe they carry up to size 26.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 12:50 PM on November 29, 2016

Nordstrom sells Adrianna Papell, too, and I just found this one available in both cocktail and ankle length. The color is called lead, which is a really cute grey covered in sequins. There is a black option and the longer version has a blue one, too.
posted by soelo at 12:50 PM on November 29, 2016

Chi Chi London has a "Curve" (plus size) line - their dresses are marketed as prom/party dresses but it's where I got my wedding dress. (A bunch of their stuff is on Modcloth, but the direct prices are better.)
posted by okayokayigive at 12:58 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mine was a loaner from a buddy. was the Johanna dress from indiebride. its located in the EU (well, for now) and the dress felt soooo beautiful and comfy.
posted by speakeasy at 1:32 PM on November 29, 2016

I just went down this exact same path and ended up with a traditional but much more simple and accessible (and affordable!) dress from BHLDN. This happened for family reasons and not so much because "real" wedding dresses are somehow better or more appropriate. After a month or two of discussing it, I could tell that my desire to wear something cute and festive and not white from Modcloth or Rent The Runway was breaking my mom's heart. So we compromised, and I ended up with something that works for me (simple, comfortable, I feel like myself) and her (looks like a wedding dress).

Word to the wise, I think BHLDN doesn't carry "plus sizes". I feel like their sizes top out at 16 or maybe 18-20. And while their dresses are typically street sizes or close to it (my dress is actually a size 6 of all things, while I usually wear a 10 in normal clothes), trying on a 16 when you're a 22 might not work.

Tips from my wedding dress journey:

- If you want a non-white affordable dress that is still formal, look at bridesmaid dresses.

- "reception dress" might also be a good keyword to search for or ask about, especially if you are open to white or white-adjacent shades (blush, dove grey, etc).

- I am still kicking myself for not choosing a bridal pantsuit, though I think my mother would have died.

- Modcloth does, in fact, have a great bridal (and "party dress") section, and they tend to have much more generous size runs than other more traditional bridal options.

- Go to your local department store and check out the formalwear section. I was passing through Macy's on the way to the mall parking lot and saw a gorgeous and very Princess Leia-esque white Halston gown which was marked down to like $150. I tried it on, and while it wasn't for me, it would have made the most badass wedding dress ever.

- Look into rental sites like Rent The Runway!
posted by Sara C. at 1:35 PM on November 29, 2016

I'm an oddball size, too, so I went ahead and ordered my own wedding dress from eShakti. They were a dream to work with -- super responsive and friendly, and the dress I got is white, but there are plenty of other colors to work with. Dress is pretty, dressy but not oh my god, I'm a wedding dress and cost under $100.

They do change up styles and patterns pretty frequently, so if you see something you love, you'd best grab it, because it will be gone in a couple of weeks.
posted by PearlRose at 1:41 PM on November 29, 2016

Anything that is not called a wedding dress is will be less $$.
A friend and I both used Watters bridesmaid dresses for our wedding dresses. Their size charts go up to 32W, have colors and some come as separate top and bottom. The minus is that you might have to order via a bridal shop.

posted by oneear at 1:41 PM on November 29, 2016

Ebay is great but only if you are willing to buy a previously owned/worn dress. I would advise buying a new, made-to-order dress off Ebay. Have heard horror stories. But something another 22W or 24W or up to 28W bride has worn? You can get something waaaaaay marked down.
posted by Pearl928 at 2:19 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

You can also find some great wedding dresses and accessories on etsy-- my shoulder necklace came from Hong Kong.
posted by Mystical Listicle at 2:31 PM on November 29, 2016

Unique Vintage has a plus section that also includes wedding styles and party dresses.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:41 PM on November 29, 2016

I bought my dress (cotton, outdoor wedding in a national park) from the first boutique shop I walked into, completely unplanned. I couldn't find anything online that fit the bill for the kind of wedding I had. I'd check out the suggestions to see what style you're looking for, but I'd check out some unique boutique stores if you have any close to you. I never would have picked out that style dress if I hadn't seen it in person, and because it wasn't formal enough by itself it wouldn't have been tagged as a wedding (or even reception) dress in an Internet search.
posted by onecircleaday at 3:29 PM on November 29, 2016

I can't believe no one mentioned this already, but if you're not in a hurry, after prom, prom dresses are crazy cheap at department stores online and sometimes in store, and I definitely saw some during my time that could pass for the fanciest wedding dresses, white even.
posted by possibilityleft at 4:12 PM on November 29, 2016

I got a dress from a "high-end" bridesmaid line: Belsoie by Jasmine. According to their website, they go to size 32. It was still more money than I would spend for a fancy dress in a regular shop, but not as much as a fancy dress at a fancy shop (ie, more than a dress at J Crew, not as much as a designer dress at Nordstrom). I was able to try the dress on at an actual shop, so I knew what I was getting (and the styling for Belsoie is over the top. The dress I got was nicer in reality.) So if there's a high end bridesmaids place near you, they might help.
posted by vunder at 4:44 PM on November 29, 2016

Pinup Girl Clothing has lovely vintage-inspired dresses in the $100 to $250 range. Most of their in-house lines go up to 4x, but stuff from other vendors doesn't always. I love this glamorous dress and this more casual one. And look how gorgeous this one is! 50s-style dresses, in my opinion, are perfect for afternoon or casual weddings; they're special and dressy without being overly formal.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 4:48 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

ELOQUII! The link is specifically for white dresses, but plenty of other options, too.
posted by marmago at 5:23 PM on November 29, 2016

I got my wedding dress on eBay--exactly what I wanted and very affordable!
posted by epj at 5:42 PM on November 29, 2016

Unique Vintage. I got my halter top cotton eyelet tea length dress there.
posted by ellerhodes at 6:53 PM on November 29, 2016

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