Recommendations for places to try on wedding dresses in NYC.
August 14, 2007 7:48 AM   Subscribe

Need recommendations for places to try on wedding dresses this weekend in NYC.

One of my friends is coming to NYC this weekend and wants to go shopping. I just got engaged and she thought it would be a fun/girly adventure to go wedding dress shopping. I'm looking for recommendations of places to go try on some dresses and maybe have a little champagne and fun in the NYC area. I just moved here and don't have any idea which places are good/bad and haven't started doing any real wedding research yet either. There are like 40 listings on TheKnot/WeddingChannel so I would prefer to get recommendations from locals/trusted MeFites. I won't be buying, but just trying on to get a feel for what looks good, as mentioned in this thread. There are a few other considerations that may impact this, please lend me your advice.

- We haven't started planning yet. That means I don't know the season, the location (beach, house of worship, etc), or even the budget. Does that render this useless?
- Am I supposed to do this with a certain person/people? She won't be the maid of honor - is this something I'm supposed to do with my mom, my fiance's mom, or my maid of honor etc? Will I offend anyone if we go? She will probably be a bridesmaid if that matters.
- Is there enough time to get an appointment for Saturday/Sunday? How does this work?

I'd love to hear store recommendations even if we don't go this weekend, since I obviously will be going at some point. We're subway-bound and would prefer Manhattan but are willing to go to other boroughs if there's a place worth visiting.

posted by ml98tu to Shopping (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's possible your mother is interested in going dress shopping with you (I don't think it's common for the mother of the groom to go, unless you're very, very close). You might want to run the idea by her to see how she feels about it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:58 AM on August 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Selia Yang
posted by mds35 at 8:01 AM on August 14, 2007

Best answer: The #1 famous swank popular place to go is Kleinfeld's. You need an appointment (in advance) and a good sense of what you want. This is my understanding; I've never been there.

However, if you want to walk around and pick things out on your own to try on, and you don't mind a slightly warehouse-like atmosphere, try RK Bridal. When you arrive, put your name on a list for an appointment. Then you can walk around the store and set aside any gowns you'd like to try on. When your dressing room is ready, a nice little old lady will help you in and out of your dresses and make suggestions based on what you like. It's a fun atmosphere, because other brides are also trying on dresses, and while there are mirrors in each dressing room, the 3-way mirrors with little podiums and fake bouquets are out by where people are waiting. In fact, while I was waiting I saw a bride in a particular dress and asked my try-on lady (attendant? what is this person called?) if I could try that style on...and that became the dress I ordered.

Something interesting about trying on wedding gowns: the sample sizes are almost all very large, and they "fit" them to you with huge binder clips. Have fun!
posted by hsoltz at 8:08 AM on August 14, 2007

*shrug* There's no rules about who goes with you. I took 2 friends when first looking, and then my sister and mother in-law when I had narrowed it down to 3 dresses. Wedding dress shopping would be my mother's own personal hell.

(and I came here to post Selia Yang, dammit!)
posted by gaspode at 8:09 AM on August 14, 2007

By the way, I suggest going by yourself the first time. This may not work in your case because you're traveling, but I found that being on my own gave me the chance to look at lots of options and assess what direction I really wanted to go. Then once I'd narrowed it down to a few styles, I went back with some girlfriends for their opinions. My first choice would have been to go with my mother, but we live in different states and there wasn't a lot of time. Keep in mind that if you order a dress at one of these shops or online, it can take quite a while (2-4 months) to arrive. If you live near and are close to your mother, you should offer her the opportunity to go with you, as she may have been looking forward to this for a long time...
posted by hsoltz at 8:17 AM on August 14, 2007

The Bridal Garden may not be exactly what you're looking for right now, but it always bears mentioning. It's a nonprofit resale bridal boutique, mostly selling samples donated by designers at substantial discounts, with profits benefiting a children's charity. It's not the swanky gown-trying-on experience, but the folks are very nice and it's for a good cause. I was able to get an appointment the same day I called, and found a really great dress for more than half off retail. When you're ready to buy, I'd definitely recommend it.

I found RK Bridal extremely unpleasant. They only seemed to stock dresses over size 12, presumably so you're forced to pay for alterations if you're smaller. So you may or may not find much to try on in your size. If you're in that size range, though, they do have a ton of stuff at good prices.
posted by doift at 12:20 PM on August 14, 2007

I should also mention that RK may not be the best place to buy - but it's a great place for browsing and trying-on, because you are allowed to look at/touch/select the sample dresses yourself. My understanding is that at swankier boutiques, you tell the associates what you're looking for, and they bring you a selection that they think you'll like. When you first start looking, it's nice not to have that salesperson pressure.

The Bridal Garden is also a great recommendation. Because most of their dresses are donated by stores, they tend to have a lot of 10-12s (sample sizes). When I went, the choices in smaller sizes were few. They also let you look around on your own and offer help as needed.
posted by hsoltz at 8:00 AM on August 15, 2007

Response by poster: I wanted to drop in and post a follow-up comment to my original question - hopefully this will be as helpful to others as it was to me.

In the end, I did not go shopping with my friend, and ended up going this past weekend with my mother and grandmother. Turns out there is no champagne to be had when trying on dresses - at least not at the stores I visited. That makes sense but I feel lied to by Hollywood.

Anyway, based on your recommendations, we went to Kleinfelds, followed by the Bridal Garden, and then RK. Selia Yang looked interesting, but I wanted a breadth of designers and options. It was a good itinerary.

Kleinfelds was great, as you might imagine. I had an idea and pictures of gowns I liked and the consultant explained that unfortunately, none of them would be all that flattering to my figure (I'm very petite). She suggested other styles and we found two great options. They swooned over us, which was nice, but I don't know how much of it was fake - it seemed a little over the top. We went back into the stock room with the consultant and got to go through all of the dresses. The consultant wasn't keen on having me try on dresses outside the budget we gave her, and I was surprised at how affordable some of their dresses were.

We then moved on to the Bridal Garden, which was a big departure from Kleinfelds. You are sort of on your own for everything and the dressing rooms were small - especially when you factor in five poofy dresses taking up space. The people were very nice and they had great dresses there. You can place a hold on dresses, but they charge you. I did a hold on one dress since I wasn't ready to commit without going to RK.

After that was RK Bridal and I was extremely surprised at how awesome the experience was there. I did a lot of research and re-read this post, so I sort of knew what to expect. I picked out some dresses and the consultant went through those and helped me narrow down based on my wedding type, body type, etc. She had the exact same recommendations as the lady at Kleinfelds, in terms of styles that would work for me (unlike at Kleinfeld's, she was happy to still let me try on anything I wanted so I could see for myself). In the end, I found two amazing dresses at RK - both of which the consultant picked out for me. This was different from what hsoltz said to expect. The next day we returned and purchased one of the two. They gave us as much time as we wanted to make the decision and I never felt rushed by them.

As you might expect, there was some swooning at RK too, but it was more down to earth. Because there were people standing around waiting for brides to come out in their dresses, we received feedback from neutral third parties, which was kind of nice.

I will note that the consultant at RK didn't ask my budget, but the majority of the dresses in the store were within my budget and they had items at nearly every price point. I guess if you have a tight budget you would explain that upfront. As to doift's comment, the sample dresses are just samples. Like at Kleinfeld's, once you identify the style you want, then you order it in your size. The price for alterations at RK was reasonable.

It was certainly not swanky, but the service was so great, my mom went and found my consultant's manager to compliment the consultant on how fabulous she was (Sheryl if anyone is shopping).

Thanks again for your help everyone!
posted by ml98tu at 4:37 PM on June 30, 2008

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