Style + Ask the Edit

Ask the Editor: Searching for a Wedding Dress

Until you’ve planned a wedding, it seems like it will be fun to throw a party for all of your friends.  Then, you plan one, and you learn why people elope.  I can’t imagine the stress of planning a wedding during a pandemic.

Hello, Abra:

My wedding is still planned for mid-July, but I was told today that my wedding dress won’t arrive in time.  The shop offered me a refund, and I took it instantly.  But now, I have no dress.  

As someone who is recently married can you help me find a dress?  I need something I can return (no Poshmark).  I’d like something white and strapless or off shoulder.  The wedding is at a local B&B in the garden.  My budget is $2,500.

Can you help me find something?  — A July Bride

First, I’m sorry for this disruption to your wedding plans.  I hope your wedding happens as close to your plan as possible.  And I would love to help you find a dress.

This Badgley Mischka Dress is beautiful in person.  The folded sweetheart neckline and the dramatic off-the-shoulder bow are just gorgeous.  And with a price under-$600, it’s an affordable dress that is sure to draw compliments.

This Watters Vanya Gown from BHLDN has a lovely floral trim.  The 3-D florals are a bit trendy, but on this dress, their still classic.  And I’m always a sucker for a short train.

This lace Gernaium gown has a lovely bohemian feel to it in a pale ivory/blush.  And this Miles gown has a romantic off the shoulder style that is straight out of a fairytale.

BHLDN always has some nice dresses.  My one word of caution is that the returns take forever.  Expect to return a dress and wait at least one month for a refund.

This Johanna August Joni dress has a wonderful modern look to it.  It’s a simple column dress with a billowing detachable train.  I think it would be fabulously modern with a long station necklace and a minimalist updo.

My other piece of advice would be to see if there is a sample sale shop near you.  I bought my dress at Carine’s Aisle in D.C..  They sell the sample size dresses from the more expensive shop upstairs.  Across the country there a number of shops that do the same, either for profit or charity.  In Portland and Seattle, you can shop at Brides for a Cause.  You can try on the gowns and take one home same day if you find one that is for you.

Good luck.  I hope your wedding day is all you hoped for, even in this time of uncertainty.

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  1. RKT says:

    Nordstrom has this off the shoulder option: (surprised there is not more there, but most either have straps, or are ivory/champagne)

    April 15, 2020/Reply
  2. Terri says:

    I actually saw the column dress in Seattle. It was lovely. The bridal boutique consultant had paired it with minimalist simple contemporary Jewelry.

    April 15, 2020/Reply
  3. Marie says:

    Also, there are a number of online boutiques that allow for returns. The return usually must be initiated within two days, but there some spectacular deals. Your Dream Dress is one that I almost got a dress from- I ordered two dresses and tried them on at home. Anne’s Bridal (I think that’s the name!) and The Last Minute Bride both sell on the normal used-dress sites (StillWhite and PreOwnedWeddingDresses), but allow returns. They generally sell sample dresses.

    April 16, 2020/Reply
    • January says:

      I *think* it’s Adina’s Bridal. I only know that because I’m in the market for a wedding gown myself and I spend a lot of time looking at the used-dress sites! 🙂

      April 16, 2020/Reply
  4. k says:

    If you do buy a sample, definitely take alterations into account. I bought a beautiful sample dress during a sample sale at bridal boutique. The store staff assured me that minor alterations would be no problem. Alterations were in a fact a reasonably big deal and cost about as much as the dress. I ended up loving my dress at the end but be wary of anything that doesn’t fit well from the start, even if you’re still planning on usual alterations. I think it’s too easy to think what’s one size up or down when you fall in love with a sample that’s almost but not quite perfect, especially given that shops will use big clips to make it fit a bit better like they normally do with samples where you then order your actual size afterwards.

    April 16, 2020/Reply
  5. chelsea says:

    Hear me out on this… I would suggest at least looking at David’s Bridal. They accept returns, sell dresses in every size, and the products are surprisingly nice. My dress came from there! David’s accept returns. I’d rather have a cheaper dress that’s been tailored perfectly than an expensive gown that fits poorly.

    I took a quick look through their site and this dress is super modern and elegant:

    Meghan Markle vibes:

    My dress, which is still sold there but now only in Plus:

    I adore this allover lace sheath:

    April 17, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I think the issue is that those dresses would still need to be ordered for delivery.

      April 17, 2020/Reply
      • Chelsea says:

        That 1st dress meets her criteria and is in stock to ship in 4-10 business days

        April 18, 2020/Reply
        • Michelle says:

          I echo what you said Chelsea- if it says it stock and ready to ship it ships as immediately as it can be.

          I ordered a dress from DB, got it within a week, sent it back a few days later (it wasn’t clear online that the first layer was a tight sheath), and got my full refund within 2 weeks of that.

          I highly recommend ordering from them for speed.

          April 20, 2020/Reply
          • Michelle says:

            Forgot to add (for what its worth) my friend ordered a gown from BHLDN the same day as me, hers was shippped to her 2 weeks later than mine did.

            April 20, 2020/Reply
  6. Kelly says:

    Also looking for a wedding dress, but need it in the next month. Sadly, my ball gown style wedding dress no longer fits with my intimate family only ceremony. We rescheduled our reception for next year and I’m now looking for an under $600 white dress that is not strapless. Any suggestions? Thank you!

    April 20, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Kelly, what size are you? I have a dress that I bought to wear myself but found another. Email me at capitolhillstyle at gmail

      If you’re looking for something not strapless, I would try Tadashi Shoji. They have several styles.

      April 20, 2020/Reply
      • Kelly says:

        Thank you very much! Just sent you an email. I am a size 6 on top and a size 8 on bottom for anything form fitting.

        April 20, 2020/Reply