Even though I live in New York City, home to Kleinfeld's and other pillars of the wedding dress industry, I decided not to go wedding dress shopping there. I wanted to visit my parents in Ohio and I thought that we might have better luck finding a good deal on something fabulous in the Midwest. To prepare for shopping I compiled a list of adjectives I knew I wanted my dress to exemplify: elegant, simple, classic, natural, with an interesting focal point. As far as silhouette goes I was pretty open, because I had no clue what different styles would look like on my figure. So, I planned a trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan with my Mom to check out a couple stores.
First, I got an appointment at The Brides Project, they sell gently used wedding dresses at discounted prices. All of the people who work in the store are volunteers, and all of the proceeds go towards the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor. I love the idea of recycling a dress that was worn once and donating to a good cause as well, so this was an ideal opportunity. The store was stocked from wall to wall with wedding dresses and my Mom and I with the help of two kind volunteers got to flip through the racks of dresses. I had never tried on a wedding dress in my life and this was a wonderful introduction into the fantasies and foibles of the bridal world. I must have tried on 10 dresses each one of them teaching me a little bit about what I like and don't like on my figure. We didn't end up finding anything quite right at this store, but I will certainly consider donating my dress to them after our wedding and I would absolutely recommend that people check this place out. The prices and the mission can't be beat!
The second store where we had an appointment was The Gown Shop in downtown Ann Arbor. Ariel and I actually went to high school with the owner, Stacy Fork, a fun little connection! The shop was very private, contemporary and chic. It was quite a different experience at The Gown Shop we did not do any hands on browsing, in fact the dresses were hanging guarded in a separate room tantalizing us from afar. We sat down in an elegant private dressing room with our dress expert and she asked me a series of questions about what I was looking for in a dress. This boutique features dresses from the trendiest designers, with one of a kind looks that are expertly constructed and made from very lux fabrics. Our incredibly knowledgeable consultant grabbed us four dresses that she felt best met all of my criteria. In the end, much to our surprise, we ended up buying a dress! The dress was made by Magdalena Gmyr a Toronto based designer known for her figure flattering, architectural designs. The Gown Shop is the only store in the United States that carries her gowns and the dress we found is a retired design, so those two facts make if feel like an extra special find. But just wait I haven't told you the best part...The dress was a SAMPLE, so we got a great deal too! HOORAY!!!