Looking for the one....progress so far

I've been to 4 salons so far. It definitely hasn't been the Say Yes to the Dress experience I had been expecting.

The first salon I went to was Bisou Bridal. It was a nice place, the dress were less expensive than I thought, however, it could be because they just had a sample sale, and what was in the shop was leftover sale items.  I am looking for a lace, trumpet gown, with a sweetheart neckline, and button back. You can see a sample of what I like here. I found quite a few gowns within my budget that met my specifications. The consultant was very professional, she was right there helping me do up the gowns, and right there when I took it off. Although, she didn't really help pull more dresses that fit my requirements, but that could be I already pulled everything. The dressing rooms were small, but it was sufficient. The lighting was a little dim though. The one I liked the most was this:
It was okay, I didn't love it. Bisou also wasn't restrictive about taking pictures, or who the designer is. The shop definitely is for a bride with a budget greater than $2000. A lot of the dresses there were at least $4000 at full price. If my budget was that high, I would not hesitate to shop there.

The second shop I visited was Clara Couture. I dropped in on a weekday without an appointment. They happened to have time for me to try on dresses, so off I went. There isn't a huge selection, I think they custom design too, but I did find a lot of dresses to try on. The consultant gave my hanger tags to mark which dress I wanted to try, and she grabbed them for me and put them in the dressing room. They also were not secretive about the designers, which was nice. I told her which designers I was interested in, and she was able to pull some other dresses. My favourite was a Pronovias dress. It was similar to this:
The dressing room was huge. It had lots of space to move around, and room opens to a sitting area for your guests. The mirrors are in the dressing room as well, but there is no real "pedestal" for you to stand on. Overall, I enjoyed my experience. I may come back and try on more dresses again.

Yesterday, I went out to New Westminster's "Bridal Row". It's a street with several bridal shops next to each other.

My first stop was Sposa Wedding World. We had to take off our shoes at the entrance, which was fine. The store was quiet, and we didn't have to wait for our consultant to come out. She was waiting for me at reception when we entered the store. She listened to what I wanted, and right away went to the back to pull out a dress for me to try on while I was browsing the racks for other dresses. There were several dresses that fit within my requirements, and my consultant was very professional. I was sure I was going to find my dream dress here since they carried the designers I was particularly interested in. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. There was a dress that was really beautiful, but it wasn't the shape I wanted. I didn't want to spend a lot of money changing the dress into what I wanted. The consultant was very responsive to what I was looking for, and giving suggestions on alterations, and also the cost. She put a veil on me, and let me walk around. What I found strange was how secretive they were with their designers. I'm not sure why the name of the designer was hidden. My guess is they didn't want their clients going to other stores to find the same dress for less. Since we didn't know the designers, of course, taking pictures was also out of the question.

All in all, I had a good experience at Sposa. The experience here was the most similar to what you would see on Say Yes to the Dress.

Our next stop yesterday was The Bridal Gallery. They claim to have Canada's largest selection of wedding apparel. So I was very excited to try on a whole bunch of dresses. The first thing we see when we enter the store was a floor full of wet shoes. We had to step over shoes to get to reception. They were also so busy that they couldn't handle all the clients. I filled in the typical forms, and waited. 

The first thing my consultant said to me was "we have over 500 dresses in the store". I was stoked! This was the place I'm going to find my dress. The store was a zoo! It was so busy, so noisy, really chaotic. We sat down, and she asked me what I was looking for, and she wrote it down on my form. Then we went to look at dresses. What was strange was that the dresses were arranged by sizes, and not style or fabric. She took me to the section with my size, and there were about 30 dresses. She started pulling out dresses that was the opposite of what I was looking for, big poufy dresses with no lace in sight. I politely said no, and said I wanted lace. The next dress she pulls out, again, has no lace, not trumpet, not remotely close to what I was looking for. This went on for a few minutes while my bridesmaids scoured the other racks. My consultant gave up after 10 minutes and said "that's all we have". She didn't have ONE dress for me to try on. I didn't think what I was looking for was too demanding, since I've been to other shops that had multiple dresses for me to try on. We walked around a little bit more, and she points to a room full of princess dresses and asked if I wanted to try anything there. We finally found one dress to try on that was on a different size rack. My consultant was so concerned about the big size, it was just weird. I put on the dress, it was pretty, but not really what I wanted. Honestly, by then, I just wanted to get out of there. I couldn't believe there was nothing to try on. While I was in the change room, my bridesmaids were chatting with her, and apparently my consultant just said "she just didn't like anything I showed her". My bridesmaid's interpretation was that the consultant didn't want to admit that they don't have anything I liked, she blamed me for not liking anything they carried.

Overall, it was a disappointing experience. I would recommend going there if you were looking for princess dresses with a lot of tulle, or a dress with no lace. It's more a shop of satin type fabrics with bling. Totally not what I was looking for. We were out of the shop within 20 minutes. And when we were leaving, my bridesmaid asked for her coffee back which she had given to my consultant to safe keep in the office. When she came back to claim her coffee, turns out my consultant had thrown it out.

Anyway, that's my rant about Bridal Gallery. I was not impressed, and kinda pissed by it, and just wanted to go home.

Luckily, my bridesmaids encouraged me to look at some other shops since we came all the way out to New Westminster. We decided to go into a little place called Ellebay Bridal Boutique. We walked in, and right away, there was a dress that was pretty close to what I wanted!!! 
We were telling Gaby, one of the owners, what an awful experience we just had at The Bridal Gallery, and was commenting that I was simply looking for a dress like the one she has on the mannequin. Without missing a beat, she offered to let me try on the dress! It fit like a glove!!!! The custom dress I tried on was definitely within my budget, which was quite surprising. After buying a dress, and getting alterations, it would cost about the same as a custom made dress. I remember reading about custom dresses on Vancity Bride. I didn't think much of it, but as I talked more with Gaby, I suddenly remembered I had read about her business on Jeannine's blog.

Gaby was so accommodating! I was probably standing there in the dress for about 30 minutes. It wasn't 100% what I wanted, but definitely a close 80%!! There would just be a few things I would change, and Gaby was right there to answer any questions I had. The biggest thing that stood out for me the most was that the dress would be made based on my height (I'm 5'2", so everything I've tried on so far has to be hemmed). Not having to hem a dress is already a great money saver. There is no cost for alterations per se, since the dress is fitted to you! Gaby even let me try on a veil that was originally $750!!!! I had never seen such a beautiful veil. It was amaaaazinnnnnggg!!!!

After talking with Gaby, I am definitely going to consider having a custom dress made by her. I can get exactly what I want, and I can give her my budget, and not have to worry about having to pay for extras.

Be sure to check out her blog too!!

I am so glad we went into Ellebay. That experience definitely ended my day on a great note!

Okay, I rambled on for a bit. Here's a quick summary:

Bisou - Designer dresses, higher end price points, small fitting rooms, dim lighting
Clara -  Smaller selection, lots of lace dresses, medium price point, huge fitting room
Sposa - Very professional, secretive about designers, limited dress selection
Bridal Gallery - Only go if you are looking for a princess, ballgown type dress, very chaotic, cheap dresses
Ellebay - Custom designer, very friendly, can work within your budget

Alright, that's is for now.

I'll keep you posted!


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