I found it. The Dress. It took four separate shopping trips and innumerable visits to sites like preownedweddingdresses.com and Once Wed, but I found it. I wouldn't dare post it, of course, in case the other One happens to look here (he doesn't want to see it till I'm walking down the aisle -- cue awwwwwwws). I will say that I got a gorgeous Anne Barge dress at the Bridal Garden, a not-for-profit resale boutique that sells only samples and donated dresses at heavily discounted prices and gives the proceeds to a charity for New York City children. I was hoping I would succeed there, and I can't tell you how great it feels to support that instead of the money-grubbing, bloodsucking wedding industry. (Getting a crazy bargain feels pretty good, too.) Here are some of the other dresses I bookmarked, tried on, or otherwise drooled over in the course of my weeks-long quest for The Dress:
Watters "Monclova" dress, about $1400. This was one of the first dresses I tried on. I love love loved the folds and ruffles at the bust; it's exactly the kind of organic detailing I was after and had a hard time finding amid all the beading and bling. And it made my waist look small. Ultimately, however, I didn't think that cool bodice was enough, and I wasn't crazy about the huge skirt. Or the price (even though, in wedding land, that is considered one-dollar-sign).
Watters "Torrean" dress, $1300-ish, I think. I started off against strapless but ended up liking a few of them anyway. And I discovered I liked lace, although in retrospect I think it might have been more that I just preferred lace to beading. I'd done my research and put this one on my radar, but it was a little too sparkly in person.
Mary L. Couture bias-cut gown, sadly unavailable. This would have fulfilled one of my major requirements: boob-flatteringness. I wanted something like that: sexy but not slutty. My mom and I might have disagreed on whether this dress falls into that category, but it's worth noting that she, a proper Englishwoman, opined without prompting that I would want something "sexy" and seemed to agree that that was okay. I do not believe I ever heard my mother utter that word before in my life, and I was mildly scandalized. Moving on...
Alfred Angelo style 1127, price unknown, but you can get it on discount sites for a couple hundred bucks. Another boobalicious style. Loved the top, wasn't crazy about the length. Would be perfect for someone who wants a shorter dress but prefers something more modern than the whole vintage/tea-length look, though.
Nicole Miller aqua one-shoulder gown, $620. Not technically a wedding dress, but who cares? I love the one-shoulder look and the crinkliness, and this definitely has a wow factor. Nicole Miller has a ton of sleek, elegant, white wedding dresses in addition to this series of stretch metal ones, too.
BCBG one-shoulder silk gown, $358. So elegant. Hilariously listed as a "mother of the bride" gown.
Jessica McClintock "Charleze" dress, $167. Before I got my dress, I was thinking how fun it would be to have a costume change and be able to dance freely, in a short dress, at the reception. Now, I just can't imagine taking off my dress for anything.
I even think it's better than this Oscar de la Renta embroidered number, a heartbreaking $10,500...
...which sort of reminds me of this Kelima K gown. We saw a whole bunch of their pretty dresses this weekend at the New York Wedding Workshop Signature Event this weekend, and by we I mean Tamar and me, not me and my betrothed, although there were plenty of couples walking around sipping the cocktails and tasting the cupcakes and sitting on the rented white furniture. Only one person, who shall remain unnamed, was blithely tossing piping-hot crab poppers hither and yon. Good times!
But I digress. There were a few dreses I ripped out of magazines more than once (note: I LOVE wedding magazines! weird!), so that I now have multiples taped into my all-important wedding binder. This Melissa Sweet Cosimma dress is one of them. God, I love floral appliqués.
This crazy Betsey Johnson gown also appears several times. I just love the ruffly ridiculousness!
Another heavy hitter in the bridal world is Lela Rose, whose feminine dresses are so pretty and unusual (for bridal). I saw a couple of her dresses at the Bridal Garden, but unfortunately, they were too small. Some examples of her work:
Finally, there is a Seattle designer who makes some truly amazing nontraditional gowns. Tamar, you must get one of these Wai Ching dresses! It's a little scary ordering a custom gown over the Internet, but if they did it right, how awesome would some of these gowns be? The color, the detailing, the sheer fun!