This weekend was my second go around with wedding dresses. This time, I went to a small boutique called Camille’s in West Hartford, CT. I grew up in West Hartford and lived very close to Camille’s. As a kid, I always wandered passed the store whenever I was in West Hartford Center. They always have a beautiful wedding dress in the window. A good friend of mine bought her dress from Camille’s and had a really good experience, so I decided to check it out.

There were a few big contrasts between Camille’s and my previous shopping experience at RK Bridal. First of all, price. The dresses at Camille’s start at $1,500, while the dress I liked at RK was $740. The price really cut back the number of gowns I could try on. Secondly, I was able to work with an actual consultant at Camille’s. At RK Bridal, I worked with a women, Olga, but she was mostly there to help me get in and out of dresses. She wasn’t really trying to sell me anything. The woman I worked with at Camille’s, Rachael, was incredibly helpful and knew a lot about the dresses and the options I had.

Overall, I tried on about six dresses. Again, because of my price point, there were a lot of dresses that I looked at, but couldn’t try on because of the cost. My sister and bridesmaid, Julie, came with me. The first dress I tried on was one that she had picked out. It was.. definitely not what I was looking for! It had a lot of beading on top and beading at the bottom and ruching in the middle. Julie loved it! But I think ultimately we both agree it wasn’t what I was looking for.

This is the second dress I tried on. It’s designed by the Spanish company San Patrick, called Polka, and I don’t know if you can really see it in the photo, but the lace overlay has little polka dots on it between the flower portions. It’s cute. Overall the dress looked nice. I liked the bodice. One of the other dresses I tried on was nice, but the bodice was SO big. My boobs looked about three sizes larger and the ribbon underneath didn’t help much either. This was actually one of the only dresses I’ve tried on so far where the sample size actually fit. One thing both Julie and I liked about the dress was the scalloping on the top of the bodice. We both thought that was pretty and interesting. Neither of us loved the rhinestones on the ribbon below the bust, but Rachael said that we could probably get rid of the rhinestones and just put around ribbon there. The skirt is A-line, which looked good, but overall the whole thing is really heavy. I tried on one dress that was incredibly light and while I didn’t like the dress itself, I really did like how light it was. I guess I don’t understand why wedding dresses are so heavy. I mean, I get that the beading and the layers holding the shape underneath add up to a lot of stuff as part of the whole thing, but I always imagined that dresses were floaty and light and airy. I always thought I’d float through the day with this beautiful dress. It doesn’t work like that. And it’s a little disappointing.

I don’t think I’ll buy my dress at Camille’s ultimately. Partly because it’s in Connecticut and I don’t want to go all the way back to CT for every fitting. I had a really great experience there and really enjoyed working with Rachael. It was really nice to visit the shop I had passed so many times as a child.

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Using Paper Lanterns

May 17, 2010

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but we are considering using paper lanterns to decorate our venue. I kind of hate the carpets, so hopefully, we can do everything we can to make people look up, instead of down! So, we were thinking of using paper lanterns, which is something we actually use in our own home. I’ve seen plenty of wedding pictures around the Internet with paper lanterns that are used as decoration, but aren’t actually lit up, which I think is a waste of a good paper lantern! I love the light that you get from paper lanterns, it’s so much softer light, but at the same time, it still lights the room, so you can hopefully avoid too much flash.

Over the weekend, I checked in at Project Wedding and one of the articles that came out of their 2010 DIY challenge was on how to light paper lanterns! What’s great about this is that it provides a lot of different options, some of which allow you to hang lanterns at multiple different levels, as opposed to all along the same line.

Again, gotta talk up Project wedding for all their DIY projects. My wedding invite plans came from the project wedding site, though it keeps getting more complicated because I want to go big! That’s for a different post though.

So, this morning, my maid of honor, Kelly, and I headed over to RK Bridal so I could try on some wedding dresses. It was my first time trying on dresses and I didn’t want or expect to find “The Dress” in the first go around. I wanted to get a feel for the kind of dresses that looked good on me, figure out what shape worked best and really to make sure that the romantic, lace look I was hoping for, actually looked right for me.

I chose RK Bridal, because it’s no appointment necessary. We just walked in this morning and were immediately looking through dresses and choosing ones to try on. They have essentially a warehouse set-up, with racks of dresses, prom, bridesmaid and wedding.

After signing up, our consultant, Olga, told us to go look and choose four or five gowns to start. I knew I was looking for a lace dress, sheath or A-line. Going in I was focusing on finding straps, but there weren’t that many strap options, so we pulled plenty of strapless gowns as well.

I didn’t find anyone one gown that I loved. There were gowns that had the lace I wanted, but the shape didn’t work. There were gowns that were the perfect shape, but the lace wasn’t right, or it was only on the bodice and I want it all over. I tried on a number of strapless gowns, which I wasn’t too keen on going in, and Kelly is convinced that I need to wear a strapless dress. I’m still not convinced, but it’s early days yet.

I did learn a couple of important things today. I am looking for a modified A-line. I tried on a sheath dress, a mermaid dress, full A-line and the modified A-line. The modified A-line looked the best. I’m also looking for a natural waist. I tried on a few drop waist dresses and I just didn’t like them. It makes my torso look long, to be sure, but then it just makes my legs look short. I much prefered the natural waist. When I tried on dresses that hit at the right place, my waist looked really tiny. Definitely a fan of that! The dress here is one of the ones I tried on. I liked it, but didn’t love it.

The were a couple of things that surprised me about trying on wedding dresses. First, it didn’t take nearly as long as I expected. Maybe I watch too much “Say Yes to the Dress,” but on that show, it seems like it takes girls hours to try on three dresses!we were zipping in and out of dresses. We arrived shortly after 11am and we were out around 12:30 or so.

Secondly, wedding dresses are heavy! From a distance and in photographs, wedding dresses look so delicate and flouncy. But they’re not. Those dresses have a lot of weight to them. Part of it is the sheer amount of fabric. To get the shape, there are layers of tulle underneath the dress. Also, any dress that has a lot of beading is also going to be heavy. Between the two of us, Kelly and I determined that I wanted some beading, but not an overwhelming amount.

The other thing I was surprised to learn? I’m smaller than the sample size. I had ordered a dress online from J.Crew a while back and ordered a much larger size than I expected. Size inflation has put me in a range anywhere from size 2 to size 6, depending on the store, whether it’s pants, a shirt or a dress. But when I ordered from J.Crew, based on the measurements, I ordered a size 8. The dress fit correctly and when I was researching sample size gowns, I understood that most of the dresses fell in the 8-10 range. So, when I got into my first dress and it was enormous, I was surprised. Olga had to use clips to keep the dresses on me, so I could see what they looked like.

So, one trip to a bridal shop down. I’m heading over to Camille’s Bridal in West Hartford, hopefully next Saturday or Sunday. And I want to make an appointment at Robert Bullock’s salon for sometime early this summer. I don’t know if I’m going to have that wow moment, but I’m not there yet. I think today was a little too technical. I was looking at shape and style. I haven’t seen a full dress I like yet. It’ll be another step before I find a dress I love.

Checking In

May 6, 2010

I haven’t been writing too often over here mostly because now that we’ve booked our venue, we don’t have anything pressing to book for another few months. The next priority is to book a photographer and officiant.

I’ve started looking at photographers in the Hudson Valley. I’ve found one that I really like, one that I like and a lot that I really, really don’t like! The one I really like is Kelly Vasami Photographer. I really love her style and her ability to capture moments. I also think she’s really successful at capturing the atmosphere of a room, rather than using flash the highlight the subjects in the photo and letting everything else darken in the background. The only problem? Price. I’m concerned that the starting fee is just too high.

The photographers I like are Candeo Photo. It’s two guys who I believe are just starting up their wedding photo business and again, I like their style. They capture color well. I found them, because they photographed at my venue. They capture color really well. They haven’t updated their blog recently and I’d really like to see more pictures! They’re significantly cheaper than Kelly Vasami, but while I like what I see on their website, they don’t have a lot of experience yet, so I’d definitely want to meet with them and look at full wedding albums.

But, as I said, much of the photographers I’ve seen are disappointing. Way too dependent on light flares, skewed angles and fisheye lenses. I’m looking for someone who can capture moments. Paul and I have the type of relationship where we steal kisses and whisper jokes to each other. I want someone who will be paying attention to those moments and capture them on film.

The officiant is Paul’s job! I’m hoping for a judge of some sort. We considered having a family friend ordained to conduct the wedding, but unfortunately in New York, you have to be ordained as a clergy member or a member of government. I believe you can get ‘ordained’ online by one of those online churches, but I don’t want that. I want a secular ceremony and even if the minister or reverend can conduct a secular service, they’re still a minister or reverend. I’ll have to start bugging Paul about that soon. We have a couple of recommendations for town clerks and judges from the venues. We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, I’m planning on trying on dresses at the end of the month! Once my maid of honor, Kelly, finishes her semester and before she start her summer semester (which I’m also doing, but at a different school and significantly less classes, crazy lady..) we’re going to head over to a bridal salon or two to get an idea of what I like and don’t and how the whole trying on dresses ordeal works. I’m also planning to go to a hometown bridal salon with my sister at the end of the month when I go home for another friend’s bridal shower. Should be fun!