Apologies for the blurriness of these photos. After reading Jean’s wedding dress shopping post I opted for a less conspicuous camera than my SLR and had one of my friends snap photos of me using my phone’s camera. His hands must have been shaking from excitement. :) Let’s dive right into the important details: Wedding date: March… View Article

Wedding Dress Shopping in Chicago, Featuring David’s Bridal

Season: Wedding

DAVID’s BRIDAL – Taffeta A Line Gown with Sweetheart Neckline

Apologies for the blurriness of these photos. After reading Jean’s wedding dress shopping post I opted for a less conspicuous camera than my SLR and had one of my friends snap photos of me using my phone’s camera. His hands must have been shaking from excitement. :)

Let’s dive right into the important details:

  • Wedding date: March
  • Wedding location: a beach in the Caribbean
  • My price range $300 – $400
  • Requirements: strapless, pure white, beachy

While I could certainly afford a more expensive dress, I personally feel that it is ridiculous to spend a fortune on a dress I will only wear once (I think I’m an anomaly in the fashion blogging community). I was open to spending more when I began my search, but I decided to see what I could find at a lower price point. Ultimately my idea was to spend less on the dress and more on the accessories that would go with the dress–accessories that could be worn again.

My research for where to go included Yelp and various blog posts. I found that there’s an overwhelming amount of information out there, and that it’s easy to get sucked into thinking you have to spend a fortune on your dress to be even remotely happy with it. Despite this, I kept a level head and decided on some lower price range shops and boutiques. My search took me to David’s Bridal, Glamour Closet, and House of Brides. David’s Bridal was, by far, the best location I visited.

Lets look at some dresses.

David's Bridal $300 - $400 Wedding Dress Review
DAVID’s BRIDAL – Satin A-line with Asymmetrical Skirt

I found that by and large I preferred a-line gowns, so that’s what you’ll see in this post. The dress above was my runner up. I loved how the ruching miminimized my waistline, and the fit and flare shape felt very classic. What I didn’t like? The totally plain back, which made it come off a bit boring.

David's Bridal $300 - $400 Wedding Dress Review
DAVID’s BRIDAL – Strapless A Line Organza Gown with Ruched Bodice

This was the first dress I tried on at David’s Bridal and one of my least favorites. It felt a little cheap–which was probably the fabric. It also (I know it’s hard to see) was tight all the way down to my hips rather than flaring at the waist, which I found to be a decidedly weird and unflattering shape.

David's Bridal $300 - $400 Wedding Dress Review
DAVID’s BRIDAL – Strapless A Line Beaded Lace Tulle Gown

Ugh, my least favorite gown by far. I would never have picked this off the rack, but I tried on entirely what my wedding stylist brought me, and for the most part she had great picks. I particularly liked that she listened to what I was interested in, stuck very tightly to my price range, and wasn’t overly pushy on the sale.

Something I found interesting was that they tell you to try on a dress a size larger than your usual size, and then get it tailored to fit you. In truth, I’m not sure why they do this–she was rather vague on the details–but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it’s so they can make more money off of alterations. Shrug.

This is how the dress looked before she pulled it tight and clipped it in the back, so it looks particularly bad. I strongly did not like the layer of tulle on top (I’m getting married, not going to prom) and I have to say that most of the beading/lace details on the gowns I tried on looked rather cheap. If you’re going inexpensive, go simple.

David's Bridal $300 - $400 Wedding Dress Review

These last two pictures feature the same dress as the first picture in this post. It was my favorite, and nearly ended up being the dress I went with. The ruching, sweetheart neckline, and slight back details all worked well on me. It was romantic and simple. But it was also a bit heavy for the beach and very wrinkled, which concerned me. My stylist told me that this was only due to it being stored in a plastic bag (all their dresses are) and that it would be easy to press. Now, I’ve tried to iron out some challenging fabrics/cuts in my time and I can tell you, nothing would be easy about de-wrinkling a dress like this. And it has to get on and off a plane with me.

I hemmed and hawed the night after shopping (see pic below for my hemming and hawing face) and looking at the photo above made up my mind. Close inspection shows the detailing to be a bit cheap and off, I’m afraid. Perhaps an iron would have fixed this, but I just couldn’t take that risk. Perhaps if it wasn’t a destination wedding I would have gone with it, but I think the dress I ended up picking will be a much better choice.

David's Bridal $300 - $400 Wedding Dress Review

So where are the photos from Glamour Closet and House of Brides, you ask? There are none. I didn’t try any dresses on at either place.

Glamour Closet is a designer dress outlet featuring deep discounts. I was given the impression that it was a large warehouse online, but it was really just a smallish shop with a ton of weird dresses packed in. They wouldn’t let my male friend into shop with us due to something about there not being appropriate dressing rooms. I found it ironic that the sales associate who told me this was male himself, and also that there seemed to be totally fine dressing rooms in the back of the store. All the dresses there were either $500, $1000, or $1,500, and we found nothing that was particularly nice. The majority of their dresses were ivory or cream rather than true white, and some even looked dirty. I’d skip this place.

The House of Brides downtown was another disappointment. I went into it thinking it would be like David’s Bridal (everything I saw online confirmed this) but when we arrived they only had $1,000+ gowns that focused on heavily contoured details–tons of lace, sequins, beading, and huge skirts. Basically nothing that would work for a beach wedding. We guessed later that this was different than a normal House of Brides (perhaps it was their couture location?) but nobody told me that at any point in the process. The only props I can give it was that the sales associate wasn’t pushy–she told me straight away there wasn’t much for me and advised me on other places to look. Hilariously, we walked past a bride to be trying on a prom-dress looking gown which should proudly announced was for her wedding in 2017. Sheesh.

So what dress did I go with, then? Actually, I found it just before I went on this planned fitting with my friends. In trying to find a cheaper dress, I did several Google searches for “Long white dress” that yielded great results. Turns out that if you omit the words “wedding” or “bridal” you’ll find quality items at much lower prices. I found my wedding dress at White House Black Market, of all places. They don’t market it as a wedding dress, but it looks like one and is light and ruffly enough to look just perfect on a beach. Here’s a link (don’t click if you’re a family member who wants to be surprised). The best part is that I bought it with a discount code for 50% off a single item, so I got it for $150. What do you think of it?

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5 Comments and Pingbacks for Wedding Dress Shopping in Chicago, Featuring David’s Bridal.

  1. You look beautiful! My favorite out of those is the Taffeta A-Line. It has the perfect fit. I’m excited to see which one you wear in the end! Congratulations!

  2. Ummmm Joules, the link takes me to a picture of a leopard print belt, I did some digging on WH/BM and think I might have found the dress but I’m not sure, would love to know what you ended up picking! Glad it was none of the ones pictured above, they just weren’t working for you. Fun to recognize the person in the background however! Yay wedding fun!!!!

    • Hey, Bernadette! I have absolutely no clue how I linked to that belt (I literally have never even looked at it), but the link is updated now! Thanks for letting me know! :)

      Joules on November 11, 2014   /   Reply