I overheard a conversation a bride-to-be (BTB) was having with her friend and it went something like this:
Friend: Have you bought your dress yet?
BTB: (sighs) No, everything I want is out of my budget.
Friend: Well what do you want?
BTB: I totally would love a Monqiue Lhuilier or even a Casablanca or Maggie Sottero, but the ones I love are more than what I can afford.
Friend: Have you looked at David's Bridal or Alfred Angelo?
BTB: (smirks) Ewww! I wouldn't be caught dead in a mass-produced gown! Can you imagine that? Thousands of other brides wearing my gown???? I want my own dress!
Ouuuuch! David's Bridal and Alfred Angelo don't get much love do they? I know they get a bad rap for being "generic," but c'mon, unless your gown was designed and custom-made just for you, your gown is most likely "generic," i.e. made for anyone willing to buy it.
Sure, DB and AA might not have the greatest reputation as far as customer service and hidden fees, but don't hate just because they ain't Lhuilier! News flash, just because you buy a designer gown doesn't mean hundreds of other brides haven't worn that gown, too. I have probably seen the same Lhuilier or Casablanca gown at least several times on different brides on different wedding blogs. Sure, quality might be the difference, although some critics say some lesser known or non-wedding brands rival some of the big designer guns. Denise and Alan Fields of Bridal Bargains (a book I highly suggest before you start wedding planning) give J. Crew a raving "A" in quality and service while the revered Vera Wang scores a "C." tsk, tsk! And if you think your designer gown was lovingly handmade by a skilled seamstress, think again. According to the Fields, many of these gowns are made by machine in factories overseas. How's that for a $1000+ gown?
Look, I'm not a label snob. Sure, like any style conscious girl, I love the designer looks. If you look great in it and it fits your budget, go for it! But don't limit your search because of the stigma of labels. Buy it because you look and feel great in it, and you can afford it!
So how do make your mass-produced or designer gown your very own? Accessorize, darling! I've seen a simple, strapless $99 David's Bridal gown look fab with a floral sash. I've seen a gown completely transformed with lovely lace bolero, or even with just a set of bold jewelry and hair accessories. David's Bridal even has detachable sleeves you can add to your strapless gown! The options are limitless!
Style Me Pretty, Brooches: Perfect Bound, Flower sashes: Source, Flower Hair Accessory by Myra Kim: Style Me Pretty, Detachable Cap Sleeves: David's Bridal, Sash: Style Me Pretty, Lella Foster jewelry: Style Me Pretty
So, how are you making your wedding dress your very own? What accessories are you adding?