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Something Old, Something New

January 15, 2013

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve said anything here, for a number of reasons — one of the main ones being that last December I got engaged and in July I got married. The whole thing was really, truly, extremely fun. It wasn’t all thrifty, but we did a decent job sticking to what was a modest budget according to the wedding industry. But today I am here to talk about the pinnacle fashion choice for many women: the wedding dress.

Last January, on a recommendation from my sister-in-law, I visited New Natalie’s in Atlanta to look at dresses. She bought her dress there in 2007 and told me it was a warehouse-style kind of place where you could browse racks of dresses. I liked the sound of that – I had already called a couple boutiques and promptly been given rules about how many people I could bring and how long my appointment was. So I went to New Natalie’s randomly after work on a Thursday, canceled the other appointments I’d made and arranged to come back with others that weekend.

Image

This place is not fancy. Its hot pink facade faded years ago, and upon walking in you feel immediately transported to a 1970s-era department store. (I should say it has since moved to a new location, so this may have changed, but I sort of hope it hasn’t.)

The first room of NN’s has mannequins dressed for their nuptials along with several racks of prom and quince dresses. Past the rainbow rows of polyester and ruffles are several rooms of bridal dresses organized by style and size. Unlike most boutiques, you can actually walk in and browse dresses on your own (though someone will help you with trying them on). Also, when you say you want to stay under $1,000, they don’t laugh or send you to an “outlet.”

My understanding is that most bridal boutiques have a single platform with a three-way mirror. New Natalie’s has one giant platform that fits about five brides, with rows of benches out front for observers to watch all the brides. The stage is carpeted with well-worn turquoise berber and lined with full-length mirrors. Maybe it was because I brought my mom and multiple friends, so a lot of the crowd was there for me, but the public viewing didn’t bother me. (Plus, watching others try their dresses on is like a live “Say Yes to the Dress.”)

pockets

One pocket held a handkerchief, but I didn’t end up needing it.

I tried on six dresses, narrowed to two and then bought “the dress” in one afternoon. I’m indecisive by nature, so I was not keen on introducing too many options in this decision. I knew I could love a million dresses because I love a million dresses every time I go shopping. My dress was unintentionally the least expensive I tried on, but looked the best (in quality and fit). I ended up spending less than my budget, even including tax and alterations. My dress didn’t have a lot of embellishments, which may have kept the cost down, but it did have pockets!

One thing I loved about the cost and style was it left room to accessorize. My talented mother-in-law added lace from my mom’s veil to the sash. My shoes and veil were both affordable (shoes from DSW and veil from Ruelala) which gave me room to buy me beautiful diamond earrings (that I get to wear again). When I put on the whole get-up, I felt great and had a blast getting married and dancing in it all night. (Didn’t even switch to flats – the heels were comfortable enough to make it all evening. The adrenaline probably helped.)

veil

Wearing a veil is like being a prop comic. Clearly Jonathan is amused.

I don’t know that most brides realize there are affordable, quality dresses out there that don’t have to come from a big box store. The “it only happens once” mentality is almost inescapable, which doesn’t help when trying to stay to make a rational decision about something you will only use once. If I’m to learn anything from recent television ads, a lot of women get engaged around the holidays. Newly-minted fiances, don’t think you have to walk down the aisle in a garbage bag or settle for something sub-par to keep from blowing a month’s salary on a dress.

I know Atlanta has at least a couple other options for affordable, quality gowns at Atlanta Bridal Outlet and Le Dress, and I’m sure there are options in your area where you’re paying for a beautiful dress but not for superfluous ambience.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jenny permalink*
    January 31, 2013 12:46 pm

    Congratulations on the wedding — the dress is beautiful!

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