As I’m sure I’ve exclaimed all over social media, and in real-life too, my wedding gown arrived! I own it! It’s mine!
It’s just wonderful, and I can’t wait to share one million photos of it after the wedding. I’ve always suspected it, but now I officially know that I am a gown lover. I couldn’t tolerate the socio-political gender restrictions of the olden days, but I sure wish there were more occasions in today’s society for ladies to wear gowns. Oh, not just dresses, but magical, ethereal gowns. I want to adorn myself in gowns and sip champagne and wear Chanel No. 5 and twirl around rooms with marble floors. (To be clear, I also want to be able to dress like a man if I feel like it, and have a stay-at-home husband, and take my car to the shop without a mechanic treating me like shit, and I want to say ‘shit’ if I feel like it, too. It’s 2014, I can swear and wear gowns.)
In my quest for the perfect gown I visited many bridal salons in the Minneapolis-St.Paul area and I want to provide my reviews for any future brides or bridesmaids. Here is my gown-shopping experience in order from first to last.
1. Che Bella
I had several people tell me that they actually ended up buying the first gown they tried on, and that was a distinct possibility at Che Bella. Despite being a smaller store, there are so many amazing dresses here, and possibly the most lovely employees of any place I visited. They had a range of styles and prices, and they just really made me feel great about myself. They were warm, personable, and genuinely more interested in learning about my style and my wedding than in pushing me to buy a dress. I would definitely rank this as a “must try” location if you’re looking for a wedding dress.
2. The Wedding Shoppe
The Wedding Shoppe was the only salon in the area that carried the brand of dress I was initially most interested in. They have the largest amount of dresses of anyplace I visited, but to support that they also have to provide service to a huge amount of customers. I’ve actually been here multiple times because we found our bridesmaid dresses here, and each time it is extremely busy. Employees here are more like salespeople than attendants. I don’t blame them for wanting to make a sale since I’m sure they work on commission – but by the end of my appointment when I wasn’t in love with a dress it felt like they were desperately pulling more dresses for me to try even if they didn’t fit what I was looking for.
Flutter has only a mall selection of specific wedding dresses – clean-lined architectural sheaths and column gowns. It can be surprisingly hard to find an elegant, modern gown that isn’t covered with sequins or giant poofs of satin, so it’s awesome that Flutter provides a variety of them. I really respect that the owner has a vision of the dresses she wants to offer and sticks with it. The service is good and the space is lovely but be sure to make an appointment because they have only two fitting rooms. They also carry a variety of beautiful bridesmaid dresses.
4. Macy’s Bridal
Macy’s Bridal Salon is sort of the opposite of Flutter. They have a lot of very traditional-looking, large, satin, embellished dresses. The woman we worked with was wonderful, but unfortunately it seemed like most of their dresses were a bit dated and overly prom-looking. The website said they carried a lot of brands which the Minneapolis store didn’t actually have in stock, although maybe there is a wider variety available in other cities. I will say they had some really reasonable prices, so if you’re looking for a less-expensive gown you may be able to find a diamond in the rough at Macy’s Bridal.
5. Joynoelle Boutique and Atelier
If you have several thousand dollars to spend and want your wedding dress to truly be a work of art, this is THE place to go. Joy designs and hand-crafts each of her dresses in her South Minneapolis shop and each is a one-of-a-kind beauty. Walking into her shop is like walking into an artist’s studio, and you get to hang out with Joy who is just a really talented and interesting person. Even though I didn’t purchase a dress here the stop was totally worth it, and I got to try on some mesmerizing dresses. If you’re a “$8,000 Vera Wang dress” kind of bride, take your money to Joy Noelle instead and get a dress that no one else in the world will ever have.
6.Brides of France
We stopped in both the consignment side, in case there were any gems hiding in there, as well as the order-new side. This is a nice place to stop because they take walk-ins. With the length of appointments, driving, and the physically-tiring experience of climbing into dozens of dresses, it can be nice to only make one or two actual appointments so you aren’t rushed and then try a walk-in if you’re still up for it after. Brides of France also carries a very unique style of dress from two specific designers. What I love about their store is that you can actually go through the racks yourself so that you don’t miss something you want to try on, and don’t have an attendant pulling some dresses you aren’t even interested in.
7. Bridal Accents Couture
Ahhh – my bridal salon. Obviously I’m biased because I found my gown here, but I would highly recommend driving out to Burnsville for an appointment at Bridal Accents Couture. This is the prettiest salon that I went to, with the chandeliers and the plush white carpeting, it feels a little like being Cinderella. They carry some really great designers and had a range of shapes and styles that were modern, pretty, and very bridal. The service was also excellent. They had a sample of a dress brought in specifically for me to try, listened to what I was looking for, and let me take all of the time (and photos) I wanted once I found my gown. I think they truly care about the special experience of finding a gown, which is a once-in-a-lifetime memory to have. Of course this is the only location I purchased a gown so perhaps this is standard practice, but once I officially signed the papers they gave me a gift bag with a wedding magazine and bottle of champagne – how sweet!