For my wedding, and for my sister's wedding, my mom and I happened to find beautiful dresses at regular stores, NOT labeled as "wedding" dresses, for a great deal and a unique look. I love that NO other bride will use the same dresses/style/color/etc as I did, because I found them in a non-bridal shop. Here is my/our advice on how to accomplish this:
1. Decide on the type/color of dress you want. If you want super formal long dresses, you may have a harder time finding them at regular stores. If you want cocktail style dresses, there will be a plethora of options out there for you. Try to be open when it comes to the shade/style you think you want. I thought I wanted a lighter purple, but the dress we ended up choosing was darker and I am so glad for it. My sister wanted a charcoal grey but the black dresses we chose looked classic and perfect.
2. Start online. Go to websites for Macys, Nordstrom, Belk, Lord & Taylor, etc. Then check out places like modcloth.com, bluefly.com, lastcall.com for even more options. These types of sites typically offer discount prices on designer dresses (though they may be "last season"... alas).
3. Go shopping! My mom came across the dresses for my wedding at TJMaxx. Have I mentioned that I love TJMaxx? You have to check back every few weeks, but most have great dress departments and you can find some great options. For my sister's wedding, we went to the outlets, and got the dresses at BCBG for a crazy low price. We are talking like $40 for both of these dresses (regular prices over $100).
4. The hardest part is committing to the dresses, and making sure you can find a dress in every size needed. This means getting dress sizes (normal, not bridal) from your friends and buying them a dress sometimes without them seeing it first. It happens. They just need to trust you and be your friend. For my dresses, we needed 5 sizes, so we actually had to go to multiple TJMaxx's and buy 1 or 2 online (I think at bluefly? They all blend together now).
5. Okay, the actual hardest part is being patient if you have been searching online/in stores for weeks/months and you still can't find anything. If you have time, wait until the new season of clothes comes out. If you don't have that much time, keep looking, or resort to the bridal shop if you must.
We happened to find success! Take a look at the unique non-"bridesmaid" dresses below!
|Dresses from my wedding- originally found at TJMaxx- Designer: Max and Cleo. Actually, those straps were made and added by my crazy talented mother.|
|Dresses from my sister's wedding- originally found at the BCBG outlet- Designer: Max and Cleo (I guess we had a thing for Max and Cleo dresses... they are great quality though!)|