In the last episode of the Adventures of Haute Cocoa, our intrepid heroine used her penny-pinching skills for good as she shopped for charity at the Bridal Garden.  In today's episode, the gods of nuptial discounts reward her for her feats of thriftiness by bestowing her with -- ka-pow! -- Bridepower!

Alright, enough with the cheeseball comic book intros.  Though I hope you took a moment to ponder what your bridepower would be.  Is it the ability to leap over beds of freeze-dried rose petals in 3-inch Manolos?  To wield tissue-paper pomanders like a set of nunchucks?  To outrun all other brides at Filene's?

Actually, Bridepower is the online storefront for Vows Bridal Outlet, a sample bridal dress boutique in Newton, MA.  Frequent visitors to the hive will recall that this is where Mrs. Toucan got her stunning second dress.  A little bit of detail about the awesomeness that is Vows: They carry hundreds of sample gowns from designers ranging from Amsale to Liv Harris (their own in-store label) to Vera Wang (and everything in between).  Not only do they carry gowns at lots of different price points (check out their mega-markdowns section of the store and website for gowns under $500), they also carry sample gowns in a variety of size ranges.  The stock is helpfully organized by silhouette (ballgowns, sheaths, a-lines), and there are separate sections for sizes 12+ and couture gowns.  If you go on a weekday, there are no restrictions on the number of gowns you can pull or try on.  And they even have a variety of veils and sashes for you to play dress up with.  Combine these elements with an easy-to-use online appointment scheduler, an excellent webpage with detailed pictures of their entire inventory (and the ability to purchase online), the fact that they let you take as many pictures as you'd like, and a helpful and low-pressure sales staff (no hard sells here), and you've pretty much reached bridal nirvana as far as Miss Hot Cocoa's concerned.  Om.

[This architectural Christos gown is a stylish bargain at $499.]

But here is the best thing about Vows: included with the price of all dresses (except for the mega-markdowns) is cleaning and repairs!  This is brilliant for two reasons.  First, you can get a pretty accurate sense of what the gown is going to cost you.  I've been to lots of sample sales with seemingly great bargains, where the consultant assures you that it'll only cost "pennies" to repair the ginormous hole in the alencon lace or to fix the loose or missing beading on the embellished cap sleeves. Horror of horrors, you take your fab "bargain" to a seamstress and discover that it'll actually cost you a gazillion pennies to get the gown in good enough state for you not to look like hobo bride.  Second, the Vows policy means that they have an incentive to take excellent care of their gowns.  This is why the Vows consultants never use clips when fitting you and why they so diligently put the gowns back in their protective garment bags for you.

And, of course, this wouldn't be a Miss Hot Cocoa post unless you get a swwweeet deal.  Gowns are generally between 50-75% off retail.  I came this close to purchasing the lovely Vera Wang silk mikado fit-and-flare gown above; a delicious deal at under $1500.

Some of you are thinking, "Miss Hot Cocoa, I'm not bargain-obsessed like you. I want to splurge on my wedding dress and have the luxury bridal salon experience, complete with silk kimonos, champagne, and fawning sales people." It's ok to tell me that; you know I'm not judgey.  But even if that's your schtick, I'd still encourage you to visit Vows or a similar sample dress boutique. Here's why. Most luxury wedding salons are what I've called "closed-rack" boutiques, ones where you tell your consultant what your ideal dress and budget is, and she brings you a selection of gowns to choose from. A place like Vows allows you to try on a variety of silhouettes by a variety of different designers and at a variety of different price points, which is so helpful because no matter how many pictures of a particular style you've cut out of wedding magazines, it's difficult to envision how a dress will look on you (unless you happen to be an emaciated, surly, and pale childbride like the ones featured on ads and runways).  

You want to try on a puff-ball Carolina Herrera dress with a daisy pattern?  Go ahead.  Just for kicks, you want to see what you look like in a Daisy Buchanan-type sheath, complete with fringe?  Go for it.  You have a burning desire to see what a particular silhouette would look like in peau de soie instead of silk satin?  Try it.  You have no idea what peau de soie is?  Touch it, try it on, and find out.  No one will roll their eyes at you or curse you under their breath for wasting their time.
[Pictures by row, left to right: Kenneth Pool, Badgley Mischka, Vera Wang; Amsale, Monique Lhuillier, Monique Lhuillier; Melissa Sweet, Jenny Lee, Liv Harris.]

Okay, so sorry for the unasked for advice; I don't know where that came from, but I'm stepping off the soap box now!  Back to my own experience: I went to Vows with a set of "rules": no poufy butts (I've got plenty of natural pouf down there, thx), no dresses that have so much crinoline and boning they stand up by themselves, a-lines or sheaths only.  And I walked out of Vows with the sad but important recognition that those petite-in-stature and wide-in-ass like me can't work a sheath (oh, Badgley, though you made me look like a bridal sausage, how it hurts to part with thee), as well as the knowledge that silhouettes like the mermaid/fit-and-flare and the ballgown were surprisingly flattering on my frame.  Although I didn't end up purchasing a gown at Vows, these "lessons" were so important when I finally made my purchase.

Did you buy  your dress at a bridal outlet?  What was your experience like?  Did you have any style misconceptions when you started your dress search?  How were they revised during the course of your shopping?

Post a Comment

Search me

  © Blogger template Shush by 2009

Back to TOP