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Wedding: Dress Distress, Part Three.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it….


That is a phrase for a reason, right?  I feel like I should have known better, but three months before the wedding I had a change of heart about my dress.  I still loved it, but all the sudden I was really regretting not holding out for a dress with long sleeves.  It was the one thing that I really wanted, but compromised on.  Now I had a dress: a perfectly lovely, wonderful dress with short sleeves for a February wedding in New England.  It just didn’t seem appropriate.


Nope.  I had to change it.


After asking some of my clients for a referral, one dressmaker’s name came up three different times as highly recommended.  I reached out to her and set up an appointment to talk about my options to possibly remake the dress.  The next week I went to that consultation.


When I put my dress on for her she was super optimistic.  She thought it was beautiful, mostly fit well, and it would be a great base to build on for the look I was asking for.  My big request was lace sleeves.  I brought pictures along as visual inspiration for what I wanted- I loved all types of lace, deep V, high neck, and the slim fit of the sleeves.


Here was her plan:

  • Remove the small train and hem the dress to tea length making it easier to navigate out in the snow and around our small house without guests stepping on me (plus I wanted to show off my fabulous shoes).
  • Adjust the shoulders to bring the neckline up, to make it slightly more modest.
  • Custom make a fitted lace top to wear over the dress, deep V in the front, long sleeves, and coming down to about the hip.
  • Remove the bow from the back and attach it to a sash, to be worn around the waist to belt the lace top.


It sounded like a major operation, but pretty straight forward.  She started right there with some initial pinning, measuring, and cutting, then we set up weekly fittings until the wedding day.  One week later I went back and the dress already looked better, it was pressed, and the top of the dress fit perfectly.  She had cut the train off and we were negotiating the final length.  At this appointment we decided to also move the zipper from the side to the back to make it easier to get into the day of the wedding. 


  • Then December came and went.
  • The holidays were crazy for her and so we cancelled a couple appointments…
  • Then there was a snow day making it impossible for me to get to her…
  • Then she needed to go to NYC for a few weeks…


So I actually didn’t see her again until three weeks before the wedding.  I never worried about this, in fact I had been working out so much during the holidays that I dropped 5 pounds so I was actually excited to see if the dress fit even better after a 6 week hiatus.


Oh, how naive I was…


The night of my appointment I arrived to discover she had double-booked me by mistake with another bride named Bridget.  Which isn’t a big deal for the two of us brides,  but this error had her quite rattled.  She was even more confused because this Bridget wasn’t even the Bridget that she was expecting that night.  So it took a long time to sort it out who was who, who belonged to which dress, and who was actually going to have a fitting that night.  Bridget was kind enough to forgo her appointment since her wedding was still months away, but by  the time the dressmaker figured out which Heather I was, and which dress was mine, it had been about 40 minutes.


When I finally walked back into the fitting room we were both exhausted, and I knew she had another appointment coming in right after me.  I began disrobing as she brought my dress in to me.  I stared at it for a second, and the first thought that popped into my mind was, “That doesn’t look very good.”


To be continued….

Wedding: Dress Distress, Part Two

Where was I?  Oh yes, if you read yesterday’s post you would know I just figured out that buying a dress from a bridal store was not the best option for me.


What were my other choices?  I needed to find either something off-the-rack, or something pre-owned.  This search led me into a deep, downward google-spiral- discovering two things:

  • First, there are sites like tradesy and preownedweddingdresses that are an avenue for people selling their (barely) used wedding dresses.
  • Second, nordstrom, j crewbhldn all offered great bridal dresses that were a budget friendlier and off-the-rack option.

I started poking around and the second-hand wedding dress concept is viable.  When you think about it, it’s a dress that was worn for less than a day, and if you choose one that’s being sold by someone the same height and size as you, it has already had most of the alterations made to it.  Plus, the dresses seemed to be higher-end, offered at lower prices, and a way for someone that shelled out $6k for a dress to recoup a little of that back.


I buy things from second-hand stores and consignment places often, so as far as doing this for a wedding dress- I had no problem with it.  The only problem I had was that there hardly any dresses with long sleeves available.  I did find one Monique Lhuillier with sleeves and in my size, but it was still $3250, and the woman selling it would only drop it as low as $2500.   I thought it was beautiful, but with that price tag it wasn’t for me.

monique lhullier, ophelia dress

monique lhullier, ophelia dress

Just when I started getting discouraged, I found a bride that was featured on stylemepretty back in 2011 wearing a Nicole Miller dress.  This was the first picture of a real bride I had seen that I actually said, “oooh” when I saw it.  Not only did I like the dress, but I felt like it looked like something I would wear- and I loved the big bow!  Then I saw the same dress on pinterest:

nicole miller dress, pinterest

nicole miller dress, pinterest

Now there were just two questions:

  • Was I willing to give up long sleeves for cap sleeves?
  • Could I actually find this dress, since it’s from a few years ago?

Finding it took two minutes.  I typed it in eBay and I found one in my size that someone was offering at $500.  She bought it to wear as a reception dress, but changed her mind, so it was still new with tags.  I made her an offer of $300… she accepted… and it was shipped to me in two days.  Done.

It fit beautiful for a spur-of-the-moment ebay purchase.   I would need to have it hemmed and the neckline sewed up a bit to be more modest- but besides that, it was great.  The bonus was I still had $700 left over in my budget for the alterations, shoes, veil, spanx (of course), accessories… I was doing great!


Or was I?  To be continued…

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