When me and my ladies (hereafter referred to as S. V. and J.) started bridesmaid dress hunting, there were a few factors to consider that are common for most wedding parties:
1) All three of my girls have very different styles when it comes to clothes
2) We all wanted to keep costs low as all of us are still recovering from student debt
3) One of my girls (J.) is a doctor in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She can barely get time off to come to the wedding let alone go dress shopping with us girls in Ontario
Plan A: Mismatched Dresses
I love the pics of bridesmaids in different dresses, but my girls (and my mom especially) weren't too keen on the idea. Everyone was worried about clashing, and hues not matching, and miss-matched fabrics not photographing right, and having it look “unplanned”. Turns out, despite the big push in the wedding-blogosphere for unmatched dress, my girls wanted to match. Who knew!
Plan B: Twobirds Dresses
Anyone who has cruised wedding blogs knows about these. Actually, I attended a wedding in January 2011 where the bridesmaids wore these in navy and they looked amaze-balls. What's more, the bridal salon I bought my dress from is one of the few Canadian distributors of twobirds, so V. and S. even had the chance to try them on.
While these dresses do have great potential, we ruled them out on a few factors:
1) Price: while they sell themselves as “no-alternations needed”, the cost is as much if not more than a standard bridesmaid dress with alterations.
2) Colour: none of the stock colours really matched what we wanted. You can order custom colours, but for an extra fee.
3) Fit/Shape: we didn't find these dresses to be very forgiving and kind of looked unfinished in lighter-colours (something I hadn't noticed when I saw them in navy). Furthermore, one of my girls would have needed the bandeau insert, as she is rather busty and cannot go without a bra, and that would have been another extra fee.
Plan C: David's Bridal
Imagine my amazement when I discovered a David's Bridal was opening up in Ottawa the year of my wedding. Initially I wasn't keen on even going to look at DB, but me and V. went on a whim one evening–more for entertainment than serious shopping.
We went a few days after it opened on a rainy Tuesday night. After a simple hello when we walked in, we didn't get any service as two of the sales associates were huddled around the front desk and one was stocking the accessories shelf. No matter, V. and I are pretty self-sufficient, so we helped ourselves to samples to try on. To our amazement, we found one we liked!
When we walked over to the colour swatches, we found “guava” which was close enough to what we were looking for. While looking at the colour swatches, a sales associate finally came over. V. mentioned how cute the dress she had on would be in “guava” and the sales associate replied “Oh, absolutely!”. We chatted a little and I decided to bring S.–my other Ontario bridesmaid–to DB that week to try it on and see what she thought.
I brought S. to DB. She loved the dress way more than she thought she was going to. J., in Saskatoon, had already given it the go ahead by online review, and we figured it was settled! The dress had pockets, it was cute, would work well for all body-types, and the girls could go bra or no bra–their choice! Whew. I breathed a sigh of relief.
But not for long…
Once again, S. and I were getting minimal service. I tracked down a sales associate and told her we were interested in starting the process of ordering these dresses. Finally, she seemed to exhibit some degree of interest, and went to go get the paperwork. As we're going through stuff, I listed off the girls sizes and mentioned we'd like to order them in guava.
“I'm sorry, these dresses don't come in guava.”
We're standing next to the colour swatches. I grabbed the swatch. I said, “Isn't this the same material (cotton-sateen) as this dress? Isn't this guava?”
“Yes, but this dress is a '10-Colour-Dress'. If you'd like a dress in guava, you need to pick a '21-colour-dress'.”
I had her reference the David's Bridal website, which clearly states in can be order in guava. She replied, “Not in Canada,” which isn't stipulated anywhere in writing.
What ensued was further questioning and ridiculous vague answers such as “That's just the way it is.” I wasn't actually so much upset about the dress as I was about the the awful customer service we had received. S. and I left and I thought that was that. I had decided if it was this complicated, it wasn't the dress. End of story.
However, S. and V. were crafty. They both really liked the dress and weren't ready to give up on it as quickly as me. We decided to call the David's Bridal in Syracuse, NY and see about this whole guava-debacle.
The phone call took less than 10 minutes, the sales lady was lovely, and we got the exact dresses we wanted. She offered to ship them to Ogdensburg, NY, which is closer to the border than Syracuse, NY. My mom and I decided to make a shopping trip out of it, and drove down to Syracuse to pick them up when they were ready. They were exactly as ordered. Not only that, but they were $50 cheaper in the States, even though our dollar is about par right now. Even better, when we came back, we had receipts in hand ready to claim taxes/duty. When we mentioned they were for the wedding, the border guard waved us through without any charges.
Although the process was a bit of a saga, the girls are happy and we ended up with bridesmaid dresses for about $150 each. S.'s fits perfectly, V.'s needs minor alterations and J.'s is in the mail on its way to Saskatoon to see if she needs any adjustments. S. already has plans to wear her dress to another wedding after ours.
Moral of the story: Canadian Brides, be aware of the crazy David's Bridal colour availability. Know that if you or your girls have your heart set on a specific colour, if you head to the States, you can get what you want, and possibly for less than in Canada.
Editor's note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more resources for planning a pandemic wedding here.