At the risk of sounding cliché, planning a wedding can feel overwhelming at times! There’s all this societal pressure to do things a certain way, and sometimes what we think we’re “supposed” to do can get in the way of what we want to do! But I’m here to say, “don’t let it!” Do you! Learn about each other and blend your styles and who you are together to come up with a day that’s exactly what you want!
My fiancé, Brandon, and I are planning our own wedding for this October, and it’s been a learning process so far (some of the things I thought he wouldn’t care about actually ended up being important to him, and vice versa)! But we’re making sure to get rid of anything that doesn’t make sense to us or doesn’t sound like us, and we’re “breaking the rules” in many ways. Let’s start with the fact that we’re getting married on a Tuesday, just to give you an idea! 😛
Honestly, I’m not really the girl who grew up picturing her wedding day down to every last detail; I’m more of a do what feels right (and like us) in the moment kind of girl! So when it came time to hunt for a dress to get married in, I was kind of at a loss as to where to begin! I wasn’t even sure what I liked in a dress, honestly! The only thing I knew was that I wanted something non-traditional. So I Googled away and came up with a few unique and local bridal shops and designers! They all have their own special qualities, but they do have one thing in common: they all sell non-traditional wedding dress styles (and one even lets you design your own dress)!
I’ve personally visited and tried on dresses at all of these places (except for Anomalie, where I spoke extensively with them on the phone and spent time exploring their website, because you can’t try on a dress since they’re all custom made)! I hope this post encourages you to be true to yourself when it comes to your wedding day and to find a dress that screams YOU (or design one)! Just make sure it’s what you want, and not what society says you should have! So check out some of these local stores and designers and get started bringing your vision to life!
Oh, and check back later this year to see what designer and dress I actually ended up choosing! (Hint: it’s one in this post!) For now I’ll leave you with this question: do you think I’m going with white or color?! 🙂
Location | San Francisco (Lombard and Scott Streets) Her dresses can also be found at other stores, but since there’s a flagship store here, you might as well go there if you like her dresses! (photos above and below)
Dresses | To quote their website: “chic as shit” gowns for the modern bride 🙂 Moderate to more expensively priced
Summary | With 90 minute appointments and pretty much only one bride at a time, it felt like a very personalized experience. They’re also the only store I found with boldly colored dresses in addition to the traditional white/ivory hues!
Details | My consultant was very personable, down to earth, and really understood what I was looking for and what I liked before I even knew what I liked! She put together different skirts and tops in a way that I could try them on to see what the dress would look like if I had it made. I also felt like she gave her actual opinion on what she thought I looked good in instead of just liking everything (super helpful to me since I did a lot of shopping on my own)! Another plus is that you’re able to make some custom adjustments (for a price) and they have their own in house seamstress/tailor for alterations (for a set price of $400). Also, the upstairs space where the appointments are held is fun with bold colors and patterns (photos above and below)!
Location | Based in San Francisco, but the entire process can be done online and by phone from anywhere! They ship everywhere in the US and Canada, and you don’t have to show up in person at all!
Dresses | Custom dresses made to your exact measurements! Per Anomalie, dresses usually average about $1,000-$2,000 ($1,000 is the minimum). Check out their gallery and Instagram page for some of the many dresses designed by past brides!
Summary | The most unique option out there because you get to design the dress yourself (with the help of a stylist) AND it’ll likely be way more affordable than what you’d pay anywhere else! What?! 🙂 Endless possibilities for all kinds of brides (except they don’t currently have the ability to make dresses in non-traditional colors other than by adding dyed lace or tulle)
Details | They use the same premium materials and factories that high end designers use, but they cut out the middle man, which means savings for you! The process takes about 6 months total and happens in 3 simple steps (find the details here)! You get a personal stylist to help you come up with the design and you’re involved in the process every step of the way (you can even follow the progress on your own personal dashboard)! They’ll send you fabric samples with a personalized sketch, and connect you with a local tailor for measurements and any alterations (though it’s less likely that you’ll need any since the dress will be made to your exact measurements)! They can also make accessories, such as a veil or jacket to go with your dress, and/or create a second dress for your rehearsal or reception!
*Extras | Click here for $100 off of your own custom dress from Anomalie!
Location | San Jose (Santana Row)-this is where you get to meet Kirsten herself for your appointment! (Or you can also find her gowns in select stores)
Dresses | Contemporary and chic silhouettes with some traditional elements and amazingly comfortable and flowy skirts (prices range from $1,800-$3000)
Summary | A unique experience in that you get to meet with the designer herself (in her own home nonetheless), and the ability to mix and match tops/skirts and change some details (like add a slit, change the color under the skirt, etc) gives you even more options!
Details | Kirsten is the absolute sweetest, most joyful, and down to earth person! (See her photo below!) I left feeling relaxed, excited, and happy! I tried on each dress multiple times without feeling any pressure at all! She took a million photos for me, and she answered all of my questions easily because she is not only the designer, but also the seamstress! The skirts are so light and flowing that you won’t want to take them off!
Location | Walnut Creek or Palo Alto (within Anthropologie stores since it’s their bridal line)
Dresses | Simple, stylish, and not over the top dresses. A variety of styles from bohemian to contemporary and separates at incredibly affordable prices!
Summary | A popular store within a store with affordable options for all kinds of brides! They also have bridesmaid dresses, veils, jackets, accessories, lingerie, jewelry, shoes, and more, plus they’re open later on weekdays than most stores are!
Details | We were offered champagne and water right away, which was a fun and unexpected treat! The consultant was attentive, sweet, and offered suggestions based on what I liked/disliked. One thing to note was that the lighting was terrible (orange and lit from above in a way that created so many unflattering shadows in photos), but maybe it’s just the photographer in me that was so bothered! 🙂 On the positive side the dresses are so affordable and there are tons of options for all kinds of brides who are looking for something a little more low key!
Location | San Francisco (on Union Street and by the Fillmore Street Shops)
Dresses | Lots of bohemian style dresses at moderate price points (photos above and below)
Summary | Seems to be a pretty popular store, so it felt a little bit like an assembly line experience (it was the most crowded of all the shops I went to, but it was also a Saturday afternoon…fair enough!)
Details | This was my first real dress shopping experience, so I may have come underprepared because I had no idea what I was looking for. The stylist basically just had me go through the racks and pick out dresses that I liked to try on. I kind of wished I had a more personalized experience where she helped me to find dresses based on what I was telling her I liked/disliked about each one. But she was a new consultant and I was a new wedding dress shopper, so maybe it just wasn’t the best combination! 🙂 It’s definitely a gorgeous shop though (photos above and below)!
Well, there you have it! Five unique and non-traditional options for your wedding dress! Happy shopping! 🙂
Want to keep reading? Check out this post about designing your own custom engagement ring!