When we got engaged in December 2013, one of the first things I did was find my wedding dress. Actually, no, that wasn’t it.
Engaged for barely two days, I flew back to work in the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter.
I work as a geologist in a remote underground gold mine in Northern Ontario. We’re a 24/7 operation which means someone has to work the holidays. That Christmas and New Year, it was me. My now-husband and I barely got to talk about anything wedding-related as we were too happy to be engaged! I trudged along my two-week rotation at the mine as happy as hippo, telling all my friends that we were getting married. I had no idea where we would have the wedding, first of all. I had no idea what “theme” we were to have. I had no idea how much we were willing to spend. Within a few days of coming home to Toronto, I went to a bridal show with my mom and my cousin (my maid-of-honour).
Of all places, I realized…
The bridal show was a good starting point nonetheless. One awesome thing I got to do: samples lots of cakes!!! We checked out different booths for reception venues, banquet halls, tuxedos, travel agencies (for honeymoons), wedding planners, printers, caterers… pretty much anything and everything wedding-related.
Another awesome thing I got to do: try on wedding dresses for the first time. Ritché Bridal (1662 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M 3Y1) was having a sale then.
Given that it was my first time to try or EVEN THINK ABOUT wedding dresses, this couldn’t possibly be when I would actually buy mine. Nothing really appealed to me at that booth, anyway.
Over the next several weeks, I looked online, in books, and in magazines for inspiration, avoiding Pinterest like the plague because I knew it would drive me nuts.
While I was still open to the endless possibilities of wedding dress designs, I preferred a lace gown with a mermaid/trumpet style in ivory. My budget was less than $1,000, in the $700 to $800 range. Any normal human being would find $700 to $800 a crazy amount of money for ONE DRESS to be worn for ONE DAY. Little did I know that that didn’t really get you far in the world of wedding dresses.
I began my search all over Toronto and its surrounding suburbs, visiting bridal stores with my mom and girl friends. In total I visited probably 10 to 12 stores where I tried three to four dresses at each. The experience was pretty much the same:
- You need to set an appointment in advance (most bridal stores are strict with this). Appointments are usually an hour long.
- You tell them what you like and what your budget is.
- The staff picks out some dresses for you to try.
- You try each dress on and decide whether you like it or not. Ask the staff questions if you have any.
- The store needs to order the dress from the manufacturer (I think), so you need to tell them if you will buy it at least six to eight months in advance of your wedding date.
I hope you find some wedding dress inspiration here! It took me some time to put the list of places together because I couldn’t remember them LOL. I had to do some intense searching online. I was even looking at Google street view pictures to make sure!
Best for Bride Toronto (566 Sheppard Ave W, Toronto, ON M3H 2R9) – hands down, the best service I received.
David’s Bridal (3105 Argentia Road – T6, Meadowvale Shopping Centre, Mississauga, ON L5N 8P7 ) – they have a lot of nice, affordable ($700 to $1,000) gowns.
Becker’s Bridal & Formal (387 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K 1P1)
Jealous Bridesmaids (610A Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6P 1A7)
I was astonished to find how much wedding dresses cost nowadays. Even something I just kind of liked cost $1000 to $1,200! The $700 to 800 dresses were probably in the don’t like at all category… so my budget went out the window. Kleinfeld Toronto hadn’t opened at this time, but I wouldn’t bother going there anyway since prices start at $1,500.
Other alternatives I considered:
- Buying a used wedding dress (oncewed.com, preownedweddingdresses.com, stillwhite.ca, your local Kijiji) = $500 to $1,000
- Getting the Chinese to make it (via eBay, Etsy) = $300
My mom was vehemently against both of these options, for reasons I agreed with too. I know, I know, it’s my wedding. I continued my search anyway.
Best fo Bride Etobicoke (5359 Dundas St W #100, Etobicoke, ON M9B 1B1)
At this store there was a girl who found “the one.” She examined herself in every possible angle and had a real moment where she was about to cry! It was quite funny. But she said she needed to lose ten pounds first. LOL.
Honestly, after a while, every dress started to look the same to me. This blush-coloured dress stuck to me though.
This dress by Maggie Sottero can be found here. I tried it on at Sophie’s Gown Shoppe (2200 Dundas St E, Mississauga, ON L4X 1L9).
The price tag: $2,000 plus alterations (around $400)… no way.
Fortunately (okay, get ready for this) my mom’s friend’s mom was visiting her daughter during this time (i.e., my mom’s friend). She’ s a seamstress back home in the Philippines with her own shop and employees. My mom suggested that I bring her a design of a dress I wanted and maybe we could talk about it.
I showed Tita Rose pictures of the Maggie Sottero dress and she said it would be no problem. We agreed on a price of $950 which included:
- The custom-fit dress
- Veil to go with the dress
- Veil for the veil ceremony (a Filipino tradition)
- Pillow for coin bearer (a Filipino tradition)
- Pillow for ring bearer (a Filipino tradition)
- Cord for the cord ceremony (a Filipino tradition)
Needless to say I got an amazing deal by North American standards. She took my measurements and made a pattern some weeks later. With exactly one year to go, she would continue the rest of the work in the Philippines and then ship it to me here in Canada.
After several months, I got a picture of the dress via e-mail in February 2015. It was stunning.
I received the dress itself a month later and though my mom was (again) vehemently against me fitting it before the wedding (it’s a weird Filipino superstition), I tried it on. It fit quite well except the stomach part was “ruching” a bit. There was no way around it due to the construction of the dress. My photographer told me I would be covering that part often with my bouquet anyway so it wouldn’t be a problem. Right from the get-go, I was no “wedding perfectionist” (I want a perfect day, perfect dress, perfect flowers, etc.) so I was just like, Meh, whatever.
I did get myself the perfect man though.
What I learned:
- Begin your search early, at least eight months in advance (but this obviously depends on how much time you have to plan). I started mine 14 months before the day, so that it would be out of the way. I finalized the dress with my seamstress a year before.
- Find out what type of dress flatters your body type. Don’t get hell bent on a specific design or cut, you would be surprised how other designs or cuts would look on you! For example, I thought the ruching on the body unexpectedly suited me quite well.
- Raid all the stores you could possibly go to. The staff doesn’t expect you buy a dress on the first visit so don’t feel pressured. You’re dropping at least $700 there so you better make an informed choice!
- Don’t stress. Bring your girl friends and just have a good time feeling beautiful!
- Find a seamstress and get your dress made affordably like me! Hehehe
Happy dress shopping!
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