Wedding dress found! / by Vanessa Larkey

I'm exhausted. 

It's been a pretty big two weeks. Peter and I bought a house (!!!), and I bought my wedding dress. As my friend Carly said, "Some would argue those are the two most difficult decisions in a girl's life!"

It wasn't supposed to happen this way, but I'm happy to have completed both tasks!  

For the uninitiated, you can't just walk into a bridal store and start trying on dresses. Most require an appointment (made AT LEAST a week prior to your preferred date), and you're assigned a sales representative who pulls gowns that compliment your style and figure. 

With that knowledge in hand, I made appointments at Becker's Bridal and The Bride's Project. Becker's is your traditional bridal store. It's on the Danforth, it's been in business forever, and they play classical music on repeat. A typical gown can cost anywhere from $700 (off the rack) to, well, you don't wanna know. 

The Bride's Project is a non-profit boutique on Broadview Avenue. Brides donate their old wedding gowns and The Bride's Project resells them, with ALL the proceeds going to cancer research. Gowns range in price from $200 - $1500 max. 

Much needed dress shopping caffeine fix at Rooster Coffee House on Broadview. 

Much needed dress shopping caffeine fix at Rooster Coffee House on Broadview. 


Because I'm 30 and know people lead busy lives, I kept my appointment entourage to a minimum. Family only. 

We were greeted at the door by a cheerful staff member, Amanda, who encouraged us to browse while she set up a fitting room. Once everything was good to go, she asked me how much I was looking to spend. Ugh. Despite being a bride on a budget, I don't always like divulging my thriftiness -- especially in a high end store. I know, I know, I shouldn't be ashamed, but sometimes my pride gets the better of me. 

"Uhh... I'd say your least expensive item to about $1000." Even the $1000 was a stretch, but what Amanda didn't know couldn't hurt her. It could only hurt me. And my budget. Which I was determined to keep intact, despite my pesky pride getting in the way. 

Without missing a beat, she smiled and said they offer a wide range of off the rack gowns in my price range and encouraged my bridal party to browse. 

What does off the rack mean? Literally, off the rack. Like you're buying a pair of jeans. Because gowns are so expensive, most boutiques purchase only a few sample sizes. Once a bride has made her wedding gown decision, the store will order the dress, which can take up to 6 months to arrive. It's (partly) why buying a dress is so darn expensive. 

After riffling through the off the rack section, we returned to the fitting room with six gowns. The first one I tried on was actually one that I had been admiring for a while. I currently live super close to Becker's Bridal, and this dress was in the window for a looong time. I always thought it was cute, but out of my price range. 

I threw on the gown (with some assistance from Amanda) and guess what? It fit GREAT! And looked great! And everyone agreed! 

I tried on the other dresses, but it was clear the first dress was the way to go. Well, the way to go IF I were to go the Becker's Bridal route. I still had the Bride's Project to check out. 

Before leaving, Amanda informed us there was a sale at Becker's, and I would receive an additional 30 per cent off the already marked down price. That would put the dress at $600. Not bad, not bad. With that information in hand, we made our way to the Bride's Project. 

The staff at the Bride's Project are really, really, nice. They greeted myself and my entourage with big smiles, and offered footwear (Croc's) because the floors of the space can get quite slippery. We were encouraged to browse between two rooms full of gowns. A few dresses had notes pinned to them from the previous owner of the dress to the new owner -- I thought that was really cute. 

I tried on a few dresses, but nothing screamed, "This is the one!" There was one dress that I was thinking about altering, but with a price tag of $800 I couldn't justify the expenditure. I'm a bride on a budget, and in this case, the budget friendly Becker's Bridal dress won. 

All that being said, I do like what the Bride's Project is all about, and will probably go back there for my head band and wedding purse (they sell wedding accessories). 

My sister and I made our way back to Becker's Bridal. When we arrived, we were told someone was trying on my dress. We were told to take a seat. We waited. And waited. And waited. What are the chances someone would be interested in the same off the rack dress as myself??? 

After what seemed like an eternity, Amanda returned with the gown. I tried it on one last time to make sure I still liked it. I did. I purchased it right away and made my way home, dress in hand. One more wedding related task complete. 

You think I'd actually let you see the dress? Hell no! You have to wait till Nov. 19! 

You think I'd actually let you see the dress? Hell no! You have to wait till Nov. 19!