Wedding Dresses & Shoes

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Letting go of my wedding dress

March 2009

My wedding was almost nine years ago, and since that time, my wedding dress and veil have been sitting in a dust-proof bag in our garage. We are getting ready to move a long distance in a few months, and have begun selling off those items that we find we really haven't, in the end, used all that much. Of course, the dress falls into this category.

However, I find myself reluctant to part with it, for no reason whatsoever other than sentimental. About all other things, I am fairly practical in my life--but I can't quite bring myself to part with it, but I can't really justify keeping it, either. I have one son and, all things being equal, even if he were to want to wear my dress at his wedding, I have always heard that children never want to wear their mother's dress: too big, too small, too ugly, etc.

I do have the option of keeping it and not moving it (we are renting our house, and will be keeping some things in the garage), but that seems impractical. I also think that someone could be out there who may LOVE to wear my dress at her own wedding, if given the chance (I bought mine used, so why not put it out there again)--but again, I'm not quite there.

I am wondering what others have done who have been in the same boat. It isn't really about the money, but I have thought of maybe putting the money from its sale toward another sentimental piece for myself, like a wedding ring (we didn't do the ring exchange, and I find myself wanting one), so maybe some suggestions in that vein. Or maybe someone sold her dress/gave it away and regretted in ever since? Or, success stories? Any advice is much appreciated here. something old

Keep it. Your post makes it clear (to me anyway) that you are not ready to part with it. Maybe the next time you do a big purge you will be, but not this time. And you mention you did not exchange rings. Maybe the dress is the symbolic representation of the vows you made on that day, as the role the ring normally plays, and so that could be behind your feelings of not wanting to part with it, even without knowing it. Just a thought. anon

My mom still has her wedding dress and though neither me nor my sisters will ever wear it we love looking at her wedding photos and being able to feel and smell her dress. Don't get rid of yours. It can't be taking up that much space, right? Sentimental

I wish i could offer sage advice. I too have held onto my dress for 9 years now. Mine's a bit different, I made the dress, and it's a renaissance themed dress, so maybe not so popular on the re-sale market, I have two sons who probably wouldn't be interested when the are old enough. But, when I just recently cleaned out my closets, as we are also trying to downsize, I knew all the reasons why I should just part with it, but I found that I still couldn't do it yet. I carefully tucked it back away, maybe this year will be the year I wear it to ren faire, maybe next year when I revisit it (or if we have to move), but for now, I am just not ready, and so it will stay. A note on wearing mom's dress. I would have loved to have worn my mom's dress. It was a very simple dress, but lovely. But, she had left it with my dad when she left him, and it had been stored improperly for some 10-15 years and was quite yellow (I got it after he died 2 years after my wedding), and it would have been too small without a doubt! My mom's a lot shorter than I am. Goodluck, it is a hard decision. a reforming pack rat

Keep it! it's not like hanging on to the bed you first slept in. it doesn't take up that much room and you like having it - keep it whether it'll be worn again or not. My friend still has the plaid pants she was wearing when she met her husband.

I think it is absolutely fine to hold onto your wedding dress. When the right time comes along to give it up (i.e. a friend needs a dress for her wedding, etc.), you will know, and you'll be glad to be able to offer it. I held onto my dress for years, and felt guilty about how long it sat in the back of my closet. Then, out of the blue, my sister announced she was getting married. It fit her perfectly, and I was so glad to be able to pass it along. anon

If you can separate the emotion from the sale, you could try to sell your dress. Compared to the emotional attachment, you will probably not get close to what you think it is worth. Your first avenue would be one of the better consignment shops. I have used one on Piedmont Avenue near Piedmont Grocery. I don't know if they take wedding dresses or not. Most shops have set hours to take consignments so call ahead. I donated both of my dresses to a church rummage sale. I figured the church gets the donation and some person would be happy to get a lovely gown at a low price. I have not regretted giving up my dresses in the least. I have pictures to look back on (and they are lots easier to move!). kl

I wasn't sentimental about my dress (but I still have my dried bouquet and headpiece, go figure!) and I donated my wedding dress to charity shortly after my wedding. It had a long train and was a pain to store. I also knew I was never going to wear it again. I don't recall phone numbers and addresses, but it was for breast cancer research and the charity was located in Portland, OR. I had to ship the dress there, of course. I liked the idea of someone else wearing it and getting a great deal on it AND making money for a worthy charity. Jennifer

I haven't been able to let go of my wedding dress either. I've seen a few ideas about repurposing the skirt portion of wedding dresses. Do a google search. I like the Christmas tree skirt or quilt idea. Not sure if your dress would lend itself to such repurposing. Or how about wearing your dress one last time for a lovely dinner at home with your husband? anon

I have let go of my wedding dress, a few years back, similar to your thoughts, no space, 2 sons... I donated my dress to which I felt great about. I did keep my veil, just to have some momento no regrets!

Creative, casual wedding dress

Feb 2009

I am getting married in the late spring and would like to wear something casual but nice. I definitely don't want to wear the typical white gown. I would like to wear something colorful, creative and fun. I am not a good shopper and need some advice of where to go find something like this. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Liz

I love the huge variety of fun fabrics at Stone Mountain on Shattuck. Japanese, Indonesian cottons, and some pretty ''fancy'' materials. Also, if you are the lace type, check out the antique lace and cool vintage accessories at Lacis, also on Shattuck. Then, I would go through some magazines looking for something you like (or draw something)and have it tailored for you. Then it can be casual, fun and uniquely you! kl

Congratulations on your nuptials. My first thought reading your post is that you should hire Maureen French to help you find the dress. She is an independent personal shopper who works with clients to do a whole range of things, including helping them find the right clothing for them -- and it ends up being a really enjoyable experience. Which if you don't really like shopping (and I don't) says a lot! She helped me find special clothes that I never would have picked out in a million years and which I wear over and over. The amount of time, energy and frustration that I saved working with her was worth her fee. You can learn more about her at her website: I think she could help you find a great dress you'd love. Good luck. Rachel

Anthropologie in Berkeley, in the 4th street area might be a cool store to check out. They have beautiful, funky (but in a cool-classy-nontraditional sorta way!) dresses. Prices range from $100 to over $300. You can look at the dresses on-line then go walk into the store for a better view. Good luck! non formal bride too

Non-traditional wedding dress

May 2008

Looking for a dress to get married in...not white, not poufy, not shiny. My perfect dress would not rustle. It would preferably be a simple but well-cut off-the-rack dress that will be found in a store with good selection and kind, helpful sales people. If that store also had a nice selection of mother of the bride dresses, more's the better! Our budget is almost nil, so vintage or second-stores would work. Another interest I have is for organic, hemp, or fair trade dresses...but I don't even know where to start. I would welcome any and all suggestions...I'm getting a bit desperate! Thanks!

I think the wedding line in JCrew is really nice. But I don't think they're organic... but they might be. Check out anon

Matching bridesmaid dresses for wide variety of size/styles?

April 2004

Hi, I've checked the archives but would like more up-to-date information, hopefully convenient to the Oakland/Berkeley area.

Has anyone purchased bridesmaids' dresses or had them made recently? I am going to be a bridesmaid soon and the bride has just put us in charge of finding our own dresses. We'd like to find matching dresses under $200 each that will be appropriate for 7 women who range in age from 21 to 35, have a fairly drastic variety of body types, and whose personal styles range from hip-hop cool to librarian-ish geeky.

Writing this, it is becoming clear that whatever we come up with will be hilarious. Still, I welcome any advice, so thank you in advance. At Least The Bride Will Look Great

I just got my daughter a flower girl dress on eBay for $30. I noticed that many purveyors of wedding attire, including bridesmaid dresses, sell there. It *can* be difficult to get in quantity there, but it's not impossible. When I got my daughter's dress, they had a ''Buy it now'' option (meaning I didn't have to bid) and they had several sizes and colors of the same dress up for sale. Karen

An idea worth considering is picking a fabric you all like, and then sewing or having a dress made from a variety of patterns, so that each bridesmaid can have a style suitable for her body type and personal taste. A friend of mine did this, and the bridesmaids (she had 5) looked great, and even had a dress they might wear again (gasp!). I think she retained veto power over the patterns and fabric ultimately selected, just in case someone went berserk, but I don't think she had to exercise it. Wendy

I got married last August and although I don't like the big corporate stores, I used David's Bridal for my bridemaids. I had five bridesmaids in four different US cities. They could all find a local David's bridal to get a dress. (There is one here in Pinole.) I picked one style line (Shades of You) and a color. There were eleven styles in that line and so they could each pick the style that they liked the best on themselves, but they would all be in the same fabric and color, and all the dresses went together.

Here's a link to their ''Color Expressions'' style line: and they each cost about $110. They fit sizes 2 to 26, and they will alter the dresses for you. Hope this helps! Andi

This is just a little out of your way but we had great luck with David's Bridal in Pinole. We were all different ages, shapes and sizes, too, and the bride picked the color dress she wanted us to wear (plum). From there, we got to pick our own dress style (halter top, short sleeves, no sleeves, even 2-piece, etc.). I think we paid around $145 for each dress. So we were all able to look similar yet we wore what flattered us (as much as a bridesmaide dress can flatter!). Good luck! anon

I just bought a bridesmaid's dress last week from The Wedding Party on College near Alcatraz. I clerk was very helpful. Appointments are required. They've got a website with several of their dresses but they don't list prices. The Siri dress I bought was about $200 plus a rush charge. Siri also had a website. The shop is also used to working with clients who are out of town. I must say that I like my dress a lot and hope to wear it to upcoming showers and other weddings . . will see. Good luck! Coleen

If you are willing to have them made, why don't you ditch the idea of matching dresses and go for dresses made out of the same material, but in cuts to flatter each person. Or, if you aren't going to have them made, then pick a color and all find a ready-made dress to fit/flatter each of you. The bride sounds very cool if she is putting you guys in charge of finding your own dresses.

Bridesmaids dresses are the one do-over that I would have back for my wedding. I really didn't care what they wore, but my bridesmaids made me go out an pick something out for them. they looked great (they all had similar figures), but they definitely weren't wear again type dresses. And, in retrospect, I would have loved them to each have found something in similar styles/colors, and something that they each chose for herself. Each groomsman wore the tux already hanging in his own closet. They were all different, but it looked very cool in the pictures. jan

The size differential is normal for weddings. There are a number of things you guys can do. One is you can pick a color and let everyone choose their own dress style that works best for them but all in the same color or fabric. There are several bridesmaids companies that make dresses which have separate tops and bottoms which you can mix and match- so same color and fabric but one top is off the shoulder, one is long sleeve sheer, one bottom is a line another mermaid. Most bridal shops have dresses well within the 200 range and many give an extra discount if you also get the tuxes there- for instance Sterling bridal in Pleasanton 925-463-9432 gives a 15% discount if the tuxes are rented through them. Another idea is to go to the Design Center they have a couple of bridal shops in there and the dresses are often about $70 bucks less. There are lots of internet things but I always need to try things on so those never really work for me. If you want to go with the same exact dress I'd suggest the two most divergent sizes go together and try the dresses on till you find one that best suits both body types- everyone in between will fit nicely. Personally I wanted to keep the costs down for my bridesmaids so I picked a nice summer dress at Mervyn's for $40 and $20 shoes and left it at that. My idea being that maybe folks could wear it again if it was just a nice party dress insted of these fancy, fancy things. Good luck and just have fun and try not to get to bogged down in the details. Juliette

Several years ago, I was the bride who left it up to my four bridesmaids to figure out what they wanted to wear. I thought they could each decide on a dress that flattered them and fit their personal sense of style. They all had somewhat different body types and heights ranged from 5'3'' to 5'9''. The only thing I really dictated was the spectrum of colors -- no pastels -- and then they took it from there. Interestingly, two of them went shopping together and found the same dress that looked good on them -- and then they emailed the other two who also agreed to match. Simple gold A-line dresses with burgundy scarves -- they looked fabulous, and I was really delighted that my girls came through without putting any pressure on me about the search or decisionmaking. The dresses were from Jessica McClintock -- there's a store in Union Square -- and they could be bought off-the-rack or ordered (no extra charge) with a week's turnaround. The dress was something like $125 and many of the other styles there were under $200, with an array of colors. I think they have a website, too. If the women want to wear different styles but the same color, that can be done as well, since many of the seasonal palettes are the same across the different dress designs.

Two years later, I was one of five bridesmaids who were told to find our own. Although I went to Macy's SF Union Square and thought they had a great selection of reasonable, off-the-rack dresses, I ended up at Jessica McClintock again (as did one of the other bridesmaids) for a great deal on a sale dress off-the- rack. I did have to spend money to get it altered, but that goes with the territory for me. The five of us (from all over the States) just kept in touch via email and kept our dresses similar in length (decide on cocktail, tea or full-length), general style (fitted or full) and color palette (deep colors like burgundy and emerald blue and navy vs. pastels vs. primary) -- and it worked out great! Good luck -- Noreen

Non-pastel flower girl dress for summer wedding

March 2004

it seems all 'flower girl' and fancy dresses come in pastels. we are looking for rich, saturated, all RED 'flower girl' dresses (size 4, 6 and 7) for a hot humid summer wedding. hopefully fluffy and incredibly darling, plus cool, comfortable fabrics. and of course, not wanting to spend an arm and a leg. ( I am sure you can get whatever you want at those expensive Bridal Stores). has anyone seen any out there ? thanks for any tips ! andrea

Have you tried eBay? I just checked and they had lots of red dresses for little girls in the Wedding Apparel/Flower Girl Dresses category. I just got married recently and I bought TONS of stuff off of eBay, because it was simply the best and cheapest way to get things for the wedding. There's really nothing risky about it, because eBay has insurance to guarantee your purchase. Sellers receive feedback from their buyers, so you can check to see if some one is reliable or not. Because people sell from EVERYWHERE, you get so much more variety, and reasonable prices, sometimes even extremely good deals. At least take the time to check it out, it will be worth your while, I promise! eBay convert

try looking around fruitvale Bart where there are lots of shops catering to Latino families. You will probably find something there that meets most of your reqs, though I'm doubtful about the cool, comfortable fabric part! deborah

The other day I was at Marshall's, on San Pablo, in El Cerrito, and they have tons of frilly dresses, and I am sure I saw some darker colors, including red. It is worth a try. kate

We found a deep red flower girl dress at Sweet Potatoes near 4th Street in Berkeley last year about this time. It was on sale - I think it was originally a Christmas dress. It has a little jacket which can be taken off, and has a sleeveless darker red bodice with a more plum colored taffeta skirt, but it is not particularly summery. Unfortunately we only have one size six. If you don't need them all the same, you might be able to borrow it from my daughter. In any case you might check there - you never know. Susan

Bride's Decorated Tennis Shoes

April 2003

One of my best friends is getting married in July. She wants to wear a pair of white, Keds-type tennis shoes decorated with pretty jewels and/or ribbons during her reception. Does anyone know where I can find such shoes? I want to buy them for her or decorate them myself. If no one can recommend a place to buy them, could you recommend a place that can decorate them or where I can buy nice materials to decorate them myself? Christina

Decorated canvas shoes are actually pretty easy to find in any place that sells wedding favors and stuff, or gift stores/catalogs. But they're pretty expensive compared to making your own. A trip to Michael's or JoAnn Fabrics will yield some nice satin or lace ribbon to replace the shoelaces and whatever jewels and trims you'd like to use (apply with a hot glue gun), plus maybe paint pens in her wedding colors to draw or write the date directly on the canvas.

The white shoes, of course, you can get at Target, Payless Shoes, even RiteAid.

Have fun! Holly

Hi Christina. When I got married 8 years ago, I also wore platform white Keds-style tennis shoes. I decorated them by sewing multi-colored sequins on them. My dress was full length so no one saw the shoes until the reception when I lifted up my dress to show them. The older grandmotherly crowd absolutely loved them! For more wedding type decorations like little ribbons and lace and miny roses, try Michaels or other fabric/craft stores. Particularly check out the do it yourself card and invitation section. There are lots of wedding theme dodads you could attach to the shoes. Best Regards, Tiffany

You can get pretty bridal sneakers at, and probably at many an online bridal/wedding store! ( Jennifer

Simple, elegant gown?

March 2002

One of my best friends is getting married in the fall. (Yay!) I want to help her shop for her dress, but I'm new to the area (as well as out of practice on this type of thing) and don't know good places to go. Can anyone recommend some shops in the East Bay that have a good selection of simpler, elegant gowns (no poufy stuff, she said) with decent prices and friendly staff. Thanks. Justine

Lacis, a lace store on Shattuck Ave. near Ashby in Berkeley, sells vintage wedding dresses from a variety of eras, starting with the early 1900's. Marina

There's a dress store on College in the Rockridge area of Oakland, just north of Hudson St. on the west side of College, I think it's called Art to Wear - they have beautiful dresses and wedding gowns. ramisima

Well, I'm a big believer in reusing dresses, if possible. There is a very nice consignment place in Walnut Creek, Cherished Gowns on Main. Why pay full price? It would certainly be worth taking a look. Wendy

I bought a beautiful dress at Soiree 5407 College Ave. in Oakland. The upstairs of the store has a great selection of elegant dresses that do not seem like typical poofy dresses. The woman who helped me spent, literally, hours helping me find something that fit my body type (and it wasn't too expensive). Another store that had some great dresses and accesories is called Shadows in San Anselmo. Best of luck!