Best places to shop for a wedding dress in Minnesota
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I am half a world away sitting in my living room in Hong Kong, 11,801km to be exact, panicking. One of my best friends, a.k.a. the bride, has entrusted me with finding the best places to shop for a wedding dress in Minnesota. I am panicking because she is flying to Minnesota in 5 days. I am panicking because I told her I was managing it.
In any standard story of finding the perfect dress, from ideation to execution, finding your special wedding dress is a journey, an experience and a milestone in itself. However, the perception of its complexity might let it take the center stage. In this story, my dear friend, the bride, has had no pleasure in getting any closer to her dream dress 5 months into the engagement. As a result, she has decided she would solicit my help as the Maid of Honor.
I hope she is right.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that finding your dream dress is only about finding the best places to shop for it. It begins with it.
1. Start with your budget. Allow buffer.
If you have watched the popular TLC show Say Yes To The Dress, you would notice that the very first question the happy brides often get asked when they walk into Kleinfeld is:
What is your budget?
Why is the budget question gets asked so very often? It is because it is important! Just imagine that if you are like me who had no idea about anything bridal and only put her acts together 6 months before her own wedding, knowing your city’s and the nation’s average spending on a wedding dress can be a helpful starting point.
How much does a typical dress cost?
Weddingwire provides a sneak peek statistic in this topic. In Minnesota, most couples spend between $394-1,200, with an average spending of $615. Some go as low as $151 or less whilst other can soar as high as $2,190 or more.
Compared to the national average of $1,000, ranging from $280 to $1,650.
What impacts on dress prices?
Needless to say, dress prices vary greatly but the key factors are no other than branding, type of material and the complexity of labor in the making.
Above all, you should also watch out for potential additional costs such as alterations, undergarments and cleaning before and after the wedding (yes – after all the hype from the wedding vanishes, you will be left with a giant dress which you might have dragged through grass and muds during photoshoot and dusted dance floor. Now you want to preserve your precious memory in its former glory). Miscellaneous costs can easily creep up on you and blow your overall budget if you have not provisioned a buffer for it.
Where are the vendors?
Weddingwire is a great website because it gives you the option of viewing wedding dress vendors by location. Futhermore, the drill-down function for each vendor provides details on their style, their reviews and rating. Not only that, you can also request for their pricing information before scheduling a physical visit.
These are our top 5 in our research by rating and number of reviews. There are plenty more on the website.
2. Consider something borrowed.
However, it happens that even with the most extensive search, your perfect dress is still nowhere in sight!
The option of borrowing an old gown from your mother, aunt or grandmother and modernize it to your taste gives comfort to my dear friend who is still looking for her dress 2 months until the wedding!
Not all bridal shops offer alteration, redesign or custom design services but it certainly does not hurt to ask. Some also offer services to restore family gowns to their former glory. Chances are, you might just find the right dress by looking at something borrowed!
A little desktop research goes a long way. To begin, you can search on Pinterest for the latest wedding dress trend in 2020.
In order to avoid excessive shop-hopping or disappointment, it is best to share your shortlisted designs with the vendors before making an appointment to go in.
3. Consider consignment stores
“Something old, something new –“. Passionate about your perfect dress but balk at the price tag? If for whatever reasons, you are more mindful on the budget, consider consignment stores.
Consignment stores stock both new and “once-used” wedding apparels and accessories. Their inventory is full of brand names at affordable prices and are always refreshed. As a result, brides, grooms and their family and friends can get everything they need in these stories without the burdening extravagant spending.
Here are two highly regarded consignment stories in the Minnesota area:
Again, sharing your shortlisted designs with the vendors before making an appointment would greatly reduce the chances of disappointment.
4. Other options
Don’t get confined by the concept of geographical locations. You have a not-so-secret weapon – the Internet! In other words, Google Google Google!
Procure what you need globally if needed. I did it. So did many others. A simple Google search of online wedding dress vendors will return with thousands of results!
…and the list goes on.
If you are like my friend who has not mustered the courage of purchasing the most important dress of your life (arguably) over the internet, consider sourcing minor items such as hair pieces, jewelries, shoes and undergarments. For instance, I bought my own veil with an Aliexpress vendor, which costed USD 16 and took 2 weeks to ship.
Accessorize with a simple dress
Start with a simple dress. You can discover your inner creative by accessorizing it to find your perfect look. Think hair pieces, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, sash waistband or beaded brooch. Whether it is to give you the extra sparkle you desire, to commemorate your beloved or to honor a family tradition, this will surely be an exclusive look for you and for you only, making your special day that much extra special.
Most bridal shops offer sample sales. Although they do not come in abundance and they are typically from the past seasons, some styles are classic and timeless so you might just find one with a largely reduced price tag.
Sample sales are not all-year round. However, if it happens to be between sales seasons, reach out and ask the vendors. You’d be surprised that some vendors have just a few that they would be delighted to show you.
Bridal trade shows
In some cities, there are annual or bi-annual trade shows of all things bridal. Countless vendors come across the country and globally would set up stalls to promote their brands.
What’s more is that they often offer show discount if you engage with them there and then. And because there are so many vendors being co-located over a finite period of time, such marketplace will literally transform into the most competitive trade space. So, take a visit, compare and start bargaining!
International vendor service
It may not cost as much as one might think – I am not talking about finding your local alteration expert to create a wedding dress as that will cost you a fortune. I am talking about doing so with an international vendor or tailor.
There are plenty tailors located in Hong Kong and China who provide end to end service at a fraction of the price that would normally come with a local US tailor due to the lower cost of labor and intensity of competition.
Head to Aliexpress, one of the world biggest online product platforms, there are literally thousands of wedding dress choices and vendors available to provide a fully customized service for you.
Because of the low entry barrier into this marketplace, Aliexpress has become a highly attractive platform for anyone to offer their product or services. As it is extremely competitive, the vendors have become highly skilled in dealing with international customers in English to expand and retain their customer base.
One shadow to cast over this option is about clear communication and verification. Although most international vendors are able to communicate in English, their way of working might be slightly different to what you would expect from a local US vendor.
Therefore, this approach requires specific instructions, clear communication and most of all, patience when it comes to virtual purchase.
5. Take your time
Last but not least, don’t push yourself into making rash decisions.
Take a breather and take a step back. Finding your perfect dress is a journey in itself. Create a pleasant memory for you and your beloved ones takes on its own meaning in this process. Therefore, try to enjoy and savor precious moment because it belongs to you forever.
Whether you decide to search for your perfect dress in a local brick-and-mortar bridal shop in Minnesota, from your something borrowed or purchasing it from an international tailor, your perfect dress will reveal itself to you. You just need to believe in it.
Authored by Sandy Chang
A panda lover, corporate professional and detective-wannabe who recently began the journey of exploring the world of creativity. I am based in Hong Kong where east meets west and creativity thrives. I can’t wait for the next opportunity to share with you what that may look like!
29 Oct 2019