Photo and Sequin Dress by Love, Maureen Patricia
In the endless sea of wedding planning there’s one thing that has the power to elicit both boundless excitement and nervous dread: the dress, or to be precise, shopping for the dress. While many couples are beginning to realize there are alternatives to traditional dress shopping, like DIY dresses and amazing vintage thrift store finds, brides continue to flock to high-fashion boutiques that speak to eurocentric ideologies of beauty and style. While the traditionalist boutique is certainly an attractive option for some, there are just as many brides looking for another option. There’s a brave new world of bridal gowns out there, one that is entrenched in our reemerging appreciation of the highly skilled craftsperson, and it’s online.
Everyone and their sister knows Etsy has matured into a go-to wedding accessory destination, but most people don’t realize the website is also a gold-mine of amazing wedding wear. If you do your research and arm yourself with enough information, you might just find the dress of your wildest imaginings hidden on the internet.
Most independent couture designers hocking their wares online have defined a new type of bridal gown: one that is handcrafted, eco-friendly, socially responsible and customized to each body, even at affordable price points. Many online bridal gown shops are run by experienced and knowledgeable seamstresses who are able to guide you through the entire process to ensure a high quality, properly sized finished product. Of course, it’s always important to be careful when shopping online. Tread cautiously, purchase from reputable sellers with strong reviews who make their contact information freely accessible on their website or Etsy shop, including phone number, email, and even physical address.
Though online dress shopping means forgoing the catwalk fun of modeling dress after dress for your pals, it comes with a whole set of perks that might make you choose to give up your chance at the revolving dressing room. I think we’d all like to walk away from selecting our wedding dress without desperately needing a couple shots of tequila and a long vacation.
1. Finding bridal wear that is true to your personal style is possible.
No matter your preference, whether it’s contemporary, vintage, classic and traditional, rockabilly, gothic, punk, bohemian, beachy, simple, country rustic or fantastical, if you can’t find it you can probably have someone make it. The rich variety of dresses infused with subcultural character is one of the best reasons to hit up an Etsy boutique.
Photos and Dresses by Milamira Bridal
2. Sustainable fashions abound.
Eco-friendly and organic dresses speak to our growing values of social and environmental responsibility. You’ll have no problem finding shops that emphasize the use of natural and recycled materials.
3. You’ll get the chance to connect with young entrepreneurs.
Our millennial generation is having a fabulous love affair with entrepreneurship. The pool of talented designers with unique vision is immense, and we’ll miss out on everything they have to offer if we limit our focus to well-established brands.
4. There’s also convenience.
Imagine shopping for your wedding dress in the comfort of your pajamas, while you and your lover enjoy a nice cold bevvy with nary leaving the house. Your email and phone will once again be your best friends as you converse with your chosen seamstress about sizes and colors. If you doubt your skills with a measuring tape, you can always have a local professional tailor take your measurements.
5. Intimate and personalized service is at your fingertips.
No one wants to feel like they’re just a number, especially a number cha-chinging through a cash register. One of the greatest benefits to shopping with an independent designer is that you can pretty much count on being one of just a few customers.
Photo and Dress by The Peppermint Pretty
6. Save crazy amounts of money.
Some custom indie designers craft “sample” dresses to showcase their talent and style on their Etsy shops. Occasionally they sell off these dresses for great deals to make room for new sample photography that reflects their evolving skills and styles. If you can snag one of these deals you might just cut your budget in half and get an out-of-this-world item.
Jenn Schleich is a features writer with a passion for design. She lives at the beach and calls the Great White North home, where she dines on a diet of chocolate and venison.