“great places to go wedding dress shopping?”

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“I would love some advice on great places to go wedding dress shopping in the DC area, ideally stores that won’t break the bank!”

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  • depending on how fancy you go-Hitched in G’town is awesome-I bought my wedding dress in the bridesmaid salon upstairs for under 1k. I think all the dresses in the bridal shop downstairs start at 3k. Awesome service. And I also bought a second dress on preownedweddingdress.com–got a 2k dress for about $450. that site has every dress you could ever want. If you see something in a magazinee or a shop- be sure to search the site to see if its on there for a lot less.

    • +1. Got my dress at Hitched, though depending on what you find it may break the bank. I very much recommend Lynette—she’s funny, laid back, and a dream to work with. She knows the stock extremely well, and put me in a dress that I would have never put on (and thus altered my whole wedding dress search).

  • HaileUnlikely

    Cincinnati. Seriously. If you have any reason to travel to Cincinnati in the near future such that the cost of the trip wouldn’t effectively be added to the cost of the dress, look at dresses while there. Mrs. Unlikely scored an amazingly beautiful dress from one of the 10 or so places on Benson St for roughly $100 before alterations.

  • BHLDN. It’s owned by Anthropologie and I think there’s one in the Anthropologie in Friendship Heights – probably in the Georgetown store, too.

    I also got a bridesmaid dress at Hitched in Georgetown. I’m not sure about the prices in the bridal part of the store, but the people who work there were really nice and helpful.

    • I got my wedding dress at the Anthropologie (BHLDN) in Georgetown. They are one of the few Anthros that carry the dresses in store. So comfortable, no pushy salespeople, and reasonable prices.

  • Check out the schedule for Brides Against Breast Cancer’s dress sales. They are in a different city each week and sell dresses donated by designers and women who didn’t want to keep their dresses. Prices are unbelievable (my wife got a simple & elegant Vera Wang dress for $550). Even better, all proceeds go to their foundation, Making Memories–kind of like Make a Wish Foundation for people with terminal breast cancer.

  • Lovely Bride in Georgetown carries gorgeous dresses in the mid-price range – really nice store!

    • I second Lovely! I got my dress there. They have a very wide range of prices and the ladies who work there are incredibly helpful– mine actually picked my dress out when I was having somewhat of a breakdown because everything was looking the same to me. The boutique is also just beautiful and comfortable.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    J. Crew on line wedding boutique. Sweet and reasonably priced.

    • Second this one. Go to the store in G’town to see the styles up close (optional), order online, and since there are free returns, try a couple styles/sizes to figure out what works! Got my awesome, elegant dress for $400.

    • Third this. I got mine from J.Crew for about $750. The best thing about J.Crew dresses is the return policy: since they treat wedding dresses the same as all other merchandise, you can change your mind and return unworn dresses within 90 days. And they come our with new designs every few months. I bought a beautiful dress, fell in love with a new design two months later, and exchanged it for the old one. No hassle whatsoever.

  • I bought my $5000 dress for $200 at Riziks. It was a last year sample. Wedding dress samples are size 8 or “wedding size 10” usually, so if that’s you, go the sample route. A word of advice, these pricey bridal shops will still help you (I love Riziks) you just need to 1) be upfront about your budget when you call to make the appointment and 2) don’t go on a weekend day. I went during lunch on a Wednesday and was treated like a princess. I went back to solidify my choice on a Friday afternoon with a friend and it was great as well. My BF went on a Sunday afternoon and even with an appointment was rushed through things and did not get “the experience” brides hope to have. Regardless of your price point i would suggest off-peak shopping timing, it will just be less awful.

    • I also had a great experience at Rizik’s and got a gorgeous sample for 65% off retail (not during their big sale time). It’s not the most glamorous of the bridal stores, but they have surprisingly good inventory and great deals on samples. I also second the recommendation to go at an off-peak time. You will be well cared for.

      • I also had a great experience at Rizik’s- the woman who I worked with (Ellie) wasn’t pushy at all, and alterations and delivery to NY went smoothly. Highly recommend. I felt rushed at Hannelorie’s because they are sticklers to the one hour time frame. (Who can find a dress in one hour?!) Good luck, and congrats!

  • I second JCrew online, but you can also go in and make an appt with the bridal department in the Georgetown store. So many clean lines and variations of white!

    • +1 on jcrew online–I tried making an appt with the Georgetown store, and after two weeks of un-returned calls, I just ordered online (it was the exact same sizing as their normal dress lines, I barely had to have it altered)

    • A good friend of mine went this route and was really happy with her decision!

  • I haven’t been married, but I do know that Rent the Runway in Georgetown have bridal dresses for rent. You can get an entire styling session, which I believe includes both a ceremony and reception dress and some other stuff, for $500.
    While I’m at it, public service announcement: please be considerate of your bridesmaids and remember that regardless of what dress you pick out, none of them will ever wear it again. Ever. If promise you. Think about the money you’re making them spend on what you’ve picked out.

    – Bridesmaid about to get fitted for a dress she will never wear again that will cost her at least a month of groceries.

    • I would urge caution with RTR for bridal. They’re great about 80% of the time, but they have some pretty serious problems with delivering their goods on time and correctly the rest of the time. I recently ordered a dress from them and it was completed shredded on one side when it arrived. The backup size was too small. I was able to make it work for that occasion, but would be horrified if I had that problem on my wedding day.

      • Did you contact them? Whenever I’ve had an issue, they’ve gone above and beyond. I usually order my dress two days ahead of time (I’m not sure if this has changed but I think for bridal they require an 8 day rental). They once couldn’t find the dress I’d ordered for NYE in their warehouse, and I didn’t like the alternative they sent me, so they overnighted me three other different dresses, two of which were more expensive than the original. Oh and this was during a huge snowstorm in NYC and the person who helped me was calling me from her cellphone cuz she was stranded somewhere in the midwest.

        • I contacted them and they gave me a full refund, which was the best they could do given that I didn’t notice the damage until the day of the event, hours before. But still, it seems like brides have enough to stress about without worrying if their rental dress will arrive on time and correctly.

    • Yep. This is why I told my bridesmaids to wear whatever they wanted. No specific cut, color, or anything. It could have been something they already owned. The only requirement is that they felt good in it and they would wear it again. They all looked fantastic and MUCH more comfortable in the pictures!

      Everyone kept asking me, “How will people know they are your bridesmaids?!” Well they were the ones who weren’t me that were standing up during the ceremony. And they had flowers. Easy.

    • I’ve always had great experiences with RTR for general dresses. And, the Georgetown location is great if you’re doing this local – you can pick up the dress at their location without having to worry about it arriving to you on time (and if you’re worried about it being damaged, you’re already there – you could even try it on, I’d imagine).

  • Don’t spend too much on a dress. You’ll wear it once and it’ll remain in a closet the rest of your life. Spend the extra money on booze for your guests.

    -Anonymous husband

  • http://www.stanthonysbridal.com/ – you absolutely have to go here! It’s a used bridal gown shop in the back of a pet grooming business and when you arrive without a dog, they always chuckle and send you to the back where the bridal shop is. You have to be ready to sort – it’s completely disorganized in there and space is tight. Also, because you don’t need a reservation, it can be crowded sometimes. But they have hundreds of dresses is every size and shape, the staff is very nice and patient, and best of all, every dress is $150 or less. If you can find something that fits and is close to what you want, even major alternations and cleanings still won’t set you back what a new dress would. I’ve been with three different friends now, and while one has walked away empty-handed, two others have found GREAT success. No one has ever had a bad time or a bad experience though.

    • I will second St. Anthony’s Bridal. I went to find a formal dress there a couple of years ago and loved the DIY style of the place. It’s not fancy – it’s in the back of a pet grooming shop but I swear you will not smell any dogs! Think of this place like the Unique Thrift of bridal shopping. You gotta go through the racks and there’s not much in the way of dressing rooms so don’t expect champagne and a pedestal. But there’s a nice selection of dresses and lots of other little wedding items you can get for the reception/ceremony (i.e. candles, glasses, decorations, etc).

  • I went out to ICON Bridal & Formal in Darnestown, MD for a trunk show for mine. Keep an eye on their trunk shows because the dresses are often 10-25% off during those sales. They carried a really decent selection of <$1000 dresses and their customer service and alterations were absolutely amazing. It's a mother/daughter duo that owns the shop and they treat everyone like royalty.
    DO NOT GO to Mary's Bridal in Annapolis. Just don't do it, don't consider it, don't put yourself through that (you'll be ridiculed if you want to spend less than $3000ish).

  • I’m getting married in October and only found my dress about 3 months ago. I went everywhere–Neimans, Saks, Bloomies, JCrew, Anthro, Hitched–looking for something simple and classic, eventually finding what I was looking for at my last resort, David’s Bridal. There’s a Vera Wang White collection (actually for bridesmaids) that’s very simple and I bought a dress for my wedding as well as a dress for a wedding I’m in the weekend before. Good luck!

    • I second the recommendation for Davids. I tries several boutiqurs but felt that I wasn’t able to try on as many styles as I wanted (not to mention $2k being considered a tight budget). I went to David’s to get a better sense of what styles looked best on me with the intent of buying elsewhere, but found a dress I loved, and waaaaay under my budget. The selection and quality were much better than I expected.

  • BHLDN at the Georgetown Anthropologie has great dresses and a variety of price points, definitely worth checking out. Bonus – their veils and jewelry are swoon-worthy! Locally, I also recommend I Do, I Do in Gaithersburg. They sell new and used wedding dresses so they have great selection at all difference prices. The salesladies there were so nice. I almost bought a dress there, but I ended up buying mine when visiting family in New York. If you do feel like traveling to NYC, I highly recommend RK Bridal. It’s an enormous warehouse of a store and the consultants have a honest, no-nonsense attitude.

  • Fabulous Frocks in Alexandria – you can try on second hand dresses.

    Also, Lovely salon in Georgetown has trunk shows most weekends and their dresses aren’t too bad – depending on what break the bank means to you.

  • Two options in Alexandria to throw out that both have options in the under $1k range that are nice and look more expensive than they are:

    – Ellie’s Bridal Boutique in Old Town – sometimes have sample sales to take advantage of
    – Catherine’s Bridal Boutique – on King Street, but a couple miles out from Old Town. This is where I got mine and I love it.

    • +1

      I got my dress at an Ellie’s sample sale for $500. Was originally more than $2k. Really happy with it! They have a sample sale September 18-20.

  • I had a great experience at Hannelore’s in Old Town Alexandria. I had found “my dress” at a shop in PA, in my hometown, but I did not want to have to deal with trekking back and forth for fittings. I found the same dress at Hannelore’s, except it was priced a few hundred dollars higher. I mentioned that I had seen it elsewhere for a lower price, but that I wanted to buy from a local shop, and they matched the price on the spot!
    Most importantly, HAVE FUN and don’t stress out about insignificant details.

  • Hitched is a fancy experience, but crazy expensive. I work across the street from Rizik’s and wasn’t too impressed when I went on a weekday afternoon. I thought David’s Bridal was a goddamn madhouse. However, I didn’t hate all their dresses. Ellie’s Bridal in Alexandria was a bit run down, but had a decent selection and the sales people didn’t hassle me at all.

    Ultimately, I bought my dress from TLC Bridal Boutique in Frederick. Despite the name, it has nothing to do with the cable channel. I’m from Frederick, so it wasn’t so out of the way for me to go there. The sales women are incredibly friendly and handed my mother and I mimosas upon entering. It was probably the best experience I had. They were not pushy, let me try on anything I wanted and let me look around too (which a lot of places don’t). My dress was under $1,000 too. The price had actually gone up in the 6 months between when i first tried it on and when i finally bought it and they gave me the original price.

  • If you’re plus size (they carry 12-32) I HIGHLY recommend Cherry Blossom Bridal. I took a friend there this weekend and it was amazing – they were wonderful and so helpful and it was great that she was able to try on all the sample dresses.

  • If you are up for a little road trip with your gal pals – I highly suggest Church Street Bridal in Lynchburg VA. They are in a YMCA, all the dresses are new donated from stores (Kleinsfelds, Katherine’s Bridal, etc.) and the proceeds go toward battered women and children’s programs in the area. I had a great experience there and bought my dress (originally $1600 from Katherine’s Bridal) for $475. They also have veils, accessories, and other dresses. They have a larger selection of dresses below size 14. They do get some plus sized dresses in, but they go quickly.

  • I recently got my dress, which I love, for about 50% off of the “new” price at Fabulous Frocks of Alexandria. It is in great condition, and I was really happy with the service and selection there. I had a less than awesome experience at Ellie’s; I thought their dresses were lacking. I have gone to Hitched for some accessories, and those are the only moments when I have regrets about my dress. Hitched’s selection is GORGEOUS. But if you are looking to spend under $2000 or so, I’d stay away from there. It will only bring pain. I also looked at BHLDN and had a good experience. JCrew was a big bust for me, but prices are pretty reasonable. Depending on how formal your wedding is, you may also have luck looking for long white dresses at Cusp, Shopbop, Neiman Marcus, etc. I loved a white Alice and Olivia dress that I bought online but it was a little too casual for my wedding. Good luck!

  • I bought my dress in Rockville at a place called Love Couture Bridal – they actually have “reasonable” items – which means under 3000 but probably nothing under 1500. Yes – the whole wedding dress shit sucks. you want to look beautiful but don’t want to buy into the $$$ bull.

    • I second Love Couture Bridal. I went to the location in Potomac, MD. After MANY dress appointments, this was by far the best experience. Also, some unsolicited advice, I spent WAY more than I had planned on my dress (I was a super pragmatic bride) but I don’t regret it. I’ll try and resell it, but either way, I’m glad I did it. The way I looked on my wedding day was really important to me, so the cost was worth it. Do it once, do it right. Good luck and congrats!

  • I recommend Rosalin’s in Falls Church. Small little shop but a decent selection. Not the glamorous “Say Yes to the Dress” experience, but I’ve gone there with at least 3 people (in addition to my own trip). It’s nice because you don’t have a consultant stuck to your side the whole time and can just spend time trying on various dresses with your friends. They are also a bit cheaper than other area shops (same dresses for a couple hundred less). I bought my dress there and their alterations were great as well. I think I’ve had one other friend buy from them and 2 friends do alterations.

  • Nordstrom carries an inexpensive bridal line – you can select the ones you like which will then be delivered to the store for try on (usually at Pentagon City). I loved Ellie’s Bridal for bridesmaid alterations and the David’s Bridal in Springfield, VA had a decent selection. A friend got hers from I Do I Do in Gaithersburg for a good price.

  • Carine’s in Gtown is quite lovely. High end, high fashion lines and nice personal attention. Very knowledgeable staff who have always been–FWIW–much nicer to me, the gay that gets brought along dress shopping, than the staff at other shops in Georgetown.


  • I had a great experience at Ellie’s in Alexandria (they were the most affordable). Lovely Bride also had some nice dresses under $2K. I ultimately got my dress at Nordstrom, which was a little pricier but also had the best service by far. Don’t go to Hannelores – their dresses are expensive and the service is bad.

  • There are gorgeous bridesmaids’ dresses available in white, ivory, cream, etc., that cost a fraction of what even inexpensive bridal gowns normally cost. Bella Bridesmaids in Friendship Heights has the best selection I found.

  • I don’t know what kind of style you’re looking for, but if you want something slightly (or totally) non-traditional, Mod Cloth is AMAZING!

  • It really depends on the type of dress you are looking for as well. I found the Lovely Bride and Hitched had the best selection of classic and modern dresses. You can get beautiful dresses at both for $1500-2500. Love Couture Bridal in Potomac, MD has a great selection of sparkly and lace covered dresses for around the same price point as Hitched or Lovely, but they looked at me like I was crazy when I said I wanted simple, no sparkle dress. Steer clear if you want simple. If you want to stick to a budget without going to Davids Bridal, J. Crew and BHLDN in Georgetown both have limited quantities, but the quality is a step up from Davids Bridal for a good price and the staff was very friendly. In the end, I got my dress from Hitched and don’t regret it.

  • I had an amazing experience at Couture by Posh Bridal. Their selection is amazing, their prices won’t upend your wedding budget, their service and the quality of experience is great, and their seamstress is – well, she used to work on Broadway…so she’s amazing. I bought my wedding dress there last winter for a May wedding, and I have recommended it to all of my friends who have gotten engaged since.


  • Global Bridal Gallery in Alexandria. Go elsewhere for alterations, though.

    • I’ll mention that I got my dress at a Blowout sale (which they are still doing to move merchandise), and mine (before alterations) was $500 and gorgeous.

  • Got mine from BHLDN (Anthropologie) in Georgetown for $700. And Whole Foods is a great place to get flowers much cheaper than traditional flower shops. This stuff is only for one day – why spend a fortune??

  • Depending on if you want to drive or not, I highly recommend Garnish Boutique in Towson. Great experience and a wide variety of dresses. I got my dress there and LOVED the experience. I also recommend Lovely bride in Georgetown and Love Couture in Potomac. If you’re looking for a large variety of dresses at all prices, you might want to try Betsy Robinson Bridal in Towson, but the place is crazy busy and you will feel rushed.

  • I got mine at Hannelore’s in old town and really enjoyed the experience. the one thing I’ll say though, is that no matter where you do, it’s easy to talk yourself into spending more on the dress than you planned. Don’t do that.

  • I went with my sister to Curvaceous Couture up in Maryland earlier this year–they specialize in plus size gowns and were AMAZING! She’s a 14/16 and she was able to try on every dress and style she was looking for. The boutique is run by two sisters and they have their own show in TLC, Curvy Brides.

  • I would definitely recommend checking out the department stores – Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, etc. and even Macy’s – that’s where I got mine! It was an unbelievable deal for a simple (but entirely lace!) off the rack dress, which I then paid about $200 for pretty standard alterations. My mom dragged me to 4 other bridal stores (not in DC area) before we finally scoured the mall. I had a really hard time finding something that wasn’t poofy, strapless, or over $1000 in all the bridal stores we visited. I was also eyeing BHLDN dresses and sparkly sashes because they have beautiful items, but I couldn’t even bring myself to spend that much (even though, comparatively, their prices are pretty good). Good luck!

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