Wedding Elements, Part 1 of ∞: My First Wedding Dress

Hello! I am looking lovingly at my wedding photos right now (expected duration of activity: till they close the lid on my coffin). These aren’t even my professionally done ones; they’re merely the ones I snapped on my phone during the day or ones that our dear guests were kind enough to share with us (thank you!). What images to cull and write about?

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As I’ve noted, there were many DIY and “Made in China” elements to the wedding. In fact, anything that I wasn’t required to execute to a certain standard was probably DIY (e.g., day-of coordinator: our venue contract required that we retain the services of a professional for, at a minimum, the entirety of our wedding ceremony and reception. Want to guess whether we required her services for a minute longer than the contracted requirement? Side note — our coordinator Misha was a lovely person and a fabulous wrangler; I cast no aspersions on her talent or necessity! I am just unimaginably cheap and simultaneously deluded about my ability to be everywhere at once. Dangerous combo.).

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Violet & 7287277 Violet & 7287278

Let’s look at what was arguably my first real wedding purchase: My first (of 3 total!) wedding dress.

I bought my first wedding dress before I got engaged. This first one was bought speculatively at the fantastic — but unfortunately erstwhile — Back Room of Loehmanns Beverly Hills. This was referenced in our New York Times article. Why did I do this? Because it was pretty, it seemed like a good deal, and I vehemently reject certain elements of relationship dissembling. What, I’m supposed to wait till I’m engaged to go wedding dress shopping? But what if the store I’m in is having a going-out-of-business sale?

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Violet & 7287554

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It was a floor-length slimline Sue Wong Nocture gown (style 69701) with ostrich feather skirt and beaded sweetheart bodies.

And it was size 0.

Confusing: This is not that first wedding dress! Neither are any of the images in this post (besides the video clip). Confusing enough? It didn't photograph well, and I like the purple cast of these other pics!

Confusing: This is not that first wedding dress! Neither are any of the images in this post (besides the video clip). Confusing enough? It didn’t photograph well, and I like the purple cast of these other pics!


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I include the size not for vanity, but to say: This garment was absurdly microscopic. Inhumanly infinitesimal! Doll small! I couldn’t zip it when I bought it; at no point could I hitch the clasp; and to this day it sits on me with a big open mouth like a treacherous crevasse. As you may know, bridal sizing is notoriously “real” with you — whereas 90% of the entire known world can fit into what Old Navy calls “size XXS” … a woman with Taylor Swift’s body fat percentage is probably wearing a bridal size 10. (I am exaggerating on both counts, obviously … but not by much.)

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The extent of this first dress’ life has been: sitting in our closet under protective plastic, and then serving as my costume for the Save the Date video we made:

And now you know why I never turn to show my left profile in the video! (Because the dress zipper’s on that side and it’s gaping down to my hip socket. Hollywood camera tricks, baby!)

The Sue Wong original dress didn't look as dramatic as this Chinese-made one!

The Sue Wong original dress didn’t look as dramatic as this Chinese-made one!

How do I look? (A question to ask your phone's front-facing camera)

How do I look? (A question to ask your phone’s front-facing camera)

This dress still has tags on it and I doubt I’m going to go through with the rib removal surgery that would make it finally zippable. So, prepubescent brides of the world … make me an offer!

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Next I will discuss something more interesting — how I sourced the two Chinese-made, couture wedding dresses that I wore at my wedding!


2 comments to “Wedding Elements, Part 1 of ∞: My First Wedding Dress”
    • Hello Jess!! Thank you for your comment and congratulations again on your engagement and wedding planning! By the looks of your IG (which is incredible eye candy), it seems that you are looking at non-knockoffs, BUT if you want to explore, I used Jasmine’s Bridal Shop in Suzhou:

      I worked with Irina, who was awesome, but word is traveling about how great she is so I hear she’s busier/more bogged down and responds a little slower now. You can read more user reviews of Jasmine’s (“JBS”) on WeddingBee forums, where they ominously call it “The Shop,” hah. JBS gets glowing reviews there because it’s very well-run from the consult to the order to the sewing and shipping phases, and they have strong customer service. Brass tacks: I looked at pics online and decided I wanted a Galia Lahav dress, so I went to official Galia stores and tried on a variety of dresses. I chose the Galia Lahav Suzanne for my ceremony and the Galia Lahav Marine for my reception; at these prices, why not build in multiple costume changes! Oh, and about prices: the MSRP of the real-deal designer dresses in question were between $11K-$13K (don’t remember the exact prices for the ones I looked at; I have it written down somewhere). To convey to JBS how I wanted the dresses made, I made GIFs of the gowns in action via a promotional video by the designer, and also took multiple photos of myself trying on the real-deal dresses. I also described in detail what the dresses felt like and how I wanted them to fit me, including any modifications from the original. I sent all this info to JBS and they gave me a quote; I’ll have to check but it was about $400 for the ceremony dress and $300 for the reception dress I think. You have the option to select “designer grade fabrics” (nicer lace, satin rather than polyester) but I didn’t pay for that upcharge and just went with their basic materials, which seemed totally fine to me.

      JBS also made my veil (which was just a knockoff of Kate Moss’ veil Juliet cap from her 2011 wedding to Jamie Hince; the marriage may have failed but her bridal look was certainly steal-able!). The whole production process took 8 weeks or so (you can pay for rush but I didn’t; you also have to pay some mandatory customs fee just to prevent the expected shenanigans that can happen during China-U.S. commerce). The entire parcel came vacuum-sealed and wadded up like a compact football, which was both alarming and impressive, given that it included 2 tulle explosions, a veil and 2 ample garment bags. Highly recommend!!! Even if you go a more traditional route for your dress, JBS is worth checking out for any custom-made dress you want to get, whether for photo shoot, reception wear or even just to have an impeccably sewn, compellingly priced formal dress in your closet for some other occasion. It’s just too much fun and they do fabulous work.

      Also, if you’re considering, this customer inquiry board they’ve set up shows good examples of the caliber of work they can turn out, as well as pricing info, questions about lace patterns, assurances about production schedules, etc.

      Good luck and I look forward to seeing more snaps of your gorgeous wedding planning!! xxxo

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