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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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To DB or Not DB? Is That the Question?

 So, I uh - I think I accidentally had this post LIVE before I finished writing it. And didn't notice. Yeah, let me pull my head out of my ass and get back to you.....

OK, so let's start this post from scratch, shall we? I'm lifting part of this article from ForbesWoman. com. It's a great thinking-woman's website - without being all testosterone-laden like some other financial sites. And, it has a style section. Hooray for style sections! This week they posted an article on The World's Most Fabulous, Most Affordable  Wedding Gowns. I just had to post what they found as some of these are quite affordable - and pretty. Please note that the italicized dress commentary belongs to the article's author, not me.  

Project Runway winner and Houston-based designer Chloe Dao designs for real women with real budgets, and her wedding dress collection, launched this year, is no exception. Her Anna dress ($498, chloedao.com) is perfect for a bride looking to get more mileage out of her dress than a single wear.

T30SB Commentary: Sorta slutty, if you ask me. But I'm also a big fan of Dotted Swiss, so it's still appealing.


For a timeless wedding look, The Limited's Elegant wedding gown ($298, thelimited.com) fits the bill. The dress is a soft ivory, and has a tulle underskirt, which gives the dress a subtle ballgown shape.

T30SB Commentary: Love, but what is going on underneath this? Can you see those two hem lines underneath? Looks like cheap lining/tulle. WTF?


Grecian wedding dresses couldn't be hotter. Get the look with this Galina Collection Exclusive For David's Bridal, a soft chiffon A-line gown with one-shoulder floral detail ($399, davidsbridal.com). After the wedding you can shorten this gown into a cute dress.

T30SB Commentary: Eh. Good beach wedding dress.

Brides are no longer steering clear of short dresses (especially for a second wedding or to change into after the ceremony). Chloe & Reese's silk faille party dress ($460, chloeandreese.com) couldn't be any cuter, and it can morph into a party dress for post-wedding occasions.

T30SB Commentary: I mean, it's cute but is it wedding appropriate? Maybe for a cute City Hall type of affair.

This Ann Taylor silk strapless tiered gown ($495, anntaylor.com) is perfect for a beach wedding or a low-key backyard affair. Pair it with jewel-encrusted flat sandals and drop earrings to complete the look.

T30SB Commentary: Agree with the Forbes author. You could really bling this bitch out.


White House Black Market's bridal gown ($498, whitehouseblackmarket.com) was an instant hit at launch earlier this year and remains backordered until July 16. The strapless bodice and asymmetrical hem make the dress fashion-forward, and it flatters a variety of body types.

T30SB Commentary: Not a huge fan of asymmetrical hem lines and this model looks a little confused.


While BCBG doesn't officially sell wedding gowns, the retailer has noticed an uptick in its white gown business thanks to brides looking for chic off-the-rack options. BCBG's tiered lace gown ($548, bcbg.com) is a perfect choice for a black-and-white-themed wedding.

T30SB Commentary: Again, bling this baby out, change up the sash.


Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you can't have an opulent-looking dress for your big day. Tadashi Shoji strapless silk organza gown with metallic trim ($798, nordstrom.com) is chock full of fun details and looks far richer than its price would have you believe.

T30SB Commentary: I wore a dress like this for a fashion show and I want to warn you - these dresses are a bitch to walk in. The layered tulle or feathers or whatever a dress like this might have? Well, it falls beautifully at the hem - but when you take a step, all that beauty goes sort of flowing underneath the main hem and you step on it. And trip. All I have to say is THANK GOD I was able to trip and catch myself all underneath the gown without faltering from the waist up. Catlwalk mishaps are NOT on my list of things I want to be known for.

For brides wanting to get that Audrey Hepburn look, J.Crew's silk taffeta Caroline gown ($900, jcrew.com) is a great choice. Complete the look with pearls and a fun vintage hat.

T30SB Commentary: Very pretty for a modern bride, but kinda expensive for what it is, dontcha think?


Perfect for city brides, Nicole Miller's Georgette drape bridal gown ($990, nicolemiller.com) looks like it could have been ripped from the runway. Keep your hair and makeup simple, and go with killer shoes to complete the look.

T30SB Commentary: Eh. Again. Not loving it, but someone else might.

So what do you think? I like some of them, but definitely not all of them have quite a gown type of feel to them. You don't necessarily want to wear just a dress. At least I didn't. The same day I read this article, I had also decided to go into David's Bridal. I know. Did you just throw up in your mouth a little bit? Yeah, me too. But I had seen an add on TV that they were having a $99 dress sale. I needed a cheap gown for a photo shoot, so ran in at lunch just to see what they had. Happily, because I was all, "I'm just here for photo shoot stuff!" they left me alone. I didn't have to fill out any of their bullshit or wait for a consultant to be all smarmy to me or whatever. I just started digging through the sale rack. All the sale stuff was reaking of David's Bridal Hell, so was on my way out and decided to check the bridesmaid dresses that were on sale 50-75% off. And guess what? I found a wedding gown over there for $79.99! And I kinda liked it. And it was my size.

So I think you guys know what happened then, right? Because who am I to pass up an opportunity to try on a wedding gown at any place, at any time? So I'm all, "Hey, just gonna toss this on to see how it falls, OK?" and ran into a fitting room before they could stop me. It was cute. Really cute. So boogied over to the register, she rung it up and it was HALF OFF. I got a freaking WEDDING GOWN for $43.69. No shit.

So I took a second and walked around the store and looked at the display dresses and I think I have to admit - they were cute. They were. So I left and didn't think much more about it until I started writing this post and I think I've figured it out. The dresses I saw displayed and liked were these:





The dress I tried on and bought was a strapless shirred tulle number in ivory with some lace overlay and a tiny bit of beading. Do you know what the common factor is on all these dresses? Tulle and layers or organza and layers. Tulle is tulle people. You CAN find silk tulle, but it has a totally different hand than your standard nylon tulle. It's really drapey and soft and even sort of stretchy. I personally don't care for it because of the drapey/stretch factor. And it's expensive as shit. Then there's your cheap organza and your silk and/or pricey organza. If you were to put a bolt of synthetic organza next to a bolt of silk organza, you could totally tell the difference. If you were to layer it in one long piece over satin, someone with fabric knowledge could tell the difference (yes Flo, I'm talking about you). If you were to ruffle it up in layers? Not so much. And at that point, who cares really?

The materials that I think have given DB a bad rap are their satins and silks. Oh Lord, help me they are so bad. And then they do horrid things like embroider and bead them and it just looks terrible. These are going to be your culprits:

Fake charmeuse doesn't do any one any kind of good.

The top part of this one would probably look OK, but the bottom will definitely not look as good as this photo.

Ditto on this one. Too much cheap beading will make it look cheap.

Oh, y'all - shiny is just baaaaaaad. And I have no idea why they would have a plus size dress in shiny fabric. Any material that shines or reflects (like sequins) makes you look bigger than you actually are. Duh.

So I think I might have changed my mind on the whole David's Bridal thing. Might. Cheap fabrics are OK, as long as they don't look cheap. How you use an inexpensive fabric is key. Once I get some pics of the DB dress I bought, I'll show you. Or I don't know, maybe just wander into DB and claim you're there for a photo shoot for your Etsy shop and they'll just let you be. Explore on your own. And you know what? I am TOTALLY going to just wear that wedding gown I bought whenever I effing want to. Why? Because it was forty bucks and I can. I think I might vaccum in it later tonight.The Candyman will be so pleased.

So, who is going to give DB a chance? Or, if you already have a DB experience, feel free to share it. Change my mind about the place. G'head. Give it a shot.

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Reader Comments (13)

Whoa - those ruffled dresses are really awesome! I wish I had a $40 wedding dress to wear around the house. Hmm . . .

July 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterveronica

Yes, David's Bridal's dresses are cute. Really cute. BUT, it's a lot like a department store and you have to prepare yourself mentally for that. The mirrors are bad, the lighting is bad and the customer service is so-so. You don't leave there feeling good about yourself or your size. The worst thing I did was go there first. I should have started at the boutiques - at least then I would have been more confident when I had to have all size 14s (or worse) at DB. The dress I ended up with came from a small boutique store that was closing. It's a 12. I'm a 10/12. All is good with the world, but DB made me feel like a cow. PS. I bought my rehearsal dinner dress there on clearance. I didn't even fuck around and grabbed the only 14 off the rack because I already knew that their sized too small.

July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLIttle Spoon

I'm sorry but that last dress is hideous. It looks like 3 different dresses sewn together. I went to DB first since I figured it would be the cheapest. The dresses I tried on were okay. I didn't really fall in love with any of them. The only one I really liked was like $1000 which just seemed like a lot for the dress and the store. I ended up with what I think was a way better dress, for less and from a boutique.

July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

My dress is an organza and layers number from DB and I had both ends of the spectrum in terms of customer service. Really attentive consultant who listened carefully and was patient and did not try to upsell me as well as awful consultant who insisted on sticking me in fake pearls, a blusher, and bouquet. I think she was expecting me to cry. I did a bit of research though and chose not to do my alterations there because of horror stories re. cost and shoddy work.

(Honestly though, I'll take all the bad customer service in the world over being sneered at by people for getting a dress at DB.)

July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

@Sharon - um, did you just tell me that people SNEER at you because you bought a dress at DB? Whoa. Maybe I DO need to check my DB attitude. That's just effing WRONG.

July 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterLouise

Ugh - after a number of people warned me, I still wasn't prepared. Plus, I made the mistake of going there after spending the afternoon in an upscale bridal salon. BAD idea.

The gowns are awful! I know they're samples but still - the material is so cheap. I wouldn't pay $700 for that dress in a dept store so why would I pay for it in DB? I will say the BM dresses aren't that bad - considering most of them are mass produced anyway. I think it's def. worth looking into during a sale - they have some cute dresses you can wear as a guest as well.

July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDancy

I tried on soooo many dresses at a mess load of different stores and never found one that worked. I resorted to David's Bridal and found my dress. I agree that most of their dresses are bad and look cheap but I loved my dress and didn't care that it didn't have the designer label on it because really no one cares or knows the difference but you.

July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I found my wedding dress at David's Bridal and think it is the most beautiful dress I've ever seen- even after I've watched several seasons of Say Yes to the Dress. I think you can find beautiful and horrific dresses everywhere just like you find great and pushy service everywhere. In regards to an earlier comment, I wear a size 6 in everyday life and while I probably lost a few pounds right before the wedding, the size 6 fit me perfectly so the only alteration I needed was the bustle. I received tons of compliments on my wedding day and as the pictures come in I continue to hear how great my dress was, but more importantly, I felt beautiful. I think it's pretty narrow minded to assume that just because a dress comes from DB it's cheap and ugly. I got the most perfect wedding dress for $600 and I wouldn't change a thing about it.

July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristie

@Kristie - You are SO right about Say Yes to the Dress. There's that one dress that like 3 women have purchased that kinda has a see-through corset type top? Oh, it's hideous! Expensive doesn't equal pretty. Money doesn't buy taste either. I think what matters most is how you FEEL in your dress. I will probably continue to have a beef with DB's marketing and slaughter-style approach to brides though. It's just not right.

July 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterLouise

I like a few of these dresses. Um and rock on lady for the freaking $40 dress!

There is a quality difference that is apparent (and you know I actually love the draping of silk tulle) and even my untrained eye can tell. But my friend rocked a simple DB mermaid dress and looked great. It was a simple satiny material and she just looked sexy (great fit). So you never know I say! Isn't Vera Wang doing a DB collection soon? They're huge and freaking own Priscilla of Boston so they have lots of quality materials/cuts at their disposal.

July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChic 'n Cheap Living

I guess I am just OVER folks issues with David's Bridal. And not just you Louise, just other wedding blogs I have read just seem to have a general disdain for the store. I got my dress from there, had a great customer service experience and quite frankly as a plus size bride they have the best range of options a lot of the time.

And frankly I wanted to look nice and I didn't have Say Yes to the Dress (read 3-5k) type loot to drop on a gown. And I suspect that a LOT of other brides think like me. Obviously so, since they are still in business. The average bride isn't going to know the difference between a silk crepe or a silk organza or any shit like that. They want to look beautiful on their wedding day. Period.

If you don't like their marketing methods, that's certainly a legitimate gripe but the general tone is that DB is downmarket and if you purchase from there, you are a downmarket bride. My downmarket ass will still be getting married on September 26th in my DB dress.

Oh well.

July 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany In Houston

I agree that DB's customer service and marketing tactics leave a lot to be desired. And I, too, had a wide range of experiences through the process of purchasing and altering my dress at DB and found that the quality of service varies a lot from store to store, consultant to consultant. However, at the end of the day, I was more than willing to put up with mediocre customer service and far too many emails in my inbox in order to purchase a dress that I loved without blowing my entire budget. My parents were gracious enough to chip in a great deal for our wedding, and I was determined to spend their money as prudently as possible. When it was all said and done, I was married in a dress I loved...that fit perfectly....for a price I could pay in good conscience. It just so happens there wasn't a fancy designer's name on the tag.

You are absolutely correct in that the *right* DB dress can be beautiful. I did not have a great experience there but I can respect that others have and continue to.

That being said, what really got me to comment was that the bride from my wedding on July 24th wore the WHBM dress and it was stunning! She paired it with these amazing purple shoes that just made that asymmetric hemline.

August 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmber V

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