My Top 3 Favorite NYC Bridal Boutiques
As a reminder that the beginning of the year is already coming to an end, google photos has been sending me constant little pop ups to let me know exactly “what happened this time last year”. Admittedly, I haven’t paid too much attention to them until I was surprised to see that it was this time last year, that I began my search for THE DRESS. Reliving the emotions that left a lifetime of memories, has made this last month the most beautiful.
To be completely honest, I was dreading this. The idea of searching for the ONE dress that defines this ONE day was really daunting and exhausting. My mind wandered to all of the reality shows that inaccurately display the emotions of going dress shopping and that idea had me more stressed than usual. In my mind, the experience would either be a serene dream, where I found the dress on my first try OR a really depressing reality that not all dresses were made for curves and white isn’t that much of a flattering color. My expectations were all over the place.
In total, I visited a whopping 6 bridal boutiques and ended up finding my wedding designer at the last boutique I visited. Because of course that’s the way it has to be (insert shrug!)
A few other lessons learned throughout this process.
In NYC, if you don’t plan ahead, you’ll miss your window. I started trying to book appointments in November only to find availability in January. And let me tell you, every single time slot was booked. What makes it even more difficult really is that you aren’t just working off of your schedule, but also the schedule of your friends and family that will be shopping with you. Adding another layer of complexity with scheduling, is knowing that every designer is different so timelines shift constantly. Between fittings and alterations, you could have found your dress in January and receive it in August or even September (like me!) So plan, plan, plan!
Some boutiques are hard to get into it. I called several well known boutiques to schedule appointments only to be turned away when I revealed my budget. Let me preface this by saying that as a business owner, I understand and agree with the idea of working within a certain price bracket. However, as a bride, it was really interesting to experience how some boutiques were open to discussion, while others shut the door before trying to well… sell. Unfortunately for those boutiques, I ended up increasing my budget when I found the dress that I loved and am able to refer my clients and friends to the places that were interested in my overall experience.
Don’t go dress shopping on a Saturday afternoon if you could help it. At least not in NYC. It was draining and made it hard to focus on what I did and did not like. Also, it’s crowded not just from NYC brides but also out of town brides and that is just too much to handle for me. As a woman that has spent the majority of her NYC life, exclusively online shopping, it was incredibly overwhelming. Weekdays make 100% more sense and the earlier the better!
Always go with your honesty crew. I had my sister and brothers with me and they were excruciatingly honest. That is what I needed and am so thankful for them for it! They didn’t sugar coat anything and were honest with every single dress I tried on or touched. They know my body, my style choices and aren’t afraid to tell me when I’m straying from who I am. It’s the best reality check you could ask for.
Although I won’t add here all of the boutiques I visited, I would like to highlight my top three favorites based on my overall experience. Experiences matter! And although I did not purchase my dress from any of these boutiques, know they come highly recommended.
3. L’Fay Bridal
L’Fay is a favorite choice because of their gown selections. Although I found their dressing rooms to be a bit small, the space itself was quite charming. It was the perfect NYC bridal boutique moment really. Small, charming, hyper feminine and full of glitz, glam and tiaras. They had so many different designers and styles it was really great to see options and find out what you ended gravitating towards. I will say, I went on a Saturday afternoon which was not the best choice since it was a bit crammed and everyone seemed in a hurry. Since that is not my personal shopping style, I felt slightly frazzled. However, I appreciated the boutique and enjoyed perusing their countless options.
After constant begging from my mother, I decided to visit Pronovias. I’m not sure why I wasn’t interested in the designer to be quite honest but as per usual, my mother was right. I loved almost everything I tried on. I spent the most time at this boutique and felt like a Goddess the entire time. Let me say, it wasn’t just the gowns, our stylist was kind, attentive and warm. That experience in itself was really magical because of her input and guidance. Aside from the impeccable service, the choices were abundant and the price point was pretty amazing. I will say I was lucky to view gowns on a day that it was snowing because the space itself was relatively empty, so I basically had the third floor to myself. A literal bridal dream. In full transparency, I was set on purchasing my wedding gown from here until I ended up finding my ideal designer later that week. Which was a total accident!
Fun fact; after visiting this boutique I told my friend that she had to purchase her gown there and within a month she had her dream Pronovias wedding dress.
1. Spina Bride
Hands down one of the best bridal experiences I have ever had. The ladies of Spina were attentive, kind, informative and so welcoming that I wanted to buy a dress from them simply because of their service. Their boutique is filled with sunlight and they close it down per appointment so you have the entire place to yourself which allows you to have that most perfect bridal experience. It was the first boutique I visited, on an early Saturday morning, and it really gave every other place a real run for their money. When I think of the experiences I had visiting all the other boutiques in the city, I could go on and on about how special this particular boutique was not just for me but for my family. Although I didn’t find my dress here, I honestly wish I did. That is how special the Spina experience was for me.
Visiting these boutiques helped me decide on what made me feel and look best while learning about what made the most sense for my wedding. Taking into account the location, weather and general aesthetics we had in mind, made dress shopping informative, creative and of course fun. In the end, I found my dream designer on the runway. Go figure! Ines Di Santo has been a favorite of mine for quite some time and if you’ve been on my IG feed, you’d know I’ve been to almost every single NYBW show she’s put on in the last five years. So, a friend of a friend, got me in touch and together, we found the one.
Looking back at it now, I can’t help but laugh at how much pressure and anxiety I put on myself. Throughout this experience, I learned very early on, that having unrealistic expectations can really be emotionally threatening and physically exhausting. Nothing is ever really what you expect it to be and that’s the beauty of it all. Enjoy the process friends. It’s all worth it.