Tidying Up: Wedding dresses
January 22, 2019
The Dress, a wedding dress, to be precise, is probably a dress you will only wear once. Although these days some people do clever things with their wedding dresses on pinterest or facebook (I’ve seen people wearing them once a year on their anniversary and doing photo shoots and dying their dresses a new color and wearing it again), most people don’t. And even if you wear it again once a year, every year (assuming it still fits through the years), it’s not exactly getting a good deal of bang for its buck.
My mother and my grandmother both have their dresses in storage at my grandmother’s house, gathering dust. For reference, my grandmother’s dress is over sixty-five years old. But my mother didn’t wear my grandmother’s dress and I didn’t wear either of their dresses. They didn’t pressure me to either; they both encouraged me to find my own dress.
A couple of weeks after my wedding, my dress is dry cleaned and preserved in a fancy box. I looked at it and thought: what now? Because, by the way, the preservation is not cheap. Preservation is necessary to keep the color and fabric from degrading like an old photograph. So if I do decide to take it out every year, I’m going to have to pay to do this every year. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll notice that I’m also a big fan of Marie Kondo’s KonMari method, so seeing this beautiful dress take up a space where it isn’t loved and enjoyed, made me feel a bit down. I also can’t imagine that any daughter of mine is going to want to wear my dress, though since she won’t be able to, she probably will. But we’ll get to that.
As my dress took up some serious space in my childhood closet, my brother got engaged. He and his fiance, E, had a super speedy engagement because her parents live in another country and just happened to be in town a little more than a month later. Thus, began the search for a dress. Since their engagement was so short, my now sister-in-law needed to get a dress off-the-rack. She also wasn’t dying to spend a whole lot of money. I began Google searching.
Lone behold, there are second hand bridal shops. Having been to my share of Goodwills and thrift stores, I’ve seen wedding gowns hanging sadly and disused. Let me assure you: this is not the kind of place I am talking about. We went to a consignment bridal shop called Sparrow Bridal in La Mesa, Ca. If you look up Sparrow Bridal on the Knot or Wedding Wire, you will see that they have amazing reviews. Sadly, they are no longer in business, but I want to tell you about the experience anyway.
My maternal units (mother and grandmother) and I hustled E to the bridal shop and found some beautiful options. E found the most beautiful dress that I describe as Audrey Hepburn meets Rita Hayworth: a lot of class and just the right amount of vavavoom! Not only was E’s dress in practically perfect condition, but it was far more reasonable and glamorous than anything else we found that was new and at a comparable price. Most importantly though was the actual experience. Sparrow Bridal was run by the most lovely woman, Laurie MacDonald, who consigned with brides and made her own bridal accessories, like belts and garters. She also worked with small local vendors and artists for jewelry and other items for the day of the wedding. Laurie had the most happy and wonderful demeanor and helped E choose dresses that fit her style and also to provide suggestions on how and where any tailoring should be done. Over all, it was just lovely.
The experience at Sparrow Bridal made me realize what an opportunity there was to consigning my dress. I got in touch with my bridal shop (Theory– perhaps I’ll do a post on them later), and they had their own consignment shop. Theory bridal is in a few different cities and I loved their boutique, so to me, this seemed like the best option.
LVD is the sister consignment store to Theory and they were very responsive to my inquiry. Within a couple of days, I had a phone call with the manager and was well on my way to handing over my dress. The idea of another woman wearing my dress for her wedding made me so happy. Not only was I recycling it, but I was making someone else happy who may not otherwise be able to have this dress. The only issue for me was shipping. At the time, LVD had only one location in Nashville (a few months ago they opened a second location in NOLA), and I had no clue how to ship the dress. Luckily, that wasn’t a problem either. LVD told me to simply unbox my packed dress and hand it over at the Dress Theory where I purchased it.
My dress sold and I’m told she went to a very happy bride. This happy bride got the feeling of satisfaction, a little money for her sold dress, and a whole lot more storage space.