The rhetoric of “the one” is applied to dresses as much as it is to people, suggesting that there’s one perfect dress for every bride, and a new dress ensures that it belongs to her and her alone. But buying a second-hand dress can mean getting more for your budget and still finding a gown that’s perfect for you.
After Christine Powell got married in 2005, she put her dress in a closet and thought, “What do I do with it now?” She eventually decided to sell it. In 2008 she started Urban Bride Delivered, a consignment wedding gown shop in her living room with a stock of 30 dresses. The shop grew into her basement and finally into an intimate room stocked with 500 dresses in an unassuming building. “I didn’t want to lose the personal feeling,” Powell says. Powell sources once-worn dresses from brides in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec, as well as sample dresses and new dresses (from discontinued lines) from bridal boutiques across Canada. “It’s a very personal thing, some people need some time to part with it,” Powell says. “I tell brides, ‘you’re giving your dress to someone who’s going to love it just as much as you do. You’re sharing the love.'”
The selection at Urban Bride Delivered is diverse – sizes 00 to 28, priced from $150 for an informal dress to $1,200 for one that regularly retails for $7,000 – and the quality is high, as Powell only accepts designer dresses in current styles. “When you open up a bridal magazine, you’ll see the same styles here,” she notes.
A bride can try on dresses in her size and walk out with one the day she tries it on, without having to wait months for an order. “Brides like coming to the store and trying on a dress and seeing that it fits,” Powell explains. “They don’t have to use their imagination, they don’t have to wonder how it’s going to fit, it just works.”
Similarly, a sample sale at any bridal store can benefit brides who aren’t fussy about needing to wear dresses that they and they alone have worn. During a sample sale, off-the-rack samples of old stock and discontinued designs are heavily discounted. “It’s a great opportunity for a bride to snap up these high-end designer dresses at a price that can better fit within some budgets,” says Diana Gnac, manager of Novelle Bridal Shop.
Some bridal boutiques, including Delica Bridal and Novelle Bridal Shop, offer designer trunk shows as ways for brides to find unique dresses. While a store might regularly just carry a few dresses from a designer, it will bring in the entire collection for a pop-up trunk show. “It’s an opportunity to bring in all these amazing dresses to show our brides, and it’s for one weekend only so it creates a buzz and excitement around seeing these dresses,” Gnac says.”It gives us a chance to bring in unique dresses and offer something different to our brides.” In 2016, Novelle hosted an Anne Barge trunk show, and the dresses went over so well with brides that it now permanently, and exclusively in Edmonton, carries her Blue Willow collection.
While it stocks designer dresses from Berta and Berta Muse year-round – and exclusively in Alberta – the trunk shows are an opportunity to shop for the latest and greatest styles every season, sometimes shortly following a stint on the runways of international fashion weeks.
Less is More
For 2018, understated, less intricate dresses have surged ahead in popularity over their flouncy, tulle-skirted counter- parts. “For the past couple seasons we’ve been seeing more of that boho [Bohemian] influence, everything’s kind of more flowy and slinky and romantic,” Gnac says. At Delica Bridal, owners Ashley McNeill-Dorado and Nicole McNeill love the simple dresses from Vancouver brand, Truvelle, that feature loose skirts, thin straps and uncomplicated bodices. “[Designer] Gaby Bayona brings a refreshing mindset to the bridal industry,” McNeill says. “Her dresses are very feminine, very simple, very minimalist.” And, selecting a more simple dress ensures that it has longevity in photos and won’t look dated too quickly. “A lot of designers are doing that cold shoulder look, and that’s definitely something you’ll be able to tell came from 2018,” Gnac says.
“If you are going to go for a more ornate dress, do something simple and classic for the accessories to bring in those traditional bridal elements. Simple jewellery, simple makeup, simple veil.”