As some of you may know, I just got married last October. This time last year I was asking friends and searching online for a list of shops to find my wedding dress. I kept hearing and seeing a lot of the same shop names, but it was sometimes hard to tell what, exactly, they had in stock. So, I thought I would share my shopping experience and my favorite dress shops in San Francisco!
One thing I noticed right off the bat: so many outdated websites! However, some listed the designers they stock and so I looked them up and got a much better idea of the current styles that might be in stock.
I’ll pepper this post with some of my favorite dresses from weddings past, mostly because I don’t really feel like sharing all my reject dresses. However, I’ll post my final pick at the end of the post!
Nordstrom Wedding Suite
The Good: Nordstrom is a great place to get started. They have all the basic styles and they have lots of appointments since they’re a department store. The woman who was helping me pulled a handful of dresses before I even arrived and then let me scan the floor to see if there was anything else I was interested in trying.
The Bad: They run two appointments at once with one mirror and sitting area. Luckily, the other appointment started a bit before mine and ended before mine, but it was still awkward. Especially because her stylist had pulled most of the dresses I was interested in trying on and I got to see her in them while I half-heartedly tried on dresses that weren’t quite my style.
The Good: Novella Bridal has the best setup of all the shops I went to HANDS DOWN. There can be as many as three appointments at one time but each fitting room AND viewing area is private. That means you won’t see a dress you’re interested in on someone else before you see it on yourself, which means you can focus on if the dress is right for you.
I was impressed by the variety of dresses they carried. Most of Nordstrom’s stock was behind closed doors, but at Novella you can see virtually everything they have. This is where I bought my dress, so I can also tell you the alteration staff is onsite and lovely to work with. They also cap the alteration price, so you're not getting nickeled and dimed.
The Bad: Their website is outdated. So outdated I almost didn’t make an appointment there. However, they do list the designers they carry so you can go look up their current line.
The Good: Lovely Bride is super cute! If you are into boho style dresses this place is the jackpot! They have lots of detail-oriented dresses, both in the way of lace and shiny things. A lot of bridal shops have overlap in their stock, which can be expected. However, Lovely Bride had the most dresses that I didn’t see anywhere else (here are the designers carried in SF). So I would definitely put it on your list if you’re looking for something unique.
The fitting rooms each have mirrors and a pedestal and open up to a row a seats facing you. That means you don’t have to leave the room to get feedback from whoever is with you, which I appreciated. Bonus points to them for having the best website and social media presence of any other shop, giving you a really good idea of whether this shop is your style.
The Bad: Some of the sample sizes could have been bigger, especially since bridal runs small. They aren’t playing the variety game-- this isn't a bad thing, but worth knowing before you make an appointment. They have a curated collection of dresses that are special, intricate and romantic. As I mentioned, they have a great website and Instagram feed so you’ll know beforehand what you’re going to see.
And Something Blue
The Good: Like Lovely Bridal, And Something Blue is a curated shop geared towards more intricate, girly, romantic style dresses. They have a great website and I loved the section where you could learn more about the designers. Check out their Instagram to get a feel for the dresses they carry.
The Bad: I’m going to be real honest here. A lot of the dresses here did not fit me--as in they did not zip completely. This was disheartening, especially because the way their fitting rooms and sitting areas are set up meant that I had to cross through the other bride’s appointment to the far side of the store where my grandma was sitting--in a dress that was halfway open in the back. Real talk: this felt like shit. Their samples are all 6s or 8s and bridal runs at least one size small, often two. My good friend found her wedding dress here and it was beautiful, but it wasn't the right store for me.
Honorable Mention: Lilac Dress Boutique in Alameda
I want to mention this little shop, Lilac Dress Boutique, for anyone who is looking for flexibility in the color of their dress. The owner was so kind and excitable and I had a wonderful time trying dresses there. Though their stock is small, they work with a company that offers different colors of lace for select dresses. Some of the dresses were available in two or three colors but a couple of the dresses were available in about a dozen! I highly recommend stopping by if you’re curious (really, I didn’t make an appointment). They also have some slinky, minimal numbers if you’re into that sort of thing. I saw the dress in the photos above (Hi Elisse!) when I was there.
I hope this helps! And if you have any recommendations for future brides please hit up the comments! As promised, here's my dress, photographed by Juniper Spring Photography :)