Never Leave LA

Where to wedding dress shop in L.A.

Italian designer Elise Hameau at LOHO Bride.

I’ve been obsessed with dresses since I bloomed out of my tomboy phase in about 8th grade. So to select an actual bridal dress that was simple, elegant, classy, sexy, and comfortable proved to be a tall task in Los Angeles. There are so many designers in LA that bridal dress shopping is instantly overwhelming especially when the average dress starts around $2,000. So I asked friends where to go and that is how I started my hunt. I never dreamed to be a bride because I was always daydreaming about where I would travel to next, but I am a researcher and I wanted to see all of the options before making a decision on the one.

Soon I realized I didn’t exactly want a bridal dress, but something simpler and more modern. I should have probably just started looking for white dresses since the ticket price would be drastically lower. Here is my roundup of my Los Angeles bridal dress shopping extravaganza to help you on your own search since I had a hard time finding anything online that offered personal support for the Los Angeles shopper. Which dress do you think I picked? {Remember, these are samples, so they are not fitted, just what available size they have in the store.}

Wedding Dress Shopping in Los Angeles

Sarah Seven 

My first attempt at dress looking occurred on Beverly Blvd and I quickly realized none of the dresses were for me, but the girls Sara Demonbrun who helped me was lovely and accommodating and asked a lot of questions, that I couldn’t really answer like, “What do you like about this dress? What do you not like about the dress?” I feel like you know it when you know, even if the dress is beautiful it may not be what you have in mind for your venue or day.

LOHO Bride

Grace Loves Lace

I was in love with every dress in this Venice location. Their lacy, romantic, sexy designs like hanging attached sleeves, low backs, and deep V fronts all make bold statements, but basically everything I tried would have looked fantastic on my old skinny 30 something year old body. Not now. Unfortunately my experience was utterly shocking, more like a bad sitcom. As soon as we arrived we were scolded that I should have selected only 4 dresses and this should have been done ahead of time because time is limited and she had 4 more appointments. The rudeness didn’t get any better as she yelled at my friend to sit down (who offered to help me in the dressing room) and then demanded she only be in the dressing room because I was not allowed to even touch the dresses because 1) they were expensive and 2) she had to put them on me. I felt like I was getting punked on MTV. The girl Hayley later apologized and sent nice emails after the fact. Honestly, I was made to feel like I shouldn’t be there. I honestly wanted to try on more dresses but the energy was so toxic I thought this is not where I want my dress to come from. However, I drool often over all their designs on Instagram and wish the way I felt didn’t match the way I felt about their dresses.

Grace Loves Lace

LOHO Bride

My experience at this elegant glam shop in West Hollywood was delightful with a lovely girl who brought the dresses I adored to the fitting room and made me feel good about my choices, as well as brought more that she thought I may like. As I sashayed the room in various designers, I soon realized that most were way out of my price range. I fell in love with an $8,000 dress from Italian designer Elise Hameau that was romantic and lacy, while another that was about $10,000 was from an Israeli designer LiHi Hod. I appreciate that the girl who helped me made it clear about the prices, so I didn’t mess around with dreaming. A short video clip of me in what looked like a Halston pantsuit with its streamlined white mod casual 70’s style and a front slit with a lot of swing was a favorite among my friends, but it felt more like a pre-wedding outfit than a wedding dress. The accessories here were dreamy and expensive too.

LOHO Bride

Solstice Bride

I first scoured the sample sale location in Venice, but arriving even five minutes late in this secret spot early Saturday morning was too late. A mom from San Diego was with her daughter and basically scooped up every single dress in the store and hogged the one dressing room for hours. Eventually I made my way to the hallway with a few other brides (and took the leftovers from the mom) and just changed into a couple dress options. For the boho bride, this place had a lot to offer, but they seemed picked over at their store location off of Abbot Kinney. I soon learned they were closing shop in a few weeks for good.

Claire Pettibone 

Gorgeous vintage lacy designs perfect for that garden outdoor wedding or Montecito or Santa Barbara can be found here. Although I fell in love with a few high neck doily lacy designs, my friends did not like them, nor did my mom (or even fiance, whoops I showed him and he was like NO WAY). I still dream of one of the gowns and imagine myself in a field on a cliff with my fiance coming to find me (A girl can dream). Helen was a delight to help try on their dresses in their unique setting and she made me feel very relaxed in this beautiful store. Her follow up emails were much appreciated, even a month or so later.

Claire Pettibone

David’s Bridal

In Burbank I had some time to kill and within about 45 minutes I found 2 dresses that were quite adorable and reasonably priced. Their selection was way better than I imagined and I was happy they let me just explore the store rather than making an appointment.

David’s Bridal

Nightcap Clothing

In Venice on Abbot Kinney you can find body hugging stretchy lacy dresses, many long with peak-a-boo lace on the length of the skirt. A bridal section is now online, and in store drool over the Spanish Lace Positano Maxi with its flirty off the shoulder sleeves. Every dress is perfect for the beach or a more casual style vibe.

Reformation

Reformation

A friend had bought her long sleeve boob baring wedding dress here for around $500 and she looked classy and stunning. I found a silky number with a deep V back and a long silky back bow with a deep cleavage front. I adored the dress, but it seemed a bit too sexy and you could see every dimple in my butt. The girls in the store were super helpful, even pulling designs out from the back room and letting me know other bridal gowns in the store came in white. This store on Melrose has become hugely popular because of their sustainable methods and fabrics.

BHLDN Wedding Dresses

Above Anthropology in Beverly Hills sits a second floor filled with bridal gowns, bridesmaids dresses, capelets, jewelry, bridal accessories, and more items you never thought to own. My experience here was pleasurable, especially after feeling sorry for the girls who deal with bridezillas. One bride in the dress room area was screaming at her attendant to bring her what she liked in a nasty tone. I went home with a capelet on sale that I thought was rustic and romantic over a bustier and long silky chiffon skirt, but after showing friends photos, they said the look was too old or too mature or too matronly. However they put it, several girlfriends convinced me the look I thought might be the one should be put aside.

BHLDN

Gretchen Dawley Bridal

Gretchen Dawley

Gretchen Dawley isn’t your typical bridal gown designer. I discovered Gretchen in Darling Magazine because this beautiful article was written about her 1950’s Havana collection. I met the  young joyful LA designer at her studio in Hollywood where instantly I feel in love with several of her dresses before even putting them on. Her fabrics were all luscious, not like the fabrics I felt at other bridal stores, and her designs once off the hanger offered interesting cuts, angles, and fabric options. Her dresses honestly look better on than the photos. Customers come to her for custom bridal creations in dresses, tops, and more.

One dress called the Natalia (named after Fidel Castro’s many lovers) was perfect for a Tulum, Mexico wedding with its lacy fabric hanging off the arms, while another stretchy silky high society number called the Aline I adored because it came up high above the chest with the right coverage and saucy perfect pleats in the skirt. The Aida gown (named after a Cuban pianist and musical arranger) had feminine fluttery sleeves with a plunging back and sexy deep V sides. The strong clean lines and and romantic ruffles match the personality of the dress’s name and perhaps the owner.

Photo credit: Instagram – @GretchenDawleyBridal

Lili Bridals

Lovely Bride

A quick stop in Tarzana and Maria helped me slip into some beaded shameless numbers around my price range. I adored several selections, but felt like every curve and rumple was exposed, and wanted to be more comfortable in my selection. Their bridal gowns were more traditional, but they did have a nice selection to choose from, and a great selection for MOB aka Mother of the Bride.

Love and Lace Bridal and Tailor

In Irvine, I was told there was a better selection of dresses than Los Angeles proper. I would not head all this way unless you were in the area, but the salesgirl was personable, accommodating, and offered many selections I liked in a quiet environment.

Mon Amie

This huge location in Costa Mesa offers couture dresses, pouf-y gowns and the ultimate bridal dress. Betzi Molina made me feel good about the dress options I selected. This is where you to need to visit if you are looking for that ultimate black tie wedding dress that would  look smashing in a ballroom, museum, or city location. I was looking for a more subtle beach-y look.

Lovely Bride

This gorgeous store in Pasadena reminded me a bit of LOHO with so many dress options and so many simple styles too. I fell in love with numerous designs, but still had the dress I fell in love with in my mind. A glitzy sequin dress that was much more affordable than other dresses I was looking at was more appropriate for a more formal wedding. The salesgirl Camille was patient, kind, and offered several options on top of my selections, and didn’t rush me out even though I was a bit late.

Lovely Bride

 

Israeli designer LiHi Hod found at LOHO Bride

To find out which designer and shop I chose, check back after September 23 for a photo.

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