Dress Shopping

On Saturday I accompanied my newly engaged girl friend to a couple of bridal boutiques in San Francisco to try on wedding gowns. We quickly narrowed the shape down to strapless modified A-line because of her petite frame. But when faced with choices for fabric, colors, embellishments, neckline and bodice we realized there was a lot more to consider. The first shop we visited was a bit messy. Racks of gowns crammed into a small space inside the Gift Center made it very difficult to find anything. And the tiny dressing area to be shared by all the girls in the store at the same time was very discouraging. Nevertheless, the warm and vivacious owner of the store convinced us to stick around and try on a few designer gowns that she hand picked. One silk gown by Pronovias was promising, but not quite a winner. So we pressed on. Luckily the afternoon appointment was at Amy Kuschel (see page 11), one of my favorite bridal gown boutiques in the city.

In the open, sunlit studio space we watched the bride try on somewhere between 6 and 8 Amy Kuschel gowns. All were lovely. Somehow we managed to narrow it down to 2 favorites. One was an elegant silk satin gown with a honey colored satin sash embellished with a beautifully intricate lace and beading appliqué. The second was a romantic organza gown with French lace trim at the bust and blush colored organza sash. Both looked great on the bride. But one was soft and feminine and the other was modern and stylish.

My vote was for the silk satin gown. The way I see it, the gown should not only flatter the bride’s figure, but should compliment her personality and match the tone of the wedding. In this case, our bride is a classy girl with spunk and a great sense of humor. She was attracted to the romantic dress because it shows a feminine side that isn’t always obvious. But in my opinion, it didn’t do her personality justice. The other reason I was pushing for the first gown is the type of wedding she’s planning. It’s going to be a big wedding at the Four Seasons in Palo Alto. The hotel is fancy and new and in Silicon Valley. I felt that she needed a grand dress to help her make a grand entrance.

Lucky for us, we were at a bridal salon that specialized in custom gowns. And Amy Kuschel herself was there, as she is everyday helping brides with their decisions and offering suggestions on how to create the perfect gown for each bride. What we ended up with is a combination of the two gowns. We kept the glamorous Duchess silk satin, but made it warmer with the ivory color and Amy suggested we keep the French lace that we liked on dress number 2 but combine it with the satin sash instead of the organza. It’s the perfect solution! My friend is no bridezilla, but she is very particular about fashion and having the option to customize her gown was key! Although the gown hasn’t been ordered, I’m pretty sure we’ve found the one…or at least with help from the designer, we’ve created the one.