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BUYING WEDDING ATTIRE OR, A LESSON IN FRUSTRATION AND RIP-OFFS by J. Chung

General tips:

Most places will require an appointment and, in general, they are highly advisable -- especially on Saturdays.  Most will lend you a slip/petticoat and strapless bra.  Some, like Rizik’s, want you to bring your own bra and heels.

Most places take at least 3 months to get your dress in.  Make sure the order form acknowledges that they have made all measurements and size recommendations, and also any other details (e.g., short sleeves instead of long).  Ask for a detailed estimate of what alterations they think will be needed.  Remember -- they are not ordering a dress custom made for you -- they merely guess at what standard size you are closest to, and then charge up the butt for alterations.

I have a wonderful seamstress if you need one -- for anything, including alterations, bridesmaid dresses, or a veil & headpiece.  I would be very wary of paying a store for a simple veil or headpiece.  They usually contract with a seamstress and then charge you with a mark-up, not to mention take forever.  Unless there is something very unusual about the headpiece or veil, you may well be better off having them made by a seamstress on your own (or yourself or a mom or friend who can sew).  And do not go to The Hope Chest in Alexandria for accessories.  They are poor businesspeople and will lie to you if necessary.

Similarly, do not feel compelled to pay for fancy wedding shoes at a bridal store.  They will cost you more, be uncomfortable, and be poorly made.  You will probably only wear them once anyway, unless you get something dyeable.  Think comfort.  I got a half-size too large by mistake and it was the best mistake I’ve ever made.

BRIDAL SALONS

VIRGINIA

Priscilla, The Brides’ Shop (703) 821-0167
Open MWFSat 10-6; Tu,Th 10-9; Sun 12-5
Fairfax Square at Tysons Corner
8065 Leesburg Pike
Somewhat snotty, but generally attentive.  Salon style.  They bring dresses to you.  This is where I got my gown.

Lady Hamilton (703) 521-0990
M-Th 10-8; Open F, Sat 10-6
2405 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA
Take Exit 8 from 395 (Washington Blvd/Columbia Pike)
244 W is Columbia Pike -- will be on right (red awning)
Safeway is before store; behind store is Adams Square shopping center (Giant)
Decent selection.  Slightly faded atmosphere.  You can go through gowns yourself.

Katherine’s of Old Town (703) 549-0001
833 Washington (they may have moved)
Alexandria
Fairly good selection of standard dresses.  Helpful staff.

Hannelore’s (703) 549-0387
Sat 10-6; Sun 12-5
423 King Street
Alexandria, VA
Take GW Pkwy S.; turn left on Cameron St.; go 2 blocks; cross over N. Pitt; parking garage free on Sundays; turn rt. into garage (Holiday Inn is across the street)
Snotty and inattentive.  Fairly large selection & salon atmosphere.  Also has frequent trunk shows with pricier dresses.
 

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Vera Wang (202) 337-4201
2522 Virginia Ave.
Limited selection and pricey, but has non-standard dresses with flair.

Rizik Bros. (202) 223-4050
1100 Connecticut Ave. ( NW corner of Conn. & L, Farragut N metro)
Snotty people, skimpy selection.  They bring gowns to you.  Occasional trunk shows.
 

MARYLAND

Claire Dratch (301) 656-8000
7615 Wisconsin Ave.
Bethesda, MD
East side of Wisconsin -- parking in rear of building
Decent selection.  Salon atmosphere.  They bring dresses to you.

Bridal Images (301) 738-9080
Mon-Fri 10-8; Sat 10-4; Sun 12-5
835G Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD
Go north on Rockville Pike; look for ChiChi’s on left in Wintergreen Plaza
Standard selection of magazine styles.  Strip mall atmosphere.  You can go through dresses yourself.

I Do, I Do (301) 762-4464 (used wedding dresses)
Wisconsin Ave.; pass White Flint, Congressional Plaza, Wintergreen; see signs for 28E (First St --> becomes Norbeck) (Wendy’s at corner); take right; go to 3d light (Goody Drive) & turn left; get in far right hand lane & bear right into service lane; take immediate rt; 1682 Goody Dr., Suite 302 (no sign)
OK selection of previously worn dresses, mostly smaller sizes.


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Last Updated 22 July 2005
Copyright 1997-1999  J. Chung &