By this point in the game I was deep in the hunt - for steals & deals, no less.
Yes, I admit - I'm a designer junkie crammed into an Old Navy wallet. I desperately wanted a $5000 dress on a $1500(ish) budget. I must reference you to my reasonings, though - they're rock-solid (for this self-manipula-shopper, anyways).
Realistically, though, the strongest reason for letting myself look at designer gowns was this - I was certain I was going to buy a used dress. Why get a used dress I'd feel "ok" in, when a whole new world of dresses popped into my price bracket once I considered used? Buying your wedding dress used is a very significant way to make your wedding more "green". Think about it - if all women in the US eventually get married (I'm being generous here), if 70% of them buy a new dress (pretty reasonable, considering the likelihood they'll wear their mom's wedding dress), how many of these brides do you think sell their dress afterwards? Only as many as will buy - no more than 30% of all brides. That means that integrated over all women getting married in the US, at least 40% of them have their wedding dress in their closet! Or, worse yet, in the dump! What a travesty of accumulated "stuff".
So I'm just "doing my civic duty" to recycle :). And I'll recycle my dress again after I'm married (and hopefully recycle some of that emptiness in my wallet!).
The first place I turned to look for things to "recycle" was preownedweddingdresses.com. I must have ogled this dress for months. It was in my price range, already recycled once, and best yet - in Portland! Unfortunately, it had already sold :(.
All the other gowns I found in this style were out of my price range (even used!), so I decided it was a good time to look elsewhere. At this point, weddingbee proved to be a great resource for finding a dress. Mrs. Peppermint has great style - I loved seeing all the inspirational lacey dresses (Lhuillier included) she was looking at. Mrs. Gummy Bear was just finishing her re-caps of her October 2007 wedding, and her dress was stunning. She wore the well-loved Scarlet. My favorite part about this dress was that it hugged all the right curves (badunk & boob), and showed off all the best womanly shapes (killer arms). I really hated all that bone stuff in the bodices of the David's Bridal dresses, so the sight of this shear lace dress was a dream.
By this point I was pretty set on what I wanted - either the POB 2902 or a lacey Lhuillier-like number.
I stalked preownedweddingdresses.com, oncewed, and eBay religiously for months! If you're looking to snag an incredible bargain on a wedding dress online, Mrs. Haute Cocoa has an incredible manual. Mrs. Tulip also has an excellent guide to buying your wedding dress on eBay. No use re-inventing the wheel here, eh? ;)
Just incase my lacey Lhuillier or POB 2902 didn't come up for a steal on any of these sites, I looked a bit into some other similar designers.
Have you heard of Cymbeline Paris? This Lhuillier-like dress is amazing!
Unfortunately, there were two problems getting in the way of me and Cymbeline. There are very few bridal salons in the states that sell this designer, which means that there were very few (next to none) used dresses to be found online. Also, like I said, I'm a little ...voluminous... for my height (5'2"), and halter tops don't feel good on the neck when they're actually expected to provide support.
Another European designer I happened upon was Charlotte Balbier (what's my issue with wanting things that are hard to get??).
Charlotte's a relatively new designer in the UK, and although her dress Tabitha was almost exactly what I was looking for, I couldn't justify buying a new dress (for my wallet and the planet).
I was emailing people on craigslist, preownedweddingdress.com, oncewed, partypop - you name it. And then a pristine lacey Lhuillier came on eBay for $50.
I know what you're thinking - Miss Bear Cub! Things like this always get bid up at the last minute!
I know, I know. I waited, and I watched. I also emailed the seller. If you're serious about buying a wedding dress on eBay, always email the seller way in advance of the auction closing. Your best bet is to buy from a real person, especially a bride who's selling her dress directly. I don't buy expensive things on eBay unless I'm certain the other party is for real.
The seller was very nice, and answered all the questions I had (I made sure to inform her I was serious about potentially buying her dress). I asked her if it was a real Monique Lhuillier. A lot of people try to sell copies of designer gowns on eBay. While there's nothing inherently wrong with that, I was in it for the real deal. I also asked her for more photos of her dress (from different angles, highlighting different things), how long she wore it (6 hours, and inside!), how dirty it was, and if it needed repair/cleaning (it was pristine), what kind of bustle she had, how tall she was, her other measurements, whether it had been altered (and for how much), and most important - if, after the alterations, there was still enough fabric in the seams to potentially alter it some more. This is crucial. I knew I'd have to get my wedding dress altered anyways (who doesn't have to?), and without trying this internet-buy on in person, I'd have to be absolutely certain the dress had some give.
Mr. Cubbie - this is where you leave.
seriously, I'm showing the real photos now!
She sent more detailed pics of the dress, so I'll share those with you. The dress I was silently hunting on eBay was the Monique Lhuillier Miranda in ivory.
By this time (6 days into a 7 day auction) the bid was up to $1000. No matter, $1000 is still within range.
The seller had made some alterations, but as it turns out, I probably would have made the same alterations anyways.
The normal Miranda has a plunging neckline. I really don't feel comfortable when my balcony is on display, so I was really glad that the seller had already altered the front so that the v-neck came together higher on the chest.
She had also added lace cap-sleeves. I liked this, also! I thought the plain straps made the dress feel more casual anyways, plus the cap-sleeves gave a similar appearance to the Scarlet.
This isn't any particular alteration - isn't alencon lace so pretty?
She had the bottom of the dress hemmed, but I'm still a good 4 inches shorter than her, so no biggie.
...and then I waited. I must have hit refresh a bajillion times those last 2 days.
At 5 minutes to go, the dress was up to $1300. Five minutes, and $1300! You never bid at 5 minutes, if you really want it.
At 3 minutes to go, the dress was at about $1400. THREE MINUTES, and $1400!! Don't bid at 3 minutes.
You bid at 30 seconds if you want to be able to revise your bid (like if some jerk bids after you).
You bid at 15 seconds if you're ballsy and confident.
I bid at 10 seconds. This was the only bid I placed on this dress. I figured, what the heck? If I get this dress now, I know I'll like it, it's in my price range, and I can always re-sell it later if things don't pan out. I really didn't expect to win.
I couldn't believe it! This was June, and I already had my dress! Mr. Cubbie was sitting on the other couch in the room, and when I won he started a jumping-for-joy celebration with me!
I had my dress!!
I got it in the mail (safely!) a week later, and it fit. It really only needed a few minor alterations (like height, obviously), but for the most part, my dream dress was a dream to buy.
(click the photos to enlarge - sneaky eyes might want to know!)
(nevermind all those sciency & frenchy books, btw ;) )
I wasn't quite done yet, though - I still hadn't tried on the POB 2902, and I had the perfect opportunity the following week to try it on at the Denver POB!