Wedding Dress Shopping in NYC | Girls Weekend
Ever since we got engaged, I've been trying to soak up the entire wedding and bridal experience. That's part of the reason we decided to have a long engagement - to slow down and enjoy every aspect of the planning process and truly enjoy being engaged before a lifetime of marriage.
I've had my heart set on a NYC wedding dress shopping weekend for a long time and I can't believe it's already come and gone. While there are some truly incredible local boutiques, I knew I wanted the weekend experience with my girls in NYC and the ability to try on a wide variety of dresses to really get a feel for what I liked. I went into the weekend with no intentions to buy (which helped ease the pressure) but to simply enjoy the experience and a weekend with my closest girls.
*Note: all images in this post are iPhone photos. When traveling I'm terrible about bringing my camera along - I know, I know I'm a photographer. But this photographer was off duty this trip.*
Who to bring?
A lot of boutiques limit the number of guests you can bring with you, and for good reason. The experience in itself is overwhelming. You want to make sure you have support and opinions of a few, but not too many. That's why I opted to invite my mom, grandmother, and two maid of honors. I hope to include my other bridesmaids and family members in future appointments and fittings.
Planning the Weekend
Planning the entire weekend took a lot of research. I've visited the city before and spent half of the vacation researching restaurants and places to go nearby. I knew that I didn't want to do that this trip. I wanted to take advantage of our short time in the city. So I embraced my type A personality and made us an itinerary. You can make fun of me all you want but this was SO helpful and took so much stress off during the actual trip.
I first started my planning with the bridal boutiques I wanted to go to. I had my heart set on Lovely, once you check out their website I'm sure you will know why. I resonate so much with their brand and knew they had the look and price point I was looking for. When I walked into Lovely I felt like I was in heaven. Not only the dresses but the overall aesthetic. My favorite part of the 'trying on' process was their back room with mirrors and NATURAL LIGHT. Because we are getting married outside, I loved being able to see the dresses in the light that would be similar to my wedding day.
Next, everyone kept suggesting Kleinfeld Bridal, of course from the famous show 'Say Yes to the Dress'. To be honest, I was reluctant. That whole experience was not really what I was looking for. However, Hayley Paige was having a trunk show during my visit and I knew I wanted to try on dresses from both her collections. And I'm so glad I did. They truly had the largest selection (Hayley Paige & beyond) and the experience was incredible. It wasn't too over the top and my consultant Candace was relaxing, educated, and super helpful. I feel like it's a fine line for consultants to share their opinion and expertise and I thought Candace did a wonderful job of that.
I wanted to visit one more stop to make the most of out of my visit to the city but couldn't figure out where. Other than referrals from friends or clients, I couldn't find a lot of research on it (hence why I'm making a blog post). So I decided to go with L'Fay Bridal. A truly beautiful (smaller) boutique with an incredible selection, however out of my price range. I wish there was more information on this before I made the appointment. Because I felt like I wasted my time, and my consultants. Shortly after our introduction, I was quickly told that most of their brides spend between $10,000 - $12,000. Woah. So if you got the budget - then go for it! It's beautiful and the dresses were incredible but it just wasn't realistic for me. I did try on some Berta and Berta Muse (more 'budget' friendly) because I'm seriously in love with this designer.
Lastly, I wanted my girls to be able to try stuff on too while we were already in town. I'm obsessed with BHLDN's bridesmaid dresses so I wanted to visit there - I was told their NYC Upper East Side location had the most selection. I was sadly disappointed. They had little color and style options. It really was a waste of time. However, our consultant was lovely and the experience was out of her control. She definetly did the best she could. If you are in the city and looking to try on bridesmaid dresses I would suggest looking elsewhere.
In happier news, we ran into Amy Schumer outside of the Anthropologie - BHLDN so I guess the trip was a total waste :)
Now that I knew where my appointments were I could start the planning of the rest of the weekend. NYC is SO big and spread out - and so were my appointments. They were all in different areas of town so we decided to stay somewhere in the middle. We chose to stay in Chelsea and ended up in the flower district - which was actually quite beautiful. We stayed at Cambria Hotel and had a great experience - nothing too fancy but affordable and convenient.
Everything in Between
Food, drinks, and more food. Here is our full itinerary for the weekend. I worked really hard on planning an itinerary of food, shopping, etc. all around the bridal shops and hotel so that we could really enjoy the full four days there.
Arrive at JFK
(we got an uber for convenience but I believe there is public transportation from the airport into the city as well)
Blowouts at Blo Bar
Can I first start by saying, why doesn't Portland, Maine have a blow dry bar?! Ah, one of my favorite things when visiting a city. Sip on champagne, enjoy a head massage, and come out with fresh blown out hair. Yes, it's worth it.
Appointment at Kleinfeld Bridal
Snacks & Drinks at While We Were Young
When I stumbled upon this gem, I knew I had to visit! The inside is just so gorgeous. And the food & drinks were delicious. It is tiny inside, so make sure to make a reservation. We just grabbed a cocktail and some snacks to share.
Light Breakfast at the hotel
I had an early appointment and didn't want to eat too much before, so we opted for an easy breakfast. There was also a Juice Shop walking distance that I had on the itinerary just in case.
Appointment at Lovely
Brunch at Tinys and the Bar Upstairs
(I also considered The Butcher's Daughter if you are looking for an alternative)
We were already walking distance to everything so we decided to just explore the Tribeca area. If you've never been there, here are a few of the things we did:
Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar - Popsicle Drink
(cool experience - but pricey)
I don't know about you, but when I'm traveling I don't always eat the best and can feel kind of blah from being out of my normal routine. I loved adding a workout into our schedule to cleanse ourselves and kickstart the rest of the weekend. Plus I love trying new studios! This candlelit yoga to loud hip hop music was such a fun experience. Just a note for next time is to avoid drinking before and hydrate plenty. I spent a lot of time in child's pose.
Dinner at Hunt + Fish Club
This came highly recommended from one of my client's, Bethany & Her Boys, when I was visiting NYC the winter of 2016. It was a favorite during that trip so we decided to go back. This is definetly a splurge and a fancy restaurant. But their BREAD. YUM.
Drinks at Mykonos Blue/Hotel Hayden
We were feeling pretty tired after dinner so we didn't make it. But right next to our hotel is another gorgeous hotel and rooftop bar if you are looking for some drinks.
Appointment at L'Fay Bridal
Quick Lunch nearby - we found a yummy sushi place that was walking distance. There was also a highly recommended taco place (but Cinco De Mayo it was packed!)
Appointment at BHLDN
Fun gastropub walking distance from the hotel. I also came here last time I was in the city and loved the snacks and vibe. It's like the perfect blend of fancy and casual.
Anytime I can get brussel sprouts and french fries, I'm a happy girl
Drinks at Oscar Wilde
This bar, walking distance from the restaurant, was recommended by the our waitress. Really cool vibe inside.
Champagne Brunch Sail with Manhattan by Sail
The perfect end to our weekend getaway - a sailboat cruise around the harbor with endless mimosas and yummy brunch. The entire weekend was 90 degrees in NYC but this last day it was a little chilly. But the boat had blankets (score!)
Side Note: If you get sea sick or have motion sickness, this might not be for you. The boat is small and the water can be rocky.