That’s me the day I picked up my wedding dress! I am twirling and smiling! My dress was Maggie Sottero’s Virginia
So I went to a ton of bridal shops in my seemingly neverending search for a wedding dress. Seriously, I looked for a long time to find a V neck, only to be told it was out of style and I would never find it. Listen when they tell you what you want is out of style. I was crazy to not believe them, but I don’t believe things until I see them myself. I kept searching and searching anyway until 1 day before it would’ve been too late to order a dress in time. I ended up going with the third dress I ever tried on :S.
I went to nearly every store in Toronto, no joke. Almost a year later, my dad is still talking about it. He was a saint, patiently driving me around so that I could get a dress I loved. I have seen the good, bad and ugly of wedding shops and here’s the lowdown. This post reviews 16 stores. It’s a long, comprehensive list, but yes, I actually went to all these places over 5 months. It was exhausting. Note, these are all “affordable” places, except for one (of course, everyone’s idea of affordable is different, but I’m assuming $500 to $1,500 and mainstream dresses from the magazines). If you’re looking to spend $20Gs on a dress, I can’t help you.
I would love to read your personal experiences with these stores. Please leave stories in the comments section.
Mona Richie: I really wish I could have bought my dress from Mona, but she didn’t carry dresses from the designer that I ended up going with. Mona is patient and kind, and you can tell that she really cares about her “girls.” I nearly fainted in her store, and she ran to the fridge to get me something to drink and sat with me, even after store closing, until I was ok. That is amazing. I’d say her store and Amanda-Lina’s are the biggest in the GTA and have the best selections, and Mona carries all the top of the line designers like Pronovias. Go to Mona! It will be one of the nicest shopping experiences you’ll ever have. She is in what I’ve dubbed the “wedding mall” of 4040 Steeles Ave. West in Woodbridge, where there’s about 10 other wedding dress, cake, favours, jewellery, and decor stores in the same strip mall.
Amanda-Lina’s: This store is huge, and has a beautiful selection of what I thought were the most fashionable wedding dresses, mother of the bride dresses, and bridesmaid dresses. They get a lot of the trunk shows early. The fitting rooms are huge and it is definitely magical to go outside into their section full of mirrors and see yourself in a wedding dress for the first time with their soft spotlights on you. You cannot be shy here as the consultants tell you to strip down so they can get you into the dress (I guess they don’t want people to damage the samples, which is fair). This store cuts out the designer labels from the dresses so you can’t come in with a style number — you actually have to bring them a photo of the dress you want to try on. This is where I found the dress I ended up buying but when I came back, they had sold the sample off at their January annual blowout sale so I couldn’t trace the dress but was lucky enough to find it elsewhere again. It worked out because it cost $400 less at the other store!
Superior Bridal: This is a smaller bridal shop in Markham, but the ladies here are a true gem. Vy and Elena (two sisters who are consultants) put up with my request for dress after dress, and never complained and were never, ever rude to me. At one point I got so frustrated that the type of dress I wanted was not in style and unavailable, that I started to cry. Elena took me aside and comforted me. That’s customer service + 1000. They didn’t carry the sample of the dress I wanted to buy, but because they carried the designer, they could still order it for me. I wanted to be sure that these guys got my money because of their amazing service. They charge a flat fee of $400 for alterations which I found rather expensive for mine, considering the size was fine, and all they’d have to do was cut off a bit of the bottom to hem it. They also get the trunk shows earlier than other shops.
Bridal and Beyond: This has two locations (one in Leaside, one in Mississauga). I’ve been to both. I found that the one in Mississauga had experienced bridal consultants and the one in Leaside had teenagers. Pick depending on the experience you want. If you need help figuring out what you want, go to Mississauga. If you want to be left alone to try on a bunch, go to Leaside. I found the prices here in line with the other places, and they were one of two stores in the city that had the sample of my dress (a large one, size 14). They also had the Disney by Alfred Angelo wedding gowns in stock to try on while others didn’t. The nice thing about this store too is that it has stuff like invitations, favours and other accessories, making it a one stop shop. I think they give you a membership card for discounts on other merchandise if you buy your dress here. Ask for Josie at the Mississauga one. They also have a great website that will tell you which location has which dress samples.
Impression Bridal: A warehouse type store in Mississauga that is the home of labels like Impression Bridal and Simone Carvalli wedding gowns.The lighting is super harsh, but the consultant, a fashion student at Ryerson, was very good. She said she had actually done fashion internships in Italy. I actually found what looked like a knock off of the dress I ended up getting. Only difference was the fabric and an extra flower on the belt. And $400. It was cheaper here. Didn’t go with this place because the fabric didn’t feel as nice and it was only available in a harsh bleach white which looked really bad on my pasty skin, but I have no complaints and recommend this place.
Windsor Bridal: This is on Orfus Road. Yes THE Orfus Road with all the outlet stores for cheap clothing . The dresses aren’t cruddy brands though, they have quality labels (I tried on Madison Collection, Mori Lee and Private Label by G) and they had received the new shipments before any of the other stores in the city. Large selection. Lighting is harsh and there can be a long wait for a consultant and fitting room, and customers are not allowed to touch the dresses which are closed up in clear garment bags…a little annoying because how are you supposed to find something if you can’t sort through their hundreds of dresses in racks? A consultant will help you in and out of the dress and you have a maximum of 8 and one hour. Bring a stopwatch. Wanna go back in time? Check out the outlet store next door with dresses out of an episode of Friends from 1994.
Beckers Bridal. This is the oldest store in the city. Consultants were helpful, but the store has a smaller selection than the places in Woodbridge, (which makes sense with Danforth real estate being slim). But it’s across the street from Chester station so probably the easiest of all boutiques to get to. They carry dresses by a particular designer (Barbara something) whose dresses are only sold in 3 stores (in Toronto, New York and Vancouver). They are made of gorgeous silk and look great, but cost $3,500. They did have the usual suspects like Pronovias though. And please do me and everyone a favour. The shop is small, so don’t bring your posse with you. One person is enough. I had to try on a dress with a girl’s entire family, bridal party and fiance spilling over into the area and staring at me. Very uncomfortable, especially because I was alone.
The Dress Room: Closed every single time we tried to call them or go there so no clue about this place. My friend got her Demetrios dress here on sale here for 50% off because it was a floor sample and she looked great. This is owned by the same people as Beckers Bridal.
Vogue Sposa: Down the street from Beckers Bridal on Danforth, with an even smaller selection. But had some unique Anjolique brand wedding dresses that I could not find in other stores. Staff was fine. They advertise their in-house designer on their website but those were more asymmetrical dresses that aren’t my thing.
Lowon Pope: These apparently are all designed at the store, which is amazing and exciting and great to support a locally operated business. So I went but turned right around once I looked in the window. This store has vintage style dresses for Olive Oyl (of Popeye fame) skinny things. Don’t bother heading out to Liberty Village if you ever ate a cheeseburger.
White Toronto: This is in Yorkville so make a stop at the bank first to plump up your wallet! Some dresses here go for $10 grand or more. I didn’t have too many dealings with them to judge their customer service. They were very polite on the phone when I called them for an appointment to their sample sale, their consultants were friendly and everyone was pretty civil at their blessed event. But just keep in mind that if you go here, the dresses are more haute couture than classic styles. You will actually find the lopsided, high fashion dresses that look like potato sacks on the models in Martha Stewart Weddings. That’s fine if that’s what you want, but just not my thing.
Chez Jordan: In the same plaza as Mona Richie and Veronica Di Santo (keep walking if you don’t wanna drop $5 Gs on a dress at Di Santo). Chez Jordan had nice sales clerks and an ok selection of dresses, including some really unique looking ones that I hadn’t seen in any other store. From their website it looks like they have an in house designer which would explain this. The sales lady said they also get stuff from European labels. Had a nice selection of mom dresses too.
Royalton gifts and Jewellery: This looks like a wedding favour and decor store but they snuck in some wedding dresses and mom dresses in the back. Ask for Teresa, she was really nice and patient. Has a bigger selection of bridesmaid dresses and had a few “out there” wedding gowns with see through bodices. Watch out in the wedding favour section, the ladies will be all over you so don’t show any sign of weakness. Go with an idea of what you want. My neighbours bought their favours here and they were super nice. This store has no website or I’d link, but its at 4040 Steeles along with Mona Richie.
David’s Bridal: This chain’s first Canadian stores opened AFTER I already bought my dress, so I can’t talk about my wedding dress personal experience there, but I know they do sell dresses for as low as $200 if that’s what you’re looking for, and they do have Vera Wang line that is more affordable. The Scarborough store was big, but the few times we went it was really crowded. My bridesmaids bought their dresses there. Great part was that they had lots of bridesmaids dresses in stock so the girls bought them off the rack.
Ritche: This is arguably the most famous bridal shop in the city, with ads on tv all the time and a wide selection. But they’ve got some pretty rude staff. Takes forever and a day to get an appointment, then you are either told to wait or told to leave. Read about my awful experience with these guys in my previous post. If you do go here, ask for Megan. She was the only nice one and seemed to know what she was doing.
Felichia bridal: Walked past here about a week after I got engaged so I was really excited and walked in to look at stuff on the rack. God forbid. One sales lady was helping someone with an appointment. But the dude who was sipping a pop and reading a magazine at the front desk told me that no one could help me without an appointment and he looked a little annoyed that I had just waltzed in, even though I didn’t ask to try anything on. I took that to mean “don’t bother even looking.” So I didn’t bother making the trek back to Yonge and Eglinton for this store. Don’t know how they treat you when you do have an appointment.