On Wednesday we visited David’s Bridal, but let’s back up a bit, to my trip to Nitsa’s in Winston-Salem. After my first two boutique visits, I had probably tried on twenty dresses, but I still hadn’t tried on a single gown by my favorite designer, Christos. And the only location in North Carolina that carries Christos gowns? Nitsa’s. So to Nitsa’s we went. Buckle up, this is a long one!
Our appointment was on a Friday, and my mom and I were the only customers in the bridal area for the duration of our visit. On our first and second visits, we met with Chris, whom I liked very much, and on our third visit, we met with Erin (whom I also liked). Chris and I had talked on the phone in advance of the appointment, so she knew I was interested in the Brisa and the Maribel of the dresses they carry from Christos. Nitsa’s also carries Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, Amsale, Pronovias, and Kenneth Pool, among others, and I tried on dresses from some of those designers, as well.
The first gown I tried on was actually Brisa! Chris asked me which one I wanted to try first from the ones we had pulled, and hilariously I chose that one, because I thought it would be my least favorite. I obviously quite liked it as soon as I had it on, but there was no immediate visceral or emotional reaction. I moved on to other dresses, but unfortunately I can’t remember most of them because Nitsa’s does not allow photographs until you have purchased a gown. (That was one of my least favorite parts of the experience — I found it unnecessarily annoying.) I do remember trying on one other gown, though, and that is Maribel.
Ahh Maribel. Before I was engaged, she was my most favorite of all gowns. I LOVED her swiss dots, and thought her silhouette was so sweet. Lots of people were positive I would wear a swiss dot gown, myself among them. On that day, however, I put on Maribel, stood up in front of the mirror, and immediately had one of the only visceral reactions of my dress shopping experience — a negative one. I immediately wanted to take the gown off.
It was so weird! I can’t really describe it, either. The overwhelming feeling was just that this dress was not me. The only reason I can think of for this is that in recent years Maribel has become quite a popular gown (probably the most well-known of all Christos’ designs), and I had simply seen it too many times on other brides. I don’t know. It was weird.
After I had tried on all the dresses we pulled (about eight), I put Brisa back on. I stayed in it for quite a while, and my overwhelming feeling was that yes, this one feels like me. This one feels right. We felt good enough to have Nitsa’s take my measurements, but didn’t feel ready to submit the order quite yet. (Thr price was more than I was expecting to spend, and we still wanted to visit Bridal Mart and David’s Bridal.)
We made our additional visits, spent a few days wrestling with the pricing/alteration issues I laid out in this post, and finally felt ready to pull the trigger. My last decision was to choose between Christos’ two shades — white or off white. Thankfully, Christos’ white is soft and beautiful, and that’s the one I went with. Nitsa’s sent me white tulle and satin samples to help me decide; having previously seen and loved my friend Katharine’s white Amsale gown helped, too. (Amsale and Christos are both designed by Amsale Aberra, and share many fabrics.)
We placed the order in mid-November, and in mid-April, we got the call that Brisa had arrived in North Carolina! My mom was conveniently visiting on her spring break, and so she and I were able to attend the first fitting together. Thankfully, my gown fit as well as I could have hoped for — they didn’t need to adjust a stitch on the bodice. They did end up sewing in cups (of course), and the hem needed to be raised and a bustle put in.
For those who are wondering, the seamstress tried the bustle two ways. The first way I didn’t care for — it was tucked up too high — but the second way I quite liked. The initial bustle they put in was 15 points, but we talked them down to 13 for a slight break on the price :) The layers of tulle in the skirt made so many points necessary.
At the first fitting, they pinned the hem and bustle (all of these photos are from the first fitting). At the second fitting, a few weeks before our wedding, the cups had been sewn in, the hem had been basted, the bustle was sewn in, and the satin underlayer had been cut. I still felt the pinned hem was too long at the second fitting, so they raised it again. I stayed in my dress for at least twenty minutes, moving around, trying out some dance steps, etc. I think they might have been starting to get antsy (oops), but it was extremely important to me that I not be stepping on my hem all night.
Some of you had asked about the shipping process, so here’s the scoop! Nitsa’s agreed to ship my dress north post-alterations so I wouldn’t have to stuff it into the car. Interestingly, since they shipped it to Connecticut, we didn’t have to pay sales tax (???). However, we did pay for shipping, so I think the savings might have been about $100 in the end. The dress arrived in great shape, and didn’t even need to be pressed upon arrival!
The last thing I want to say is this: It’s okay if you never have a “moment” with your dress. Neither my mom nor I cried at any of our three visits to Nitsa’s (and my mom cries at the drop of a hat). I never second guessed my decision or eyed another gown, but I did acknowledge that there were other dresses out there that I probably could have been equally as happy with. However, that didn’t diminish the fact that I loved my gown and felt completely beautiful on our wedding day. And, I must say, Brisa was very popular with our wedding guests — people asked to touch the skirt all night long! :)
P.S. I will be selling my beloved gown at some point, so if you’re interested, stay tuned for more info!