In the bridal stores and wedding industry, there are trends that come in and out of style, and then there are timeless classics that retain their quality and never lose their appeal. Both ends of the spectrum have their loyal followings, with clear positives and negatives to each. Designers frequently offer both style-forward lines and more classic lines, capturing the appeal of brides of all kinds.
One bonus of classic gowns is that you’re less likely to cringe looking back on your wedding photos decades down the line. These styles are flattering on brides of every shape and size, bringing forward natural beauty and generally leaning toward minimal embellishment and clean silhouettes.
If you’re interested in exploring what’s out there in terms of timeless wedding dresses, we’ve put together this list of seven ways to do so. Although you can always search “off the rack wedding dresses near me,” “bridal outlets near me,” or “wedding dresses store near me,” these ideas have been curated to contribute to your confidence in finding that perfect gown.
Our first step is to do some basic research to gain a deeper understanding about different styles and designers. The reason for doing this research is that it can help you cut down on the vast number of possibilities out there in bridal gowns. No matter if you’re imagining a sleek trumpet silhouette, with clinging silk and a gentle flare, or a luscious ballgown, with layer after layer of gorgeous fabric, you’ve got a lot of options for shopping and narrowing down this list which will help save time and best communicate your preferences with your stylist.
Just remember - try to balance your preferences with an open mind. A lot of brides are pleasantly surprised when they try on a style of dress they’ve never imagined. That gown that you’re hesitant to try, because it doesn’t fit with your idea of “the gown,” might just be the dress of your dreams.
Whether you plan to shop at a high-end wedding boutique or are more likely to visit a bridal warehouse or bridal outlets near you, you’ll very likely come across silhouettes like the classic A-line or ball gown, trumpet or mermaid, and fit-and-flare or sheath. You may already know that you really want to try on a few of these silhouettes, which can help you and those who accompany you when you try on gowns.
When you make an appointment and step in for a bridal consultation, you’ll likely be greeted by a member of the shop’s professional bridal stylists. You may be feeling some nerves or jitters at your first appointment, and that’s completely normal! It’s a big deal to be wedding dress shopping, and good stylists should be able to help put you at ease so that you’re able to be yourself and have a good time.
Be honest with your bridal consultant, but balance your honesty with staying open-minded. While it’s important to express your preferences and tastes, it’s also beneficial for you to trust your stylists’ experience and expertise - they likely understand dress construction and fabrics, as well as ways to flatter bodies of all shapes. Check out reviews about our consultants here.
When’s the right time, you ask? Well, it’s early but not too early.
There’s a chance that you will need to order your gown, which means that the shop will need to place an order with the manufacturers for the gowns, which will then generally require at least a few months to create your gown. You won’t, however, want to order the gown too early, because your body size can change, either up in size or down in size, and buying a dress that is sized to fit your current size is always best.
The exception for this timing rule is if you are buying a dress off the rack. This means you are purchasing a gown from a warehouse, consignment retailer, bridal outlet, or sample store and will take the actual gown home that day.
Even if you’re planning to buy a gown off the rack, however, be sure to allow for enough time for fittings with a professional seamstress. Tailoring is what makes gowns fit like gloves, and if you hope to have any significant alterations done (like adding or removing straps, having the dress hemmed, etc.), more time will likely be needed.
Also, keep in mind that you might be able to save on your wedding gown by purchasing it during the off-season, when the inventory switches over from season to season. Hear about special deals and stay in the loop with your favorite retailers by following them on social media and signing up for their newsletters. You may be able to hear about discount events and big sales!
When you’re starting your dress-shopping journey, it’s important to have a sense of your budget for all things bridal. We’ll go into tips for how to save on that budget in item #7, but having a starting place is crucial.
Also, when you’re at your appointment, sharing your budget will help your stylist choose the appropriate dresses that fall within your budget range. It should also help to buffer the temptation of trying on and falling in love with a gown that is higher in price than what you’ve established as your wedding dress budget.
Here at Blue Bridal, a Reading bridal outlet, our gowns are priced on average around $999. They are sample designer gowns that haven’t ever been down the aisle but are 30-60% off new designer prices. Our sister store, Blush Bridal, and other Cincinnati wedding dress shops, offer gowns in the range of $1,500-$4,000.
When you calculate your budget, be sure to include other, less-obvious costs. These might include such items as alterations (adding a bustle is usually an alteration), any accessories you may wish (such as your veil, jewelry, and your shoes), and the cleaning and preservation of your gown following the big day.
Bonus tip: Some Cincinnati dress shops do offer sales events at which they bundle a gown and veil for a special price, so ask or check online when exploring your options.
Before we get into that, have you heard of the Reading Bridal District? Located within Cincinnati in its Roselawn neighborhood and west of Blue Ash, the Reading Bridal District has a 3-block radius.This historic area features some of the best bridal stores in Cincinnati, stationary services, florists, grooms wear and tuxedos, decorations and rental shops, caterers, and so much more. In fact, the Reading Bridal District is the largest and most well-known bridal district in North America.
Before you get too far planning your visit, begin by checking out the shops available - by reading blogs like this one or just searching “wedding dresses cincinnati oh” or “wedding dresses store near me.” Then, call or go online to make an appointment - we recommend shopping on weekdays to avoid the potential crowds. The Reading Bridal District is a destination for brides nationwide, and having an appointment is a must for many Cincinnati bridal shops.
Be sure to think carefully about who you wish to accompany you on your shopping adventure. In general, we recommend keeping your group size small, and only inviting the people whose opinions you really value. It can be a day with a lot of emotions, and being able to be fully present and aware of what YOU want without having to worry about making others happy with your decision makes it a lot more fun.
When you visit, you’ll probably want to check out the many wedding-related shops in the Reading Bridal District, and so you’ll be on your feet a lot. To stay as comfortable as possible, we suggest you wear supportive shoes and loose-fitting clothing that doesn’t restrict your movement.
For your appointment, wear undergarments that you’re comfortable wearing in front of your stylist but that don't leave wrinkles or lines when you’re in front of the mirror checking out the gowns. We also suggest carrying shoes of similar height to what you imagine wearing on your wedding day, or even bringing along that pair if you have it. There’s a lot of height difference between flip flops, kitten heels, and Stilettos, so knowing how the gowns fall can be helpful as you try them on.
Another aspect of bridal wear that may be beneficial to explore when you’re doing some basic research is fabric. Depending on where you plan to get married and the season, you may be more comfortable in certain kinds of fabrics and less comfortable in others.
For example, luxurious, heavier fabrics like satin and taffeta can be less fitting for a beachy destination wedding in Hawaii and more comfortable for a winter or fall wedding. Though airy silk, lace, or chiffon layers might be perfect for your garden ceremony, you may find yourself shivering at an outdoor fall ceremony. You can mitigate this with accessories like shawls or a cute bridal jean jacket, but considering your vision for the event will help you to begin to narrow down all the options out there.
One last note to consider when thinking about your gown - do you plan to dance at which you’ll want to really let loose? Trumpet and mermaid gowns are more restrictive than any other type of silhouette, so consider a more free-flowing dress for dancing or plan to speak with a tailor before purchasing one of these to see if there are ways to move more freely with alterations.
If you’ve begun making your budget or have started coming across dress prices, you probably know this already, but wedding gowns can be expensive! Factors that contribute to a huge range of prices for gowns include the designer, fabric, style, and embellishments on the dress, as well as if the gown is a sample or consigned discount gown.
If you’re tempted in your search by off-the-rack specials at discount bridal shops and tempting internet deals, be aware that those finds are often too good to be true, perhaps showing up in the wrong color, with a weird fit, or worse. When it comes to ultra-low priced wedding gowns, we believe that you get what you pay for. We do, luckily, have a few tips for scoring great dresses without paying the full price of designer gowns purchased at boutiques.
Alternatives can include shopping from a warehouse retailer, local outlets and consignment shops, sample sales, and boutique bridal sales.
When you make an appointment at a shop that sells designer samples, you can score significant savings on gowns that have never been worn down the aisle. At typical bridal shops, floor samples are not available for sale off-the-rack. Instead, the bridal consultants will place an order for the gown you selected, and will ship it to you after it’s been made to order. By purchasing a designer sample, you can expect big savings on your gown, but won’t compromise on the quality or uniqueness of your wedding dress. Designer gowns or samples of high-end gowns are almost always handmade, with careful attention to detail and usually provide enough fabric for any alterations that might be necessary. Visiting discount bridal sample outlets can bring down the cost of these designer dresses to make them more affordable for budget-conscious brides.
Whether you’re seeking a timeless gown to keep and pass on to a family member or friend to wear, or planning on scoring a gorgeous dress to sell after because its classic look is still in style - try searching “stores near me that buy wedding dresses,” these gowns are winners in our eyes. Keep our tips in mind to find yours!
While visiting the Reading Bridal District for wedding dresses in Cincinnati, be sure to consider visiting Blue Bridal aka Something New Borrowed & Blue. Our discount bridal inventory consists of overstock designer gowns at 30-60% off the original price. With hundreds of gowns in sizes 2-32 and regular promotions taking place, we focus on every bride and everybody, so you can be sure to feel comfortable and find your ideal gown without breaking the bank!
The best part? You will enjoy a relaxed, private, and comfortable fitting room at your appointment, and our top-notch stylists will attend to you and your guests with friendliness, professionalism, and expertise. Our team can’t wait to meet you!