Dress Reviews

Dress Salon: Fantastic Finds, Lansing

Fantastic Finds is located in Lansing, MI.  It’s a big house (I’m talking huge, like on the order of 40 rooms) that has been converted into a bridal salon.  Each room has racks of dresses lining it, and, rather than just having samples in the standard size 8, each room as a specific range of sizes in it.  Some dresses exist in multiple rooms, so if you find a dress you want to try on the consultant can tell you if they have a duplicate of it in a different size that might be a better fit for you.  If they don’t have it in a different size, you can still try it on just as you would at any other salon.  You have a dedicated room for yourself and your group, so you get a slightly more personal and intimate appointment than you do in other places.  To choose dresses they give you a grouping of colored rings (all the same color; each color is associated with a fitting room), and you simply go around the salon and place the rings over the hangers of dresses you are interested in.  Your consultant along with other people in the salon will keep an eye out for the rings, and anything you’ve marked will end up in your room.  If you’re still poking around after they pull a dress, they’ll bring you back any of your used rings so you can get another tag out of them.  The salon has dresses in a wide range of prices, from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars.  My consultant there was Kim D, and she was fabulous.

We ordered both my dress and a veil from there.  The veil came in rather quickly, but since the salon is so far away from me I left it there until my dress came in (they usually require you to pick things up relatively soon, but since I’m an out-of-towner they’re more lenient).  As for the dress, I was told it should arrive in 4 to 6 months.  I ordered it at the end of June, so that would put it somewhere between Halloween and Christmas.  Another friend of mine happened to order a dress from them on the same day (we didn’t even know we were each looking there…we ran into each other in the parking lot!  And had the same consultant!), and I got a message from her at the beginning of October saying her dress was already in.  I called, and after receiving an apology for not having heard from them yet, was told that my designer had been hit by a backlog of orders and was running behind, and that I could expect my dress sometime in January, but should call back in November for an update.  When I called back, the arrival date had been pushed back to February, which the person on the phone admitted was kind of weird, and suggested I call back at the beginning of January for a more firm and more accurate arrival date.

I was going to be in MI for a full week in the middle of January and was holding out hope the dress would arrive in time for me to pick it up while I was there, so I called back for an update the first day they were open after the New Year.  They were busy so I left a message, and my wonderful Kim called me back the next day.  The dress date was now pushed back to mid-February, and I was suddenly very glad I had ordered the dress as early as I did, because that delivery date is pushing the 8 month mark.  She made a note on her calendar to call the manufacturer again towards the end of the month (her own idea, not mine), and she promised to give me a call to give me another update.  She called back at the end of the month (literally, January 31!) with good news!  My dress was finished and packed up, ready to be shipped by the end of the week.  At this point we had an unofficial phone date every Monday for the next 4 weeks, because she’s awesome like that and knew I was anxious to get my dress.  Week 1 she called me to tell me the dress had shipped on time.  Week 2 she called to let me know the dress was in the US (turns out most dress designers have their gowns manufactured in China, the delay was partially due to the Chinese New Year celebrations).  Week 3 she called to tell me that they were expecting to get the dress at the salon itself in 1-2 weeks.  Week 4 she called to confirm they had received the dress, and let me set up an appointment to come in and inspect it, try it on, and take it home!  Usually the salon has a strict rule of having pick up appointments only being Monday – Friday, however, again because I’m an out-of-towner, she let me come in on a Saturday.  If you want to read more about how my dress pick-up went, check out this post.

It was an unexpectedly long process, but Kim was fantastic about it the whole way through.  Any time I called or was called about the dress, I spoke to her, not a random assistant or secretary.  My only complaint was the 4-6 month time frame I was told versus the actual time it took, but that was not fully the salon’s fault.

If you put Fantastic Finds on your list of places to visit, let me know.  Definitely request Kim.  Seriously.  She’s incredibly helpful, and very low pressure.

Dress Salon: The Crystal Bride, Geneva (IL)

The Crystal Bride is located in downtown Geneva, IL.  The downstairs floor has bridesmaids and mother of the bride dresses.  The upstairs portion is reserved for their wedding dresses and veils.  We looked here for my dress first before we had our adventure to Fantastic Finds.  My consultant was Sarah.  We had an awesome time there choosing and trying on dresses.  Sarah was incredibly helpful and very understanding of the fact that I was going to look at other places for a dress too.  Her exact words were “I’d rather you find the dress you love somewhere else than settle on one here.”  I had a top three by the end of the appointment, and she wrote down all of the info for them in my file and gave me a copy so I could have a reference.  While I ended up choosing my dress at FF, we had such a wonderful experience there that they were our first stop for bridesmaids dresses, and my mom went there for her dress.

Since 2 of my 3 bridesmaids are out-of-town, my sister and I went to the salon ourselves to try on a few dresses.  Again Sarah helped us out and wrote down the info for the 3 that were our favorites.  I shared that info with my other 2 bridesmaids, and we picked a favorite, but my MOH was going to come visit in a few weeks, so we held off any putting any order in until she came out so she could try the dresses on.  We actually found some we liked more than the original 3, and we ended up deciding on those (it’s plural because my MOH is actually in a slightly different dress, but they’re similar and the same designer).  We got their measurements taken right then, and then I had my Texas bridesmaid send me her measurements a few days later.  They held the order until I got the 3rd BM’s measurements and sizing info, then sent all 3 at the same time so we could try to get the same dye lot (usually different dresses are have different dye lots, so the MOH dress might be different from the other 2, but sending the order at the same time means the lots will at least be close to each other if not still identical).  The expected delivery date for the dresses was middle of January, just in time for me to NOT be able to get it to my Texas BM while she was up here for Christmas (not that that’s anyone’s fault, just irritating we were that close).  Come the middle of December, I got a phone call that they were in already!  When I went to pick them up the woman at the counter opened up all of the bags for me to inspect the dresses, confirmed that all of the pieces were there (since they all came with optional straps and a flower pin), and made sure I knew that if I had any issues or even just needed them steamed before the wedding that I could just stop in and they’d help me out.  The dresses were great, and all the bridesmaids were happy with them, so I’m happy too!

We went back for my mom to try on some dresses in November.  We worked with Sarah again, who was great about getting us a variety of styles for my mom to try on (since she had no idea what she wanted) and for removing things from the fitting room when we ruled out a particular look.  We ended up with a top 2: the one my mom loved and thought was “too formal” and the one she just liked but thought fit in better.  No amount of arguing on my end could convince her to get the one she loved (it’s a wedding…and she’s the mother of the bride, how is anything short of a ball gown too formal?!), so we wrote down the information, took some pictures, and went home to sleep on it.  In the end, I (and about everyone else on the planet who saw the picture of my mom in the dress) convinced her to get the one she loved.  She ordered it in navy, with an expected arrival date of sometime in March.

It showed up right on time, and it was nearly perfect.  It needed some alterations to bring it in around the hips and to tighten up the straps, and it needed to be shortened a good bit, but it was great.  The salon itself doesn’t do alterations, but they work closely with two seamstresses who come into the shop 2 days a week to do fittings and what not, so that’s what we did.  It only took about two weeks from dropping the dress off to being able to pick it up again.

We worked with a lot of people here, and they were all fantastic.  Sarah was our main contact, and I highly recommend her, but you can’t really go wrong with any of the consultants there.

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