I am a wedding-dress-shopping addict. I love it. My love for it has probably made actually picking a dress that much harder, since I don’t really want to end the process of wedding dress shopping. But since I’ve been to so many stores in the New Jersey area, and one very famous store in New York, I figured I will use my wedding dress shopping knowledge to rank the stores and give my not-so-professional opinion on the best ones. So, for all you brides out there looking for a dress in the NJ/NYC area, here goes.
Best Consultant: Sarah’s Bridal in Branchburg, NJ
It’s a small boutique right off of route 22 in Branchburg, NJ. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, and I will admit they had a limited selection when I was there (but I was told this was because I shopped there in between shipments of new gowns), but don’t let that deter you from shopping here! The Bridal Consultant I worked with was phenominal. When a bride is shopping for her wedding dress, she doesn’t want to feel like she’s shopping for a car. So, to all those pushy, rude bridal consultants out there – STOP! No one wants to feel pressure shopping for their dream dress, and most likely, if you do push, the bride won’t buy! If you go to Sarah’s, ask for Pauline. She was fantastic. She didn’t pressure, was respectful of privacy, and she let you know all about the designers and prices. I wish I could have bought my dress from her. The other great thing about Sarah’s is that they let you look through their inventory (which is small, but still worth it) AND they have pictures and prices attached to each sample gown. It’s a great little boutique well worth checking out.
Best Prices: Jefres Bridal in Green Brook, NJ
There are brides out there who are willing to spend up to 25 grand on a dream wedding dress, but for most of us, that just isn’t realistic. No judgement on those that do, but I simply couldn’t justify spending a great deal of money on a dress that I would wear for one night. If you’re a bride on a budget, or even if you’re not, Jefres is the place to go. For a small bridal boutique, they have a very large selection of dresses. The sales people are not pushy and they guarantee low prices. Which, from experience, I can tell you is true. I have compared prices for the same wedding gown at one other store and at jefres, and jefres had the lower price. If you live in New Jersey, I wouldn’t miss out on an opportunity to check this place out!
Most unique experience: Donna Morello of Mariage Couture, Flemington, NJ
This place is adorable. First of all, I always admire entrepreneurs, which is exactly what Donna is. She started this boutique on her own, and it is truly one of a kind. Donna works personally with each and every single bride that enters her store. She listens and knows exactly the right questions to ask and what to say. The store itself is just as warm and inviting as Donna is. A cross between bohemian-chique and old-world antique, it truly is an exceptional find. If you’re looking to find a beautiful gown that no one else will have, make the trip to Donna’s. She gets all her dresses made by European designers you won’t find anywhere else.
Most fun experience and largest selection: Kleinfelds, NY, NY
Okay, obviously everyone knows the deal with Kleinfelds. They have a HUGE selection of gowns, and they are also one of the few stores out there that carry plus size bridal gowns. I have to admit, I was skeptical about shopping here at first. I had heard things like, “they don’t work with brides with a smaller budget” and “they are typical rude, pushy new york sales people”. After spending an hour and a half in the store with a bridal consultant, I can honestly say nothing could be further from the truth! They are willing to work with brides with smaller budgets, and they were nothing but helpful and accomodating. If you live anywhere near NYC, or even if you don’t, you should consider making the trip to Kleinfelds. You may even meet Randy, which by itself, would make the trip worth it, because he is just as fabulous in person as he is on the show :). If you go, try and get an appointment with Antonella – she was great!
Honorable mention: Exquisite bride in Princeton, NJ (they also have a store in Millburn)
Now, despite all the positive experiences I had shopping for a wedding gown, I also had a few negatives…
Priscilla of Boston
It is one of the names in the Bridal world that everyone knows, which is one of the reasons I was most excited to shop here. However, from the moment I walked into the store, I felt unimportant – which no bride wants to feel when she is shopping for her wedding dress. You don’t want to feel like “just another sale”, you want to be pampered, and you want to be the primary focus of the bridal consultant. After sitting down with my consultant, she scoffed at my budget, showed me 3 bridal gowns (none of which I liked), and tried to pressure me into buying a gown I didn’t want. I left the store feeling extremely disappointed.
Macys in Edison, NJ
To be fair, this wasn’t a negative experience. It was the first place I stopped at to look at bridal gowns. However, they only carry gowns by the designer Demetrios, who dont get me wrong, designs beautiful wedding gowns. But if you are looking to try on gowns by different designers, Macy’s is not the place to go. My bridal consultant was nice, but at the end I did feel quite a bit of pressure to buy. All in all, it was a good experience, just not one of my favorites.