Oh the joys of wedding dress shopping for a Conservative Jew


Dear IFF,

I know I’ve been ranting and whining about wedding invitations but now that they are over and done with, I wanted to take you back a few months to where I talked about the wedding dress.

There’s so much that goes into the dress. I mean this is ‘the’ dress that so many girls dream about, envisioning their day dressed in a to die for gown. To be honest, I never really thought about what dress I would wear, but when the day came to actually start thinking about it, I couldn’t believe how many options there were and how most of them did nothing for me. As  much as I love sparkly things in everyday life (love glitter), I for some reason found it to be ghastly on a wedding gown. Who knew? I also found it disturbing the lack of options for a Conservative bride. And don’t even get me started on the ‘modest’ dresses that are out there. Seriously, it’s as if ‘modest’ is equated with lack of fashion sense and taste because dresses made for Conservative Jewish girls like me are just plain ugly. Blech. All I wanted was a beautiful dress that was simple and covered the arms. I want to be modest for the ceremony which means covering myself. I know many liberal Jews do not share the same opinion, but I’m naturally conservative and do not like showing my arms. It seems so risque but for this post you’ll see I’m wearing all strapless gowns because that’s what’s out there.

I did eventually find my dress love, the beautiful ‘Addie’ by Monique Lhullier. It really was pure love at first sight. It’s modern, simple, no bling, sequins, or sparkles and it has 3/4 sleeves, sheer beautiful sleeves. This dress is conservative and stylish. But as I mentioned before, it’s also $6000. Ahh.. This was one of those moments where I actually thought life isn’t fair for the budget conscious bride, but I reluctantly got over it, and started the search for ‘the’ dress that looked like my dear ‘Addie’. I started my search at Alfred Angelo, followed by David’s Bridal, and then NY Bride. For all you brides out there, please do not wait to buy your dress. I waited until 4 months before the wedding date which left me very little time to find a dress in time. I felt sort of pressured to make a decision quickly and although I did find my dress, and I love it, it’s not my first love, the Addie, and to be honest, I don’t love it as much as the Addie. It’s true. I still look at pictures of my dear dress but like a long lost love that didn’t work out, I try to focus on what I do have now, my actual dress. I’m happy with it and I bought a sheer tulle bolero with a train to give it a conservative twist because of course it’s strapless. I’m not going to show you what I chose until the actual wedding, but I’ll show you a few of the dresses that didn’t make the cut. Notice my facial expressions in some of the pics…clearly, I wasn’t so thrilled. However, wedding dress shopping is fun and I felt like a princess. I wish there were more occasions to wear such gorgeous dresses than just one day.

So let’s start with my dream dress, the Addie.

And now let’s move onto the ‘real’ dresses

Dress 1 from Alfred Angelo. Pretty but it didn’t catch my eye.

Dress 2 from Alfred Angelo. Simple and modern. I liked it but it didn’t have enough ‘oomph’.

Dress 3 from Alfred Angelo. I just thought this looked weird on me.

Dress 4 from Alfred Angelo. I like the simplicity of this one with the crystal band but it’s hard to tell how it would really look. All the samples were way too big so everything had to be clipped back.

Dress 5 from Alfred Angelo. I like the idea of this dress but it was just too big to really tell what it would look like. It’s very romantic and lace-y. I think if it fit, I would have liked this one more.

Dress 6 from David’s Bridal. I adored this dress from David’s Bridal but once I tried it on, it didn’t look right on me. This is from Vera Wang’s new White line. All the dresses are gorgeous. I tried quite a few on but it didn’t seem to work for me. You’ll also notice my Blue Steel face. I was trying to be Vera Wang-ish and no one was there to take a pic for me. Yes, I went wedding dress shopping alone (initially). I wanted to see how I felt about it without the influence of other’s opinions.

Dress 7 from NY Bride. I really enjoyed this dress but it was too thin for a winter wedding. It didn’t have as much heavy material like the other dresses. It was effortless to move in which is a big plus but I wanted more material.

Dress 8 from NY Bride. I just had to try on a big poofy dress. Fun, but hard to move in, and it swallowed my short body.

Dress 9 from NY Bride. This dress was so pretty and flowy but I found another dress I liked more, so this one could have been the one.

I think I tried on about 20 dresses total. For those ladies who are already married or are getting married, how many dresses did you try before you found the one?

5 thoughts on “Oh the joys of wedding dress shopping for a Conservative Jew”

  • Thanks ladies for commenting. Debbie B., I did briefly look at the places that sell dresses for Orthodox Jewish women and they were pretty but way too modest for me. I suppose I want to show some clavicle:) And Slyvia, I always think it’s cool when you can wear your mom’s dress and you like it enough to want to wear it. My mother rented her wedding dress so that was out the door. Erin, I did end up ordering a bolero that is being altered as we speak to reflect more of my style to go with my strapless dress. Dena, I think weddings are the perfect time for a dramatic dress. I’m concerned about being comfortable. I wanted something beautiful but that wasn’t so out of the ball park for me that I would feel uncomfortable all night. Ultimately, I chose a chiffon strapless gown that has no bedazzle effect but instead has lots of layering of the material to give it more oomph. I bought a tulle bolero which is very sheer and some will say do not really provide arm coverage because you can see right through it but I feel comfortable in it plus it mimics the tulle sleeves of my dream dress. I most likely will take it off after the ceremony and actually go strapless (gasp!) from then on or find another bolero to wear. My tulle one has a train on it. I’ll put the pics up after the wedding so you all can see. Thanks for sharing your comments!!

  • I bought the first dress I ever tried on, seriously. I did put on a few others but they were terrible in comparison to the first. Looking back I probably should have tried some others, mind was way more “dramatic” than I had planned but it fit and it was pretty. It was a drastically reduced (major sale) Amsale. Since so much had to be removed anyway (because I’m only 4’9″) I had some wide straps added but now I wish I had an entire jacket made. I think that would have made me much more comfortable.

  • I cheated and wore my mom’s dress :). It has short sleeves, representing a compromise between the longer sleeves I wanted and the total lack of sleeves that everyone was selling at the time (1997), and a high neck, which I liked. Also, detachable train! Better for dancing!

  • You’re right, strapless is truly what’s out there. I looked in books first and found what I wanted. I hated trying on dresses. You could have someone make a lace cover like the addie dress–it can be done!

  • One solution (although it doesn’t work for all dresses) is to wear a matching jacket over a strapless gown. I recently saw this solution in action at an Orthodox Jewish wedding where the bridesmaids were allowed to choose their own dress as long as it was in the color of the wedding party. I was a rather surprised before the ceremony to see a bridesmaid wearing a strapless gown. But she had a matching jacket to cover her arms during the ceremony. You could get a seamstress to make up a jacket that would match the dress, and even with the custom made apparel, you could come out saving a lot of money given that you could avoid buying a $6000 dress.

    But I think you just need to find out where Orthodox Jews or others looking for more modest dress buy their wedding dresses. I have seen very beautiful wedding dresses worn by Orthodox brides which required higher necklines in addition to the arm coverage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *