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We Tried It: The Warby Parker of Wedding Dresses (as in, At-Home Gown Trials)

Updated

Courtesy Floravere

What Is It: Floravere is a recently-launched company that offers the bride-to-be seven gowns (with more being added shortly) ranging from $1,550 to $3,550, shipped to her so she can try them on in the comfort of her own home. Meaning no forced smiles for salespeople, no pressure and no limit to how many people you invite to your try-on party. Or in my case, no weird looks when you invite no one to your try-on.

Who Tried It: Zoë Ruderman, Executive Director of Content Strategy for Style, Entertainment & Sports at Time Inc.

Level of Difficulty: 2 (on a scale of 1 to 10) only because it involved coming home from work and putting on fancy dresses rather than coming home from work and putting on my go-to evening attire of leggings and a sweatshirt

I’ve enjoyed nearly every aspect of wedding planning. And I have enough married friends and have sat in the vicinity of enough bride-to-be coworkers who spend hours upon hours on the phone with vendors, planners and mothers-in-law to know this is a rarity. It helps that we’re doing everything pretty nontraditionally — destination, 60 guests, quickie ceremony followed by dinner outside then a trip to la discoteca that will hopefully last until 4am. Plus, no shower, no bachelorette, no bridal party. (My parents eloped with no one but a justice of the peace and two witnesses so you might say that nontraditional weddings are in my DNA.) But the one part of wedding planning I haven’t liked — let me rephrase, have really, really disliked — has been shopping for the gown.

I went to more than a dozen boutiques, department stores, bridal salons, ateliers, even second-hand bridal spots, and each one left me feeling a combination of bored, underwhelmed, exhausted and a bit helpless in my search. This might not be surprising for someone who hates shopping, doesn’t like dressing up and isn’t used to wearing over-the-top fancy gowns. But the thing is, I’m none of those; I’ve been an avid (and very good!) shopper since elementary school, I love dressing up so much that I squeal when a wedding invitation arrives with the words “black tie” and part of my job requires me to attend awards shows and parties in fancy dresses. So, why was shopping for my big day so … unsatisfying?

Five words: “Sooooo, what do we think?!” I didn’t like the forced interactions, the trying to please salespeople and the fact that in most places, I couldn’t walk up to a rack and just grab a dress that caught my attention. I tried on so many gowns because a woman who had known me for all of 10 minutes thought it was just my style. Then I would stand there, knowing it wasn’t The One, but feeling obligated to go through the motions, ultimately saying, “Hmm, I think it’s not quite right.” Which is why, when Floravere launched, I immediately canceled my next appointment at bridal salon number bazillion and one.

Floravere currently has seven gowns that get shipped right to your house where you can keep them for three days and try them on whenever you want, however you want, with whatever shoes and bra you want, in front of whoever you want. You can try the same one on 10 times and you can take one off before it’s even halfway on because you know it’s not right. No pressure, no forced conversations, no “Soooo, what do we think?”

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I had three styles delivered to my apartment  — the A. Hall, the F. Daza and the H. Golightly — and one day after work, I opened the garment bags and the accompanying bridal box, which has a veil, a measuring tape, clips and some other fun goodies.

The dresses come in a few sample sizes and once you decide to order one for your big day, it’s custom made to your measurements. That means you can also make any tweaks you want to the gown. I spoke to the founder of Floravere (who had a similar try-on experience as I’d been having) and she told me that they customize everything from the sleeves to the length of the slit to the train. They can even make major tweaks like combining the top of one dress with the skirt of another or adding embroidery. The sky’s the limit (and that’s saying something considering we’re talking about brides-to-be who are often unacquainted with the word limit).

I tried on my dresses in my living room. By myself. I know some brides will find that weird. I certainly know that many salespeople find that weird. A few weeks ago I went on two appointments solo (after doing a slew of appointments with a combination of friends/cousins/parents) and the people in the store basically gasped when I said I didn’t have anyone coming with me. The looks I got from other brides who rolled five deep with a gaggle of ‘maids said, “Oh, that poor, friendless bride.” For the record, I have friends. Lots. They’re great.

As soon as I put on the F. Daza, I knew it wasn’t for me, but like I said, nobody’s feelings were hurt so I swiftly moved onto the next, the A. Hall. It’s gorgeous and sexy and classic and made me feel Carolyn Bessette-ish. I walked around in it, checked myself out in different lighting (not possible in a store), swapped my shoes a few times and took an embarrassing number of selfies (forbidden in every bridal boutique I visited). I also sat down in it and yes, maybe I turned on Beyoncé and danced in it. Unless you plan to do nothing but stand with perfect posture at your wedding, ladies, these are important things to do when test-driving a dress.

I moved on to the H. Golightly, which I also liked, but not quite as much. So it was back to the A. Hall. Had I been in a store, I would have felt guilty trying on one dress multiple times. Not the case in my apartment.

I tried on the #1 contender a few more times over the next few days, with my hair up, hair down, in morning light, in evening light, before a glass of wine, after a glass of wine, with underwear, without und— guys, I’m kidding. The experience was just so easy. And yes, fun.

Ultimately, I decided the A. Hall, while beautiful and crazy-well-crafted, wasn’t right for me (I’m going with something less traditional, something I also found online, not in a bridal boutique) and I shipped the dresses back to Floravere. Each one costs $45 to try on, but if you end up buying with them, all of that money goes toward your gown, similar to how other try-on-at-home companies operate. But right before I sent the dresses back, when I knew that I wasn’t going to wear any of them to my wedding, I slipped into the A. Hall in front of my fiancé. (Did I mention we’re not doing this whole wedding thing in a traditional way?) I walked out in the floor-length white gown and the veil and hummed the wedding march. Then we put on Notorious BIG and had a dance party. None of which could have happened if I’d only tried on gowns in a store and not via Floravere.

The Verdict: Do it. Do it, do it, do it. If you’re not enjoying dress shopping, give Floravere a shot. I had so much fun trying on the gowns in a “safe space.” And spending time in them really helped me make my final decision. Plus, the fact that you can make customizations and still get your dress in 10-15 weeks is pretty impressive. Oh yeah, and you get a free consultation with a stylist and you can ask them anything, from what shoes they recommend to how long the make the train, even how to pack it if you’re flying to your wedding. But really, what’s most important, do you really want the first time you dance to hip-hop in your wedding gown to be at your actual wedding? I don’t think so.

Would you ever try a at-home bridal service? Share below!