(above, left to right) Raoul’s V-neck crepe gown from Swoon ($585) • Dolly Pearl’s “Anastasia” silk chiffon gown in blush from Bella Bridesmaids ($675) • Carmen Marc Valvo’s beaded lace double cowl-neck gown from Gwynn’s of Mount Pleasant ($4,820)
Whether you host a small wedding, head to the courthouse, are saying “I do” for the second time, or simply march to your own drumbeat, plenty of brides crave something other than the typical princess gown for their wedding day. “Ready-to-wear gowns have gained popularity in Charleston,” says Gwynn’s of Mount Pleasant buyer Weezie Fetscher Hiott, “in part because the city is top for destination weddings, and too, because there are more risk-taking brides than ever.” Curious? Read on for some advantages.
(left to right) Philosophy by Alberta Ferretti’s two-tiered crepe gown with bead and sequin accents from Christian Michi ($2,665) • Jenny Packham’s silk chiffon one-shoulder illusion draped gown in blush from RTW (price on request) • Aidan Mattox’s V-neck beaded gown in ivory from Swoon ($495) • Catherine Regehr’s strapless duchess satin ball gown in silver from Rapport ($2,350) • Aidan Mattox’s beaded halter gown in blush from Swoon ($475). (below) “Ziarr” sequin and cotton gown from Calypso St. Barth ($850)
TOP SHOPPING TIPS FOR OFF-THE-RACK GOWNS
Get instant gratification. Instead of waiting for months, you can take an off-the-rack frock home on the spot, says Jill Bowman of Swoon.
Save dollars. Evening dresses run from hundreds to thousands of dollars, but on the whole, you tend to save when you opt for this genre, says Suzanna Bryant of Rapport.
Shave time off your schedule. Alterations should take from one to three weeks, while traditional gowns take months. If the boutique has an in-house alterations team, the turnaround can be even faster.
Recycle your gown. Wear these gowns to a charity ball or for New Year’s Eve. Want to recoup the cost? They are easy to consign.
Think of your maids. If a bride dons a ready-to-wear gown, says Jill, consider cocktail dresses for attendants for similar styling. Take a look at bridesmaid designers. Some, like Dolly Pearl, work especially well for rehearsal dinners or showers, says Allison Long of Bella Bridesmaids.
Bella Bridesmaids, www.bellabridesmaids.com
Calypso St. Barth, www.calypsostbarth.com
Christian Michi, www.facebook.com/christianmichisc
Gwynn's of Mount Pleasant, www.gwynns.com