I've finally decided on my bridal gown! Earlier this week on Monday, we headed back to Silhouette The Atelier to choose and confirm my bridal gown.
This is not the first bridal shop we visited.. In fact, in the past few months we've visited many bridal shops in Singapore. Most of them did not allow us to take pictures.
We actually found the PERFECT bridal gown in Perth and it's a designer gown by Pronovias. Tabby brought me there to try the dress and when Le bf flew in the next week I brought him back to show him the dress.
I am so glad that Tabby was the first person who saw me in a bridal gown. I think it's apt since she's the longest friend I know and she's one of the best friends I have. She's so encouraging and patient.. on top of being as excited as me about our wedding! :) We actually decided on the SAME DRESS! I tried quite a lot of really nice dresses but we ended up liking the same Pronovias dress from Tuscany Bridal!
I was torn about buying that dress cos it's quite expensive and she just asked me to go back again when Le bf flies in the next week to Perth so he can see the dress and decide later.. Her constant phrase is "Ai Suan.. be strong!!!". Hahahahaha! She's so cute. But yes, I needed to be strong cos there were so many beautiful dresses and the prices were... woooooo!
So I went back with Le bf the next week after setting up another appointment and tried on the dress that both Tabby & I love, Le bf's eyes just lighted up the moment I walked out of the dressing room and he kept grinning & nodding non-stop. Until today, we haven't found a dress that gave both of us the oomph feeling despite going to dozens of bridal shops and trying on many dresses..
So.. why did we not buy that perfect dress in Perth?
Well, they needed at least 3 months for the dress to be delivered from Spain and Tabby has to either help me ship it to Singapore (crazy expensive) or hand carry over (so inconvenient) when she comes back in July, provided the dress is delivered by then. After that, I have to find a seamstress in Singapore who is willing to alter the dress for me and she/he has to be very skilled cos the dress is a designer gown with intricate lace material.
The price for the dress is AUD2900, which is around SGD3770! I can't get the tax rebate because it will only be delivered in a few months and it doesn't make sense to fly into Perth to collect it. Also, if Tabby mailed it over to Singapore when it doesn't get delivered on time, I will be taxed 7% GST by the Singapore government cos the value of the dress is above SGD400! So on top of not getting the tax rebate of almost 10%, I will get taxed additional 7%... Silly right?
Also, the price tag kinda scared me because I don't know what the market prices are like in Singapore and a few thousand dollars for a dress is just crazy! I will only wear it for a few times during the pre-wedding shoot, church ceremony & first march-in during the dinner at Hyatt Hotel. Combined time of wearing the dress is probably less than 6 hours!!
Tabby bought two different dresses for her wedding and I think she spent around SGD10000 for them including the alterations, dry cleaning and storage (probably more)!! The dresses are placed in this special nitrogen box to keep it away from moisture and mold. The dry cleaning service in Australia is crazy expensive! Tabby told me she spent around AUD500 to dry clean the dress! Alterations is also around that price!! O_O
After that first visit with Tabby, I emailed many bridal shops in Singapore while in Perth. The ones who are willing to give me their price list only provided me with their cheapest package for the shittiest dresses they have (something I didn't know until I went to their shop). The better ones, such as Le Grand is quoting SGD4800 and above for a simple package of bridal gown (rent), ball gown (rent) groom suit (rent) and flowers.
Le bf found the price too expensive, and honestly why would I need to buy a bridal gown for that amount of money? Plus shipping, dry cleaning and alterations it may go upwards to SGD4500 or more!
So we let it go..
I don't have a picture of myself in that dress because the shop was very strict about photography. They will only let you take a picture after you pay for the dress. No phones, no iPad, no cameras. But they let you try as many dress as you like in the 1hour time slot that you have. I was assigned a very sweet salesgirl who was very non-pushy and friendly. The salesgirl will be in the fitting room with you and she will help you wear the dress and pin it in so you can see how the end result will look like.
As they only have 1 sample dress of each design it might be too big or too small for you.. so if it is too big they will pin it in.. if it is too small they will put in extra cloth to cover up. This is why I can't take a secret picture in the dressing room cos I was only in my panties and there's no place to hide my phone. Haha! Tabby was telling me "Don't be shy! Cos you have to strip and they will help you wear the dress!". Well, I am not shy lah.. anyway they are very discreet and won't stare at your breasts or something..
There is also a pedestal that you can stand on with the spotlight shining on it outside each dressing room! Just like what I saw on those USA tv series (Bridezillas, The Dress, etc). This is something that I experienced in Perth, not in Singapore. In Singapore they will leave you alone in the room and come in just to zip you up. If it's too tight, you just have to hold it up with your hands and there's no pedestal to stand on. :(
Till today, I told Le bf it's the biggest regret of my journey as a bride to be cos that kind of budget can only get me a decent rental gown in Singapore that's not made to measure. Decent, but not WOW. Still trying to come to terms with letting go of my perfect dress.. but we found a close substitute for it on Monday. It's a totally different design from the Pronovias dress, but at least the best out of all the dresses I've tried on in Singapore.
If you are looking for a gown, my number 1 advice is never go to a Bridal Fair to sign a bridal package. Seriously. Avoid those like the plague!
We went to a Bridal Fair at Vivocity on the very day we flew back from Perth just to see what are the market rates and offers that the bridal shops are offering in Singapore because we've not checked the rates in Singapore for the bridal gowns and we were not sure of the inclusions in their package. It's also good for us cos it's a one-stop shop where we can get the price lists from a few bridal shops..
Guess what? They were ultra pushy & hard-sell and they used pressure tactics to force you to sign up with them. They will also refuse to give you the price list and inclusions details until after you pay them the deposit. Why? Maybe they are afraid that you are a competitor? I don't know.. but either way, none of them are willing to give out the information freely and were very vague when we asked them for more details.
Too bad for them cos I had a lot of experience selling travel packages during travel fairs in my previous job so I know what kind of tactics they will use. ( FYI I am not one of those pushy type.. that's why my customers kept coming back again and again cos they trust me to sell them something they need, not something my company wants me to sell just to earn their money).
Le bf is one of the toughest customer you will ever meet as a salesman. I really pity salespeople trying to pitch sales to him cos he's so.. cold. LOL! Everywhere we go.. at the Electronics store, Clothes store, etc. Especially those tele-marketers! No matter what tactic you use, he'll be super calm and level-headed. Hard approach, soft approach, sneaky approach.. Fail miserably. Kua Kua Kua.
Seriously some of the bridal shops here in Singapore are.... horrible. Their dress designs are like from Alibaba.com and yet they are charging thousands to rent you that kind of quality! They can tell blatant lies and boast about how wonderful their quality and workmanship is during the Bridal Fair, but when you go to the actual shop and see their dresses.... T_T"
The first shop we visited in Singapore was bad.. really bad. We got a quote from this shop at Vivocity during the Bridal Fair and the salesperson seems nice enough though they were also quite pushy, asking us to pay deposit and all but Le bf flat out refused and told them that we will only do so after I manage to find the dress I like. So we went down to Tanjong Pagar to see the dresses they have.. OMG. I felt horrible because we invited Le bf's parents to go along with us but the dresses there were just terrible!
1st dress I tried in this shop..
It looked better in pictures cos IRL, it looked really cheap.
We left after trying just 2 dresses cos I didn't wanna waste everyone's time. After trying on so many nice dresses in Perth, I knew what quality is and I knew what I wanted. A line, ballgown, train, sparkles.. I know exactly what I wanted and what suited my body type. I don't need a pushy salesperson to stuff a dress down my throat by telling me "It is so beautiful! You are so gorgeous! This dress suits you so well!".. Flattery will not make me like a dress. I know what I want.
Le bf also understands how important the dress is to me and though we have a price range that we are kinda agreed upon he knows I will refuse to wear the dress and walk down the aisle if I don't feel good in the dress, regardless of the price.
We went back to Tanjong Pagar again the next week with Le bf's good friend, Jeraldine (who is a professional wedding planner) to check out the other bridal shops cos she has experience dealing with bridal shops and it's good to have professional advice.
Some shops don't even show you the whole range, telling you "after you pay deposit and become a confirmed customer then we will bring the dresses down for you to try." WTF? What if there's nothing suitable? There'll be no refund of your deposit! You just gotta settle for something that fits because you already paid them!
We went to almost all the Bridal shops along Tanjong Pagar. Majority of the shops had such lousy dresses that I walked out without even bothering to try them on! You might think it's Bridezilla behaviour, but I was just being an educated consumer. Seriously? $3000 to rent a piece of crappy dress & a lousy ballgown that I can buy online from LandyBridal.com, LightInTheBox.com or MaryAnnBridal.com at a fraction of the price?!?
Le bf secretly took a picture of me in this dress at one of the "better" Bridal shop (no photos allowed). Imagine if this dress is one of the better ones, what of the other dresses?
After that disastrous day at Tanjong Pagar, I was so distressed and dejected because I kept thinking about the Pronovias dress in Perth and how horrible the dresses in Singapore are. Especially when the prices to rent a dress here is comparable to BUY a designer Pronovias gown in Perth. :(
I actually had a meltdown and started crying one night when Le bf sent me home. So overwhelmed with the ever-growing budget and most of all I haven't found the bridal gown yet with only 5 months left to the wedding.
So Le bf took another day off and accompanied me to Blessed Brides. The main reason that we visited this shop is because they are the only shop that carries the Pronovias range in Singapore! The people were very nice and friendly and they allowed us to take pictures! :) They even encouraged us to take pictures, saying "It's alright.. Take pictures! Take more!".
This dress is a Pronovias, but it is from the White by Pronovias series, which is the lower range. Still beautiful though.. but not what I wanted.
This dress was made by an in-house designer and it is beautiful! I love the lace design on the dress but Le bf said the top is very "disconnected" from the bottom half of the dress. After looking at the picture a few more times, I realized he was right and it also look sorta pajamas-like. A very pretty & expensive pajamas. >.<
So the search continues and one day while having Dim Sum with Nat & Brendan at Taste Paradise Ion, Nat suddenly said "Hey! What about Silhouette! They have nice dresses! I will call them now for an appointment!". So he called them and found out they are located at Emerald Hill which is a short walk away from Ion Orchard and they have a slot free for us that very day! :)
We went there and the first impression I had of the shop was "Wow! I love the architecture!" because it's located in a beautiful restored shophouse. The person who served us is Caroline and she's mega sweet! She let me try a lot of dresses without pressuring us to sign up for anything.
They also have gorgeous dresses that were well made. Every one of them is good and I was so happy because this is the first Bridal shop in Singapore that I actually feel have nice dresses.. comparable to Tuscany Bridal in Perth which imports their dresses from known designers from Europe & USA.
Le bf loves Silhouette cos he like the vibe from the shop and the salesperson Caroline. He is really keen for me to get my dress from them but being the perfect husband-to-be that he is, he did not pressure me or push me a single bit at all. He just let me make the decision on my own. ^_^
So we went back again a few weeks later on Monday, 3 June to try the dresses again and to see if any of it was "The One".
Actually I was quite chill about finding the dress because after I had that meltdown, I prayed to God and asked Him to take away my anxiety and stress about finding the perfect dress and my prayer was answered. I was so chill that I forgot about finding it. Nat had to constantly remind me to go back and confirm a dress because "we are running out of time!!". Seriously, all he does is message me everyday asking me when I am going back to choose the dress. Hahahahaha!
We went back with Nat, my sister, Le bf's sisters and our sisters just spammed taking pictures of me in all the dresses I tried. **Snap Snap Snap!** Every direction I look I have a camera phone pointed at me. LOL! In the end we signed up with them that day cos we decided on the dress!
Here are some pictures they took of me..
I am not posting picture of the dress I chose cos I want it to be a surprise when I walk down the aisle on 28 September 2013. Only Le bf and my bridal party knows how it looks like! :) The dress will be altered to my size and they will lengthen it because I am tall and will be wearing a pair of 9cm tall high heel shoes.
If you noticed, I only mentioned Blessed Brides & Silhouette The Atelier because these 2 Bridal shops are the best ones out of all the shops we visited in Singapore. The rest are just.. pfft. I don't wanna badmouth other shops but you can do a simple search on any of the Bridal forums to check for the reviews on them.
If you are searching for a dress, good luck! There are lots of bridal shops in Singapore so just take your time to shop around for the best one. Most shops will bundle the pre-wedding shoot with the bridal gown rental but the better ones will not do that cos they are more for quality instead of quantity.
Don't worry about sizes because they have sizes for all sorts of brides. Size 0, size 20.. no problem. Don't be stressed or pressured by anyone to sign for anything which you are not comfortable with. You can go for "make to measure" dresses if you really can't find the design you like in your size. It's only around SGD2500 onwards for a well made one from Blessed Brides.
Good luck! :)