After about 3 months of trying on dresses, I found my dress and veil today! I love my Mori Lee Go...
[EDIT] My fiance is a major online stalker, so I decided to remove the dress pics JUST IN CASE he happens to find my blog here :) [/EDIT]
THE DRESS! I took a road trip up north to the Chicago area with my best friend to visit my parents and check out some bridal shops in the area. To kill time while another friend was running late, we checked out House of Brides, which I was wary of due to overwhelmingly negative reviews online. To my surprise, the store itself was nice, and they allowed you to select dresses yourself (which some people may not like, but I appreciated). As it turns out, the SECOND dress I tried on was the one! It was $250ish off suggested retail value, and we bargained it down an additional $60. With taxes, shipping and handling included, it was less than half my original dress budget :D
After visiting bridal shops 6 times prior to this with no luck, this dress is exactly what I wanted! It is the right fabric and color, has ruching (a must for me), no bling (my best friend- who is Indian- is planning to give me Kundan jewelry to go with the dress), has a corset back, and fits PERFECT in my size. NO alterations will be needed at all, including hemming (and I am almost 6' tall, so that is very lucky for me).
The chain does have a bad reputation for messing up orders/coming in late. But since our wedding will be summer 2013, I verified the style # with my consultant and got everything in writing, we got photos AND it was paid with American Express, I think it will be okay :)
Note: the dress sample was a bit wrinkled so it didn't photograph the greatest, but it is GORGEOUS in real life, and looks like it costs twice what we paid! :)