Brides, Say Hello to Your Dream Dress

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There’s something magical about your wedding day. Since we were young, we looked forward to the big day, imagining the romantic proposals, the white gowns, and of course the dream guy that would -- eventually -- make it all possible. 

Real life is a little less than perfect however. Even with a supportive fiancé and a whole gaggle of girlfriends who are ready to help plan, you still need to find a dress... and trust me, the struggle is real. The budget, the style, the family opinions — suddenly picking a dress has never seemed so impossible. 

To combat the struggles of finding the perfect dress, Deborah Badillo opened Elizabeth Findlay Bridal, a sample and consignment bridal shop that offers lower prices, a highly-curated selection, and dresses you can wear right off the rack and out the door (in case you decide to just ditch the stress of the wedding and elope).

When Badillo started her search for her wedding dress three years ago, she came up against the same problems every bride has and eventually found that the hunt for the perfect dress had started to feel more like a chore. 

“I was finding that all the dresses were starting to look alike, and I preferred something a little more unique, less traditional, beautifully made, and within my budget,” she explains. 

In a world full of online consignment sites and sample sales, she wished for something closer to home where a bride could enjoy shopping in-store -- trying things on while still feeling like each dress was special and unique. When she couldn’t find a place that matched her standards, she started her own store. “I wanted to bring it up a notch and give brides the whole dress shopping experience, the same as if they were in a luxury boutique. So we found a tiny little shop here in town and carry approximately 35-50 dresses at a time. It's by appointment only and when the bride is here, we close the shop so that she has the place to herself.”

Badillo opened her dream shop a week before her own wedding (hello, Supergirl) and offers brides everything from designer resale to up-and-coming indie designers. “I loved the idea of having these designers in my shop and being able to introduce them to brides for the first time,” she says. 

The majority of Elizabeth Findlay Bridal’s dresses are currently in season, all unworn and unaltered, at 30 to 60% off retail price -- which means you can add that open bar to your reception or tack on an extra honeymoon week in Paris. 

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While dress shopping by itself can be a stressful mess, Badillo hopes that brides that shop her store will leave with smiles on their faces and the dress of their dreams. “I want brides to have fun when they come in, I want them to feel relaxed, not rushed and have zero pressure to make a decision,” she offers. “I encourage them to take pictures in the dresses, and then go home to look at the pictures. If they need to return to try it on again, they can as many times as they like.” 

Brides can also pre-shop the store’s Pinterest board to get an idea of what they may want to try on in-store. 

As weddings are such a momentous occasion in anyone’s life, Badillo feels that every bride she has helped has left a lasting impression on her. She’s had women drive from Vegas just to find the dream dress they couldn’t afford at retail, and even a bride who fell in love with and bought the very first dress she ever tried on — a rarity when there’s so many options to pick from.

For Badillo it’s not just about finding a dress that fits your budget or that your mom loves or even something your fiancé may like. “I usually tell the bride to listen to their instinct… if you are drawn to the same dress over and over again, that’s usually the one!” she explains. “I tell the bride it’s her day to wear what makes her feel beautiful and everyone else will love it when they see how happy she looks.”

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Marissa Stempien is a freelance editor and writer that just got engaged and is now on the hunt for the perfect dress. With a degree in English Literature and minor in Asian Studies, she has written on travel, fashion, beauty, technology, culture, and food, and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. Find Marissa on social media at @paperandlights.