We Tried It: Weddington Way, the Online Bridesmaid Dress Destination That Finally Has Retail Stores

What It Is: A bridesmaid dress brand that began online, but is now opening brick-and-mortar locations within Banana Republic stores around the country (Weddington Way was acquired by Gap Inc. in December).

Who Tried It: Lindy Segal, Style Social Media Editor, and Jackie Fields, Beauty Editor

Why We Tried It: We needed bridesmaid dresses! Anyone who has shopped for them (either on their own or with their party) knows it isn’t as easy as it could be. Founder Ilana Stern sought to change that by launching a site where friends can talk about styles they love — no matter where they are in the country — in one easy place. Parties can create “showrooms” on the site, adding in dresses they love, and commenting on their favorites. (just think: No more cluttered Gmails!)

By keeping everything from design to production in-house, they keep costs low — most dresses are below $200 — and they have dozens of styles that are offered in tons of colors, making the destination ideal for brides who are looking to have one color for their ‘maids, but also want each woman to have a unique dress style. You can even pop into the store and take swatches to go!

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Level of Difficulty: Depends on the bride. (Kidding!) 3/10. The entire process is easy breezy, but note that they don’t do alterations in-house.

How It Works: If you’re in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, L.A., Minneapolis, N.Y.C., Orange County, CA, Philadelphia (opening August 2), San Francisco or Seattle, you can book an appointment online to try on dresses in-store, and they also take walk-ins. Before your appointment, check out the website and take note of dresses you like (or add them to your showroom!), and your stylist can have them pulled for you when you arrive. If you’re outside of those cities or just want to shop online, Weddington Way has a great return policy, so you can order things you like and send back what doesn’t work at your leisure. Unlike many traditional bridesmaid dress retailers, where you sometimes need to order as much as eight weeks in advance, these dresses are generally in-stock and ready-to-ship, so they should get to you within a week or so.

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Lindy: I’m the maid of honor in my best friend Alex’s wedding in October, and because she’s the best, she’s letting us pick our own dresses. My only criteria: long and blush. This proved to be a blessing and a curse though, because so many dresses I liked from searching online either a) fit horribly and were immediately returned, b) were sheer and were immediate returned, or c) had to be special-ordered, so I couldn’t even try them. Ergo, I was thrilled when I found out Weddington Way was opening up in N.Y.C. I found five styles on the website I knew I wanted to try, and happily, they were waiting for me upon my arrival. Also waiting? A table full of La Croix. Oh, I like this place.

Unlike a lot of bridesmaid dresses, I only had to go up one size from my usual (having standard sizing was an important factor for the brand, Stern, who was present for our fittings, told me). And truthfully — truthfully! — I could have worn any of them for Alex’s big day. However, one stood out: the Hazel, from the brand’s collaboration with Style Me Pretty. I love the removable draped back and romantic, easy silhouette.

Jackie: After 17 years of friendship, the only direction my friend provided for her bridesmaids’ wedding-day attire was a purple swatch. One might see this two-by-two inch piece of fabric as a symbol of trust, as in: “I am confident in your taste level, simply adhere to this shade.” But the vague exchange sent my mind into panic mode, mostly because I don’t have the time for, interest in or mental and physical energy necessary to try on dresses. I carried this delicate cloth around in my pocketbook for months in hopes of having a made-for-TV movie moment where I spotted the perfect gown in a window, and within minutes was waltzing out of the store, bag in hand and Mary Tyler Moore’s “You’re Gonna Make It After All” blaring from somewhere. It didn’t happen.

Then Lindy told me about Weddington Way, and assuaged my fears the minute I clicked on its site. Online were about 50(!) plum designs to pick from. (The color is one of more than 30 they create dresses in.) I was immediately drawn to the Mila, which had a lace top and flared chiffon skirt. I found the plunging back elegant, not sexy, and decided I must give it a go. 

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At the shop, I picked out another four or so styles to try, plus a few different pumps on the off chance I end up opting to wear a heel slightly shorter than the one I’d brought along. (A major plus of Weddington Way being inside a Banana Republic store is you can grab a pair or two of the brands’ shoes to wear while testing out dresses. If there was any downside, it’s that the dressing room lacked a bench for me to unload all the essentials – two strapless bras, jewelry, etc…– that I’d toted along.)

The Mila ultimately won out, despite the fact that it will require some altering (at 5’2”, the hem needs a good 6-plus inches removed). I think the adjustment is worth how super-comfortable I feel in the dress. 

The Verdict: Whether you’re a bride or in a bridal party, Weddington Way should definitely, 100 percent be a stop on your list. And for a limited time, if you buy a dress in-store, you get a free floral robe with dress purchase (and La Croix! Did we mention the La Croix?!)

from PEOPLE.com http://people.com/style/weddington-way-bridesmaid-dresses-online-shopping-stores/

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