Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shopping Around: Flower Girl Dresses

My lovely nieces.
Courtesy of Documentary Associates. 

One of the most surprising things to me when I planned my wedding (and there were a few) was the difficulty of finding flower girl dresses. Not only did I need the two dresses I required to be suitable for children of different ages (6 and 11), but I also needed them to be inexpensive, fit the overall theme of my wedding and – of course – match the décor.

The problem wasn’t that there was a dearth of available dresses. In fact, most major department stores have at least one rack of flower girl appropriate dresses (at least according to their buyer’s definition) available at any time on their main floor. The problem was that these dresses were usually over $100 (and usually closer to $200) and …well… ugly.

By ugly, I mean scratchy, cheap-looking fabric (if I can see my reflection in it, it’s not the best fabric). They often also had ridiculous amounts of bows or flowers on them or, even worse, were so plain that they were boring.

Additionally, although I wasn’t against dressing my beloved nieces in white, doing so wasn’t my favorite idea. In my opinion, they were young girls who should be dressed in a fun color (and since pink was a main color in my wedding, it seemed reasonable to want them to wear a version of that shade) (also, to be honest, I wanted to be the only person wearing white). Yet, when I shopped, all I found was starchy, reflective white dresses with an interchangeable-colored sash. To add insult to injury, I had to pay for a swatch of fabric for the sash. The costs for these dresses just kept adding up - too high in my book.

When I look back, I shopped longer and harder for those dresses than I did for my own gown. Urg…

After traveling to my fourth boutique and finding the same dresses I had just seen at a different store, I got creative. Here’s what I found:

Quinceanera shops: by far, these stores offer the most variety of unique and inexpensive dresses for young girls. Usually, the same dress comes in infant through 15-year-old girl sizes. Score! To make it even easier, they also offer matching shoes and hair accessories. Coincidentally, I purchased my flower girl dresses from one of these stores. The only warning I have is to check the price tag on a dress you like before falling in love with it; these stores are meant to serve customers ranging from those wanting to spend very little on a dress to those who don’t blink an eye at spending over $500.

Pageant stores: although I found these stores to be more expensive than quinceanera shops, they usually offered dresses in more colors and lengths. Some of these stores even rented dresses, which may be a bonus for parents reluctant to spend $300 on a dress that will fit their child for months, at most.

Seamstresses: at my most desperate moment I searched for local seamstresses. I was amazed when I found out just how many experienced seamstresses are able to design and sew girl’s dresses. In fact, the seamstress at the drycleaners in my building had 27 years of experience and had designed numerous flower girl dresses. The per-dress cost for her to design a plain pink dress for me: $60 – next to nothing compared to what I found at traditional wedding gown stores!

Although at first one of the most frustrating tasks on my wedding to-do list, shopping for flower girl dresses ended up being one of the most rewarding -  mainly because both I and my nieces loved their dresses. So, dear readers, don’t despair about dressing the little ones participating in your big day; instead, get creative!