Worried about shopping online for your bridal gown? This BHLDN review weaves in my story about how I "said yes to the dress" over the internet, as well as tips for how to shop for a wedding dress online.
Some people are born singing in tune and others can dribble a basketball as easily as they walk. Me? I have always loved dresses.
"Art" wasn't paintings or sculptures to me, it was dresses. I loved fabric, construction -all of it. I was an aficionado of Red Carpet broadcasts and even compiled my own best dress lists and maintained a binder of magazine cutouts (before Pinterest existed).
Naturally, when Say Yes to the Dress began televising the wedding dress shopping process, I was enthralled. I could name brands and prices like a Kleinfeld consultant.
So, yes, I was the kind of person who always wondered what my own wedding dress would someday look like. Way back when, there was a Vera Wang stunner of approximately $12,000.00 for which I may have played the lottery once or twice, despite the fact I was still single at the time.
Later, I stumbled upon Carolina Herrera dresses with their clean lines and architectural details and Oscar de la Renta dresses with their timeless shapes and high-end lace. Those all clocked in around $5,000.00 - $10,000.00. There was no legitimate way I could afford one of these dresses, but hey, there was no real wedding in sight and a gal can dream.
As the years passed on, I became more realistic. I met and dated my now-husband for six years prior to getting engaged, from the very reasonable ages of thirty to thirty-six.
Dating for that long, at those ages, made our relationship more about actually "relating" with each other than magical sparks or rushing to the next step in life. When people naturally asked me about a hypothetical future wedding, I would say, "Oh, I'll probably just buy a dress at BHLDN."
And while we were dating, my husband and I did a lot of "adulting" prior to getting engaged. I navigated the ebbs and flows of law firm life as an attorney, and he managed the constant push and pull of the commercial world as the owner of a small business. We bought a house, explored interpersonal relationships with each other's families and friends, cared for our cats, and learned to make daily compromises.
So, after nearly six years of dating, when we finally got engaged over the annual family summer vacation in Martha's Vineyard, I was a bit older and, dare I say, wiser. We knew that we wanted to pay for the wedding ourselves as a "thank you" to the long, hard work our parents sacrificed for us and our educations over the years. But, we didn't know anything else about what we wanted our wedding to look like.
My wedding dress story is continued in the BHLDN review below...
When we returned home from the hustle and bustle of our Martha's Vineyard vacation and engagement, my now husband went upstairs to sleep, and I was alone with my thoughts for our future wedding for the first time. I opened my iPad and Googled the first bridal brand I thought of: BHLDN.
BHLDN Wedding Dresses / Gowns
And there it was. It was a modest gown with a high, bateau neckline, and the entire top half was plain. This style of dress reminded me of Audrey Hepburn style wedding dresses, and I liked how it could remain timeless and classy over the years to come.
The brand of this particular dress was Whispers & Echoes, which is BHLDN's own label. The back of the dress that caught my eye -- the "Tuscany" gown -- buttoned to form a keyhole, which was a unique and unexpected construction detail that reminded me of those high-end designs of Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta that I had ogled over in years past. Buttons lined the rest of the back, which I always liked.
Lastly, the bottom flared out with tulle and lace details that reminded me of the type of dresses my husband often picked for me for formal events when I showed him different options.
About BHLDN: BHLDN (pronounced “beholden”) is part of the popular women's brand Anthropologie, and it is known for curating and designing beautiful off-the-rack wedding dresses, accessories and other bridal party attire quickly and at affordable prices. Designer styles include Watters, Catherine Deane, Jenny Yoo, Needle & Thread, Tadashi Shoji, Marchesa Notte, Flor Et. Al, ML Monique Lhuillier, Nouvelle Amsale, and more. Their styles are generally more bohemian, but they also sell trendy pieces, classic ball gowns, sleek slip dresses, little white dresses, and more.
I quickly noticed that the Tuscany gown was on sale from $1,300.00 down to $800.00!
(The average price of a wedding dress is $1,564.00. BHLDN dresses are generally cheaper than that! I was thrilled about this because we were trying to utilize the best ways to save money on our wedding.)
Buying Tip: BHLDN has this specific sale page for sale styles of all types (wedding dresses, bridal party attire, accessories, etc.). Sale styles can sell out REALLY FAST. You can watch them disappear in real-time over minutes and hours. So, if you see something you really like on sale, I recommend you shop fast.
In light of the sale on the dress I liked, I booked an in-store appointment at BHLDN Philadelphia for the next weekend, without even thinking about venue, time of year, or any other really important wedding details. (Yes, really!!)
The day before my try-on appointment, however, I went online and noticed that dress sizes were selling out at lightning speed. (As mentioned earlier, sale styles can sell out FAST.)
I debated just purchasing the dress since BHLDN had a thirty-day return policy, but I wondered whether I was being an emotional, kooky bridezilla. I hadn't tried on any dresses whatsoever on at that point, and the answer to questions about all other wedding details was a confused, "We don't know yet."
I texted a friend and said something to the effect of, "Am I crazy if I order this dress tonight?" She answered my rhetorical question by telling me I was not crazy (maybe she was just being nice) and so, I said, "Okay. I'm going to buy this dress." That was it. I used the sizing chart and picked two sizes. One was one size up from my normal size, and one was two sizes up from my normal size.
The next day, I still arrived at BHLDN to try on the dress and, as the bridal consultant clipped the sample size into place, I said, "This is exactly what I wanted." My mom, my sister, and I were all positive, but quiet and still skeptical without having seen any other dresses to compare.
I was also really pleased with the thick crepe material in person as well as the quality of the lace. As much as I wanted a great deal, I also didn't want to sacrifice quality on my wedding day.
Afterward, we visited a few other bridal salons. Some dresses were definitive "no's," others were "nice," and a few were the overpriced objects of all of my youthful dreams.
I tried on an $8,000.00 ensemble including a Romona Keveza dress with a hand-cut lace belt and a Carolina Herrera veil and, I am here to tell you, the fabrics and fit of these works are truly "next level."
In that moment, though, I knew I couldn't justify higher price tags, and I knew I could potentially keep looking endlessly. It was easy to love beautiful dresses and the dreamy process of shopping for them.
At the same time, my mind kept going back to the BHLDN dress. I was so glad I had ordered it, and even became so paranoid about the sizing and potential for it to sell out, that I went home and ordered a THIRD dress, three full sizes up from my street size.
I was really excited to see what the sizing was like in person and felt confident at least one would fit.
BHLDN Earrings & Veil
When I was at BHLDN, the bridal consultant added BHLDN's recommended veil and earrings for this particular dress for me to try on, and I purchased these as well. I felt confident knowing that the higher-level design team hand-selected this specific veil and earrings for this particular dress, so it gave me that high-end boutique stylist experience despite buying my dress off the rack and online.
Buying Tip: See if your online wedding dress retailer recommends specific veils and/or jewelry for your dress like BHLDN did with mine. If they aren't suggested online, try giving them a call or sending them an email! BHLDN does also offer online styling services. It can really enhance your online wedding dress shopping experience and help you cross another task off your list.
BHLDN Shipping Review
The BHLDN dresses I had ordered came in the mail just a few days later (less than a week), unlike a traditional boutique, which generally sells dresses made to order and take up to 6 months. The dress was packaged well and exactly as expected.
I officially had thirty days per BHLDN's return policy to make a final decision. Over those thirty days, nothing caught my eye the same way as this dress or so perfectly married the various elements I liked. And that sale price!
So, after decades of waiting and wondering, this was my dress.
As mentioned earlier, I ordered THREE sizes in my wedding dress from BHLDN -- one, two and three sizes up from my street size. I utilized the sizing chart for my particular dress, the reviews on the dress' webpage, the consultant's advice, and per my general knowledge that wedding dresses run really small.
Although the middle size fit me (this was the size the bridal consultant recommended as well), if I gained any weight, I felt that it may not fit, so I kept the largest size and hired a really good tailor!
If you are shopping BHLDN, I definitely recommend you follow the same steps I did to find the perfect fit. It usually doesn't hurt to size up, since you will likely need to hire a tailor anyway to get the fit perfect, and it's always easier to make a dress smaller than bigger.
I also want to note the length was generous on my dress. I am just under 5'4" and even with heels, my tailor cut off a good few inches of material at the bottom (about 3-4"). So, my particular dress could have easily accommodated someone taller than me.
I actually view the process of ordering a wedding dress online through BHLDN to be EASIER than at a bridal boutique, because you can try a few sizes in person yourself in a matter of just a few days, whereas at a boutique, the bridal consultant makes a recommendation and then you only get to order one and have to wait ~6 months to try it!
BHLDN's return policy at the time of posting states: "Merchandise must be returned within 30 days of delivery for a full refund to your original method of payment. If returned after 30 days, a merchandise credit will be issued." Additionally of note:
Gowns marked as Final Sale (items with prices ending in $.99) cannot be returned or exchanged.
Merchandise must have all tags attached and be returned in original packaging.
Merchandise must not be worn, washed or altered, and must be free of stains, pet hair, floor debris, and pin marks.
I packaged the dresses I was returning to BHLDN as close to how they were sent to me and shipped them back. I simply dropped them off at my UPS store and asked for a receipt/tracking slip. I was refunded shortly thereafter for the two dresses I returned with no hassle whatsoever.
Now, two years after our wedding, I still look at pictures of the dress every day and feel the same way. My wedding dress selection process was a bit uncommon, and I picked it by saying, "okay," as opposed to "yes!" but the result was as it was always meant to be.
Tips on How to Shop for a Wedding Dress Online
Next in this BHLDN review, I wanted to be sure to give you some general tips from my experience as to how to shop for a wedding dress online.
Make sure the retailer is reliable.
If you are shopping elsewhere, do what you can to verify the legitimacy of the retailer. Check their social media accounts, call them, Google them.
In some ways, however, online wedding dress retailers can be more reliable. With BHLDN, I had my dress within a few days, whereas a traditional boutique or designer could have gone out of business or experienced other unexpected issues (like the Coronavirus pandemic!) in the months I would have been awaiting delivery if I had shopped there.
Know when to expect delivery.
I LOVED how fast BHLDN delivered my dress within just a few days of ordering. It eased my mind knowing it was in my closet several months before the wedding. One less thing to worry about!
If you are shopping elsewhere online, make sure you have ample time for delivery of your dress before you place the order.
Read as many reviews as possible.
As mentioned, I felt confident about BHLDN's reputation, but one thing I liked to do when I was browsing online was to read as many reviews as possible, both about the retailer and the particular dress in which I was interested. I got creative about where I searched for reviews and you can too: Google, Pinterest, Instagram, used wedding dress sites.
Search for pictures of the dress in real life, on real people.
I also loved to search for pictures of my dress in real life. It helped me see how other brides looked on the official wedding day -- what kind of flowers they carried, how it looked in pictures. I got creative about where I searched for pictures and you can too: Google (including Google images), Pinterest, Instagram, used wedding dress sites, photographers' websites.
Measure yourself and choose sizes according to the retailer's sizing guides.
I utilized BHLDN's sizing chart for my particular dress plus the advice of a bridal consultant, and I erred on the side of bigger, since it's easier to alter. BHLDN does also offer online styling services.
Since you may not have the benefit of an in-person try-on or consultant, utilize everything you can from the retailer to try to pick the best size or sizes for you.
And don't be afraid to reach out to them or even other brides for help! If someone found my picture online and messaged me to see how it fit, I would be thrilled to help.
Order multiple sizes, if possible.
I have mentioned this several times already, but if you can, order multiple sizes. Since BHLDN's shipping was so quick and since they had such a good return policy, I was able to order three sizes before my sale dress quickly sold out. I ended up keeping the largest size, which was the last size I ordered, and the one I did not expect to keep.
Verify the return policy.
BHLDN had an amazing return policy so I felt really confident shopping for my wedding dress online there. I highly recommend you check, and perhaps even verify with an employee, the return policy of your online wedding dress retailer before placing an order. Print it out or screenshot it too!
I hope this BHLDN review plus tips on how to shop for a wedding dress online helped you feel confident in shopping for your bridal gown in such a modern way.
I am now nearing three years since the date I first laid eyes on my BHLDN wedding dress I purchased online and two years since our classic and traditional wedding, and I still would not change it for the world. No matter the dress you choose, I hope you feel the same three years from now.