The happiest day of my life! Photo by Melissa BlemurWith wedding season in full swing, what better a month than June to talk about weddings. I myself was a June bride exactly a year ago (June 21, 2008), and during the long course of planning leading up to the big day I discovered a few great resources here in the city for wedding planning. While hosting the actual wedding in the City would be extremely expensive, there are a lot of free and unique resources to be found here for wedding planning. (I spent last year in NYC planning my wedding and benefiting from the vast array of opportunities and inspiration, but the wedding itself was held upstate in Ithaca).
One of the best things I discovered was The Wedding Library on the Upper East Side. The Wedding Library is a shop/library/wedding planning center. They have swatch-books, portfolios, and contacts for bakers, bands, caterers, calligraphers, cleaners, DJs, floral designers, linens suppliers, makeup artists, musicians, officiants, party planners, photographers, registries, stationery, stylists, venues, videographers and wedding dresses. It is open to anyone and though reservations are strongly encouraged, I did manage to stop by unannounced and they were happy to help me and let me browse through their collections of stationary (which was great help in giving me ideas for designing my own invitations). With so many resources all under one roof it is a great place to start wedding planning and gather some ideas of how you want to shape your own event. The Wedding Library is located at 43 East 78th street. They also have an e-newsletter that I suggest you sign up for and you'll receive new wedding related ideas every week in your inbox.
For wedding dresses, the best place to go is Kleinfeld's. (Perhaps not necessarily to buy the dress in the end - prices are steep, - but as the first place to look at dresses and figure out what styles you like). Kleinfeld's is a beautiful luxuriant gallery of wedding dresses. You must make an appointment first, often a few weeks in advance. When you visit you will be assigned a personal dress consultant. You can begin by browsing the showroom or closets for wedding dresses (like a kid in a candy store), or if you have an idea of what you want your consultant can find dresses that fit your description. But go in with an open mind. I myself never envisioned a strapless wedding dress, but at her suggestion I tried a few on. . . .turns out strapless looked the best on me and in the end that is the style I went with (though I purchased the actual dress from a more discount store). Your consultant will help you try the dresses on and you can try as many as you want on in your 1 1/2 hour appointment. Visiting Kleinfeld's is not only a great way to explore the vast possibilities of wedding dresses and figure out a style that suits you, but it is also an exciting experience a bride-to-be would not want to miss. After all, isn't the dress the most exciting part of the wedding to plan?
Whereas the upscale places such as The Wedding Library and Kleinfeld's are great resources to look at for inspiration, New York also has extremely budget places that are absolutely unique to New York. Keep your eyes open in Chinatown, the Lower East Side and the area just south of Herald Square for Asian import stores that often sell bridal accessories such as veils and hair pieces. They are often the very same pieces you would find in wedding retail stores, just with out fancy packages and high prices. I found my veil in one of these stores on 6th ave around 27th street for a third of the price you would pay at David's Bridal (and even David's is known for low prices in bridal retail).
For corsets and specialty bras, go to Orchard Corsets in the Lower East Side. Run by orthodox Jews, the small shop is a throwback to the early 20th century with an antique sewing machine, old-fashioned decor and cluttered shelves of corsets in cardboard boxes behind the counters. Again, prices are much lower that you would find in a more, ahem, modern looking store. Orchard Corset is located at 157 Orchard St. They are closed on Saturdays.
If you are the kind of DIY person scouring the city for deals and planning every detail of your own wedding, then I assume you'll also be handling your own flowers. For this, the best place to go is the Flower/Plant District on 28th St. between 6th and 7th Avenues. I won't go into details on all the stores - but stay tuned next week for an upcoming post on the Plant District where I will highlight all the best stores. I will say that the Plant District is a great resource for exotic flowers and cheap prices, and is unique to New Yorkers. Much of the flowers that come into the U.S. from South America and around the world pass through this street on their way to the rest of the country. Take advantage of this, people! You can compete with professional floral designers in having access to the best variety of flowers for your wedding!