Wedding Dress Shopping In Singapore

by Tabitha Kidwell

My fiancé Jim proposed to me the night before I left for Indonesia.  The last-minute proposal was a good thing because I didn’t spend the last week in the States trying to plan a wedding.  I was able get ready and spend time with Jim without having that added stress at the last minute.  The last-minute proposal was also a bad thing – because I didn’t spend my last week in the states trying to plan a wedding.  It turns out, there are a lot of wedding-related tasks that are a lot easier to do in America.  Like getting your ring properly sized.  Or finding a venue.  Or buying a wedding dress.

The first problem was easily solved with some dental floss:

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The second problem was solved by the world’s best mother and future-mother-in-law, who have already booked the church, reception venue, and rehearsal dinner venue, with virtually no help from the bride or groom.  They also already bought their dresses:

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Jim and I have also been working on DJ, photographer, flowers, cake, etc., from out of town/country, and that is all going fine so far.  But that final problem was something I just couldn’t do here.  This photo of the local wedding dress shop might explain why:

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Pastel ball gowns aren’t exactly my style.  I looked into shopping in Jakarta, and there were some possibilities, but it didn’t seem too promising.  I thought about flying to Australia for a weekend, or flying home to Ohio to buy a wedding dress over Thanksgiving, but before traveling to another continent to shop, I headed to Singapore to check out the options there.

I did some research online and found some VERY expensive stores where you could buy designer gowns (e.g., Oscar de La Renta, Carolina Herrera, Elie Saab)  that were WAY out of my price range.  And I found some places that offered to make any gown you brought a picture of, starting at 89 USD, which seemed WAY too cheap.  And then there were some goldilocks, just-right boutique.  I made appointments at a few of those mid-range stores.  As I started making appointments, I realized most of the stores were located on the same two streets.  I’ve written before about how Indonesian people are cooperative and tend to put businesses of the same type on the same block.  It turns out Singaporean people are the same way:  There were like 10 bridal shops on two streets in Chinatown. I made appointments at a few of those, and also at The Gown Warehouse, which was located near the U.S. Embassy.

Shopping for wedding dresses in Singapore was an interesting experience for a few reasons.  First, apparently Singaporean brides usually rent several dresses, including one for pre-wedding photos that is not meant to be walked in (and certainly not danced in).  That meant that some of the dresses I was shown were totally impractical.  I asked how the train of one dress would be bustled, and the saleslady told me, no, that dress was just for pre-wedding photos, NOT for walking.  Also, the fact that dresses are typically rented means that if you’d like to buy one, it is made to measure, and you can typically customize it.  A lot of brides go a step further and have a dress designed and made from scratch, often copying the design from a photo.  Because they’re worried you’ll copy their design, the dress boutiques don’t let you take photos unless you are in contract to buy the dress!  This doesn’t totally make sense, because they all have photos of their dresses on their websites, but they have signs up threatening to end the session if you take out a camera.  I almost started crying at my first appointment because I was already a little sad about shopping for dresses by myself, let alone not being able to send photos to my mom and sister.  Sensing my panic, the saleslady let me take a few photos, and I knew from then on to take pictures surreptitiously in the dressing room before the ladies came in to  zip me up:

As you can see from those photos, I tried on a bazillion lace, boat-neck, mermaid-cut dresses.  I ended up buying the first one I tried on – which is not pictured here (but looks more or less like all of those).  I started at the Gown Warehouse because I had seen a design I liked there, and that design ended up being the one I compared everything else to.  In my opinion, The Gown Warehouse had lower prices and nicer dresses than the stores in Chinatown.  A taxi driver told me this was because I needed to bargain in China town, which I believe (most of them quoted a price of 3000 USD to have a dress made!) but didn’t try to do so myself.  For fellow Southeast Asian resident brides-to-be, if you want to keep the process simple, spend a reasonable amount, and have as close to a “western” wedding dress shopping experience as possible, I would recommend The Gown Warehouse.  They are making my dress to measure, and are even customizing a few features so I can have exactly what I want!  I’ll go back in January for the first fitting, then may have to go back again in March if alterations are needed.  I’m so relieved to have this taken care of – and so excited to wear the dress next June!

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One Comment to “Wedding Dress Shopping In Singapore”

  1. Tabby, I remember these experiences :). You look fab in all of the choices! Congratulations 🙂 and thank you for sharing your groovy adventures.

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