New York City, Tuesday, August 7th, 9 a.m.: It's only 20 minutes until ticket-distribution and, for an event as hotly-anticipated as the semi-annual Kleinfeld blowout sample sale, the line wasn't nearly as insane as we'd expected.
Brides leaned casually against the 20th Street store's outer wall, exchanging stories about how their fiances popped the question and chatting about what type of dresses they wanted. Meanwhile, near the front of the line, Say Yes to the Dress producers were on location and aggressive stage-mom-types were nudging their way to the edge of the line, trying to grab the cameramen's attention.
One bride-to-be interviewing for Say Yes to the Dress in line to get tickets to their big sample sale.
When my co-worker Alicia told me she was going to the semi-annual Kleinfeld sample sale, I thought I'd tag along—for the story, of course (and because, well, I'm a big fan of Kleinfeld—Say Yes to the Dress is my weekly cathartic reality TV cry-athon). She told me she wasn't really set on purchasing her dress at the sale, but she thought she'd give it a shot.
Other brides in line were much more gung-ho.
"Let's just say I watch the show a lot, and I actually saw my ideal dress in an episode," one woman called Melissa told us, "So we decided to take a day off of work, and just go for it!"
Another bride, Tammy, who'd already made an inaugural dress-hunting pilgrimage to the wedding dress retail mecca told us, "I went home and cried [after my first visit]. They have beautiful gowns, but the prices were out of our range."
Here's how the sample sale works: Brides and their plus-ones line up at 9 a.m. the morning of the event to collect tickets. The tickets assign shoppers a designated time slot to come back, whereupon you have one-on-one appointments with a Kleinfeld bridal consultant—very civilized for a New York City sample sale, for sure.
After about 15 minutes of waiting in line, we scored an appointment—2:30 p.m.!—and a number, 44.
Our ticket and the crowd waiting to get into the sale.
2:30 p.m.: Back at the sample sale later that day, we headed inside where we walked smack into a lobby that resembled, well, a civilized-ish cattle call. Cameras lined the edge of the room monitoring a hoard of women (and one guy!) milling around in a state of semi-confusion.
The crowd waiting to be called in the Kleinfeld lobby.
We waited about 20 minutes—during which we watched the Say Yes to the Dress camera crew film the person right in front of us—and then we were in!
The camera crew filming in front of us.
What a sight—racks and racks of satin, silk, lace, and tulle lined the selling floor.
But before we could grab-and-go, Kleinfeld staff debriefed us on proper wedding sample sale etiquette: three dreses in a room at a time, two people to one consultant, one friend/assistant/family member in a dressing room with you. No guys allowed.
Women searching through the racks.
Surprisingly, the sales floor was cool, calm, and collected: there was no pushing or name-calling. Everyone looked blissful. It's unlike any other New York City sample sale we've ever been to.
A $12,000 Lanvin mini-gown.
Each rack was labeled with a price (ranging from $200 to $12,000) and each row was organized by size. The back right corner belonged to the twinkling headpieces, below, and a few pairs of rhinestone-bedazzled peep-toe pumps.
All of the gorgeous headpieces.
As Alicia dove into a pile of delicate ivory gowns (beads! glitter!), a very friendly Kleinfeld staffer approached and asked if we were ready to try on. She guided us and our piles of tulle to the back room and introduced us to Erika, our bridal consultant, who we shared with a woman who was already twirling and giggling in a mermaid-style dress.
Soon, it was our turn.
The second Alicia stepped into her first gown—a Kenneth Pool strapless A-line with a sweetheart neckline and the most delicate twinkling beading and sequins scattered down the side the skirt, I immediately began to cry. Okay, bawl—"It's-s-s s-s-s-s-s-o b-b-b-b-b-b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l!" Note: if you're prone to hysterical weeping around wedding-related paraphernalia, bring Kleenex with you to Kleinfeld's.
The shimmer detailing on the first Kenneth Pool gown.
Alicia, Erika, and I went back and forth to the floor over the next hour, trying on antique floral appliqué details, modern twists on classical silhouettes, blush and ivory silks, and just-this-side-of-ordinary-silhouettes.
Somewhere in the second batch of dresses fetched from the selling floor, Alicia slipped into a pale-blush, strapless Reem Acra gown, embellished with art deco floral appliques across the bodice, subtle beading, and a cascading asymmetrical ruffle down the skirt.
We both looked at each other in the mirror and instantly burst into tears. Alicia glowed.
This was The One.
Detail shots from The One—of course, we can't show you the whole thing, just in case Alicia's fiance reads StyleBistro!
Alicia walked out to the three-way mirror and twirled. It was like magic.
All told, as soon as she laid eyes on it, it took less than five minutes for Alicia to say yes to the dress. It's like love at first sight—sometimes, when you know, you just know.
All three of us—Alicia, Erika, and I—jumped, hugged, and cried some more. It felt like winning the homecoming game or hitting the lottery jackpot.
"We did it!" Erika screamed as she high-fived both of us.
As we walked out of there, everyone smiled and offered hearty congratulations. The best part? Not only did we score a super-luxury designer gown for less than half of its original cost—it turns out, the style of the dress is called "Great Luck."
The snazzy digital postcard we received after she said yes to the dress! Clearly still puffy/red from crying.
For all you brides-to-be out there who are starting the search for The One (and we don't mean your fiance—you've already got one of those), here are some tips from the experts at Kleinfeld Bridal.
"The first appointment should be to try on different silhouettes," said our bridal consultant Erika Molino. "I feel like that's the way you'll see what you like and what you don't like. Also, it's very important to experience different fabrics as well."
"Do research before and know what you're looking for," said Mara Urshel, co-owner of Kleinfeld Bridal, "Every consultant has two brides, and there's a lot of commotion."
Have you Said Yes to the Dress? Tell us about your wedding gown, how you found it, and the moment you knew it was The One! Email us using the contact form on the right or let us know in the comments below.