So the other day I started typing my name into Google. I do this every now and again to see which combination of words people are using to find me and “robyn baldwin wedding” popped up.
I clicked through and was shocked to find the number of links leading to my blog posts about calling off the wedding in 2012 and my book Love Lost, Life Found. But I’m in a new chapter in my life, engaged to the most amazing man and planning our dream wedding so it’s time to start putting out some useful wedding planning content to celebrate the blessing of doing this thing called wedding planning and provide helpful information to other brides and specifically future Ottawa brides.
So without further ado, here are my Top Picks for Best Bridal Salons in Ottawa!
Ps. I’ve already said YES TO THE DRESS!
I literally made appointments at 9 Stores and got to experience so many different local salon experiences to find THE dress! If you’re not like me and don’t want to spend 3 weekends maxing out 3 appointments a day then here are my Top 4 choices if I had to do it all over again.
Here are my Top 4 with pros and cons of the others I visited.
This was hands down one of the best salons in Ottawa. I’m biased because I found my dress here but just absolutely loved the experience and would’ve put them in my top two even if I bought my dress elsewhere.
My dress consultant was brand new to the job. Amber, was so sweet and caring. She took the time to listen to my stories, walked me around the store as we pulled dresses off racks. She forgot to unclip me several times while I was trying on dresses and then jumped to it when I asked quite adorably but that just led to her charm. She didn’t pressure me into buying that day. I found 2 dresses that I loved but still had more appointments. She wrote down information about the dresses that I loved, gave me her card and wished me a great day. When I came back for my second appointment she was there with both dresses already in the changeroom. And champagne and the “I said yes” to the dress sign off to the side, ready to go but not there pressuring me to make a decision. Did you know I was her very first Say Yes to the Dress?! Which I kinda loved!
The other thing that I loved was that I was shopping over the holiday season and the store was doing a drive for local families in need. I dropped off coloring books, pencil crayons, and a gift card to add to the bounty during my first appointment and loved seeing this initiative from a local shop!
My runner-up dress was here and I had an amazing experience so they get spot number 2 on my list! Earleen, the store owner is so lovely, personable and welcoming to all her future brides. The store is cozy and comfy and you feel spoiled while there. Our dress consultant was also new to the industry and business but had a lovely awkward charm about her. I clearly am a sucker for newbies that are keen to do a great job. They plied my mom and me with champagne/wine and water and the change room was large while not too stark and beautiful lights (apparently from an art gallery that was in the space before the boutique)!
There are 2 changes rooms behind the white wall in the photo. The first change room you try on dresses and actually walk to the front of the store while the second change room you just open the curtain and stay there. It was private and cozy and comfy which are important to me in the dress shopping experience. I almost found my dress here. And although it was out of my price range I had also found a second dress that after sending pictures to my bridesmaids who loved it, almost made the cut! So 2 amazing options!
While the drive out to Russell may scare away some brides away, this was an amazing salon. They had such an extensive collection of dresses. Our dressing room was comfortable and private and lovely. Our dress consultant was so polite and warm and caring and picked great dresses based on my explanation of what I was looking for. We even found a few dresses that I liked. Just not the one. One thing that was a bit different than With Love & Revelle was the consultant stepped behind the curtain with me and made me strip down. I forgot about this and had to do a gulp of pride to be showing off the bod to a stranger.
Located in an older house out in Carleton Place this place has charm and bustle. It was brimming with staff and future brides and was quite busy on a weekend! If you’re ok with trying on a dress in a room full of other brides & entourages you’ll love this place. The staff here are beyond lovely and I really had a great experience. I didn’t totally love the dressing rooms (they were tiny areas cordoned off with curtains and then you’d have to walk out into a room filled with other people but thankfully everyone was super kind. I wanted to try on a dress by a certain designer and the other bride in my room actually had it on. After she was finished I put it on and could hear her say “That’s my dress” so not the best experience when trying to find yours 🙂
White Satin: While I can see this shop having a lovely experience if you don’t have a higher price point for your budget and don’t arrive exactly on time for your appointment it won’t be the greatest. There were only 1 – 2 dresses in the silhouette I was looking for so we were in and out of there pretty fast. They didn’t try to suggest any other looks. And I actually ended up buying a dress in a different silhouette than what I went in looking for so it might’ve served them well to get me to try something else on.
Renewed With Love: This is the distant cousin to With Love Bridal (owned by the same owner). They offer discounted sample dresses right off the rack. This place is cozy and personable and amazing if you can find a dress in your style that is very close to your size as the prices are obviously amazing.
Salons I visited but didn’t enjoy:
Dominique Levesque: While a lovely and polite experience, they were about to go through renovations so the store atmosphere was less than amazing. I also wasn’t impressed with any of the dresses in the style I was looking for. However, my consultant was polite and lovely.
La Maison Bridal: While I actually almost found a dress here, I didn’t love my shopping experience. They had confirmed my appointment by email but when we arrived they were busy with other customers and had us sit and wait. After having already been to 2 other appointments that day I was slightly tired by this point. They had me walk out to this room below.
The problem was that there were people in the back room trying on dresses and several people kept walking out into our room on the phone and staring at me. Which was just a weird experience… They also had me change in a room just behind the front counter and then walk all the way to the back. Just a weird layout.
Norde Bridal: This was my least favorite shop. Many shops have a few “dressing” rooms for trying on dresses. I had my appointment at the same time as another bride who had brought quite the entourage. Since I was only shopping with my mom I was relegated to a back corner and a small change room area behind a curtain. In the above image, it was to the left of the dress rack. The other change room is in front of the couch. So the other bride’s entourage sat on that couch to see the bride when she came out, however, every time I came out of my change room they would stare and comment on my dress and I just felt out of sorts. Don’t get me wrong, I was a ballerina and cheerleader and love a good spotlight but was looking forward to shopping with my mom and having a moment with her. So I definitely value the more private shopping experiences.
They had limited dresses and none with low backs which was the style I was looking for. My mom and I maybe spent 10 mins there and high tailed it out of there. The store is also located downtown in a fairly desolate area. I can see this being a great shop if you snag the main dressing room and have a taste for simple beautifully designed dresses. The dress consultant was lovely and polite and was as helpful as she could be.
So there you have it. My personal dress shopping experience in Ottawa. I hope any future Ottawa brides find this helpful in narrowing down which shops to go to. While my experience was lovely it was ALOT. I wish I had found a blog post about all the salons so I could’ve narrowed down my options ahead of time and only made a few appointments. I don’t really love shopping or trying on clothes so these appointments were exhausting! I would rather go run an obstacle course race then book 3 dress appointments in one day in the future! LOL.