When Bostonian Shannon Felton Spence was planning her wedding last year, she watched episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress” for months until she found her dream dress — a Lazaro from two seasons past. The head of politics and communications at the British Consulate in Boston was determined to track it down, and when she did, the hefty $7,000 price tag quickly deflated her spirit.
But because her dream dress wasn’t from a current collection, she thought she could find it online.
“After a quick Google search, the dress came up on preownedweddingdresses.com.”
But to buy the dress secondhand, Spence had to keep a few other factors in mind: Length (she’s 5 foot 9, so the dress had to be long), geographical location (she wanted to be able to try the dress on before pulling the trigger) and personalization (she wanted to be able to make the dress her own).
The dress she found was long enough and its owner was in New Jersey — coinciding with a pre-planned trip to the Big Apple.
“I put a deposit on the dress and met the owner at my Airbnb in Midtown,” she said. “I didn’t even try it on, I just eyeballed it and bought it.”
Spence paid $2,200 for the gown and was able to use the extra money to upgrade the chairs at her wedding venue.
To put her own stamp on the gown, she turned to two local designers for help. Jewelry designer April Soderstrom created a custom beaded belt and earrings and Chynna Pope made the bride-to-be a custom lace top to wear during the conservative church ceremony.
Soderstrom has a line of everyday costume jewelry but also does custom jewelry and beadwork for brides, pageant contestants and anyone looking for a custom piece for a formal occasion.
“She had asked me about doing a sash, and I’ll admit, I wasn’t excited about it at first,” Soderstrom said with a chuckle. “It would have been an investment piece for her and what was she going to do with it when it’s done?”
So, she designed it in a way that, after the wedding, Spence could give it back to her to transform it into a statement necklace.
“I wanted her to get to wear a part of her wedding dress forever,” said Soderstrom, whose work can cost as little as $35 and go to more than $1,500.
Consignment and customization are big trends within the wedding world and help brides save time and money when planning their big day.
“It’s hard to keep your head about you when you are planning a wedding … there is so much being marketed towards you, but it felt good to be smart about something like that,” said Spence.
The newlywed is a savvy consignment shopper when it comes to investment pieces and is very proud of her revived gown.
“At first my husband, Alex, said ‘You don’t have to tell anyone that you bought your dress secondhand’ and I was like, ‘Why not? I can’t wait to tell everyone this story!’ ”
For more information on Soderstrom’s work, go to www.AprilSoderstrom.com.