Best bridal shops
If you're looking for a dress-shopping experience that will truly make you feel like a princess, venture off Oak Street into River North to Belle Vie. Drawing clientele from all over the world, you might expect a hoity-toity attitude at this posh, in-demand bridal shop, but the experience is quite the contrary. Here, you'll feel right at home—and not just because its drop-dead gorgeous new location is in The Flair House, one of Chicago's most historic homes. The staff, too, will make you feel like family. Whatever your vision or situation, this shop will do what it takes to make your dreams come true.
Founded by sisters Natalie Bauer and Melissa Russell, Bella Bianca is known for its personalized client experience and selection of luxury gowns from designers like Lazaro, Sareh Nouri, Hayley Paige and Rivini, with prices beginning at $3,500. Also check out the selection of accessories and bridesmaid dresses, and don't be surprised if your consultant pops a bottle of champagne when you finally find that perfect dress.
Alice in Ivory is a breath of fresh air to the Chicago bridal scene and a dream come true for the low-key bride who wants a stylish gown without emptying her savings account. Peruse the racks of romantic, boho-inspired lace dresses (no foofy ball gowns here!) by designers like Rue de Seine and Claire Pettibone. This is one of the few bridal shops in Chicago where the price tag won't reduce you to tears. Most dresses average $2,500–$4,500. Appointment required.
Shop the wide selection here and you might just walk away with the designer dress of your dreams for 25–75 percent less than you would at most retail stores. Glamour Closet offers up wedding gowns off the rack at its physical locations, including the shop in Chicago. Dresses come from direct designers, retail stores and boutiques and include new, overstock and sample items in standard sample sizes—normally size 8 or 10 in bridal.
This high-end Gold Coast shop is where you'll find highly coveted couture favorites like Jim Hjelm and Kenneth Pool. One-on-one consultants ensure a highly customized experience. The shop also carries a selection of bridal accessories and evening gowns.
Famous for her namesake line of feminine and understated bridesmaid dresses, Jenny Yoo does not dissapoint when it comes to outfitting the bridal party. Her bridal designs are equally stunning and will suit especially those brides who appreciate attention to detail. The shop also carries lines from Nicole Miller and Kelly Faetanini, as well as bridal accessories.
Anthropologie's bridal shop features vintage-inspired, bohemian wedding dresses (starting around $600), accessories, decor and just about everything else you’ll need for your walk down the aisle. And as for bridesmaid dresses? Expect a selection of frocks you’d actually want to wear again.
Looking for that Say Yes to the Dress moment? Ultimate Bride is your spot. With gowns from high-end designers like Monique Lhuillier, Marchesa and Oscar de La Renta, this shop is for those brides who will settle for nothing less than designer duds on the big day. It also has a selection of stunning designer evening gowns worth perusing for a rehearsal dinner dress, or even a fashion-forward mother of the bride.
This bridal and accessories line from Project Runway All Star and Chicagoan Kate Pankoke aims to give every bride a couture experience without the couture price tag. All of her timeless, feminine gowns are made to order in her Chicago studio, with costs from $1,500–$5,000.
What started as creative-writer-turned-designer Kpoene Kofi-Nicklin's sports label grew into a charming Lakeview bridal boutique. Born out of frustration in searching for her own wedding gown in 2009, she opened the shop, which offers unique, locally made and designed gowns ranging from $2,500-$4,500, custom gowns, as well as handmade jewelry, veils and headpieces, cards, perfumes and other gifts.
This no-frills bridal salon caters to those brides looking for significant savings and a one-of-a-kind gown. Owner Kelly Hamilton opened the store more than 20 years ago when she was a bride herself, searching for a beautiful dress that didn't cost a small fortune, and her idea to open a once-worn dress shop was born. Brides can expect to find styles ranging from the 1930s to modern Vera Wang at a fraction of retail cost—from $500–$1,000. If you can dream it, their seamstress can bring your vision to life, and basic alterations will only set you back about $150. Brides are also welcome to take photos, but due to the tiny space, it's best to leave the entourage at home. By appointment only.
Located in a vintage building off a side street in East Lincoln Park, this is Sarah Seven's second brick-and-mortar location in the United States. (The other one is located in San Francisco.) It's also the only place in Chicago that sells Sarah Seven looks, including her Sarah Seven Collection ($1,300–$2,500) and her Gold Label ($2,500–$5,000). Known for vintage-looking gowns, Sarah's pieces feature lace, beading, chiffon and appliqués. Appointments are highly recommended.
Husband-and-wife designer team Kenneth Park and Carla Hwang met in design school and shortly after launched this Chicago-based bridal line full of classic silhouettes and fabric sourced from Italy and France. Prices range from $3,000–$5,000 each, and are all made right here in the brand's Chicago showroom.
From West Loop to Wicker Park, there's no shortage of trendy clothing shops, boutiques and stores for women. Whether you're looking to stay on budget, ready to pull out your black card, or somewhere in between, this is the only shopping list you'll need (well, maybe also bookmark our best thrift stores and best kids' clothing stores).