This past Sunday I went wedding dress shopping with my former roommate Elisa and our first stop was the just–opened bridal boutique Lovely. Located on one of the prettiest streets in the West Village, the garden–level entrance is easy to miss, literally "tucked away," and once you step inside it's clear that the usual bridal salon fare (stressed–out consultants, a rambling check–in line, bright lights, and florid décor) is exactly the opposite of what's going on here. The main floor, where you are free to roam an edited selection of gowns by Watters, Alix & Kelly, and emerging labels like Sarah Seven, Elizabeth Dye, and Delphine Manivet, features dark hardwood floors, pale aqua walls, and a handful of carefully selected details from Liberty of London for Target. I don't think Elisa will mind if I reveal that one of the reasons why I steered her to Lovely was because I'd heard that owner Lanie List stocks her racks with gowns in a range of prices. I'm happy to report that brides on a budget will feel very welcome here, and enjoy the shopping experience because many styles are priced under $1,000.
Upstairs there are three sun–drenched dressing rooms. Ours had a sitting area and a fireplace topped with framed vintage drawings (that I wanted to steal) and a jar of ponytail ties and grabber clips—so you can see what the dress would look like with your hair up. Wooden branches stand in for curtain rods, and a giant mirror was propped up against the wall. I liked our consultant's energy—calm, helpful, full of great styling ideas (but not pushing them on you). Elisa tried on gown after gown as her mom and I sat back on the comfy couch and offered our thoughts. In these pictures, she's wearing our favorite, an Alix & Kelly design that probably needs a sash or a floral embellishment. No purchase was made...yet. But I'll go back any time Elisa wants. Visit the shop at 313 West 4th Street or on the web at lovelybride.com. —Amy Elliott, executive editor
To find other New York-area bridal salons, click here.