Sometimes in the great search for that one perfect dress, you don't even know where to begin. The answer? With an appointment at a top-notch bridal salon. In our new August/September 2015 issue (on newsstands now!) we call out the best 50 bridal salons — big and small, luxury and budget-friendly, boho and traditional — across America. How did we go about creating such a list? We asked more than 1,100 real brides nationwide to weigh in on the best spots to find that dream wedding dress by rating and submitting their own gown-shopping experience. From precious, personalized boutiques in the South to giant wedding dress meccas in the Northeast to intimate indie shops in California, we found them all. So take note, brides-to-be! These are our readers' favorite bridal boutiques in the Midwest.
Ultimate Bride, Chicago
Owned by industry vet Elena Grapsas, this Oak Street salon specializes in swank labels like Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera. "But I never felt pressure to spend more than I wanted," says a bride.
M.H. Pomander's, Indianapolis
Bringing Mom is a must, say reviewers: Along with gowns from the likes of Lee-Ann Belter and Theia, the shop is known for its flattering MOB dresses. P.S.: In-house seamstress Erin Young is couture trained.
Laura's Couture Collection, Shawnee, Kansas
This chic boutique carries fresh-off-the-runway gowns from designers like Marchesa and Pronovias. Says one bride, "My mom and sister couldn't be there, so owner Laura Mease FaceTimed them while I was trying stuff on."
Roma Sposa, Birmingham, Mich.
Fashion-forward Detroiters, take note: Anna Castaldi-Roselli stocks her salon with haute designs from Vera Wang and Inbal Dror. Reviewers raved about the trunk shows: "After she knew my taste, my consultant suggested I go for one by Ines di Santo. I found the perfect gown and met the designer!" says a bride.
A & Bé Bridal Shop, Minneapolis
Owned by the same duo as Denver's Anna Bé, this laid-back boutique is beloved by boho brides, who tout the crazy-good selection of indie labels (Anna Campbell, Rue de Seine) and range of prices: Many gowns ring in under $1,500.
L'Atelier Couture Bridal, Minneapolis
At this gallery-like salon, you'll find gowns by hot designers like Jenny Packham and Mira Zwillinger displayed like works of art. As for the service, one recent bride told us that her consultant made a video to show the out-of-state 'maids how to bustle her gown.
Fleur De Lis Bridal Boutique, St. Louis
Again and again, reviewers said that shopping here was the highlight of their wedding-planning experience. Not only is it the only salon in the city with sought-after designers like Rivini and Judd Waddell, but if you avoid a Saturday appointment you'll also be the only bride in the store.
Rhylan Lang, Omaha, Nebr.
Love lace? This chic salon is the state's go-to spot for ultrafeminine lines like Hayley Paige and Anne Barge. Area brides are obsessed with the private dressing rooms; each one has an elevated platform and enough space to fit even the largest entourage.
Amanda's Hyde Park Bridal, Cincinnati
At this intimate spot, each bride gets the whole shop — and a reserved parking spot — to herself. Says one, "I was greeted at the door with champagne and a sign that said, 'Welcome, Jennifer!'"
Something White, Independence, Ohio
This light-drenched salon is filled with gowns from hard-to-find labels like Leanne Marshall and Ivy & Aster. It's also the only Ohio store selling perennial fave Lela Rose. "I loved that they weren't afraid to stray from the poofy princess dress," says a fan.
Gigi of Mequon, Mequon, Wis.
City brides flock to this mecca outside Milwaukee for gowns by Peter Langner and Monique Lhuillier and spoil-you-silly service. Says one, "In Chicago, appointments are stacked on top of one another. Here, I felt like the only bride they'd ever dressed."