I've now been to the following vintage stores in search of a wedding dress (or something like it): Paris 1900, Resurrection, Decades Two, and Paperbag Princess.
I was also planning on visiting Lily Et Cie (where Penelope Cruz found the stunning Balmain vintage dress she wore to the Oscar's this year) however I was told by the owner over the phone not to bother (she's that kind of lady!) and she suggested I go to Les Habitudes instead.
I had in fact already been to Les Habitudes, and while they did have a lovely bolero (new, not vintage), it would need to be ordered from Paris and then modified here to make the sleeves a little longer (since the designer will refuse to modify it for me!) and it costs $1,400, which is much more than I'd want to spend (recession wedding!!).
I plan on visiting The Way We Wore tomorrow, maybe I'll have better luck there but I'm thinking probably not! I think after that I will have exhausted my vintage options.
Paris 1900 did have a few antique shawls that I could use as fabric for a bolero, but the owner was a little stressed out, so we didn't linger. I might go back another day once I've decided that I definitely want to go down the lace bolero road, as I know L'ezu will make a bolero for me for around $400 if I find the fabric - she's given up on locating it for me! But of course, I'd need to order it in the next month or so!
Paris 1900 also carry a few new dresses that are not vintage but "vintage-style" including this one below by Saja, however they've marked it up considerably (I saw it in a magazine for $638 and they're asking $950), so I might be best buying it from Saja direct, since I'd need some extra fabric to make sleeves anyway.
I have an appointment for Saja's trunk show on the 23rd so we'll see how that goes, but I do think that adding flutter sleeves to this dress would be easy, no? I have a better photo I ripped out of a mag that is supposed to be on Brides.com but for some reason is not, so I will try to scan and post that soon!
Aside from vintage stores I've been to a bunch of other "regular" bridal stores this week and I'm finding that they generally don't have many if any dresses with sleeves, and they don't carry anything I like or can even come close to picturing myself in. I even went through the entire bridesmaid selection at Renee Strauss today in the hopes that they would have a simple silk chiffon bridesmaid dress I could order in white but no luck.
The one exception in all of my non-vintage dress shopping was a dress at The Montclair Collection (also from Paris, of course!), which was halfway there.. except I didn't like the lace, the sleeves would need to be lengthened, and it was a couple of hundred dollars over my budget. It did at least confirm that empire waist and V neck is the way to go for me, so there's that!
I have a three more stores to visit tomorrow so maybe I'll have more luck then! It does make me wonder why there aren't more simple affordable options, and why they make this whole process so complicated, confusing and stressful! You should hear the reactions I get when I tell them my wedding is August 29 and I haven't found a dress yet!