As the excitement builds, the reality of the cost of a wedding sets in for a lot of brides. Many brides dream of their perfect gown from the time they are little girls. Some want to look like a princess wearing a large ball gown, while some want to look like their inner diva and wear a haute couture wedding gown. TV shows such as “Say Yes To The Dress”, have many brides and prospective brides believing they need to spend thousands of dollars on a wedding dress or their day will be a disaster. Somehow the wedding dress represents a perfect wedding. Thankfully, that is not true. For some brides looking great, glamorous or princess-like is definitely a wedding highlight, but it doesn’t have to break the wedding budget.
How ridiculous to spend ten-thousand dollars or five-thousand dollars or even two-thousand dollars on a wedding gown. Of course, if you have that kind of money laying around, buy what you want, but the majority of brides are working on a tight budget. With some research and leg work you can find the wedding gown of your dreams for a fraction of the cost that you would pay at big bridal salons.
Don’t Fall For It
You don’t have to shop at stores that have the words “bridal” or “wedding” in their name.
Go to local department stores and look for every white gown in your size. If the gown is flattering on your body, but on the plain side, take it to your local seamstress or tailor and discuss embellishments that can be added. Seamstresses and tailors can add lace, tulle or beading. The beading does not have to be Swarovski nor does the lace doesn’t have to be handmade in Ireland. Trust me, no one will know.
Shop at local stores and boutiques that cater to prom-goers. Prom gowns tend to be more ornate and can easily double as a wedding gown. Typically, prom gowns and dresses will run into a few hundred dollars rather than a few thousand dollars. If you find a great gown, ask if it comes in white. Many gown manufacturers make their garments in a variety of colors and white is oftentimes one of those colors.
Don’t fall for the hype – it is a wedding gown no matter where you buy it.
If you have married sisters, cousins, aunts or friends and admired their wedding gown. Who knows, maybe your Mom’s wedding gown is a classic style. Ask if you can borrow it or buy it. Chances are the wedding dress is hanging in a closet with every intention of having it preserved.
You are actually better off buying the wedding dress rather than borrowing. Buying the gown gives you the freedom to add to the gown, remove elements you don’t like or have it resized. If you are borrowing the gown, make sure you and the lender have clear communication and it is agreed upon what you can and cannot do to make that wedding dress your own.
Hit the vintage clothing stores and consignment shops. Again don’t limit yourself to gowns and dresses that only say “wedding” or “bridal”. Begin your search as early as possible. Leave your name and phone number with the owner or store manager and ask for a phone call informing you of any new, white gown that crosses the store’s threshold.
Check ebay listings for a wedding gown. Ebay has a large selection of wedding gowns both new and used. Do a local search and maybe the seller will allow you to try it on before you commit to buying it.
Search Craigslist listings for your wedding dress.
Look into wedding dress listings on Freecycle.
Check the newspaper’s “For Sale” section – yes they still print newspapers.
If you choose ebay, craigslist, freecycle or the newspaper, make safe arrangements to meet the sellers and never go alone. You really don’t know who is on the other side of the ad.
Consider shopping at a yard sale or flea market. Many brides, who just had to have that one of a kind, special dress, realize they don’t really need or want it any longer.
If You Must
If the wedding gown or dress simply has to have the words “bridal” or “wedding” sewn in somewhere or on the sign above the door, at least shop smart.
Ask a manager at the bridal salon if they have any dresses for sale from brides who never came back to pick up their special orders. Some brides change their minds and find a different dress from another bridal store that they like better and feel it’s easier to lose the deposit than to wear something they don’t absolutely love.
Find out when the sales are. Large and small bridal salons have sales to make room for the new stock. David’s Bridal has a large sale and boasts ninety-nine dollar gowns. Kleinfeld’s, the stars of “Say Yes to the Dress” has a sample sale every year offering deep discounts on designer gowns. If you decide to go, get there early and be prepared to camp out on the sidewalk to secure your spot in line. The sale will remind you of Pamplona Spain’s Running of the Bulls.
Consider Renting a Wedding Dress
Many shops are popping up with formal wear for rent, including bride gowns and dresses. If you don’t plan on forming a lifelong attachment to your gown, this may be the way to go. Hey, the guys get to rent their tuxes. They don’t have to incur the expense of a new tux. Why shouldn’t a bride have the same luxury.
Do an internet search on rental shops in your area – you might be surprised at how many pop up.
Never buy a gown with the intention of your children wearing what you like.
Only buy the gown if the shape and style is flattering – embellishment can be added later.
The wedding gown or dress is not the significance of the day – the union of two people who love each other is what is important.