The search for the perfect wedding dress – if you’re in the “bride tribe,” it’s a hunt of epic proportions. Reality shows glorify the dress, the moment, and that magical feeling you get when you find the perfect fit. It’s like a rite of passage for mothers and daughters. Older women gather around the camp fire and pass along the legends of their quest for the dress…
Ok, maybe we exaggerate just a little! But, you have to admit, there is a ton of hype when it comes to shopping for the right wedding dress. If you’re a bride on a budget, it’s easy to get discouraged. But, don’t lose hope! We’ve got a few tips to help you find an amazing dress for less.
1. Establish a Budget
Give yourself a budget stick to it. Write it down – on a piece of paper, your iPhone, something! The odds of you following your budget increase dramatically when it is written somewhere you can see. Don’t forget to include alterations (estimate about $100), accessories (between $100 – $200), and cleaning after it’s all said and done (up to $300).
2. Check out Chains and Mass Retailers
Who wouldn’t want to shop at Kleinfeld, sip champagne, and be treated like a princess? But ladies, shopping at a boutique can cost you big time! If you’re looking for a dress that’s affordable, start with chain retailers like David’s Bridal. Or, check out unexpected sources like J. Crew, Anthropologie, or Ann Taylor. These retailers are relatively new to the wedding scene, but offer some beautiful and very affordable options.
3. Shop Online
When you book lots of sessions without results, trying on wedding dresses can get old fast! Consider shopping online. You’ll have almost unlimited choices – and you can shop in your pajamas! Who doesn’t love that?
If you choose to shop for your dress online, be sure to review the return policy carefully. Always shop within the United State and use sites like BridalBeware.com or Facebook pages Brides Beware and Knock off Nightmares to avoid wedding scammers and make sure sites are legit.
4. Consider a Used Wedding Dress
If you’re dreaming of wearing a high end designer gown, a used wedding dress could be a great option for you. Most brides only wear their wedding dress once – and then it gets stored somewhere never to be used again. It’s pretty crazy when you think about it!
Most used wedding dress sites use a peer to peer model, so you can contact the seller directly. Here are a few questions to ask when shopping used:
- Can you Skype, so I can actually see the dress live?
- What are the measurements? Almost every wedding dress gets altered and tends to run smaller than the size label.
- Was the dress cleaned after use? Did you get anything on it during the ceremony?
5. Rent a Dress
If you needed a moving truck for just one day, you wouldn’t buy it would you? Of course not! It’s definitely not a traditional way of thinking, but this logic could be applied to your wedding dress too!
6. Buy a Dress off the Rack
If you’ve ever been in a wedding, you’ve probably visited a bridal store and tried on a dress that was hanging on the rack. Exhibit A – the sample dress! Bridal stores usually carry sample dresses in all one size. If you only need minor alterations, ask if you can buy one of these ready-made dresses at a discount.
7. Shop at a Wedding Outlet
It’s totally the same as buying regular clothing at an outlet mall. It might be a dress from last season, but unless all your friends are wedding dress designers, no one will be the wiser.
8. Make your own Dress
Well – maybe not you exactly! But, you could hire a seamstress or enlist the help of a skilled friend or family member. Your bank account will thank you, and you’ll get a one-of-a-kind dress!
9. Keep it Simple
Elaborate dresses with lots of fabric and beading might be pretty to look at, but they’re very heavy and can restrict your movement. Opt for a simple design. It will be much more comfortable and cut down on your alteration costs.
Every bride deserves to look and feel like a queen on her wedding day! Happy hunting – and may you start married life financially free!