Many brides dream of their wedding day- the love of their life, the location, the friends and family, the I do- and the attire. Oh the attire. Tulle, lace, sparkle, silk... everyone has their own style, but we can all agree we want to feel and look beautiful on our special day, so paying extra attention to our style for that day is important.
When you talk about beauty and style, you immediately see dollar signs. Did you know that on average a wedding gown in 2017 will cost $1,600?! Add in the veil, alterations, undergarments, and accessories, and you are around $2,100. Some Brides have the means to spend far more and there is nothing wrong with getting the gown/suit of your dreams, but I am here to help you get your dream wedding attire on a budget.
Once you've narrowed down what you picture yourself in and your style, it's time to go shopping.
You have a multitude of options, so I am going to first list the options and their pros and cons.
- Chain Bridal Attire Retailer- Great for 1st time shopping to narrow down style
- Pros- plethora of designers and styles, wide price range, in house alterations, sells accessories
- Cons- in house alterations, chain store (not unique), limited to what they have (can't have designer make changes to match your wishes)
- Budget- $$-$$$
- Private Bridal Attire Retailer- Perfect if you want a specific designer/style
- Pros- style and price point specific, defined collections, unique styles, individualized experience
- Cons- Smaller collections, difficulty with specialty/rushed orders (depending upon boutique), may not have accessories/alterations
- Budget- $$S-$$$$
- Trunk shows- Ideal for those who want a specific designer
- Pros- limited selection to make it easier, can leave with dress/suit same day, only seeing what you are interested in, sample dresses = cheaper price
- Cons- limited quantities, may not have accessories, no alterations available, sample items may have flaws
- Budget- $$-$$$$
- Online Vendors- Budget friendly option for everyone (IE. Etsy)
- Pros- custom items, unique design, custom fit, budget friendly, one-on-one service
- Cons- can't try on in advance, no accessories, longer turn-around
- Budget- $$-$$$$
- Budget Finds- For the crafty, those with a seamstress friend, and a longer timeline Facebook Marketplace, Thrift Stores, Yard sales
- Pros- Most budget friendly, , can completely customize and alter attire, can often get styles out of circulation that are brand new donated by stores
- Cons- May not be able to alter due to previous alterations, may have stains/tears, limited options (sizing and style)
- Budget- $
So now that you have options for where to buy, what are some other tips to keep things in budget?
- Shop EARLY- some gowns can take up to ten months to come in, so don't be afraid you are shopping too soon. I bought my dress 15 months before my wedding and am so grateful I did, I was able to get it in time to get alterations "done", realize they weren't actually done, and have it corrected before my wedding without (too much) stress.
- Take your time- don't be afraid to shop at many stores and multiple kinds. Don't buy the first dress or suit you find- really make sure you are in love. Every bride wants to feel beautiful, confident, and like herself- so don't rush into a purchase. Some salons and boutiques will really push you to buy today, but if you aren't ready to commit, there's no rush.
- Deals- don't be afraid to ask for discounts- maybe you can get a discount for buying your bridal party their attire at the same store or maybe there is a Military discount if you or your fiance are in the armed forces. Also, if you are buying from a brick and mortar store, pay attention to their sale schedule. A lot of stores will offer sales in November and December prior to the start of the new wedding season, so you have a really good chance of scoring a major deal in the wedding "off-season".
- Something borrowed- maybe you spent a little more on your attire of choice than you planned- but you can save money on accessories like jewelry and veil by borrowing from a loved one or friend. Not only will you save money, but you can have a piece or multiple pieces from those you love to complete your ensemble for your special day.
- Get a 2nd opinion- maybe you have a friend who is a handy seamstress or an Aunt who is super crafty and can create the sash of your dreams. Don't be afraid to get your alterations done somewhere else or even have unique pieces crafted elsewhere for your attire. A lot of shop's alterations are expensive- my dress was $950. But I (naively) didn't source out for alterations and ended up spending over $600 for alterations (that weren't even done- horror story for another day). DON'T BE LIKE ME!!! Shop around.
- Sell/Donate- you can also sell or donate your attire after your wedding to recoup some of the cost or at least get a tax write-off at the end of the year. There are some amazing organizations that do everything from outfit brides facing terminal illness to create gowns for babies born sleeping.
- Re-purpose- my wedding gown is having the train cut off as we speak to create a Christening gown for my son. I will also keep the dress to wear for our 10-year vow renewal in a few years. I'm saving money on a dress for that occasion and a Christening gown which is a win-win. You can also save it for photos with your children as they grow, turn it in to bunting for a bassinet or crib, or create throw pillows for your bed from sections of your gown or suit.
As I said, the most important thing is that you feel exactly how you pictured you would on your special day. With a little planning you can achieve that and stay in budget, which will make you feel even better!
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