Many women say they knew they had found the perfect gown from the moment they tried it on, whether it was the first or the twenty-first! Sometimes the style is just what the bride-to-be had envisioned, and sometimes it comes as a complete surprise.
This is your time to have some fun, so try on several different styles, not just what you believe will be flattering. You never know—the dress with the perfect combination of fit and flair might be the one you thought you couldn’t wear.
Today there are styles that draw inspiration from classic designs and fresh new interpretations as well, with notable attention to quality fabrics and trims. From the swoosh of a long full skirt, to the elegance of a column of silk—the bridal gown whispers its magic differently to every bride, and happily there is something for everyone in a wide range of prices to fit any budget.
How to Save Money on a Wedding Dress
Buying your gown at a retail bridal salon offers convenience, service, and perhaps a few ways to save. There may be samples or discontinued gowns being offered at a discount. Ask if the shop has any “designer inspired” gowns, which are very similar to the originals but much less expensive. If you let it be known that making a purchase means working within a limited budget you may be able to get a “no frills” discount which typically means that the store will delete the usual extras such as a free garment bag, pressing, and so on. Be discreet and polite, then ask if they are willing to work with you to make a purchase you can afford.
There are several other options including buying an “informal” gown, which might be a gown without a train but with many of the same features such as beading or lace embellishments. Informal gowns are also what comes to mind for a destination or garden wedding. The informal category would also include a short wedding dress, a dress with a high-low skirt, a bridal suit, or even an elegant pantsuit. Every bride has her own sense of style!
Also ask to see bridesmaids dresses that come in ivory or white. These too can be charming and are considerably less expensive than bridal gowns. Or perhaps the store carries a line of evening dresses as well as bridal fashions. Many such styles are available in white, ivory, or champagne. Don’t let the store personnel talk you into trying on any dress that is beyond your means. It will only break your heart if you fall in love with something you can’t afford to buy. And remember, the total cost of your attire consists of not only the dress, but alterations, a veil, shoes, the crinoline or slip, undergarments, and jewelry. These items will almost certainly cost less if they are purchased elsewhere.
A short wedding dress is less expensive than a long dress but can be just as pretty. For some brides, it may even fit your personality better.
In some cities it is possible to rent a wedding dress, often at a fraction of the retail cost of purchasing the same style. Minor alterations and cleaning should be included in the fee. When you consider that you may be wearing a designer gown that you could never have afforded to buy, this option begins to have a certain appeal to the bride on a limited budget but with grand plans for her gown.
A discount bridal outlet can also yield savings if you are lucky enough to live close to one and don’t mind the supermarket atmosphere. These stores carry dresses from previous seasons which they bought at significant discounts that are then passed along to you.
Shopping at a consignment store can also be great fun and may even yield a wonderful treasure. The classic ballgown with lace sleeves and bodice shown here is a good example. Created of dupioni silk, the dress was in mint condition, and fit like a dream, and, it was only $100.
It always pays to keep an eye on the classified ads in your local newspaper. Many of the gowns which end up at consignment stores were once advertised in the newspaper, usually for less. The dress may be offered for sale after a wedding or in some instances may never have been worn. Expect a bargain, up to 60% off of the retail price. Sometimes the dress also comes with a veil and petticoat. In- spect the dress carefully before you buy.
If you are nonconformist bride, you might find what you need by shopping at local boutiques or online stores such as Modcloth, JCPenney, Macy’s, Etsy, or eBay. There are a lot of lovely white dresses that sell for under $150 if they are not specifically designed as wedding attire. Summer dresses can be accessorized with anything from pretty pumps and pearls to cowboy boots and turquoise jewelry. For the offbeat bride, it can be just plain fun to let your inner fashion light shine!
A crochet dress is a perfect option for an informal summer wedding.
Making a Wedding Dress
Some brides have saved a bundle on their dream dress by taking a picture from a magazine to a professional seamstress and asking for a similar gown. A custom dress with design elements from several styles is also a possibility. Sewing your dress at home is another option.
If you do not feel qualified to sew a formal gown, you might look into making the bridal veil. This accessory usually costs between $100 and $300 from a bridal salon yet is inexpensive and easy to sew at home. There are patterns which offer many popular styles, or you can create your own. The cost of a homemade veil will be from $5 to $35, a substantial savings over retail.