Planning Your Dream Wedding on a Budget: The Dress

I admit, the dress was the most stressful part of planning my wedding. There are some things I learned in my search that I now preach to my girl-friends who are engaged, or even contemplating marriage in the near, not-so-near, and distant future. My search was short and sweet and began where most budget brides begin: our favorite discount big box bridal shop that won't be named. You know who we are talking about. After perusing their catalog for a couple of months before I could muster the courage to step into a bridal shop, I had picked out at least 5 gowns under my measly $500 budget which would suit my needs and which also seemed flattering, full and structured. I finally got the nerve to haul my butt, and my future mother-in-law's butt, to this store, and made the mistake of being tricked by nice photography and size 0 models in the catalog. NONE of the dresses fit me properly or offered support where I needed it. This scarred me for a while. This is not to say that many beautiful brides have not had success here, but there are other ways to secure your dream dress, the one that makes you look in the mirror and say "ooh-la-la!" Never settle for less than this.

Image via Alfred Angelo

After a couple more months, my wounds had mended and I decided it was time to search again. I attended bridal shows and learned that many  have booths offering discounts on dresses, chances to win free dresses and allow you to see what many dresses look like in real life, not dancing about the pages of a glossy magazine or catalog. At these bridal shows, I discovered what would suit MY body type, not little miss size 0, and saw these on real women with real bodies: curvy, boyish, thin, voluptuous and the list goes on. I learned from this experience and felt prepared to venture into my own gown search. I did not win a wedding dress. I still couldn't afford one with my coupon for 15% off, and I had worn my mother-in-law out on the first try, so I began to search online for a used designer dress, or replica dress that might do the job.

Image via Swoon...a bridal salon

Used dresses are a goldmine for budget brides as many overspend on their wedding and want to make some quick cash back on the holy grail of weddingdom: the dress! You can find used dresses right here at On the Go Bride's Shop!  Fewer women opt to save their dress today compared to years ago, and especially so in today's economy, so the market for used gowns is plentiful. Popular wedding blogs and resale sites exist and offer images of real women in real gowns. The downside is being able to view the dress in person or try it on unless you are local to the seller, so keep this in mind, as well as any other considerations from purchasing online. The upside is you aren't so worried about ruining your 1/2 price gown, and you have more fun on your wedding day, fearless yet dressed to impress. Once again, this is not how I found my gown. My body is awkward, I am 6 ft tall - helpful hint: most dresses are made for people 6 ft tall, so once they are worn by someone average height or shorter, us tall ladies are out of luck - and I am picky like nobodies business.

Image via On the Go Bride Shop

My saving grace was something much more simple. More direct. The sample sale. If you don't mind the waiting game, travel, the rush of other desperate brides, the sample sale is an amazing choice for finding gowns on a dime. Long, lovely designer gowns to fit my wants and my needs (height). What is even better on the pocketbook is finding a sell-off from a store upgrading inventory or (bless their souls) going out of business/selling to another owner. This is how I found my designer gown, intricate, with boning, detail, lace... for under $100. I saved $1150 this way, and although those savings are rare, being willing to let go of your grand dream of a brand new designer gown like those girls from Say Yes To The Dress (starting at $1500), you can have your pretty twirly dress with beautiful detail that will score you tons of compliments and wear it too; Hell, trash it if you got it for $100! I plan to ;)

Image via Blue Glass Photography


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