The bride’s dress is often one of the most expensive components of the wedding, especially when you consider what you get for your money – a dress that will be worn once for 12 hours and then put in the closet. Frankly, wedding dresses are total rip-offs. So, if you’re a frugal bride, your dress is a great place to slash your wedding budget. Before you buy a dress, find your location. Your location will determine the type of dress you need. Then set your wedding dress budget and promise yourself you won’t exceed it.

Where to Find Cheap Wedding Dresses
Bridal salons usually offer dresses in a wide range of prices. When you start searching for a dress online, note the prices of the styles you like. If you like some of the less expensive designers, then you may not need to bargain much. If you like the really expensive designers, it’s time to start searching for alternatives. Start with these five:

Rental Wedding Dresses
I know, most women don’t like the idea of renting a wedding dress, but why not? Your fiancé is renting his tux. If you’re not the sentimental type, you can rent a beautiful dress for just a few hundred dollars and then return it. No one has to know you don’t own it.

eBay
Every day new dresses are posted on eBay. Quite frequently, they’ve never been worn. Either the bride found a new dress she liked better or the wedding was cancelled. Before you buy on eBay, try on potential dresses in a real salon and sneak a peak at the size they recommend if they won’t tell you. Wedding dress sizes are not the same as clothing sizes, so buy a bigger dress if you’re not sure what you need. A friend found a Monique Llhuillier dress for $1200 on eBay that would normally sell for $4000.

Wedding Dress Sample Sales
The big designer sample sales are usually held in New York, but local bridal salons also have sample sales. Call frequently to find out when the next sample sale is and then arrive early to be first in line. Usually these are dresses that have been tried on frequently, so be prepared to do some repair work. My cousin bought a sample sale dress for $100. The bodice was trashed, but the full skirt was in great condition. She and my mom made a new bodice for a few hundred dollars. If you can’t sew, find a dressmaker in your area to fix it for you. Once again, wedding message boards are the place to find good seamstresses.

Custom Dresses
I had a theme wedding, so my dress cost $500, including the fabric, which I chose and purchased in the fabric district. However, you can have a fairy-tale dress made by a local seamstress for $1500-$2500. That’s a lot of money, but if you want a $5000 dress, it’s still cheaper.

Discount Retailers
In addition to David’s Bridal and Alfred Angelo, both of which carry less expensive dresses, there are a few wedding dress salons that sell discounted dresses. One of the best is Pearl’s Place in Louisiana. I ordered a bridesmaid’s dress from them for $80 off retail. I simply called and ordered it over the phone. It was shipped within a few weeks. When I was getting married, several brides on the message boards I frequented ordered their dresses from there. The key is to find your dream dress in a salon, then sneak a peek at the tag to find out the designer and style number/name, or at least get the name of the designer and find the dress on his or her website. Have a seamstress take your measurements to give to Pearl’s Place, then find a local seamstress to do the alterations locally for a few hundred dollars.

The best way to save money: stop looking once you find a dress. When I was planning my wedding, I saw several brides buying second or third dresses because they just couldn’t stop. Once you find something you like, stop shopping. Unless your culture dictates special wedding attire for different segments of the ceremony, you don’t need a ceremony dress and a reception dress.

Comments

4 Responses to “How to Save Money on Your Wedding: Cheap Wedding Dresses”

  1. LWD Bridal Gowns on November 20th, 2009 6:08 pm

    Another solution to finding a bargain dress is to take advantage of sample sales at local bridal dress shops. These usually occur in Novemmber and December to make room for the new season of wedding dresses that arrive in January.

    It is a great time to find a bargain!

  2. Allison on August 5th, 2010 4:33 pm

    QUOTE: The key is to find your dream dress in a salon, then sneak a peek at the tag to find out the designer and style number/name, or at least get the name of the designer and find the dress on his or her website. Have a seamstress take your measurements to give to Pearl’s Place, then find a local seamstress to do the alterations locally for a few hundred dollars.

    I find this “suggestion” extremely rude.

    Hey, why not go down to your local bridal salon, waste hours of their time, and sneak back to your computer and buy it online?

    Because it’s WRONG. How would you like to be used and abused? The dresses in the shops are not free to the shopowners. Neither are their rents, utilities, and employees wages.

    USING a store as your personal dressing room doesn’t make you a “smart shopper”, it makes you a parasite. Remember this- the more of you that go this route, the more bridal shops will go out of business. Who are your friends and sisters going to use as THEIR personal dressing room.

    These stores aren’t in business for your entertainment, Ladies. If you aren’t mature enough to realize this, then you for darned sure are not mature enough to be getting married.

    Way to “keep it classy”.

  3. Aryn on August 5th, 2010 5:11 pm

    Is it also wrong to visit two different bridal salons locally and choose one over the other? When you buy a car, do you buy it from the first dealer you visit at the price they demand or do you shop around for a better price? Do you always buy shoes from the store where you tried them on or do you occasionally look for a sale at a different store? What makes a bridal salon so different?

    I don’t think these stores are in business for my entertainment, however I also find many of the practices of some bridal salons to be shady enough to encourage women to find alternatives. I’ve heard many, many horror stories about bridal salons massively overcharging for dresses, accessories, fittings, etc. that it makes it hard to justify spending several hundred dollars more at a local store. I don’t have a problem with a slightly higher markup due to higher local wages and rents, but I can’t justify spending several hundred dollars more for the same item and worse service.

    Frankly, I think being a wise consumer and not overpaying for a dress is a very mature attitude, and perfectly in keeping with the goal of starting a marriage on the right financial foot.

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