Saturday, June 22, 2013

Budget Weddings: The DRESS!!

When I got engaged, the first thing I started thinking about was my wedding dress. I think I went dress shopping a week after he popped the question, ha!.  Clearly, finding a beautiful dress is super important when planning your big day. Dress shopping can be an amazingly fun time, or it can be a stressful nightmare (or a little bit of both :p ).  Luckily, I knew what general style and material I wanted so I wasn't completely overwhelmed when I got to the dress store.  I was still nervous however, especially because television shows like TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress" and "I Found the Gown"  love to show overly dramatic and demanding brides-to-be and their opinionated families.  I was working on a limited, just-graduated-college budget so I was also worried about finding THE DRESS within my price range.

My David's Bridal dress! ©Polyrhythm Photography

Taffeta Ball Gown from David's Bridal
My budget was a big factor in determining where I shopped for my dress.  I was afraid of visiting a big city bridal boutique because I didn't think I would find anything that would fit my budget. It's great if you have the budget to buy a $1500+ dress, but frankly I think that if is really ridiculous and wasteful to spend more than that on a dress you'll only wear once or twice (the wedding and possibly formal portaits).  That being said, I'm still a little bit embarrassed to admit that I bought my dress at David's Bridal.  I had went in with the preconceived notion that David's Bridal dresses were tacky, cheaply made, and looked "budget".  I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with what I found! Yes, there were the ubiquitous cheap $99 satin dresses that I had imagined, but there were also some incredibly gorgeous gowns (including Vera Wang and other designers!)  The sales people were also helpful and offered tons of suggestions based on what I told them I had in mind.  Really, the only problem I had from start to finish was that they didn't take my measurements before ordering the dress and only went on how the sample fit, so I had to order a bigger size once my dress came in and I realized it was too tight in the bust.  So, ladies, if you buy your gown from DB, insist that they take your measurements!  I should also mention that my gorgeous lace gown (above) only cost about $850 total with the alterations I had done (taking in the waist and adding a bustle.)
David's Bridal One Shoulder Tulle

A few of my friends are planning their weddings, and I definitely recommended that they at least look at DB before they make any decisions.  It really is a good, quality budget bridal store.

Of course, there are a lot of other options for finding a great wedding dress.  I had no idea, but some department stores have a bridal selection! Depending on the store, you might be able to find your dress for a lower price than at a bridal boutique or DB (some also have more expensive dresses, though.)  For example, did you know that JC Penney (JCP) offers wedding dresses!?  Their selection isn't very large, but you still might be able to find the perfect dress for you or your bridesmaids there and manage to stay within your budget.  

JCP Strapless Beaded Wedding Gown
Another really budget friendly option is to buy your dress from a consignment store or thrift store.  It may take a lot more time and effort, but this is almost always going to be your least expensive option.  Bonus: You are also being eco-friendly by reusing a dress instead of buying new! 

Flaunt by Mori Lee - Prom
I have also heard a few people mention buying a white prom dress to wear as a wedding dress because they usually cost less than a "real" wedding gown, but I really don't know if I like this idea for the simple fact that most prom dresses look juvenile because that's how they are SUPPOSED to look. They are designed for high school girls and usually don't look elegant or classy enough to wear as a wedding dress.  
One last word of advice, whatever you do, please don't order your dress from the internet! I'll admit that you can get designer style dresses for incredibly cheap, but you are taking a HUGE gamble by ordering from a (usually) foreign company online.  You have no idea if the dress will arrive as described or what its condition, quality, or fit will be.  My cousin ordered her dress online at the last minute and when she received it, it was GRAY/SILVER and not white!! Talk about panic... just do yourselves a favor and save a little bit of stress by buying from a reputable store and trying on the dress in person.  Remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.