There are few things you, as the bride, may not be willing to compromise on for your wedding. One of those things? The wedding dress! Whether you have imagined your dress since childhood, or are still trying to figure out if you’re going mermaid or ball gown, dreaming of wedding dresses shouldn’t feel daunting because of the cost. Though many brides have sticker shock at their first bridal appointment, you have to remember the level of detail and time that goes into making all those wedding dresses. So whether it’s a specific designer or style you’re after, there are so many ways to buy a wedding dress that looks great but doesn’t break your budget. Here’s how:
1. The Trunk Show
If you’re lusting after a specific wedding dress designer or style, a trunk show may be your best bet. Trunk shows are days where designers will showcase their existing or new collection at a bridal boutique. The boutiques often list their trunk shows months in advance, so you can plan your wedding dress shopping days accordingly. When you schedule your appointment, ask the receptionist about any purchase incentives they may be having that day. That will help you arrive with a defined budget in mind. The offer may be a small discount, or a free accessory, such as a veil, but will vary based on the designer. Keep in mind the offer may only be available during the trunk show days, so we suggest doing your research before hand, and making sure you are prepared to say yes if you love it!
2. The Rented Dress
If you think purchasing a wedding dress for thousands of dollars that you may only wear once is completely unreasonable, a wedding dress rental may just be for you. There are many resources these days offering brides an alternative to buying a new dress. By renting a wedding dress, you will pay as little as hundreds of dollars for a dress worth exponentially more. Websites like Rent the Runway provide brides the option of choosing designers such as Giambattista Valli to Marchesa Notte, and often times you can rent the wedding dress for up to 8 days for $525 or less. Borrowing Magnolia takes used dresses and markets them for rent or for sale, with brides submitting their dresses and gowns for careful review before becoming a part of their collection. High-profile designers are also up for grabs here, from Carolina Herrera and Vera Wang to Pronovias and Rivini. You may even try on up to five dresses in your own home for $40. Just make sure to review the terms and conditions of your rentals, since things like tailoring may or may not be part of the agreement. Plus, be sure to ask about any payment plans they might have available.
3. Consider Pre-Loved Wedding Dresses
If you have your eyes on a designer gown but it’s out of budget, consider your options. Used wedding dresses have become more readily available, especially with websites specializing in re-selling designer wedding gowns. And remember, this isn’t your pair of worn in shoes, or hand-me-down jeans. A wedding gown is predominantly only worn once, and for a very short time. Though it may not be in pristine condition, used wedding dresses afford you the chance to wear the designer dress you’ve been dreaming of for a serious discount. Consider websites such as Tradesy, PreOwnedWeddingDresses or OnceWed, where you can choose from thousands of dresses and filter by your preferred size, style and budget. Also look to Nearly Newlywed, which offers a highly curated selection of sample and used gowns at 50-90% off retail. Bonus? If you find a dress you love, you can try it on in your own home, and wedding dresses can also be returned for a small fee. The best part is, a selection of dresses on Nearly Newlywed are pre-approved to be sold back after you’ve worn it, meaning you can purchase knowing you can re-sell it in their marketplace for no fee and receive as much as 50-60% of what you paid back. That’s a win-win!
4. Choose Your Must-Have Item
Choosing a dress is like shopping for a home: You start with a wish-list of items, and then start to eliminate less important (and pricey) features along the way. Choosing one focal point or must-have item on your wedding dress will help rein in your budget while vastly widening your options. Keep your mind open and try on an array of different styles with that one feature you love that is within your budget. For example, if you have your heart set on a floor-length beaded gown but know that heavily beaded dresses and intricate lace designs can cost a pretty penny, consider a beaded bodice with a simple skirt instead. You can always add more glam with your shoes and jewels later on!
5. Look for Non-Wedding Gowns
Just because you want a white dress doesn’t mean your options are limited to bridal boutiques and wedding dress designers. Consider shopping off-the-rack for a white dress that can double as your wedding dress. Check out large retailers like Bloomingdales and Nordstrom where you can hold on to the dress for an extended period of time in case you change your mind. Also, some retailers offer in-house alterations that may be more affordable than taking the dress to an outside tailor.
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