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While it was entirely easy to say yes to Dane when he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him, saying yes to the dress I would wear on our wedding day was not so easy.

For about four months, I pored over wedding magazines and websites trying to find the perfect, winter wedding dress. I had no idea what I was going to like on myself. Everything looks great on the models.

I did know, from watching many wedding dress shows on TV, that I did not want to shell out thousands of dollars on a dress I would wear once. I wanted something classic and reasonably priced. A $7,000 dress was simply not an option.

I took two dress shopping adventures. Last January, I went to Spokane, one of the larger cities in Washington state, to look for a dress. After two shops and one maybe contender, I was feeling a little deflated. One dress I tried on was on the sale rack for $400 and fit me perfectly. But, I couldn’t say yes just because it was a good deal and looked nice. I just didn’t love it.

For my next trip, I drove four hours to Bellevue, where I grew up, to hopefully find the perfect gown. This time, I took my mom and maid of honor.  At the first shop that day, I told the sales gal I had tried on about 20 dresses during my previous dress shopping trip and I hadn’t fallen in love with anything. My budget wasn’t too restrictive. I could spend up to $2,000 if I really LOVED a dress, I just wasn’t getting “that feeling.”

And just when I was beginning to think this would be a mission impossible, the first dress I tried on at the first salon that day with Mom and Jennifer was THE dress. It was the right fabric, style and was classic enough that it would look great in wedding photos for years to come. Plus, the price was low, about $600! Not having to max out my budget seriously made me feel awesome.

I didn’t purchase right then and there. I tried on about eight more dresses and had another appointment at one more salon. But, mom and I went back to that first salon later that day. The salon threw in a 10 percent discount because I purchased the same day. I’ll never forget trying the dress on for the second time and looking at my mom saying “Mommy, this is it.”

After ordering my dress, I next had to find a veil, shoes and jewelry. The veil at the bridal store was $200 and there was no way I was spending that much. I found a long, floor-length veil on eBay for $16! I bought my earrings on Ebay as well for $15 and borrowed a sapphire bracelet from my mom. The only other thing I did buy from the salon was my black sash for $30.

As for my shoes, I’ll be wearing my nude peep-toe heels I wore in my friend’s wedding when I was a bridesmaid and Dane was a groomsman and we walked down the aisle together the first time.

For my dancing shoes, I wanted something special. I found a cool, all-rhinestone pair by Betsey Johnson. But, there was no way I was going to pay $120 for them. I waited about one month until they went on sale for $60.

So, here’s what I have learned:

1)  Dresses in bridal stores are not typically as expensive as Kleinfeld’s on TV.

2)  Do not pay $200 for a veil. Find one elsewhere. Also, patience pays off. Wait for sales.

3)  Try to use what you already have or BORROW. Put that money toward your honeymoon!

4)  Don’t go dress shopping without your mom or BFF. Having them there made me more confident in my decisions and their feedback was priceless. What wonderful memories.

This is one of the dresses I said no to. But, I love the satin. The top just looked funny on me. And yup, that’s my momma.
Jennifer, my maid of honor, made me try on this HUGE princess dress the salon had in the window. It was pretty, but too much dress for me!
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About Jillian

Jillian, age 26, runs a weekly newspaper in a small town in Eastern Washington State. Her wedding date is set for Dec. 15, 2012 and loves the challenges and possible snow that comes with a winter wedding. While she's not running around reporting and hanging out with her family of newsies, she is reading, laughing, cuddling her kitty, dancing or sitting on her porch in the sunshine with her husband to be.

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  • Sharlean

    I agree about the veil. When I saw how much they were in the stores I almost fainted…lol

  • http://www.thebudgetsavvybride.com/author/erin Erin

    I used to live in Spokane! What a funny coincidence. I lived there for about 8 years before we moved to Maryland. I was much younger though, I only lived there until I was 10 :) Finding a dress is not easy, but like you, I was presently surprised to find THE ONE early in my search! Can’t wait to see your dress :)