It is a fact that the minute you attach the word “wedding” to a product, the price goes up. Decor, flowers, gifts. attire… no matter what, the word “wedding” makes it more expensive. Knowing this, I had a little trouble reconciling paying more for certain things I could find elsewhere, for cheaper.
Remember that list I talked about? (Okay, okay… those lists!) Well, looking at that list, I knew relatively few purchases would actually need to be from “wedding” stores. I even (admittedly, briefly) looked through a few box-stores and regular clothing stores for my dress! I did know that there was no way I was paying full bridal store prices for accessories, bridesmaid dresses, attire for the boys, or my shoes.
To be fair, this was much easier for me than your average bride. Most men, for example, will wear a suit or tux on their day. If I asked Brandon to stand on a Dominican beach for more than 3 minutes in the middle of July, in a full suit, I think our marriage would be off to a very rocky start indeed. I have seen pictures of grooms and entire bridal parties pulling this off, though, and it looks lovely. But not for us. Our vibe is laid-back and simple, though sweet. He opted for a linen shirt and pants.
We have been on tropical vacations before during summer months, and he had previously had luck finding good deals on linen clothing at stores like Old Navy. So last summer, when they were clearing out their stock, we picked up a couple white linen shirts (one for him and one for his best man). By that time, we could not find pants for him in the right style or size for the right price, so we decided to wait (another great thing about a long engagement!) As soon as stock came in this year, we picked up white linen pants for him using a 25% off coupon (every little bit helps!). So the grand total for his whole outfit so far was about $40. He is still considering new sandals, to replace the ones he has now. He is shopping at Sears and Walmart for them. If he has no luck, he is content to wear his old ones.
For the bridesmaids, I wanted to keep the look simple, pretty, and comfortable. I also wanted it to be reasonably-priced, and something they would for sure wear again. We decided to pay for the dresses ourselves as part of our gift to them.
We started sifting through clothing stores throughout last spring and summer. We even came close to finding something in Brandon's hometown, but since we thought they were too expensive (abut $70 regular price) we opted to wait until they went on sale. Of course, when that day came, there were no longer sizes available, and she could not get anymore in.
Back to the drawing board.
Last summer we stayed in nearby Calgary for a weekend. As part of our hotel stay, we received a gift card to a local mall. We decided to go through every shop possible, specifically to find the bridesmaid dresses. We had a tough time; things were too fancy or not fancy enough; they were too expensive; they would be uncomfortable in our tropical setting; they did not have available sizes; they were not in a colour we could agree upon.
We happened into a little shop whose target audience is teenage girls. Not really a great style of clothing for what we were personally looking for, but there, near the front of the store, was a huge selection of shoes… on sale shoes. And then Brandon pointed to a pair of bright blue wedges; exactly what I was looking for to wear on the day! (My “something blue” of course!) I had wanted wedges, so they would not sink too badly in the sand. I wanted height, since I am 5'2″ and Brandon is 6'6″ (I will likely change into simple flip flops later on in the evening). Upon arriving back home, on one of my trips into a local fabric store, I found little silver notions (my friend said they reminded her of seashells; I was sold) that I attached to the band to dress them up a bit more. The grand total for my finished shoes, which I love: $36.
Well, now I had my shoes, but still no bridesmaid dresses. The same day we happened upon the shoes in that mall, we wandered into Forever 21, which had a lot of summer clothing on clearance.
There they were; dresses we could agree on! (FYI: Coral is a hard colour to find a “right” shade; most are pretty pink or orange or red or bright or…)
Colour: Check. Flowy and comfy: Check. Pretty: Check. Price: Check. Sizes: Oh. Not check.
We went home empty-handed.
About a week later, another trip brought me back to the city, and I decided to stop in and ask if they could order in sizes. When I went to pick the dress up to take to the counter, there were only two left… and in exactly the sizes we needed! Sizes that were not there before. I was ecstatic, grabbed them, and almost literally ran to the cashier. I purchased the dresses, met my sister later that day, and had her try hers on. We sent a picture to the other bridesmaid… done! Yay! The dresses were about $30 a piece.
The dress on the hanger.
These are just a few examples where not shopping at a “wedding store” worked out for us, and, in doing so, saved us money. We have tried to do this as much as possible.
Where are some places you have decided to veer away from traditional “wedding shops”?