helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank

Dress
The wedding dress is a big deal – there is just no way around it. I set out with the goal of spending $200 on my dress. I visited the big box bridal store and had fun trying on many styles there. Do this. It is important. I thought I would want a tea length, vintage style dress and learned that it just wasn’t that flattering on me. I felt like I was playing dress up with the poufy, doll-like skirting. Yet I loved the look in photos and on others, so be sure to try on lots of different styles.
Lace

Empire

Chiffon

Then, I went to a boutique bridal store. I loved feeling pampered and cared for. The attendants heard my style, located what played to my body strengths and minimized my flaws ahem weaker aspects. I fell in love with a dress that would have been $600 with alterations. I went back three times to try it on, but I couldn’t get over the fact that I would wear it for half of one day of my life. Yes, I tried to justify it by saying I would look at the photos for the rest of my life. But still, it was one day.
I had to throw out the photos of me in that dress, because it would have been easy to obsess.

Around this time, there was a seasonal consignment sale that specialized in formal-wear. A friend of mine won an advance shopping ticket and passed it along to me (Thank you, Stephanie!). It was a great idea and coincided with prom, so there were lots of young girls and twenty-something brides there. This is something you should check out in your area!
I found two dresses that fit and flattered. Both were under $150! Being budget-minded (perhaps too much so), I decided to wait and come back on the half price day. When I did, one dress was still there. I purchased it for $78, including the full length slip with strapless bra. What a deal! I sent photos to friends and family, tried it on for Mr. Wonderful’s daughters and all confirmed that it was great. But there was an inner voice that kept saying, “If you find something better, you didn’t lose too much.”
Each time I tried it on, I was satisfied, but not thrilled. The truth is I liked it more from the back than the front, and I was self conscious of all the sparkles. Granted, I love me some bling, but for our ceremony style it was more than I had wanted. In addition, I had hoped to find something lighter for our mid-summer wedding. I liked my dress a whole lot, but I didn’t love it on me.

Dress 2c

So I took a chance and ordered a dress available only online. There was a favorable return policy and it was right at my dress price budget at $199. I liked it. A lot. And I felt very conflicted. I sent my sister (who is also my Maid of Honor) photos of both from every angle. She helped me talk through the concept that if I felt at all frumpy it could plague me all day. We discussed how I could likely consign the dress again and earn the money back and that it would be okay to splurge on my wedding dress.
I kept the newer dress. I feel more confident that it is flattering to my frame and that I will be comfortable through the ceremony, reception and photos. So, this falls into my “Budget Fail” category, but sometimes spending a bit more is worth it. When you are strict in some areas, there is more wiggle room in others. I’m glad that I resisted the $500 splurge, but also glad that I gave myself a bit of grace in the dress department.

Did you know what you wanted when you went dress shopping? Did you make any concessions to accommodate your budget? I didn’t want to post a pic just in case someone sees me. After our special day, I’ll share THE one.

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  • Rebecca LeFever

    Thanks for this post. I bought a $250 dress at a consignment shop to save money. Still the most I have ever spent on one article of clothing but it was beautiful. No shame in spending within your limits for your gown.

  • Gee | EverythingWeddingsAndMore

    Had almost the same experience, so I ended up wearing both dresses, lol. One for the ceremony and the other for the reception.

  • Amy Swift

    Beautiful dresses!

  • Sharon Jones

    Lady had wear a lovely dress for her wedding. White is always the amazing color for wedding Dress. I have recently visited http://weddinspire.com and found fabulous collection of wedding dresses.

  • Holidaymaker

    Spending a bit more can definitely be worth it in this instance, I can’t imagine anything worse that not being 100% comfortable in the dress that you’re wearing!

    http://www.frui.co.uk/creative_holidays/painting_for_the_petrified

  • Vows for Bride

    Gorgeous wedding dresses!

  • Floofy

    I’m not sure it was fair of you to go back three times to try on a dress you had no intention of paying for. :( The consultants that pampered you work on commission. On the other hand, I understand wanting to stick to a budget. It’s tough and I sympathize.

    I have a dress hanging in my closet that I got for $8(super sales!) at a very small thrift store. I don’t love it as-is and I’m not sure what alterations will run me, so I’m feeling a little stuck. If I decide on another dress then I’m only out $8 but I really see potential. It’s a pale blush ballgown(love!) but the neckline and the back zipper would need to be changed, and honestly it needs a sparkly belt. I’m going back and fourth over the cost of this, and if I’d save any money at all and yet I’m so smitten with the idea of what it could look like.

  • Christine Smith

    First wedding dress is really beautiful. White is the most suitable colour for the wedding dress.

  • Vows for Bride

    Wow,sweet moment!

  • Sara

    I had a similar issue. It sounds honky but I ended up finding a bridal gown at a tag sale that was unused. It is truely beautiful – white with ornate beading down the front and travels around the back with a sweetheart neckline and a cross hatching ribbon in the back (don’t know exactly what its called). It even came with a sash with beading along the ends. I loved it and it fit wonderfully – but it just wasn’t doing something for me. I felt like I kept missing something and really wanted a “connection” with this dress that was meant for my extremely sentimental day. My budget was $300 for the gown and this yard sale dress was only $50. After a few months, I began to have anxiety about the “what ifs” of wearing it on my wedding day (next may), so my maid of honor and I decided to check out a local teeny tiny bridal consignment shop. I will never regret going! I tried on a few different gowns, since I hadn’t previously and decided what I thought I might like (mermaid) wasn’t really flattering on me. The last dress I tried on, which is something I never would have picked for myself, I fell in love with! I got that bride feeling and actually thought I looked amazing and couldn’t wait to show the groom on the day of! This dress ended up being $300 on the nose, and I’m sorry I didn’t look around first before my compulsive buy. It ended up working out okay though because the bridal shop ended up buying the other dress from me, so all-in-all it worked out okay! I think you really have to go with your gut and do what you feel is right – its your wedding and you definitely don’t want to look back and say “well… if I’d only gotten this gown or done this…”

    Glad you found your dress and feel good in it! Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  • kkshoes

    The dresses look beautiful!