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.
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 formal wear consignment sale. 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.
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.
Favorite Wedding Dresses from BHLDN
Editor’s note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more pandemic wedding resources here.