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Knowing my budget wouldn’t take me very far, I began dress shopping resigned to the idea that I would have to buy my wedding dress second-hand because I thought it was the only way to find a dress in my price range.

I started my search by pinning a bunch of dresses I liked on my Pinterest board. I didn’t know what I liked, so the boards were helpful in that regard. It even provided an opportunity for Sherrod to weigh in which was important to me. In the process, I discovered our tastes were along the same lines. I like simple with a little drama and he made sure to tell me what he didn’t like—in his words it was anything that looked like “princess frills” or “a scratched dandelion.” I still don’t get where he came up with the scratched dandelion analogy, but it basically encompasses any gown that has a lot of ruffles and fluffiness in the skirt.

Ultimately, I settled on the trumpet/mermaid style dress, and between my thoughts and Sherrod's came up with these rules:

  • No lace
  • No beading
  • No bubble hems

Creating a vision was the easiest part of my journey. I found a lot of beautiful gowns…BUT, they weren’t in the budget.

Essence of Australia, Jim Helm, Allure Bridal

Not this one, this one, or this one…

Source: Essence of Australia, Jim Helm, Allure Bridal

I liked them, but I wasn’t particularly moved to fork over several hundred dollars for a second-hand dress that may have more issues than what the seller had indicated. There were also a ton of counterfeit dress makers posing as brides trying to pass off their knock-offs as an authentic dress which made it really hard to tell what was real and what wasn't. I’d also been to salons and seen a number of consigned dresses with hefty price tags that probably shouldn’t have even been on the rack. Those things along with the rude service I received at a couple of boutiques left me feeling a little deflated. I did have some good experiences, but I was still left wanting-I still didn't have a dress.

In the midst of handling some BSB housekeeping, Jessica mentioned the names of a few vendors that I hadn’t heard of. Light in the Box (LITB) happened to be one of them. My curiosity got the best of me, so I checked them out. I wasn’t impressed by the website…I wasn’t sure if the deals were as good as they appeared (in terms of quality). It was unfathomable to me that anyone could buy a “nice” chapel length gown for $200. In my first survey of LITB dresses, I found three that caught my fancy.

mermaid style dress
Photos courtesy of

Source:  Dress 1, Dress 2, Dress 3

The prices of the dresses fell into a $200-300 range. I didn’t want to believe it; it would be just my luck to get my hopes up and get let down. So, I read the comments. I saw real brides all over the world who spoke a multitude of languages praise LITB for providing them quality dresses and helping to make them feel beautiful on their wedding day. It was touching and I was moved, but not moved enough to make THE move.  There had to be a catch…

On my last bridal salon visit I saw a dress identical to one of the dresses that caught my fancy on LITB’s website. I tried it on. It was my favorite dress of everything I’d seen in person. I was almost ready to buy it because I’d seen it and felt it, BUT it was THREE times the price of what was being offered by LITB—THREE! That was all I needed to be convinced to give LITB a try. The best case scenario would leave me with a great bit of money in my dress budget; the worst case scenario meant I might lose out on some money (but I could try to recoup as much money as possible through resale).

Even after my mind was made up, I labored over my decision because I couldn’t afford to lose money on our already tight budget. Well, my decision really paid off. I received my dress in less than two weeks from the time I placed my order which has to be some sort of record. The best part was that it fit LIKE A GLOVE. It was almost tear inducing to be able to see myself in it for the first time. And just thinking about it makes my eyes sweat a little bit.  It felt something like winning the lottery and thank goodness there wasn't a catch!

I initially thought that obtaining my wardrobe (dress, alterations, shoes, etc.) for under $800 would be a challenge and it was…until LITB caused a complete paradigm shift in my understanding of what a wedding dress costs. Everywhere budget brides look, we’re given the advice to buy sample gowns or pre-owned gowns if we want nice gowns for less than retail value. If I wanted to pay for a designer’s name brand, I might go that route; but if you’re familiar with my budget philosophy, you know I’m not into that. I am the woman who will make my dress, not the other way around.

Nonetheless, finding a wedding gown is such a personal experience—there’s no right or wrong way to do it.  There are so many things to consider in terms of what you're looking for in a dress.  I entered the dress market a bit misinformed about what my options were, so if you were anything like me, you might benefit from my testimony.  Shopping online isn't for everyone nor is the boutique experience.  But you don't have to stop there.  The wedding experience can be whatever you want it to be. If you want the “it” designer’s gown—go on! If you want designer gowns for a deal—shop pre-owned and samples. Steer clear of websites that offer knock-off designer gowns for dirt cheap prices because a cheat is a cheat is a cheat. It’s illegal and you very well might experience a devastating loss. If you really want a gown with an affordable price tag that also looks amazing, try an online retailer like LITB.

My experience with LITB was so great that my bridesmaids also joined the party. The last thing I wanted was for my girls to be in a dress they didn’t like and/or that cost too much money. They will be wearing LITB’s fabulous convertible gown in black. It’s a flattering dress they can wear again, and again, and again; and each time it can look like a different gown every time. Similar to my dress, they arrived very quickly, within two to three weeks.

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

When Jessica mentioned that I bought my wedding dress from LITB, the reps were so excited that they sent me their recommended veil and petticoat for the dress I purchased. I hadn’t thought about those items at the time of my dress purchase, but when I did think about it and checked out LITB's accessories, I was equally as surprised to see how affordable they are. At the time I found out about LITB's complimentary gesture, I’d had those very items in my cart to purchase. For FTC purposes, I must tell you that all of the contained opinions are my own…but LITB didn’t have to offer me a thing to sing their praises. I found Jessica’s casual mention of LITB a gift and I’m just spreading the good news.

I don’t know everything about weddings and I’m no Suze Orman. However, I know quality and how to save a dollar or two, but never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined getting my entire wedding wardrobe brand “spanking” new for under $400. One of my bridesmaids jokingly said I stole my dress. I didn’t, but it sure feels like it. I was proud of my resourcefulness when it came to finding our venue, and I was even more proud of how my resourcefulness paid off when it came to putting together our save-the-dates. Still, none of that trumped the feeling I felt when I slipped into my dress. It fit me like a glove, gave me every bit of the muted drama I wanted, AND the price was right. I found THE one!

Can you guess which dress I chose?

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About Bianca

I’m Bianca, a Washingtonian transplant from Chicago’s Southside. During the day, I work for the people; after hours, I moonlight as an artist and avid DIYer. On May 10, 2014, I’ll wed my love of 4 years in Atlanta, GA and add a few letters to my list of achievements…M – R – S.

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  • Laura W

    I’m going to guess the first one. When I was reading, I was getting mad because I wanted to know which one you picked, but then I remembered we have to guess. I am so happy you got your dream dress for your budget. I sometimes dabble in The Knot community boards, and several brides have come across LITB and wondered about its legitimacy. I piped in and mentioned this is where you got your dress. It really is a steal, and sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to get what you want. I have been nothing but pleased with LITB and recommend them when I can. And now I’m ready to see you in your dress (three more months!).

    • LOL! 🙂 I can’t wait to do the dress reveal. I agree, LITB is a budget bride’s dream. I think it’s related to the place Sarah bought her dress, JJ’s House.

  • Jess

    I bought my dress online too! I got mine from for half the price of a local salon. I was nervous that it would be a disaster but it arrived (2-weeks early) in perfect condition and fits me beautifully. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • mila

    You mention that it fit like a glove but you never said what the quality was like! Is it a nice fabric? How did it compare to others you tried on?

    • Hi Mila, the fabric is delicate, nice and very much like the other dresses I tried on. The bodice is structured VERY well. It wasn’t so heavy that I felt like I needed a “wide-load” sign on my butt either. Some of the dresses I tried on were a bit much in that regard. I have the petticoat, but haven’t had any of my girlfriends over to help me put the whole ensemble together. Most of their dresses have a corset back, which I love and is very forgiving towards an extra pound or two.

  • Dana

    I really need to sit down and spend some time going though their site! On a quick glance, they have some totally cute hair pieces (which are still on my list to find!)

    • The prices are crazy affordable on so many things which has made my shopping a little addictive. I wish I would stop looking at the website because I continue to find things I want to buy. Because of my orders, I’ve already gotten to know my local DHL folks. SMH

  • Crys

    I am also getting my dress from lightinthebox. The reason why I chose them is because you can get your dress in any color you want. And I don’t want white or ivory 🙂
    Since you said you got a petticoat I will say you chose #2, but I sure do hope you chose #1. It’s beautiful. Please let us know how all the dresses turned out.

  • Keisha

    Congrats Bianca!!!!

    I thank you for this information. My wedding date in August 30,2014. I have not decided on a dress but I seen your beautiful gown and may purchase from LITB. What color is your gown?

    • Thanks Keisha! I purchased my gown in white.

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