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So, this weekend I am finally going to start shopping for the DRESS! I don't really know if I'm ready for this- I'd like to have lost a little more weight before I started! I've been going to the gym 4-5 mornings a week for the last month, and I can tell I'm getting stronger, but I don't know that I'm losing weight or getting smaller. 🙁 Boo. I usually do the elliptical for 45-60 minutes each morning, and then do some arm work- gonna want to show off those guns at the weddin' ya know? But in all honesty my eating habits have been very random and inconsistent so I am going to have to make those changes too if I want to see results. BUT- I digress. Back to the dress thing. 🙂

I'm getting married outside. What kind of dress are you supposed to wear for an outdoor wedding? I have some personal requirements or style preferences for my dress.

1. No beading or crystals or any of that fancy schmancy stuff.
2. No embroidery or flowery things. Lace MIGHT be okay. I like some lace dresses.
3. Simple, simple, simple.
4. Support- gotta have something to keep the girls up! I'm thinking no strapless…
5. Budget-friendly, obvs. I'm thinking $500 or less. I'm only wearing the dad-gum thing once after all!

Style Preferences For My Dress

Vineyard Collection's shirt dress style

I freakin' love this dress that was featured in MS Weddings recently. So classy but kinda casual, too, no? Muy fabulosa! But definitely out of my budget. Like WAY out. I'll probably go with something a little more traditional… if anyone knows of any good dress designers with pieces under $500, let me know. PS- I am so anti-David's Bridal so don't even go there. K thanks. 🙂 I know what you're thinking- how can you expect to find a cheap dress and totally rule out DB… well… I despise their business practices. Especially selling my name, phone, and email to every possible wedding vendor in the country. I've been getting spam calls and emails out the wazoo from the moment I stepped in that place. BOO to you, DB. BOO. **end rant** So any other suggestions would be much appreciated. 🙂

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About Jessica

Jessica is the creator of The Budget Savvy Bride; she launched the site in May of 2008, shortly after becoming engaged. Jessica has been recognized as a budget wedding expert by various media outlets and continues to share realistic inspiration and actionable tips to help brides save money on their weddings. Google

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  • you can totally find dresses for under $500 that aren’t at DB. i agree with the assessment of DB and absolutely refuse to even step foot in there. i found a couple of cute dresses by jasmine bridal that are right around $500. try looking for a boutique that carries old lines too. stores that are constantly updating to the new year’s line will have more expensive dresses. also look for trunk sales!

  • My dress requirements are very similar to yours, especially on the no beading front!

    Have you looked at the J Crew wedding dresses? They’re mostly under $500.

  • I’m going dress hunting this weekend too 🙂 But to the all terrible David’s Bridal 🙁 My first shopping experience was at a super nice boutique and I fell in love with the dresses and they were waaaay out of the budget. So sad. So now I am giving in to the Davids Bridal pull. But I have already emailed them an evil email telling them to take me off of their vendor lists! I don’t mind the emails, but calls to my cell phone at 9:00 at night saying I won something and I have to come in to get it??? Please. We will see how this weekend goes. My budget is also something under $500 so the options are a little limited… Oh and some advice, try on some that you wouldn’t think that you like! I said NO to any beading or crystals and ended up loving one that had it (my mom made me try on)! Good luck this weekend!

  • I wasn’t a huge fan of David’s Bridal just because I thought they weren’t much of a truly good deal… The dresses that they had that were inexpensive, kind of LOOKED inexpensive and cheap! The ones that were kind of nice were just as much as the ones in the dress boutiques. So, color me not impressed. Plus, if I’m spending like $1000 on a dress, I’d like to feel like I bought it someplace special – not someplace next to Bed Bath and Beyond….

    With a limited budget (I had one too!), you’re just going to have to shop around. Many places have sample sales or sale racks, with dresses that have been discontinued being marked way way down! Also, I found that at many boutiques, you could find simple but beautiful dresses that were very reasonably priced. Another option would be to try for a bridesmaid dress or formal dress in a white or ivory (or whatever color you want to wear). Devon, the guest blogger at In this Instance, blogged about her dress today – it was a formal dress. And Guilty Secret is going to wear a drop-dead gorgeous bridesmaid dress in ivory for her wedding. What’s cool about that is that for $500, you could afford to get a really really cool (like Badgley Mischka or Vera Wang) bridesmaid dress.

    Okay… sorry for the long post!
    Good luck this weekend!

  • Kara

    Hey there,

    (Sorry I replied to yesterday’s post) I’m all about being budget savvy too, and I’m planning an outdoor wedding as well. I actually ordered a Watter’s bridesmaid’s dress in white (style 9250). For less than $300, you can find better quality than DB if you look for designer bridesmaids dresses. Good Luck!

  • Ok, so I haven’t read the PP, so if I’m repeating anything, my apologies. If you have a Nordstrom’s near you, they always have fantastic dresses for much lower than an actual wedding dress costs. Also, if you go to boutiques to ge the ‘dress experience’ &/or to see what looks best on you, you could always buy a second hand dress, i.e. ebay, once wed, etc. on the web.

    As to the fact that you haven’t lost as much weight as you were hoping to, it might be b/c your body has gotten used to your work outs. If you’re doing 45-60 minutes on the elliptical, that’s all well & good, but are you doing the same thing every day or are you changing it up some? Try using the different programs on the machine- a different one every day, diffrent level- use the stair stepper (that kicks BUTT and wears you out), or try doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), where you alternate strength exercises & cardio & on the cardio side, you’re going full-out. If you’re interested in that, you can Google it for more info 🙂 Sorry for the long post, but I see so many people that get frustrated with the fact they aren’t seeing the results that they want & it’s usually just b/c our bodies are so adaptable. If you are really challenging yourself on the work-out side, you may want to start a food diary- sometimes it can be quite an eye opener!

  • Hi! Stumbled onto your site, also in your situation, and we appear to have a very similar outlook/tastes. Here’s a tip for you, you can take it or leave it.

    I wasn’t really into the idea, but my friend, who’s both a fabulous and thrifty girl, first let me know that Target is carrying a Isaac Mizrahi Bridal line. There are I think a total of 10 dresses, not party dresses posing as wedding gowns but full-on wedding dresses, and all are very simple and chic and slightly vintage looking. Some of the dresses are not really my style, but I found two of them really pretty: the Classic Princess Dress and the Point D’esprit Dress. And guess what, they’re currently on clearance, dirt, dirt, dirt cheap (one of them is 50$ I think).

    I’m sure you’re very doubtful, as I was, but my friend convinced me to at least give it a try. They’re only available online (, but Target has a really easy shipping/return policy (free shipping, free return within 90 days). So I told myself what the heck, and ordered 4 different styles, just to see how I looked into them. The total bill was 240$! Well, I’m so glad I did! The style and cut are fabulous! No, they don’t look like they’re worth 20 000$, but they look amazing, especially the two I mentioned above. They look much, much better than a lot of 500-600$ dresses I’ve seen.

    The fabric is 65% silk, and the construction is amazing, with all the perfect little details that make a difference. The Point D’esprit has a perfect little crinoline and slight tulip shape, the Classic Princess has hidden little pockets for lip gloss or tissues. They come in both white and ivory/buttercream. Be certain to watch the video, which shows the dresses in movement, since the still pictures do not show them to their full potential.

    And I don’t care if they come from Target, like I said on my blog earlier this week ( no one will ever notice and laugh at me all you want, I’ll be crying all the way to the bank. They’re still Mizrahi, who also sells amazingly pricey stuff, and the guy really knows how to dress a woman’s body.

    I’m almost 100% sure that the Point D’esprit is for keeps, and I’ll simply return the other ones for a full refund. If you do order and are not sure about the size, order your true size or maybe the lower size if you’re in between two, because they run just a little big (I’m usually between a 4 and a 6, but the 4 is OK, might even have to have it taken in just a tiny bit). And I’m thinking that the low price will give me a little extra budget for my shoes! I’m looking for aqua shoes, and I really appreciate the cute ones you’ve posted lately btw.

    Good luck with it all and if you want, drop me a word to tell me what do you think of the dresses!

  • budgetsavvybride

    Can I just say how much I love you ALL! Thank you for all the great great advice. I am especially interested in exploring the Bridesmaid’s dress in white option- definitely seems like a GREAT way to save money! Also, checking out stores like J.Crew, Target and Nordstroms are all great options too. This is the first time out so I think I’m going to try to get the “whole wedding dress shopping experience” out of the way. It’s not what I really want to do, but it will be special to spend that time with my mom looking for my wedding dress. Wish me luck! 🙂

  • Guilty Secret

    I’m sure you already know what my advice is going to be… bridesmaid’s dress in white / ivory. Mine was $550 and it’s fabulous… plus it sounds like you have the same list of priorities I had…

  • Make sure that you try out I didn’t get my dress there (although I would have if I had had enough time for it!) but I ordered the bridesmaids dresses through them and they all came in perfect and early.

    But also take a look at the Watters’ WToo Brides line. I’m biased because that’s what line my dress is from, but they have some amazing dresses for the price you’re looking for. And the quality on mine is top-notch.

    Good luck!

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