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One of the reasons I’m having a wedding on a budget is because of my general thriftiness in all aspects of my life. One of the ways I’m extremely cheap is in my clothing purchasing and ownership; I buy jackets and swimwear during the off season at 75% off, and will wear T-shirts until they’re falling apart. My favorite gentleman happens to be the same way; in the decade that we’ve been friends, I can count on one hand the number of times he’s bought pants.

So when I went searching for a wedding dress right at the beginning of my engagement (April 2011), I set a firm cap at $250 or 5% of our wedding budget; I thought it was reasonable. When I watch Say Yes to the Dress or look at wedding-budget-breakdowns, I notice the 4 digit price tags, and think that I’m being super frugal.

Only, when I told my favorite gentleman in the world that I was willing to spend a quarter of $1,000 on one article of clothing, he said in disbelief

“You’re only going to wear it once!”

and since our finances are pretty much merged, and we’re almost always on the same page when it comes to finances, I really didn’t know how to respond.

So I thought about it, I thought about spending what is usually 2 years worth of clothing allowance on 1 article. I thought about how I’m wearing the same dress in my engagement photos as I wore to the last 2 weddings I went to, an $18 clearance piece that I found while vacationing in the Philippines. That’s when I realized that $250 is ridiculous, so I changed my budget. I changed it to $42, because that’s what I paid for the last dress I wore only once; the dress I wore to my senior prom.

I remembered how my now fiancé looked at me when I wore that; how he told me years later that even though we were just friends, when he saw me then, he wanted to be mine. If I could pull off that reaction with a $42 dress, then I easily wow my husband-to-be with something just as basic.

So I started dress shopping. I went to Macy’s to check their after prom clearance, David’s Bridal might have something in the highly irregular and deeply discounted department, and online in what felt like every auction site imaginable. I spent 4 months looking before finding what I wanted. I had almost given up, when while on a trip to Vegas, I stopped into a ROSS store to pick up a tank top since I definitely did not dress for the sweltering heat, and found a white strapless sundress. When I saw it, I definitely saw myself wearing it on my wedding day.

So on May 25th, when I pledge to love him for the rest of my life, I’ll be wearing a $26 sundress, an article of clothing that I’ll be able to wear for many days afterwards. Every time I put it on, it’ll be a reminder of the day I agreed to be his forever.

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About Denise

I'm Denise, and in May of 2013 I'll be marrying my best friend of over a decade. By the time we get married, we'll have had a 2 year engagement. I also post on my own blog

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  • I too thought about buying a dress the way you did, but ultimately went a more traditional route… I cannot wait to see your pictures! If you love the dress, who cares what store it came from; Congrats on such an amazing deal!

  • SSR

    Is your wedding extremely casual and very small? I’m glad you and FH are happy, but I also think there is such thing as being TOO cheap, and I think this is it.

    • Denise

      Our guest list is estimated to be 70-85 people, and it’s a carnival themed wedding.

      I agree there is such a thing as too cheap ( some of the individuals on TLC’s *Extreme Cheapskates* for example), but I don’t understand why not wanting to spend a boatload of cash on a wedding dress is in that category.

  • Kristy

    I think it is great that you were able to stick with your gut on if you wanted to spend your money on a dress or not. Your wedding theme sounds so fun and the reasoning behind how you chose to find a dress is wonderful. It might not be right for other people, but that is why this is YOUR wedding 🙂

  • Pingback: Changing your mind: Dress | The Budget Savvy Bride()

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