Looking for Bargains
Consignment shops are good places to find bargains. Sometimes brides buy a gown and then change their wedding date, and the gown is no longer appropriate for the new season. There you have it — a never-worn gown at reduced price!
Ask at your bridal shop whether they carry sample gowns at reduced prices. You might be lucky enough to get the gown you want at a discount. There may also be slightly damaged dresses that can be quickly and easily repaired.
Although vintage shop gowns can be pricey, you can still find bargains. Especially consider this option if you are getting married in a historical setting, such as in an old local mansion. A vintage dress will complement the ambiance of the ceremony site and make you feel elegant.
Gowns from the 1920s and 1930s have inspired the slinky styles fashionable today and often don't cost much. Finish the look with vintage accessories like a long string of pearls or glass beads, a beaded purse, or a period hat.
Vintage clothing is a marvelous touch for weddings of all budgets, depending on the quality and age of the garments. One caution, though — larger sizes are harder to find in vintage clothing. There may also be special cleaning or alterations that will drive up the cost.
Check the Classifieds
It's possible to find a lovely dress and stay within budget through newspaper classified ads or on online auction sites like eBay. One bride found a beautiful gown by visiting local dry cleaners, where brides have been known sometimes to abandon their dresses.
Look in Your Mother's Closet
For a priceless (in both senses of the word) opportunity, look in your mother's closet. For sentimental reasons many brides wear the gowns their mothers, grandmothers, or other female relatives wore.
If a family gown is still in good shape, you can have it professionally cleaned and altered. Occasionally, the more delicate headpieces don't survive storage, but this can be easily replicated by either you or a seamstress with the aid of wedding photos.
I love my mother's dress, but there's no way it would fit me. What can I do?
Duplicate it by finding a pattern, material, and a seamstress to stitch up a copy for you. It's a wonderful way to carry on a tradition and no one will know it's not the same gown unless you tell them!
Even Better: Free!
Do you have a friend or relative who will loan you a dress? Nothing's better than free — well, free except for what you pay to have it cleaned before you return it!
Consider sharing a gown. Two sisters shared a gown for their weddings that took place a few months apart. They loved the idea because they'd always been very close emotionally and this made for a special bond. Because of the cost savings, they were able to spend a little more for better quality. Fortunately the two were close enough in size that the second sister needed to do only minor alterations.
Renting a dress is also an option. Think of it as leasing your dream dress and not paying all that money for one use. One bride who was having a luxurious wedding decided to save money by renting her dress. “No one knew,” she said afterward. “Since the rest of the wedding was so nice, it wasn't as if anyone suspected. We were able to spend the money on having a nicer reception.” Check the Yellow Pages of your phone book or ask around to locate a rental source.