Sure, you want to look amazing at your wedding. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to do so!
1. Set a budget before you start looking. Yeah, we say it over and over. But that’s because it will really help you out. Decide early on how much you’re willing to spend, striking a good balance between the fact that you're purchasing a dress that you’ll only wear once, and the fact that it’s your wedding day, for crying out loud! Just because you’re savvy doesn’t mean you're not allowed to splurge. But set your limit and stick to it – that budget will help you keep your feet on the ground when a smooth salesman is trying to upsell you.
2. Take your time. One true love applies to your husband – not your wedding dress! Don’t assume that your perfect gown is just in one bridal salon. Carry a pocket-sized notepad with you (or your iPad, since you'll want to bring our Wedding Inspiration app along for the ride) and take note of the styles and designers of the dresses you love. Then see what you can find on eBay, at trunk shows, bridal shows, and at sample sales.
3. Skip the beading. I know I know… beaded wedding dresses are absolutely IN for 2013 weddings. But while hand-beading is lovely, it can really drive up your cost. Here's a thought – if you find the silhouette and neckline you want in a particular dress, do you really need a bodice covered in glitz? Maybe not. But if you're married to the idea of a beaded wedding dress, try a subtle design with just a touch of beaded goodness.
4. Borrow a piece of a past bride’s magic. Wearing your mother’s, grandmother’s, or future mother-in-law’s dress is a great way to give a nod to sentiment and family tradition… and it'll save you a ton of cash. If the generous past owner is OK with you altering your new-to-you wedding dress to suit your personal style, even better! Vintage shops also have some amazing finds – and with those you can feel free to cut away. You can also try bridal resale websites, or a charitable organization like Brides Against Breast Cancer. You’ll do some real good, and may find a pricey designer once-worn dress for an absolute steal.
5. Copy your groom. Is your fiancé planning to rent his tux? Then why can’t you rent your dress? There are more bridal rental stores popping up every day – it’s a great way to look beautiful and save hundreds of dollars.
6. Get a designer original. If you find a good dressmaker, he or she can probably make you a bridal gown for hundreds less than you’d pay buying it off the rack. If you live in a large city, you may even be able to find a fashion design student who’s dying to make his or her bridal debut. Make sure you look at photos of your potential designer’s past creations, and sit down together for at least a cup of coffee to make sure your personalities mesh and the designer gets your vision.
What's your best money saving tip for buying the dress? Share it, and your thoughts on our six budget tips, in the comments section below!