Get your dream wedding dress for less

I’d like to think I’m quite a frugal person, but there are some things that I’d just have no clue about unless I did some research first. Buying houses, budgeting for kids, and weddings for example. As a result, I thought I would ask my good friend Fiona over at SavvyinSomerset to give us her tips on how to buy your dream wedding dress for less.

The Frugal Frenchie x

Whether you’ve been dreaming of your big day since you were little or are brand new to the world of weddings, there’s one thing every girl needs to get right on her big day: The Dress. In this post I’m going to outline my top tips for getting your dream dress for less. Whether your budget is £100 or £1000 there is always something you can do save a little bit of cash without missing out on your dream wedding look.

Buy Second Hand

If you’ve fallen in love with a designer dress but can’t afford the designer price tag than buying second hand may be worth considering. Remember wedding dresses are often only worn for a few hours – some people even change into a less glamorous (but more comfortable) dress for the evening – so the dress could well be in a like a new condition. They also tend to go for way below the original asking price around 75% off (except for certain designs which hold their value really well such as the recent Disney collection from Alfred Angelo).

It’s always wise to have an appointment at a bridal store to try on some dresses so you get an idea of what shape and style you like –  often people have their heart set on a certain style of dress only to discover it doesn’t actually suit them. If you find a dress you love at a boutique but can’t justify the price, this may be the time to start looking online to see if it’s available second hand.

There are loads of places online to find second-hand wedding dresses the most popular being eBay and Pre-Loved. These are great if you are searching for a particular dress by a specific designer – the downside is that you may not be able to try the dress on, so are taking a bit of a gamble. Also, the condition can vary – if unsure ask for lots of pictures, someone who is genuine should be happy to oblige. 

Local Facebook selling groups are also a great place to look for second-hand dresses – my town has a group dedicated to just wedding buying and selling. The upside of this that is that you should be able to see and possibly try the dress on before purchasing as the person selling is likely to be local to you.

Many charity shops have a Wedding dress section. Oxfam actually has some stores that only sell wedding dresses and nothing else. If you don’t have too specific style in mind and don’t rummaging through some more retro styles this could be a great way to find your dream dress for much, much less money. And of course, whatever you end up spending will be going to a good cause too – it’s win-win.

 Try Wed 2 B

Wed 2 B is the largest bridal retailer in the UK with a whopping 23 stores – all of which are open 7 days a week. While the set up is much less formal than a traditional bridal boutique (where you are usually the only bride trying on dresses) this is offset by the fact ALL dresses are £599 or under. All dresses are also ‘off the peg’ which means you can take the dress home with you on the day, so no waiting around for it to be made.

However, this could also mean you feel extra pressure to buy the dress there and then as you might not be able to find again another day. Make sure you are 100% sure before you buy. Also, don’t forget to factor in the cost of alterations – wedding dresses – especially strapless ones! – need to fit perfectly so even if a dress is your size it may still need adjustments.

 Find a Sample Sale

The way most bridal boutiques work is that they have ‘sample’ dresses that brides try on. When a bride finds a dress she loves her measurements are sent off to the designer and the dress is made to order. This whole process takes around six months and then the dress may still need further alterations once it arrives back to the shop.

As new designs are released each year bridal stores will update their collections and sell off the ‘sample’ of dresses they no longer plan to stock. This means you could get a designer dress for a much smaller price. The dresses are new but will have been tried on, although probably only for a few minutes at a time. They usually only come in one size so again alterations are likely to be required. These dresses are usually considered off the peg and you will be able to them home with you the same day.

Have a dress Tailor Made

Having a dress tailor made by a dress maker or seamstress could work out considerably cheaper than buying a dress from a bridal boutique. This could be a great option if you’re looking for something less traditional – maybe something a bit more colourful or a different style to what would be considered the norm. 

It also means if there is a dress you love the look of but would like to change sightly – such as adding sleeves or straps it’s much easier to do this from scratch than adding to a dress that has already been made. 

Should you buy from China via eBay?

Ah. The elephant in the room. Should you buy a cheap copy of a designer dress for around £100 from China?

In my opinion, the likelihood is that you will disappointed, especially if you’ve been to a boutique and tried on dresses there. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some amazing dresses that come from China and the brides have been very happy. I have also seen some complete horror stories. I guess it depends whether you want to risk your money and how much £100 means to you.

If it goes well you’ve saved yourself a fortune – if it goes badly you’ve lost £100. Remember that items coming from China could well be subject to customs charges and these will need to be paid before HMRC will let you have your items.

Also, don’t be fooled by UK sellers selling lots of dresses at a similar price and specification to Chinese ones – they are simply buying in bulk from China and selling on so it will be the same quality but you may just get your dress a bit faster.

Consider wearing a Bridesmaids Dress

If you’re having a simple wedding or don’t want a big, over-fussy dress it might be worth considering buying a bridesmaids dress instead of a wedding dress. Even some of the most expensive bridesmaids’ dresses are still much cheaper than actual wedding dresses. If you want to hunt out a super bargain, try hitting the department store sales in July and August. This is also a great idea if you don’t plan to wear white or are looking for something a bit less traditional.

I hope these tips help you to find your perfect dress for less – however, there are still a few hidden costs you may want to factor in;

  • If planning to buy a dress online don’t forget to factor in the cost of shipping and possibly dry cleaning in-case the dress isn’t quite in the conditional you would like it to be.

  • Some (not all) Bridal boutiques will charge for an appointment to try on dresses – this will then be deducted from the cost if you end up buying a dress

  • The Bridal boutique I used charged for a dress cover, storage of my dress, insurance and steaming before I collected it. It was around £40 and I thought it was worth it but it’s another cost to be aware of.

  • As mentioned above – be aware of customs charges if ordering a dress from China.

  • Don’t forget to factor in the cost of dress accessories such as hoops and petticoats and a good bra!

Looking to save more your wedding? Check out my post on 5 things that won’t actually save you any cash! 

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