Bridal Bliss on a Budget
By: Sharon Mosley
There’s one day that many women want to be perfect — their wedding day — a day filled with romance and the perfect ceremony with their perfect significant other and, of course, the perfect dress. But when you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars to get that perfect dress, then you’ve got to think outside the big white dress … or do you?
Fortunately, there are plenty of retailers now doing some rethinking about those expensive bridal dresses for you. Think you’d ever shop for a wedding gown when you’re shopping for laundry detergent? Now you not only have traditional bridal boutiques to help you find the perfect dress, you also have big retailers like Target to give your bridal budget a break.
“The average bride shops at between four and six stores before settling on The One,” says Nina Willdorf, author of “Wedding Chic” (Penguin, 14.95). According to a 2013 survey by TheKnot.com, brides spent an average of $1,211 on their wedding dress in 2012.
“When was the last time you spent somewhere in the vicinity of several thousand dollars on an item of clothing you wore once? How about … never,” says the style expert.
“So why should this day be any different? Yes, it is one of the most meaningful milestones in your life. And, yes, the dress sets a mood. But that doesn’t mean you need to make the commitment ‘Till Debt Do I Part’ when purchasing your wedding dress.”
Here are 10 tips from Willdorf on finding bridal dress bliss without breaking the bank:
—Familiarize yourself with what drives up the price of pretty frocks, so you can choose detailing wisely. The designer gowns, fabrics and intricate details will cost you more.
—Simple is always better on a budget, especially when it comes to your dress. And it’s also often the most elegant and streamlined that many modern brides are choosing today. Price hikes can happen in two ways: with the initial cost and for altering extras. Indeed, alterations of fancy dresses can add hundreds of dollars to the original cost of the dress.
—Think outside the box, and don’t automatically go for a white, poufy dress. You can save big. Willdorf’s own dress was a “non-wedding” dress in silk organza with spaghetti-straps and no elaborate inner layers or beading. (By the way, Willdorf also paid a fraction of drycleaning costs simply because her dress was NOT a traditional wedding gown.)
—Shop at the right time for considerable discounts on your dream bridal and bridesmaids’ dresses. Willdorf suggests shopping in February and August before shipment of new seasonal stock arrives to get the best deals.
—Scope out alternative shopping spots. Bridal boutiques can be one of your best bets; it’s true especially for one-of-a-kind designer gowns. But also consider checking out online vendors, sample sales, consignment stores and now retailers like J.Crew, Anthropologie and Target for ideas. Just make sure you are aware of return and exchange policies.
—And if you really know exactly what you want, you might choose to be your own designer designing your won dream dress. The key, according to Willdorf, is to know exactly what you want, from top to bottom. You won’t need as much time, and you can forget extra charges for alterations.
—Be sure to get good prices on all your other accessories by doing research on what these items should cost — and how to save on them. If you get a great deal on a sophisticated simple dress, you can splurge on a beautiful pair of earrings or necklace that you can wear again and again.
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