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10 ways to find a dream wedding dress you can afford

The best things in life don’t always come cheap. Are you on the search for your dream wedding dress, but struggling with the price attached to it? Well, you aren’t alone!

Wedding dresses, especially designer wedding gowns can be very expensive. It may seem ridiculous to spend a major chunk of your wedding budget on a dress that you will wear just once in your lifetime. However, your wedding is also the most important occasion of your life, and you cannot afford to look anything but stunning on this day.

After all, how you look as a bride on this day will forever be etched in everyone’s memories. As wedding planner Ashley, of The Graceful Host mentions in this Style Me Pretty Article, all eyes are on the bride. And your guests will definitely remember “The Dress.” So, what you choose to wear on your big day is a very important decision. 

Fortunately, there are many ways to find a dress that is drop dead gorgeous without breaking your budget. Let us take a look at the various ways in which you can find such a dream wedding dress, when cost is an important constraint.

1.Sacrifice the designer tag

Top designer dresses are very costly, and the designer tag contributes to the price. However, it is likely you may find a great dress sans this tag, at an affordable price. Take pictures of the dresses you like to your dress appointment. Ask your bridal consultant to find a dress that fits your budget, but has most of the features you desire. More often than not, you should  be able to find such a dress in their collection, although it may not carry a designer tag. It is a good idea to visit stores that carry collections of varying price ranges, as well as in-house creations to improve your chances at this.

2.Keep an eye out for sample and clearance sales and trunk shows

Most wedding dress boutiques host sample sales and trunk shows at specific times during a year. Dresses at sample and clearance sales often have their prices greatly slashed. This is because during clearance sales, boutiques try to sell off existing stock to make space for new designs. At sample sales, they sell off shop floor samples at highly discounted prices. Trunk shows usually have dresses that are new to the market and are thus introduced at a much lower price. Hence both options present a good opportunity to find a wedding dress that fits your budget at a highly reduced cost.

Check out your local stores and find when their next sale is scheduled. If a sample sale falls during your engagement, plan your wedding shopping at that time. Take a look at the stock on sale and see whether it has a dress that you love. The only likely issue is that dresses at such sales are often available only in standard sizes. If you fall on either end of the size scale, this option may not work out for you.

3.Make the most of coupons and discount vouchers

Many bridal shops try to increase sales by offering coupons and discount vouchers on select designer lines. Such information is usually displayed on their websites or social media pages. If you are planning to shop in your local neighborhood, it is a good idea to browse through the wedding dress websites first. Also take a look at newspaper ads, magazines and wedding vendor listings on websites to come across current promos. If you are lucky, you may be able to snag a good discount on certain wedding dress collections and get a great dress for less.

While some boutiques offer promotional offers throughout the year, others do so at the end of a certain season or when a new dress line is introduced. Prepare yourself to shop when such a deal is available, if you must avail of such opportunities since they are usually time-bound.

4.Look for places that promote referrals

If you have friends or relatives who married recently or are currently engaged, you may be able to snag a referral discount through them. Many wedding boutiques offer special discounts on referrals. If you have friends who recently purchased a wedding gown, target the store they shopped at. If they have a referral program, you can use it to get a discount. Alternately, you may be the first to buy a wedding dress in your peer group. However, you may have friends who are soon to go wedding shopping. In this case, you can offset some of the money you spent through a referral incentive. Ask your friend to provide the shop manager with your reference, and they will either give you a discount voucher or cash back offer, once your friend makes a purchase.

At Best for Bride, we offer a $50 referral bonus on every gown that is purchased by a new bride who visits us on your recommendation. With no upper limit on the number of referrals we will pay, this is a great option for you to recoup as much of the money you spent on your gown, as is possible. Further, your friend will also enjoy a 10% off her wedding gown price, when she uses your referral. So, it is a win-win situation for both parties.

5.Find a custom dress designer

There are many benefits to custom designing your wedding dress. When you have your dress custom-made, the dress is unique and meet your specifications. No one else will have a similar dress. You can also find a compromise between the price and design features you desire. By opting for economic fabric choices, embellishments and design details, get your wedding gown made to your desired specifications. Hence it is a budget-friendly option, provided you find a good tailor for the job. Fortunately, many bridal shops have their own in-house custom dressmakers. Or they may be able to direct you to a suitable seamstress who can handle the task. Either way, with their experience in bridal dress making, these experts can easily design a beautiful dress for you.

6.Shop in other aisles

If you are flexible with your options, it is likely you can find a cheap, but gorgeous dress that wasn’t intended as a wedding dress. Bridesmaids collections and evening dress collections usually have plenty of beautiful white dresses that can pass of as wedding dress. Take a look at this roundup on A Practical Wedding for bridesmaids dresses that work as wedding dresses.You will find various silhouettes like the sheath, A-line or even fit and flare dresses that are perfect for various wedding themes. These are splendid choices, especially if you choose a relaxed and casual wedding style. Although you may have limited choices this way, it is nevertheless a good idea to consider when you are on a tight budget. You can even add extra embellishments or dress up with suitable accessories to achieve your preferred bridal look.

7.Opt for a gently used dress

Bridal dresses that have been worn just once, but promptly preserved and put aside after the wedding are often as good as new wedding dresses. The best thing about such dresses is that they are often sold off at a fraction of the original cost. Thus, it is a great way to find a designer wedding dress for much cheaper than you would in a store. There are several websites that specialize in second-hand wedding dress sales. If you are flexible with your options and ready to invest time and effort in finding options, it is a feasible solution. If you are lucky, you may even find a second hand unboxed dress, that wasn’t used. This happens when brides decide on another wedding dress after making the purchase, and try to sell off the first one.

Nonetheless, you should be careful when searching for a gently used dress. Make sure you are sure the dress is in excellent condition before agreeing to the sale. Also, determine if the alterations are reversible and you can alter it to your exact measurements if you decide to buy it. For all that you need to know about pre-owned wedding dresses, take a look at this article on the Bride Box

8.Explore wedding dress rentals

If you cannot afford to buy a brand new dress, why not rent it? Wedding dress rentals are a practical and sensible option to look amazing on your special day. Several wedding dress boutiques offer this option. They thus give brides the chance to choose a dress they love at a fraction of the original cost. After all, you will rarely have another occasion to wear your wedding dress. Hence the money you spend on it may not always be justified.

However, every bride wants to look beautiful and wear a dress she loves on her wedding day. If you cannot afford to buy such a dress, rent it and look fabulous on the occasion. You can return the dress as soon as the wedding is over. Apart from wedding dress rentals, it is also possible to rent your accessories and complete your bridal look. This is the cheap way to be a beautiful bride, without spending a fortune.

Best for Bride has a rental option for brides. For more details on this service, take a look at this link on our website. 

9.Buy online

Nothing compares with the fun and excitement of going shopping for your wedding dress at a store. However, you may not always find as many dresses at a store, as you would online. The best place to find a wedding dress that ticks all the boxes, is online. This option allows you to compare prices, designs and even stores. You can finally zero-in on a dress that fits your budget and appeals to you.

Except for being unable to see and try the dress in person, you can find all necessary information about it on the website. There will be pictures from different angles that show the dress details clearly. It will also include the price options, comparison with other dresses and other relevant information to help you make your decision. Some dresses even have free shipping, giving you better value for the money you spend. You can also take your time to make your decision without any pressure. The only thing to remember is to pay attention to customer reviews and feedback. Always pick a reliable seller to make sure there are no nasty surprises when the dress arrives.

10.Try your luck at bridal contests

Search online and you will find several wedding competitions that give away free wedding gowns to the winner. These competitions usually require you to promote their products or company name in different ways to be eligible for the prize. Visit bridal shows, shop promotions and local boutiques to find out about such contests that you can participate in. If you are lucky, you may win a wedding dress this way without spending a penny on it.

So, you see, it isn’t necessary to always buy a brand new wedding gown. There are other options that allow you to look fantastic on your wedding day, while sticking to your wedding budget. Remember that whether you buy a brand new wedding dress or score a budget dress, what matters is you are happy with your choice. Don’t worry about what others think or say. If you are happy with your choice, the details are irrelevant.

At Best for Bride, we have many amazing deals, discounts and offers on wedding dresses all the time. We also carry wedding dresses that fit every budget, that you can view and shortlist on our website. Visit this link to our bridal collection to find all that you need for your special day. 

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8 important things brides should know about sample and clearance sales

There are several ways of finding your wedding gown for a great bargain. While you can always spend a fortune picking up a brand new gown, it isn’t always necessary. For the budget-savvy bride, who wants a fabulous gown sans the hefty price, sample and clearance sales are your best friend. Sales are also held for bridesmaids, mother-of-bride and flower girl dresses. So, look around and you may find fantastic options to dress your entire wedding party with, at very reasonable prices.

Nevertheless, you need to know all you can about what they involve, so you can make the most of it when the chance comes. Here is a list of eight important things to help you get the most out of your wedding dress shopping experience by choosing to buy it on sale.

1.What are sample sales and clearance sales? How are they different?

Every wedding boutique houses several hundreds of wedding dresses. As with any other shop, these cannot be retained for ever for two reasons: lack of space and changing demand. Wedding fashion, like fashion in general, is always evolving. New designs enter the market every season, and all the wedding boutiques have to carry the latest dresses that most brides come in asking for. With only so much space to house old stock, most bridal boutiques will host sales on a regular basis to sell the ones that belong to previous collections and make way for new dresses.

During sample sales, shops sell off the gowns that were used on the shop floor for trials by the brides who visited them. These will have little to no damage. For the simple reason that they’ve been out of their original packaging and tried on, you can snatch them at a bargain price, which will usually be several hundreds lesser than the original price.

Clearance sales are the other option. Here, the reason remains the same—getting older unsold stock out of the way to make space for new stock. However, these dresses are untouched and in perfect condition. They will still be in the original form they were delivered to the store, and yet be sold at a huge discount. So, if you want a brand new, unused gown for your wedding day at the best price possible, you should consider a clearance sale.

2.Do I just turn up for a sample sale?

This depends on the boutique or shop that is hosting the sale. Your best bet is to call up in advance and find out for yourself. While some shops will simply allow you to walk in and look through what is available and make your choice, others let you do so only by appointment. Certain shops can be thickly crowded and you may have to battle your way through several other bridal parties who are there for the same reason. This reminds me of the Friends episode where Monica had her mind set on a wedding dress, and she decided to find it at a sample sale with her best friends in tow. They were few among the hundreds of other girls who were there to search for the perfect wedding dress at a bargain, and it was quite chaotic, to say the least. So much for a hilarious episode, but it is not too far from the truth. If you aren’t up for all this adventure, it may be a good idea to stay away from the sale on the first day and instead visit on the second or third day. There may be fewer dresses, but you will still have enough to look at, all the same.

3.How can I prepare in advance?

Don’t ever assume that you can walk in to a sample sale and just find a dress. No! You need to know what you want to get beforehand. When you attend the sale, you should already know your dress model number and size, or you will find yourself lost in the midst of hundreds of gowns. Brides who make their way to sales usually visit a bridal salon in advance, try on the samples in store and find out exactly what they want before they go sample shopping. At Best for Bride, our clearance section has hundreds of gowns, but it won’t be easy finding the right fit just by looking at it. Our suggestion is to first fix your appointment with our store, come in and try on the dress and find what size will fit you. Then attend the clearance sale with this detail in hand. This will allow you to pick the right dress with minimum hassle, while making use of the sale.

Before you even decide to attend a sale, make sure you know what dresses and in which sizes will be on sale. Don’t ever expect to find the current year and season’s models, they will still be on the rack. You will more likely find the previous year’s collections on sale. You can always check with the store for information, sometimes they may be able to tell you which designer collections and sizes that are on sale. So, you needn’t go all the way and return empty-handed.

4.Is it a good idea to attend the sample sale all by myself?

This depends on how good you are at finding what you want. Remember that this is a dress that needn’t be too easy to spot among the hundreds of other white wedding gowns there. There may not be too many pieces in the same size either, and you never know if there are other brides who are on the search for precisely the same dress in the same size. It would be much better if you get your friends to pitch in to help. Pull in one or two bridesmaids and the combined effort will most likely help you find the dress faster. Before you go to the store, provide specific instructions on how the dress looks and how they can make out if it is the one. Also show them pictures of the dress that are available on the internet, so they know exactly how it looks. If possible print out the pictures, so they can refer to it when they are at the sale.

5.How good are my chances if I have only a single gown in mind?

Not too good, we would say! If there is another bride who is after the same gown, or worse if someone finds the one you want first and decides to go with it, you will not be able to make use of this golden opportunity. There is a lot of luck involved, as most stores do not have too many samples of the same model. Brides who wish to buy their wedding dress at a sample sale should ideally have at least a few dresses in mind. We suggest you visit a few boutiques in advance, try on several dresses and shortlist a few that you love. This will make it easier for you to find at least one of these dresses at the sale. Remember that you will be competing against many other brides to find one particular dress, your chances are much better if you are open to more options. This article on the Huffington Post tells us that many brides who actually nail a deal at sample sales have been visiting bridal salons for up to six months prior to attending the sale. This way they know what they want, have already learned about what will work and what won’t, and hence are more likely to find it.

Now, if you do not find the gowns that you shortlisted, you can still see what’s available and make a pick from those. Sample sales allow brides to try on gowns, however the trial rooms will be rushed and very chaotic. So, don’t expect to spend all your time there trying on one gown after another, just like you would if you were at a regular wedding dress appointment. Your decision will have to be made quickly. So, it helps if you already know how you look in a style and can judge whether a dress will work or not without much delay.

6.What if I can’t find my size?

This is a given risk when you go wedding gown shopping at a sale. Unlike the regular wedding shopping experience, where you can ask the boutique to arrange for the dress you like in your size, this is not possible here. You will have to choose from what is available. It makes it all the more difficult if your size is at either end of the spectrum. Another factor is that many shops do not disclose which sizes they will be having at the sample sale, in advance. Nevertheless, you can always call and check in advance.

The good news, however, is that you do not need to find a gown in precisely your size, as this is what alterations can help you with. In fact, almost every wedding dress has to be altered to fit any bride perfectly. All you need to know is what sizes can be altered to fit you. Usually, wedding dresses are chosen in sizes that are bigger than your actual measurements. This allows the extra fabric to be taken out, which is much easier than adding extra inches to an existing size. Nevertheless, there are limitations on the extent to which alterations can be performed on a gown. If you buy one that is too big, all the measurements will be totally off and the entire look may be altered once it is made to fit you. If there are design elements that you love on a gown in the neckline or hemline, but the gown is too big, you may lose these features when it is altered. So, always choose a size closest to your actual measurements or just slightly bigger. Since wedding dresses are sized differently in comparison to other dresses, make sure you know where you are on the size chart before you buy a gown.

7.When can I expect these sales?

Many boutiques run discount sales all year round. For example, at Best for Bride, we have gowns on sale all the time. All you have to do is visit the clearance section on our website, to find out which gowns are covered in the sale. Sample sales on the other hand, are usually held just before the new stock for the current and next season are due for arrival. This is usually between October and February. There are also sales that are regularly held in summer and winter. So, keep your eyes open for advertisements at this time of year. One way to not miss it is to subscribe to news updates or follow the bridal salon on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. This is where boutiques will be posting it first. If there are any surprise offers or fun giveaways, you will know about it this well ahead of time and may even get lucky and find a great deal when you least expect it. You can check with the bridal shop in advance and find out if they have a sale scheduled in the coming months and prepare yourself for it by that time.

8.Will I be able to use these gowns as they are or will they have to be cleaned before my wedding day?

This depends on whether you get your dress at a sample sale or a clearance sale. Clearance gowns are as good as new, and can be used as such. Sample sale gowns have been worn by brides, although for short span of time, and may have picked up dirt and sweat. So, it is better if you can get it cleaned so it is in pristine condition for you to wear on your wedding day.

So, now that you know all you need to about sample and clearance sales, are you going to try your luck at it? To find out what is on offer at our store right now, visit our clearance and discount section by clicking on this link here.  For more wedding related information and dress shopping tips, continue visiting us at Best for Bride.