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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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10 things your wedding doesn’t really need

Weddings are expensive affairs, and it is not worthwhile to spend money on the so-called “must-haves,” which end up being not so essential after all. It is quite commonplace to get caught in a rush, and ticking things off your list as quickly as is possible, when planning your wedding. In all this hurry, you may easily overlook what is actually necessary and what can be done without.

So, we suggest you take a break from all that wedding planning for a bit, and actually look at that long list you have. A few minutes is all it will take to analyze whether you need to do everything that is in there, but definitely do this. This well-spent time will help your budget go further.

We have some tips from our wedding planning experts, who have seen enough weddings to precisely tell us what we can do away with, and still have a fantastic wedding day. So, in no particular order, here is the list!

Save-the-date cards

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Save-the-date cards are just another expensive piece of stationery, that you can do without. This is very true if you have a short engagement. Your wedding invitation, on the other hand, is a must-have! Almost everyone has an email or social media account these days. So, just send out an email once you finalize your wedding date, and that should be enough for everyone to mark their calendars. In case there are those who don’t operate online, you can inform them with a personal letter or phone call. Or, if there is little time left till the wedding, just send the invitation as soon as is possible. When you think of the postage and printing charges for a bunch of save-the-dates, don’t you think it is worth spending that money on something else?

Guest books

wishing well

Your guest book may not cost you a significant amount, but when planning your wedding, every bit counts. It will, in the end, just be a book that will be stashed away and hardly remembered. How many of your guests will do much more than just sign their names into it, and what purpose does that really serve anyway? Now if you were opting for a guest book alternative, like a wish well or a wish box, it would be nicer. You could use this in your new home as a wall or mantel display. This will certainly be more enjoyable than a guest book that will be put away with the rest of the wedding stuff you may never touch again.

A fancy cake-cutting set

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When you spend a huge amount on a designer wedding cake, do you think it is necessary to get a fancy cutting set to do the honors? This is an item with a one-time use, but it can be pretty expensive. What is more, your caterer may even have one that you can borrow. Or it may be available at the venue, if the place hosts weddings regularly. So, check this option out before you go shopping. Or, you can just ask family and friends. If any of your friends have bought a brand new set for their wedding, they may lend it to you for your cake-cutting ceremony.

A big bridal party

Image Credits: Micadew, via Flickr
Image Credits: Micadew, via Flickr

There is no right or wrong number of members in your bridal party. If you have plenty of friends and relatives who must be beside you when you say “I do”, so be it. Otherwise, keep the numbers small, and many, including you will be relieved. It is expensive for you as well as your bridesmaids, when they are in a wedding party. The bridesmaids will have to put aside a considerable amount for their dresses, accessories, hair, makeup and the wedding gift. Similarly, the couple will also feel obliged to buy special wedding party gifts and share some of the bridal party expenses. Instead of all this, if you keep your wedding party small and include just those who are essential, you save everyone a lot of trouble. Not only do the potential bridesmaids candidates just have to worry about getting you one wedding gift, you can also skip the extras like expensive wedding party gifts. And lesser the number of women, lesser the drama! Have a Maid of Honor and a bridesmaid, or even two Co-maids of honor and you should be good to go.

Too many details

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An elaborate centerpiece with hundreds of intricate details works just as good as a budget-friendly simple and stylish smaller centerpiece. Similarly, party favors wrapped in cellophane, and then packed into a custom bag and topped with a fancy ribbon will do not different than one packed into a small box. And we don’t even have to get started on how expensive and unnecessary fancy linen is. When there are too many details in a wedding, it loses its charm. Your guests will simply get lost in the several things that they may not remember most of it at the end of the day. So, focus on creating only a few signature elements that stand out from the rest. Stay away from the smaller details that don’t contribute to the bigger picture, and you will save yourself a lot of stress. Instead, devote attention to making your wedding day fun and enjoyable, as that is what will be most memorable.

A band

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Let’s face it, a band is very expensive. So, unless you are very particular you must have a group of performing artists at your wedding, skip it altogether. A DJ with a play list of songs that will entertain the guests at your party, can make your party just as interesting. Perhaps even more, if you find the right person. Also, it will mean a lot less to co-ordinate. Or, if you can manage a good quality sound system, you can create your own list of songs on a CD and have it played at the wedding.

A registry

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If you know exactly what you want in your new home, or you are particular about not keeping anything more than you actually need, a wedding registry may be a good idea. However, if you aren’t really sure of what you should have, or what you will find useful in future, skip the registry altogether. Trust me on this, creating a registry when you are unsure of things will only confuse you more. You already have so much going on for your wedding, and planning the registry is one tiring detail that you don’t have to add to it. Not having a registry will give your guests the flexibility to figure out something they think will be useful. Don’t you think the surprise of opening up each gift and discovering what they’ve chosen for you will be real fun? And, if you get lucky, your guests may even skip the idea of getting you a gift and give you cash or gift vouchers instead. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it now?

The latest designer wedding gown

Walking down the aisle as a beautiful vision of white is possible, even if you don’t spend a chunk on a brand new designer wedding gown. There are so many economical options that can still help you realize this dream. Choose a gown from the previous season’s collections, and you may get it at a discount. Or visit the clearance sale section of your wedding shop, to find what captures your fancy. You could even rent your gown or buy one second-hand, and nobody has to know. After all, it is a one-time occasion, and not a dress you have to wear everyday. If you can get what you want for a fraction of the cost of buying a fresh off-the-runway, designer wedding gown, you must be really smart and practical! Don’t worry about compromising on style or look, when you opt for this route. Check out our special offers page on Best for Bride for some fantastic offers that will definitely transform you into the beautiful bride you always dreamed of being, but without the hefty price tag attached to it.

Wedding programs

program

Another piece of stationery that you can easily skip are wedding programs. It is common practice to hand out wedding programs before the start of the ceremony, and the paper that goes into making it is usually not cheap. However, have you ever noticed where these programs end up after the ceremony? In the trash, of course. So, why should you spend a fortune on getting them printed if they serve no real purpose? I like this idea on The Every Last Detail blog, to use a large signage instead, noting the key participants in the ceremony and order of events. Not only will this detail have a huge visual impact, it can be done at a fraction of the cost of printing hundreds of wedding programs. Also, it serves the main purpose of providing the information that your guests actually need, and in a no-fuss, but classy way.

Personalized wedding favors

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Cute little trinkets, personalized tins, glasses and photo coasters may all be very attractive, but how many of them will actually serve any purpose for your guests? While you may have to spend a fortune on your wedding favors and pay extra for custom details like adding a photograph or message, will it ever be used or even saved for later? The best favors that wedding guests actually use are edible ones. So, if you must have a wedding favor that will please everyone, consider cookies, candy, preserves or chocolates. You can personalize these with a photo wrapper or printed message wrapper, if you want that personal touch in there. If you don’t think this is good enough, the next best options are candle holders and potted plants, that can be established into any home easily. Not all your guests may appreciate displaying photo favors with your picture, so save yourself your hard-earned cash and stick with what will actually be useful for them.

A towering tiered cake

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Earlier we mentioned that you do not need a fancy cake cutting set, to cut your designer cake. Now we tell you that you do not even need a fancy towering cake to impress your guests. You can do the same with a smaller couture cake, that will be just as spectacular, sans the size. Firstly, this means you can have a gourmet cake done with excellent details, just for the cake cutting ceremony. Sheet cakes done in the same flavor can be served to the guests at their tables. Not only does this minimize wastage, there are no compromises on style either. Or, if you are feeling bold enough, skip the cake altogether and choose an alternate dessert. For options, check out this previous post.

A weekend wedding

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Sure, you want everyone to be at your wedding! But, if a weekday ceremony saves you a tonne of cash or helps you get your dream venue which is booked for all weekends, so be it. This article on the Huff Post tells us that guests who want to be at your wedding won’t really mind taking a day off work for it. If you plan the event on a Friday, it would also help them kick-start a long weekend. Nobody will be complaining, I am sure!

So, tell us now, which of these things will you be eliminating from your wedding plans? Or, is there something that you have decided to skip, but we have missed in the list. Do let us know in the comments below.

Best for Bride helps prospective brides and grooms find everything they need for a fantastic wedding. From wedding dresses, dresses for the bridal party and essential wedding services, we have everything bridal under one roof. Check out our website today, to find what you seek, and come one step closer to having the perfect wedding day.