How to Buy a Wedding Dress on a Budget

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eHow Money Blog

Bride tying wedding dressLove is in the air, as brides-to-be across the country prepare for summer weddings. Choosing a dress may be a favorite part of the experience for many brides, but it’s often a pricey proposition. In fact, TheKnot.com’s 2013 wedding statistics show that the average amount spent on wedding dress was over $1,200!

However, it is still possible to find a dress you love on a smaller budget. We talked to Dana LaRue, creator of The Broke-Ass Bride, a blog about budget-friendly weddings, for tips on scoring a stylish dress for less.

Get creative. Smiling woman in dressing roomConsignment shops, bridal sample sales, thrift stores and the like can be a budget-conscious bride’s best friend. LaRue suggests checking out “events like Brides Against Breast Cancer, which has gently-worn gowns, and lots of them. The proceeds benefit breast cancer research, and the events themselves are super fun!” Of course, bridal events aren’t the only places to buy a pretty white dress (or, because many brides nowadays break with tradition, whatever color suits your fancy). “If you’re pretty flexible, hit up your favorite department store and go to the fancy dress section,” LaRue says. “So many gorgeous gowns come in some shade of white and can be bought right off the rack.”

Keep an open mind.Choosing a wedding dress Know what styles you like, but don’t ignore the possibility of falling in love with a style you hadn’t expected. You may have your heart set on a ball gown with a huge train but end up finding a gorgeous A-line dress at a great price that makes you change your tune. “You never know, a dress that you never would have thought you’d like may surprise you.” LaRue says. Often, you can remove bows or flowers if you want a simpler look or add a jeweled belt if you want to jazz up a plain-Jane dress.

Check for damage. Women shopping for a wedding dressDresses from a sample sale or thrift or consignment shop may have minor damage, and they’re not always returnable, so examine the garment carefully before you buy. “Check for stains — which might be cleanable — tears, loose beading, working zippers and buttons or any other unsavory defects,” LaRue says. “Be sure you’ve been in touch with a reputable seamstress, too, who can give you a quote once you have the dress but who has also given you a general idea of her rates so you aren’t completely blindsided.”

Factor in the cost of alterations. Seamstress measuring brideDepending on the complexity of the gown and the adjustments needed, alterations can add a hundred or more dollars to the cost of the dress. “It’s rare that you will find a dress that doesn’t need some sort of alteration, but dresses that have lace-up backs will help avoid ramping up that cost,” LaRue says. “Tea-length dresses are also a big winner for avoiding alterations, as they’re meant to show your shoes.” If your dress needs alterations, find an alternative to paying the bridal boutique to take it in or hem it. LaRue suggests using an independent but reputable tailor or seamstress. “They’re often cheaper, and the service is usually great,” she says. “Plus, it’s so nice to support indie businesses.”

Resell your dress after you’ve worn it. Relaxed woman using laptop at homeSome brides like to hold onto their dress for sentimental reasons, but most probably won’t have an occasion to wear it again. If you think you can part with the dress (after all, you’ll have tons of photos of you wearing it on the big day, and styles will have drastically changed by the time your future daughter’s wedding arrives), consider reselling it to recoup some of the money you originally spent. “The Internet is really your best friend here,” LaRue says. “Sites like Tradesy.com are perfect for trying to resell your dress. You could also put it on consignment at local shops or, if you’re feeling charitable, donate it to a cause like BABC.”

Photo credit: Getty ThinkStock

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