Of all the decisions surrounding the wedding day, the search for the perfect wedding dress is arguably the most stressful and involved process for Tennessee brides.
That’s especially true if you consider the limitations set forth by the bridal budget. That, coupled with considerations like the season you’ll marry in and your wedding’s theme, can make the search downright daunting! Never fear, though. You don’t have to get duped into believing the “wholesale” wedding dress from China scheme in order to save money. I’ve got five simple-to-apply tips to use when searching for the perfect wedding dress within your bridal budget here. Read on!
1. Know your maximum budget for the wedding dress before you ever set foot inside a bridal salon, and communicate this number clearly to your bridal salon consultant.
A bridal salon consultant working for your best interests won’t show you gowns above your budget. The higher the cost, the more couture the gown tends to be. It’s easy to fall in love with a dress outside of your price range that overshadows everything else you may try on from that point on, so it’s best to stay away from options that just aren’t feasible financially.
Is your budget a certain number, total? Tell your consultant this, or reduce the max price you tell her by 10-12% to account for tax and alteration costs. If she continuously brings you gowns above your max budget, reiterate your limits and consider shopping elsewhere.
2. Don’t forget to consider the cost of alterations to your gown within your budget.
As stated in my previous post about getting the best fit with your bridal gown alterations, you should allot at least $200 of your budget towards gown alterations. Don’t let this necessary cost surprise you! Bridal gowns are not ordered to your custom size; rather, your gown will be ordered in the standard size that accommodates your largest measurement. In other words, you’ll likely need alterations.
3. Be realistic about what your budget can give you and about the timeline you have before the big day.
If you have dreams of a pure silk gown and Swarovski crystal beading with silver thread and intricate lace, but your gown budget is around $500, you likely are setting yourself up for disappointment and sticker shock. While it’s great to know what you like about the couture gown you have in mind, you will have to let your bridal consultant work her magic in finding you an alternative that fits within your budget and still boasts a few of the same aspects as the oh-so-expensive couture gown you’re in love with.
Also, be aware of your timeline. It can sometimes take months to get a wedding dress into the bridal shop, so if you’re on a tight schedule, you’ll probably want to go with an in-stock alternative or one that is more readily available.
4. Be a savvy bride by requesting information on sample sales, cash and carry gowns, and even consignment options.
Once gowns are considered “last season” or are discontinued by the designer, many bridal shops sell their sample gowns at big savings. (Sample gowns are the dresses that brides try on in the store.) Often, these gowns need only a professional cleaning, steaming, and a few repairs to look as good as new, and you can often save upwards of 50% by buying one. Cash and carry gowns and even consignment options may also be available through your bridal shop at massive savings, and these gowns have normally only been worn once – or not at all.
5. Ask about the cost difference between the upcoming season’s gowns as well as the previous season’s gowns, and also check for cost differences between different bridal salons.
Does the bridal salon generally mark the designer’s old styles down once the new ones are in stock? That’s a great way to save around 20% off your gown’s base cost if so, and it has everything to do with timing. However, your bridal salon may not be able to give you a definitive answer on a discount until later. If your timeline might be crunched by waiting for the news, it’s likely best to go ahead and purchase your gown at current retail.
Another way to make sure you’re getting the best deal is to shop around a little. If you’re willing to travel to another bridal shop, you could save a few hundred bucks in the process. Just make sure you’re always dealing with a reputable, authorized dealer for the gown you’re wanting to purchase, and consider other aspects of your local bridal shop before jumping the gun! If buying a gown elsewhere saves you money but doesn’t give you access to a trusted and talented in-house seamstress or a clean and fresh shop, you may be better off sticking with the higher sticker price in the end. Know what you need, and weigh your options carefully.
When it comes to finding the gown of your dreams within your bridal budget, you shouldn’t let the opportunities at hand overwhelm you. With a little hard work and know-how, you can find a gown well within your budget that will wow on the most important day of your life.
Stay tuned for the second installment of my bridal gown shopping series!
What ways have you discovered to save big while wedding dress shopping? Tell me in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Knoxville wedding photography Sarah Myers Photography.