There are quite a few ways to save money on your wedding attire...as well as that of your attendants. How much money you save is mainly dependant upon three things. The first of these is how much work you're willing to do, and is closely related to the saying of "how far are you willing to go". The second factor is the amount of skill you have when it comes to hunting out bargains. Skill is relatively easy to aquire with a bit of practice. Finally, the third (which you have no control over whatsoever!) is luck. With these three things, you will find that saving money on wedding attire is a relatively easy proposition.
Discount Bridal Service, also called DBS, will generally save you between 10% and 30% off of the price of a wedding gown. This is a great option if your heart is already set on an expensive or moderately priced gown. There may be DBS representatives in your area...check your phone book to find out. If you can't find a DBS representative in your area though, the internet is a wonderful resource. Using any search engine, you can find a representative. As with any other vendor, follow the steps nescessary to insure a good transaction. Get references and follow up on those references. Communicate clearly to insure that you get the gown you want (many DBS reps can tell you the name and style of a gown if you know only that it was featured in a bridal magazine...if you have the date of publication and page number). Get it in writing (this is the most important step of all). Pay attention to details. This means that the date, dress size, dress style, date of delivery, etc. should all appear on your receipt. Finally, be sure to follow up...and make sure that your DBS representive does as well. Keep in communication with her/him and you'll find that any possible problems can be taken care of promptly.
Outlet stores can generally save you between 15% and 60% off of retail. In my case, it saved me well over 99% of the cost, but in order to find a deal like this, you need to be very diligent as well as very lucky. Outlet stores are basically a clearinghouse for last year's styles. Sometimes you can find styles that are a bit older, but it's generally within a three year time-frame. The first place to look for bridal outlet centers is in your phone book. If that doesn't work, you can always try Outletbound's search features to find out if there is an outlet center in your state or area.
Consignment shops are another option. You can generally save 50% to 75% off retail. If you are looking for a gown that is only a season or two old, this is one of the best places to look. Relatively current styles are generally sold at consignment shops, because they refuse to accept the older styles. Since most consignment shops require that the item be in good condition, you are usually able to find wedding gowns that have already been to the dry cleaners. You will generally pay more at a consigment shop specifically catering towards wedding attire, so it's always a good idea to shop at the general clothing shops first.
Thrift shops can be a great place to find a bargain. This option is only for those that don't mind a used gown. You can usually save between 80% and 95% off of retail prices with this option. There are only two main factors that set a thrift shop apart from a consignment shop. Most of the time, the dresses you will find will be of an older style. This isn't always a bad thing. Some dress styles are classic and can be just as current today as they were ten years ago. Others aren't. The other factor that you'll have to factor in is dry cleaning costs.
Other ideas include checking your newspaper adds. People sell their gowns for a number of reasons, and you can often find a bargain here. It never hurts to ask if the veil can be thrown in for free either. Renting a gown is an option that is becoming more popular. You can check formalwear rental stores, costume rental stores and evening-wear rental stores. Any of these can result in finding the gown of your dreams at an affordable price.
Having your gown made is yet another idea that you can consider. Take the same steps outlined above (in the paragraph about DBS representatives) when dealing with a seamstress or any other vendor. Get it in writing. The seamstress (or friend, family member) that you choose should either have experience in making bridal attire...or have experience working with a variety of patterns and fabrics.
You can borrow a gown. If choosing this option, be sure to alter the gown back to the original size before returning it. You can go to your favorite department store and shop in the evening wear section or you can find a nice suit that flatters both your figure and your budget. Other options include: shopping in the prom dress or bridesmaid section for your wedding gown, finding a dress that makes you look and feel great and replacing the traditional gown with it. Truely, your options are unlimited.
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