I have mentioned in the past that no bride should skimp on her bridal bouquet.  To some degree, I feel the same way about wedding dresses.  Unfortunately, if you have ever watched Say Yes to the Dress, you know that gowns can be incredibly expensive – think economy car-sized budget.  When I say, “don’t skimp on your gown,” I really mean “don’t settle for something that you don’t love.”  As my husband can tell you, I have very expensive taste.  I tend to gravitate towards things that are way outside of my price range.  For all the brides who struggle with the same issue, this post is for you!  Here are a few tips to help with finding the dress that you love at a price that will not break your budget.

Tip # 1: Chain Stores

I have a love-hate relationship with chain stores like David’s Bridal (DB).  They have an enormous selection of gowns and are a one stop shop for many of your wedding day needs.  Chain stores, unlike boutiques, can offer deep discounts on wedding dresses and can advertise them nationwide via television, internet, and magazines.  So, what are the problems with DB?  For me, it is an issue of quality and customer service.  When I say quality, I mean that the fabric, materials, fit, and designs often leave something to be desired. In addition, as you might imagine, the larger a store or chain gets, the more challenging it becomes for the corporate vision and desire to be passed down to the bridal consultants.  It is difficult to hire, train, and retain enough people who know “the business” in the same way that a boutique could. While there are some phenomenal consultants at DB, there are also a large number of “sales people” who don’t love bridal or (possibly worse) don’t love brides.  Maybe it is just me, but I want the consultants that I work with to be as excited about the dresses as the brides.  No matter what my thoughts about DB might be, the bottom line is that they have a good selection of gowns at low prices.  Like this one for $500:

Tip #2: Trunk Sales

Trunk sales can be a great way to find your bridal gown at a discounted price.  Every vendor is different.  Some offer a discount of 10% or more.  Every little bit counts, right?  Unless you are just super lucky, trunk shows tend to take some planning to attend.  Here is what I would suggest – take time to hit the nearest bridal salon to try on dress styles.  You may not find anything that you love, but you will get a feel for what fabric and shape you are leaning towards.  Head home and do some online/bridal magazine research.  Find designers that you like (note that I said designers, not designer).  Now comes the hard part.  Find vendors within a couple of hours of your home that carry the designers that you like.  Call them and ask when their next trunk show with that vendor will be.  It is hit or miss, but there is potential for you to save some money, which is always WORTH IT!

Tip #3: Sample Sales

A sample sale really is as simple as it sounds.  It is a sale of the gowns that brides try on within the store, often at deep discounts.  So, I have a confession to make.  I bought my dress at a sample sale.  I found it on The Knot and fell in love, but it had 4 dollar signs (out of 5) next to it (translation:  It was really expensive and my mom said no).  After going to 3 or 4 bridal salons, my Mom gave in and promised to make an appointment at our local salon that carried the designer that I loved.  She called the salon, and the consultant shared that my appointment would fall during their annual sample sale.  Long story short: I am the sample size, and my dress (the really expensive one) was 50% off – SCORE!  All that to be said, call your local salons and ask about their sample sales.  You truly can get amazing deals.  There are a few drawbacks, however.  First, sample size gowns are typically somewhere between a street sizes 6 and 10.  Second, if you are really short or gigantor tall (I am 5’10″, so my version of gigantor is over 6′), you might run into some issues as well.  It certainly doesn’t hurt to try.  Third, no matter what route you go, you need a good seamstress.  A good seamstress can fix almost any problem that you face with your gown.

Check out this clip from Say Yes to the Dress.  It shows the racks of dresses they have at Kleinfeld’s sample sale.  I have dreams of attending this sample sale with a bride one day.

Tip #4: Pre-Owned Weddding Gowns

I know that it sounds weird, but if you have super expensive taste, it could be the way to go. Preownedweddingdresses.com allows you to search by designer or by dress size and height.  You can get some phenomenal deals on dresses that never go on sale.  If you want to see the dress selection in person, there are also some upscale consignment wedding boutiques in larger cities.  Some of the dresses on the website and in the stores have never been worn.  The Vera Wang gown pictured on the right is $1,500 off the original retail price.

If you follow these tips, you can find the dress of your dreams at the perfect price.  Remember that finding the perfect dress doesn’t happen over night, so take a little time to do your research.  You might be surprised what you can find within your budget!  I hope that you find a gown that reflects your style and personality for your big day!

Have a great week!