So you’re getting married. Congrats! For some ladies, dress shopping is one of the most exciting parts of the wedding process. For others, cough *me* cough, it was not. (You can read all about that experience here.) Regardless of how you feel about it, it’s something that is on the to-do list, and definitely one of the more hefty purchases. From one bride to another, I’ve compiled some tips for you to help save money on your dream dress.
5 Ways to Save on Your Wedding Dress
1// Hit up a Sample Sale
If you like waiting in long lines, or the shopping frenzy of stores like Forever 21, then a sample sale is for you. Though less terrifying than the scenes depicted on popular shows like Say Yes to the Dress, sample sales are still very much an “every woman for themselves” mentality. Usually, they are timed psuedo-appointments where you roam on your own, without the help of skilled bridal consultants. If you do manage to find a dress, you will likely save hundreds of dollars. If you can survive the madness.
Yasss: Save up to 75% off on brand name designers.
Ugh: Dresses are only available in sample sizes and are sold as is.
2// Attend a Trunk Show
If you have been following a specific designer, a trunk show is a great place to start. Showcasing the latest collection (where sample sales are older lines), each designer will have a short trunk show at selected boutiques where you can try on the collection and save somewhere between 5-15% off retail price. The savings are not massive, but if it’s a dress you are likely going to be buying, then it makes sense to get the best deal you can. Sign up for notifications on the designer’s website or follow them on Instagram — where most people announce their pop-up stops.
Yasss: You can get a great deal on the exact designer or dress you’ve been Pinterest stalking.
Ugh: These only happen once a year, and usually only in one or two boutiques per city.
3// Shop Second Hand
Resale sites like Kijiji, Craig’s List and even Facebook Marketplace are a good start but your best bet is to check out bridal specific resale sites like Still White, Savvy Bride, and Once Wed. You can often save up to 50% on the dress of your dreams, and styles will be more current than sample sales. They even carry shoes and accessories, so, bonus.
Yasss: Best deals in town on a dress that was worn for less than 12 hours.
Ugh: You are subject to purchasing as is, which can be a pain if lots of alterations were made.
4// Research Bridal Philanthropy Groups
The best experience I had dress hunting in Toronto was at a place called the Bride Project; they accept and sell donated gowns with all profits going to cancer charities. Over $850,000 has been raised in the past 13 years, which is incredible. You have to make an appointment, and then you are led to a section of the house with dresses your size, and essentially left to your own devices (so bring someone with you). You can put a dress on hold for 24hrs for $20 in case you can’t decide, but the cost of dresses are incredible. I almost bought one for $500. Best part is, a lot of brides attach a handwritten letter to their dress, for the next owner. (Bring tissues, they will make you cry.)
Yasss: This is a double win — you get a beautiful dress and support a worthy cause.
Ugh: Styles are limited and dresses usually are not dry-cleaned.
5// Beware the Alterations
Most brides are unaware of the potential alteration costs which can add hundreds of dollars to your overall bill. Most bridal salons have their recommended “person” who is likely also highly overpriced. So here are a few things to think about:
i) Always get a second opinion/quote. I saved $150 this way.
ii) Dresses with a corset back vs. zipper require fewer alterations.
iii) Dress shape makes a difference. A-Line vs. Mermaid. Straps vs. no straps. The less form fitting it is, the fewer alterations it will require.
Yasss: A little shopping around can save you big bucks.
Ugh: If you are dead-set on a super fitted silhouette, this point is essentially useless to you. Sorry.
Do you have any awesome tips to add to my list? Share with me in the comments. Happy dress hunting!