The Dress: A Bride’s Guide to Nabbing that Dream Dress and Keeping Cash in the Pocket

The Dress. Need I say more? Oh, the pressure to choose the “perfect” dress. It has to be perfectly you yet be a dress that everyone else will love as well. It has to fit you like a glove months before the wedding yet all the while you are planning to lose a “few” pounds. It has to be within your budget yet the one you truly “love” is just a few hundred (thousand!) more. The Dress and what stress it is.

Here’s my tip to you as you start your dress shopping – Have an open mind and see this for what it is, an experience to be enjoyed.

Start somewhere you can really afford. Be honest with yourself. No one wants to be practical when it comes to their wedding but impracticality has a way of following you for much longer than you would like. My dream was not to start at some chain store. We have all seen the shows where girls walk into boutique bridal shops and just choose their “love it” dress no matter the cost. But, most likely, that is not where most of us are. My bigger dream was not to spend my entire wedding budget on the dress. So, to the chain store I went and I am SO glad I did.

Try to time your shopping around sales. I hit this particular chain store as they were having their $99 gown sale. Although I did not like any of the $99 gowns that they had to offer, I found out that they also offer $100 off all their other gowns in stock – meaning off the rack and untailored. So, I chose from a selection of sample dresses and luckily grabbed my dream dress for $399.00 including a steam cleaning and extra poofy slip. Not all sample dresses will fit just right, so also look into costs of tailoring and see if that is still a more affordable route to go.

Be cautious of using online dress makers. I originally started out ordering a dress from a China wholesale company. The deals they had were just too good to pass up. Although the dress I received was well made and quite beautiful, the way it fit me was not at all like the picture. The picture made the dress seem light and airy and in reality, the dress was boxy and quite heavy. I tried it on and almost started crying. I hated it and I felt horrible for hating it. I ended up not using that dress and selling it on Craigslist. I got almost all my money back but the disappointment was disheartening so be careful if you choose that route and know that you may end up not using it at all.

Be willing to try on different shapes and styles to determine what really looks best on you…not just what you think will look best. I surprised myself. I knew I wanted a more fitted dress, but the final two dresses included one fitted and one ball gown dress. Who knew I would love a ball gown?

Make sure you wear a strapless, nude bra and nude panties. It’s hard to tell how much you truly love something when your bra straps and panties are showing through.

Think creatively. If you love the dress except for “this one thing” then is there a way you can take off that one thing? I loved everything about my dress, the beaded belt, the pearl buttons all the way down the back, the shape…everything except that my dress did not have any sleeves. My family is very conservative and out of respect I did not want a strapless dress. But I HATED the sleeves that this chain store had to offer. They just did not go well with my dress. They seemed clunky with the sleek shape of the dress I had chosen. So, I thought creatively. After a short conversation, my mom confirmed she could come up with something elegant and simple to match the dress so we bought it. Here’s my dress with the sleeves my mom what crafted from scratch:

To make similar sleeves, called cap sleeves, see the post above.

I could not have loved my dress anymore and the fact that I got it for such a steal made the experience that much better. I promise, a little research and creative thinking can take your dress shopping from laborious to a day of dreams coming true. Let me know how your dress hunting goes!


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