Amazing dresses, Amazing prices

You crave a designer gown.  But your budget limits you (ain’t that the truth!) and it’s important to allocate your funds appropriately.  How is a girl to balance her love of couture with practicality?

Get creative!

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Images courtesy of: Amsale, Pronovias, Romona Keveza

Online

Scout ebay for pre-owned, surplus, or store sample dresses.  A simple search today for “Amsale” produced this beauty, for a buy it now price of $995 plus $40 shipping.

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Via ebay seller kam912

Obviously, if you’re going the ebay route, buy only from trusted sellers, and always use Paypal for secure purchasing. 

Checking craigslist, the knot boards, and Weddingbee boards may also turn up a gem!

Consignment 

Search for reputable places in your area.  Chicagoans are very lucky to have White Chicago, an upscale consignment shop only dealing in couture sample and pre-owned gowns.  Brides can also sell their gowns here too!  This is what I plan to do with my gowns post- vow renewal, to recoup some of the purchase costs. 

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{Click photo to enlarge}

Sample Sales 

I know a great many brides who suffer a sleepless night and a mess of confusion at Filene’s annual “Running of the Brides”.  It might be a pain for the night before, and you’ll definitely forget any shred of modesty you have (most brides change right by the racks!), but where else can you find gowns ranging from $2,000 to $9,000 for only $249, $499, or $699!  Even if this isn’t your thing, please take a look at their FAQ section, it’s absolutely hilarious!

What happens when the doors open?
Customers run full speed to the racks; they grab as many dresses as their arms will hold. It takes less than sixty seconds for the racks to be stripped bare; the record is 36 seconds. The brides-to-be stake out a spot on the selling floor, preferably in front of a mirror and start trying on dresses. Even though we sometimes build a temporary fitting room on the selling floor most brides try on gowns in the aisles. Some women wear sports bras and shorts, others wear the lingerie they plan to wear under the gown.

I’ve heard that people trade dresses. How does this work?
Over time, a unique trading strategy has evolved. Any gowns that are rejected by the bride are ‘shopped’ around to the various groups looking for fresh merchandise. This can get complex—one trade could involve multiple transactions. For instance, bride #1 wants a gown that bride #2 has, so she offers a gown in trade; #2 has her eye on a gown being held by bride #3, so she sends bride #1 to negotiate with bride #3. Got it?

Often you’ll see helpers making their way through the crowd holding signs that read “size 10 – 12 in ivory” or “simple size 20 wanted.”

Besides saving money, why go to the sale?
As one bride put it, “if we get a gown here, we can invite twenty more people to the wedding.” Her fiancé had other ideas for the savings, like extending the honeymoon.

Most bridal boutiques offer seasonal sample sales to clear their stock and make way for the new lines.  Make appointments early, and be prepared to purchase.  Make sure you have tried on a LOT of dresses prior to any of these events, you want to know something is what you like before making your decision!

Design your own!

Find a local dressmaker or seamstress you trust, take LOTS of pictures of what you want, and work with them to design your own custom creation!  In most cases, your seamstress will find amazing deals on the fabrics you love and you will get *exactly* what you want, tailored uniquely for you, at a fraction of the cost.

Try Evening Gowns

Here are some gorgeous white and ivory options (under $500!) that would be amazing bridal gowns.

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Images via Nordstrom (l-r) ABS, Nicole Miller, BCBG

The fan bodice on the ABS dress is gorgeous and so in the moment!

So, for those who are on a strict budget, don’t despair – just be resourceful and you can find something you are in love with!

E.