Ten Minute Wedding Tips | How to Find an Inexpensive (Fabulous!) Wedding Dress Online
Recently I have been wedding dress shopping.
…no, I’m not looking to have another wedding! I’ve been shopping for a dress to use in a Trash the Dress modeling session; and let’s just say, I forgot how hard this is! Ruching, beading, fits, styles, colors, fabrics, pricing… my head is spinning, and I don’t even have a wedding date looming over my head! I have to take a moment to give a hand to brides and grooms still in the planning hurricane. Hats off to you couples who are planning a wedding that is truly going to be a celebration to remember, without handing over your life savings to the wedding “biz”!
For you brides seeking the perfect dress (on a budget), I think I can help. For today’s Ten Minute Wedding Tip, we’re going to look at how to buy a dress online. If you have helpful experience to share, please weigh in in the comments!
1. Buy USED online
I know what you’re thinking: “Um, poofy 80′s sleeves? No thank you!” But, no worries: there are thousands of awesome modern and gorgeous vintage dresses to be found. Some are only worn for brief ceremonies, some may have been bought, tried on, and never used, and some have been professionally cleaned until they look brand new. Ebay and Craigslist are great places to start, although there are many online shops that sell used dresses, such as Preownedweddingdresses.com. You may also find bridal shops that sell used sample dresses online.
- Use SearchTempest to look for wedding dresses listed on Craigslist. It allows you to search various cites at once and set a bunch of advanced search options.
- Reach out! If you’re active on a social media site like Facebook or Twitter, put the word out that you are looking for a used dress in good condition. Be sure to include vital details like sizing information and the style you’re looking for.
- When searching online ads for dresses being sold by a private party, look for dresses listed with a photograph of the actual item- not just a “stock” photograph from a magazine or designer website.
- Meet in person, if possible, to see the dress before buying. But remember basic stranger safety: always bring someone with you! If you are unable to see it in person, be sure to communicate clearly with the seller regarding sizing and any defects in the dress. Remember to ask if the dress has been altered/tailored in any way from it’s original size.
- Ask for specific sizing information, and remember that street clothes sizes are not always the same as wedding dress sizes. For example, one model I was shopping for matched the specs for a both a “size 6″ and a “size 12″ dress! Every designer is different. Get measured- by a professional tailor if possible (it’s very cheap to have it done), and use your bust/waist/hip size to find the right “size”. Corseted dresses will be more forgiving with sizing, and they look gorgeous, too.
2. Buy NEW online
Ebay, Etsy, and many other sites (a couple I found by Googling, for example, were Yes Bridal and Bridal Boulevard) sell custom made wedding dresses in gorgeous styles for a fraction of the cost of brick and mortar bridal shops. This is the route I took for my own wedding dress, pictured above. (photographs by the fabulous Brett Maxwell)
- Again, make sure that you are correctly measured! (see above) Most of the negative reviews I have read online regarding dresses ordered over the internet seem to be a case of mis-measuring. Personally, I got thoroughly measured by a tailor (it only took ten dollars and 20 minutes), and my dress fit perfectly. Actually, a plus of ordering online is that if you have it made custom, there is no need to pay for tailoring!
- Buying a corseted dress will allow flexibility in sizing and may save you from an emergency if the measurements or sewing job was off or if you fluctuate in weight.
- Be aware that when buying online, you will most likely be ordering from out of the USA, so the shipping is bound to be quite high. The total amount will still likely end up being much less than at a bridal salon, but remember to add up all the shipping/handling amounts before buying. (some shops try to attract brides by charging an unbelievably low price for “the dress” and hundreds for the “shipping”)
- Dresses ordered online (especially when shipped from overseas) may have minor defects due to the wear of travel and generally will not be of as high a quality of workmanship of those bought at a higher price. My dress had an almost imperceptible mark the size of a pinhead on the side, and some of the beading worked loose at the very end of my wedding (dancing is hard on a dress when you get down like I do haha!). I didn’t mind this at all, personally, and was happy to pay $250 for a dress style that was $800+ after tailoring at David’s Bridal. In my case, I only wanted the dress to look awesome at my wedding. Unlike my favorite pair of jeans, I won’t be wearing it every day or anything.
- When searching Ebay, search a wider variety of sizes- remember, with your specific measurements, you may find multiple dress “sizes” that will fit you. If you’re unsure about anything, ask!
- Remember to make sure of delivery dates. Ordering from overseas, especially a custom dress, make take several months. Do NOT cut it close- the stress is not worth it. Give yourself plenty of “cushion” time.
The search for a dress can be stressful. But always remember that no matter what you’ll be wearing at your wedding, you have already done the hardest part of this process: you found the right guy! So shop smart, buy safe, and always keep your sense of humor.
Tell me about your experience- and any other tips you have- in the comments!