Learn How to Save Hundreds On Your Wedding Dress

Growing up, my dream was to be a wedding gown designer. After I graduated from high school I went to a great college to study fashion design, even interned at a couture London Bridal Salon where gowns were custom made for brides in the shop every day! It was incredible!

 

That experience taught me so much about the world of gown design, not only about what quality means but also about the time and materials needed to make a gown.

 

RELATED: What You Need To Look For in a Quality Bridal Gown

 

When you purchase a regular everyday dress off the rack, more often than not, the materials and construction are such in which it can be easily mass produced, manufactured quickly and made in a way in which the manufacturer and the seller make a profit. Retail prices on regular off-the-rack garments are much more affordable than a custom wedding gown.

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Now, you might be thinking that gowns are mass-produced, and I can see why: Hundreds of shops across the country carry the same style from a particular brand. However, those are just samples. Think of them as the floor model of furniture or cars. When you buy a couch or a car, you are not buying the one sat in and tried out, you are getting a new one customized (maybe) just for you. You can’t just walk out of the store with it.

 

Same goes with wedding gowns. With gowns, you also have to remember that because this is a gown worn only once on the biggest and most important day of your life, no detail is missed. The materials chosen are the best. The embellishments and beadwork are done by hand using only the finest beads and crystals, the lace is the most beautiful it can be, and that all comes at a price, both for labor and materials.

 

RELATED: Who Should Help You Say “Yes” to Your Wedding Dress

 

While all that is great, if you are a bride on a tight budget, shopping for a dress can be a source of tremendous stress because it’s a huge purchase that takes up a good portion of your budget. However, there are two great ways you can save money on bridal gowns, which you may, or may not have heard of before. However, they are not foolproof and come with some catches. Here are the pros and cons…

 

Save money on a wedding gown by attending a sample sale

 

Going back to the example of the couch and the car, when stores are trying to get rid of inventory, they put their samples on sale. So, the test-driven cars, the traded-in cars, the floor model furniture that everyone has sat on, the discontinued models, it all goes on sale to be sold to make room for new stock.

 

Bridal gown shop owners do the same, and their sales are called sample sales. The samples that brides have been trying on over the past year or more are going on sale to make room for new stock. Below is a video from a recent sample sale at Lambs Hill Bridal Boutique in Beacon, where we speak to shop owner Charlotte Guernsey and a bride-to-be about the sale.

 

 

PROS

 

What does that mean for you? That means saving a huge chunk of money, sometimes up to 50% or more, and each store does it slightly differently. Guernsey says “a sample sale is when we are clearing stuff off our rack, so you’re going to be buying something that was a sample that other brides have tried on.” She says, “It’s discounted because it has been tried on.”

 

CONS

 

There is a big catch with sample sales. Gowns are sold AS IS! They can’t be ordered in your size. Guernsey says, “We’re not going to be ordering it for your size, so it more or less need to fit you off the rack, but you’re going to get a great deal for it.” Additionally, the fabric may have slight tears or holes from brides trying them on, zippers may be broken or buttons may be missing, and the bottoms may be stained a bit from all the walking.

 

Many stores will list what is wrong with the dress on the tag, so that you are aware of it, and can fix most of the problems. Check with the individual store to see what they charge for fixing those problems. Dresses can be taken in, but because they won’t be ordered in your size, they cannot be taken out…much.

 

Lastly, bridal runs small, so remember that when shopping. The range of sizes can be very limited.

 

RELATED: What Top Bridal Gown Trends Will You See in 2017

 

Save money on a wedding gown by attending a Trunk Show

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

The term ‘Trunk Show’ was coined a few centuries ago when traveling salesmen would go into town showcasing their goods out of a trunk that they would carry around with them. In bridal, “The trunk show is when the company comes with their entire line…that’s not in stores yet. So it gives brides an opportunity…to try their entire line on, plus everything else we have in the store,” says Guernsey.

 

PROS

 

If you are a trend-setting bride, trunk shows are perfect for you. Bridal salon owners typically choose a few gowns from a particular product line to have in their stores and usually do this during Bridal Market, a semi-annual event where design houses and the buyers for bridal salons choose the samples they want to carry in their store. With trunk shows, you get to see the entire line of one particular designer, not just the styles the store carries.

 

Laura Howard, store manager of Chamonix Bride in Rhinebeck, says the “designer will ship us about 10-30 gowns that we don’t normally offer… It’s also a really great time to try on gowns that you otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to…They are usually the upcoming season’s gowns or current season not in inventory.” She says it’s also a great way for the store to see what their customers are going to be wanting next season so they can make sure they have what brides are looking for and can get them in that season.

 

RELATED: Highlights from New York International Bridal Week

 

CONS

 

The major con with trunk shows is the discount, ironically. Because the dresses are for the upcoming season, many manufacturers put a limit on the amount the gowns can be discounted. Most of the time, you are only going to be saving about 10%, not like sample sales where you could be saving up to 50% or more.

 

However, 10% is better than nothing. If your dress is originally $1,500 and you’re saving 10%, that’s $150 which can then go towards a veil or alterations.

 

Another con with trunk shows is that if there is a particular designer you are looking for, you need to be vigilant about doing your research to see what stores offer that designer’s trunk show, if they do at all. That may mean you need to travel outside of the Hudson Valley for your gown, which can pose its own set of unique logistical problems.

 

Have you purchased your gown yet? Will you be attending a Trunk Show or Sample Sale? We’d love to hear your story.

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8 Easy Ways to Save Money as a Wedding Guest

Planning a wedding is expensive, but sometimes being a wedding guest can be extremely costly as well. We love our friends and family, and we love that they are getting married, but if you get invited to several weddings a year, or even one every few years, it can be a source of a lot of anxiety and stress. Between gifts, travel, hotel rooms, showers, and what you are going to wear, being a guest is anything but cheap.

 

However, take a deep breath and relax. Part of the reason guests may feel so overwhelmed is because of preconceived notions they have about what a gift should be. First, and foremost, know that the rule that you should at least cover your plate is not the rule anymore. So that should make you feel a little better.

 

Second, you have to remember that most of the time, those who invited you know what’s going on in your life. They aren’t going to expect an expensive gift if they know your budget is strapped. Last, remember that you are invited to a wedding because the couple wants your presence, not your presents. They aren’t inviting you because of the gift they think you are going to give them, and if they are, you may not want to go to that wedding.

 

So, knowing that, I’m going to share 8 EASY ways to save money as a wedding guest without breaking the bank.

 

Save money on your wardrobe

 

Going to a wedding is a great excuse to go shopping for a new outfit, but this can be problematic if you are attending a lot of weddings or don’t have the extra money to spend on a new outfit. Here are some ways to get around that. First, take a look at your closet and see what you have. If you have a little black dress or even a dress you normally wear to business meetings, you can always jazz that up with accessories, sweaters or shoes that are considerably less than buying a whole new outfit.

 

Also, take a look at whose weddings you are going to. Chances are, most times guests who are at one wedding are not going to be at another you go to, so wearing the same outfit again, is not the end of the world. However, if you know some of the same people are going to be there, that’s where changing up your accessories can be a great help if you are worried that people might notice you are wearing the same outfit.

 

Photo Credit: JT Sander

Save money by just saying “No”

 

If your mailbox is getting flooded with wedding invitations and with each one you feel worse and worse, do yourself a favor and just say no. Just because you get a wedding invite, it doesn’t mean you have to go. Choose the ones that mean the most to you and just go to those only. If you are really troubled by saying no, talk to the couple and just explain your situation. You might be pleasantly surprised by their reaction.

 

Save money by making gifts

 

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

If you are crafty, have a special talent, provide services or love to cook, making a wedding gift is a GREAT alternative to buying a gift and is guaranteed to be more memorable than a check in an envelope. Some of the greatest wedding gifts I received were handmade and now decorate our home. If you provide a service, gift the couple a complimentary service. If you love to cook, make them a basket full of your homemade treats or meals that they can freeze and save for a rainy day. If you love to plan parties, suggest throwing brunch the next day at your home. When you think outside the box, there’s several alternatives to keeping your bank account in check.

 

RELATED: 5 Secrets to Being an Awesome Wedding Guest
 

Save money by taking advantage of hotel room blocks or cheaper alternatives

 

If you are attending a wedding out of town and need to stay overnight, always ask the couple if they have rooms reserved in a hotel room block. Check out the price before you book. Often times, hotel room blocks do come at a discounted rate, but not all the time. Even so, the discounted rate could still be pretty pricey. If it fits within your budget, great! If not, search the surrounding area for hotels that might be cheaper.

 

Save money by using coupons or sales on registry gifts

 

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

While many couples have a wedding gift registry, it doesn’t mean that you have to get those gifts from those particular stores. There are pros and cons to this. The obvious con is that if you decide to purchase an item from a registry list at a different store, there is no way for that couple, or other guests, to know that item was purchased, therefore the couple could end up with duplicate gifts.

 

The plus side to this is that by searching for the same gift at a different location, you could be saving a ton of money. Between coupons and sales, an item that costs $100 from the registered store could be half that somewhere else. This does take time to do the research to see where you can find that item cheaper, but if it means saving money, it might be worth it.
 

RELATED: 7 Practical Ways to Create Your Awesome Wedding Registry

 

Save money with free shipping

 

If you can’t find a gift anywhere else cheaper through coupons or sales, you might want to look for free shipping options. You could save quite a bit on shipping, particularly if an item is heavy. What you also want to do, if you get free shipping, is have the item directly shipped to the couple, this way, eliminating having to incur the cost of shipping the item you just had shipped to your house, shipped to them.

 

Save money by “chipping in”

 

If you and others you know are going to the same wedding, you might consider chipping in, not only with the gift, but with travel fares as well. You can all chip in a get the couple a great gift that all of you might not have been able to afford on your own. You might also want to consider carpooling and chipping in on travel costs such as rental cars, gas, tolls, or even hotel rooms. Consider rooming with those friends instead of getting a room all to yourself.

 

Save money by literally saving money

 

Last, but not least, if you do decide to go to all the weddings you’ve been invited to and want to give a gift or money, the best way to save money is by literally saving money. You know months in advance what weddings you are going to. Take a moment to sit down and make a list of all the expenses associated with those weddings and literally just start putting money aside each week to cover all your costs. A little bit each week will add up pretty fast.

 

What are some of the best ways you’ve saved money as a wedding guest?

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