Post It Notes – 2nd December 2011: How to Save Money on Your Wedding Dress

For this week’s wedding note I thought I’d blog some money saving ideas relating to the wedding dress. Although, yes, your wedding dress may well be the most expensive dress you’ll ever own, I’m well aware that the average price of somewhere between £1000 – £2000, is going to be out of a lot of bride’s budgets.

Vintage

Photography Credit: Annamarie Stepney Photography (full wedding here)

Vintage wedding dresses are hugely popular right now but this does mean that a lot of vintage shops have hiked up their prices. But if you do your research, you can still get vintage gowns for a song. Try non-wedding specific shops like Beyond Retro where prices are likely to be lower. Vintage wedding-specific dress shops like For Coat No Knickers in London will even alter your own dress if you find a bargain elsewhere.

Vintage Reproduction

Photography Credit: Martyn & Clare Wheatley (Sinister Pictures) (full wedding here)

Vintage reproduction dresses are also a great way to get the vintage ‘look’ without the price tag. A frustrating thing about searching for genuine vintage dresses is that often the sizes are very small. Places like Vivien of Holloway, Honeypie BoutiqueDolly Couture and Peppermint Pretty, make gorgeous vintage-inspired gowns that are both affordable and can be made in any size.

Charity Shops

Photography Credit: Emma Case Photography (full wedding here)

Why not check out your local charity shop? Barnardos and Oxfam even have specialty wedding dress branches where you may well pick up an utter bargain!

I also found out recently that Sue Ryder regularly even have massive sales (there’s one quite local to me in Nettlebed – I must make it down there!) where a lot of vintage shops and ‘trendy’ charity shops go to pick up stock. You have to go really early and probably queue up to get the best bargains (I’ve been told that you have to prepare yourself for a bit of a scrum!) but if you’re on a budget this is AMAZING. My sister even picked up a 1960’s coffee table from one of these sales for a fiver!

Secondhand

Photography Credit: We Love Pictures (full wedding here)

Websites like preownedweddingdresses.com and oncewed.com sell used wedding dresses from independent sellers. Brides can upload their dress details and photos after their wedding, plus their asking price. This is great for newlyweds who want to make some money back on their dress as well as brides-to-be who can’t afford to buy their dream dress brand new!

The High Street

Photography Credit: Amy Radcliffe Photography (full wedding here)

If you’re on a budget, the great British high street is an amazing place to look for wedding dresses. Stores like Monsoon and Coast have wedding dress lines and prices start from around the £100-mark! However don’t restrict yourself to just their wedding dress lines, especially in Spring, you’ll see loads of white and light coloured dresses all over the high street. One of my favourite high street dresses this year was this beaut from Traffic People Price? £50!

Something Borrowed

Photography Credit: Laura Burlton Photography (full wedding here)

It’s not for everyone, the idea of wearing your Mother’s wedding dress is hugely sentimental…although if your parent’s got married in the 80’s you might want to think twice…

If the dress isn’t perfect, and your Mum doesn’t mind of course, why not have it altered, reshaped or use the fabric in a new dress? When I was younger, I always thought I’d wear my Mum’s wedding dress. It was actually my Grandmother’s before her and is a beautiful gown. However my Mum was a ballet dancer when she got married so she was teeny tiny so there was no way I was going to get even one leg into it. Plus, with it being her Mother’s dress I don’t think she would have wanted it cut up either. It’s such a lovely idea though.

Bespoke

Photography Credit: Jacqui McSweeney Photography (full shoot here)

Having a dress made especially for you sounds totally opulent right? Well surprisingly, this route may not be as pricey as you might imagine. It’s all about finding the right dressmaker for you. Do your research and look at local seamstresses as well as ones that specialise in wedding dresses. Many smaller or independent wedding dress designers will also work with you to make something one of a kind. Try Tobi Hannah, Joanne Flemming or Alexandra King for example.

Add some Jazz

Photography Credit: Bright Girl Photography (full wedding on the blog soon)

A great way to make your dress look more expensive than it was, is to buy a simple gown and accessorise it yourself. Not only will this add some personality to your dress, but it will mean you’re wearing something really unique. How about a brightly coloured sash, a sparkly belt, felt flowers (try Princess Lasertron) or vintage brooches? You could even make your own rainbow petticoat! The possibilities are endless, just use your imagination baby!

17 comments

  1. Szerdi Nagy

    Thank you so much for this! Right at this very moment I am scouring the web for cheap vintagey dresses! Doesnt help that I am in South Africa though…

  2. Beautiful pictures Kat, and some brilliant money saving tips. I’ve gone for a HoneyPie reproduction dress and added my own personality to it. So excited to wear it on February 29th!

  3. Great article!

    I only found out about the Barnardos shop last year when my friend was looking for a dress and I was amazed by the selection! So many different styles from all decades.

    Another one of my friend is planning on wearing a vintage kimono for her wedding so that give me and my friends to wear ours. I think I might be helping her get dressed which would be so much fun.

    I personally went down the bespoke route and found a lovely corset maker who made my wedding dress for less then £500 and now have a nice corset to wear for parties.

  4. Lou Liddy

    Fab article, wish I had read this before I brought my dress – although I got mine from a bridal shop in their sale, and haggled the price down even further and got all my alterations thrown in for free – so all in all under £400 – defo worth negotiating.

  5. Thanks for putting my Wedding Dress up in this post, Kat! The prices of some dresses make me wince… our budget was not limitless.

    The great thing about vintage reproduction is that you can customise it without feeling that you are destroying something really vintage. I knew I wanted a short dress (to dance in!) and could not bring myself to take the scissors to a vintage gown. I am lucky to have a talented seamstress in the family so she shortened the dress and made the satin sash (with an oversized bustle bow on the back) to customise it.

    Cx

  6. I got a £1500 designer dress second hand on ebay for £400. BOOM!

    It doesn’t actually fit me yet (need to drop a dress size) but that’s not the point…

  7. i bought that traffic people dress after i saw the wedding you posted on here kat… and i am still considering it…. but i think i will change my mind a zillion times before the actual day! hahaha. great ideas.

  8. carol

    I Got mines for £20 in a charity shop and the alterations/fittings are less than a £100. I cant believe i will have a vintage dress exactly the way i want!!!

  9. Great pointers!! I also tried to find a great deal when I was dress shopping, and I ended up purchasing my dress online. :) I had been professionally measured and choose a dress with a corset back to ensure that I had the best chances of a great fit, and it worked out great! I got a design that I had found in a bridal shop but was unable to afford there… online, it was only $250! :D

  10. Those dresses are all sooo pretty! I found my dress in a costume shop, in the rental section, and it was love at first sight… especially since it was $100.

  11. Fiona`

    Fab post -I am having my dress made by Gilly Woo in Bristol and it’s coming in at about £700, whilst this is not the cheapest ever it’s still something that has been designed for me and made to fit me with all the fun that all that involves for less than the price of an ‘off the peg’ bridal dress.

  12. Kari

    Lovely post! I found a simple ivory/oyster colored Chinese brocade shift dress with matching jacket at an antique shop while visiting family for only $19! I knew right then and there I would be married in that dress (even if it took a couple years to find my dream guy). My husband said the dress made me look like a classic movie starlet playing a princess, which I took as a super compliment, haha.

  13. caseii

    Great post it! For a repro dress you could also try hot couture in australia. they just added a wedding section and the prices are good too! I still havent decided on my dress. But this post makes me wonder about other unusual options to find it. :)

  14. Kate

    My mum’s dress just ain’t my bag! I tried on a couple of dresses at a wedding fair, got an idea of what I liked, then ebay ebay ebay! The fit is a tiny bit off, but I’m getting it adjusted by a dress maker, and a lacey shrug made to match, saving about £1500 off my dream dress new x

  15. Amy

    I got it at a bridal outlet known for being reasonable in Beverley. Less than £500 but haven’t had alterations yet. Buying accessories all over in sales and things, got a cute lace jacket thing in debenhams a fraction of what it used to cost. SALES FOREVER!

  16. Made mine myself. Got exactly what I wanted. Spent fuck all. Sometimes I walk past fancy wedding boutiques with perfectly hideous dresses in the windows (honestly. Some of them just look like piles of tissue paper) and I laugh, and laugh and laugh. Then I see some poor woman trying on these horrors and I want to run in and save her.

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