Last week I wrote about one of the most fun parts of wedding planning for me thus far – dress shopping! I was in Austin last week and went to two stores…it definitely got me on the dress kick and I have already been again since getting back to San Francisco. Some girlfriends and I went to the Bridal Galleria in the Financial District. We had a great time (and I tried on some killer dresses!), but the first thing I noticed was how much more expensive the dresses were here. It definitely could have had something to do with the stores I went to, but it got me thinking – is it even worth trying on dresses over my budget? Will I fall in love with one only to be disappointed that I can’t have it? Naturally, my next thought was about alternative ways of buying wedding dresses. I know there are many. And being someone who doesn’t like to pay full price on my clothes, why should I pay full price for a wedding dress?! It is, after all, the most expensive single item of clothing I will have ever purchased. Eek!
So, while I plan to try on more dresses at regular bridal boutiques, and may even buy from one of them, I’d like to at least attempt to find the dress I end up picking for a deal! Below I’ve compiled a list of alternative ways to buy wedding dresses. This is by no means a complete list, so if you have others you have heard good things about, please do tell in the comments!
1. Trunk Shows: A trunk show is when a designer (or their representative) brings their collection to a bridal boutique and provides personal consultations. These trunk shows also typically come with a discount on the designers' dresses. This is a great option if you have already had a chance to go shopping and have found a designer and particular cuts and styles you are drawn to. You wouldn't want a trunk show to be the first time you try on dresses because you might feel pressured by the temporary discount.
Click here for a guide of upcoming trunk shows in some of the major metro areas. Also, if you are in a store and love a certain designer, you can ask your consultant if there is a trunk show coming up for that line.
Source: left, right
2. Discount Stores: I heard about Glamour Closet through my future sis-in-law, fellow E&I blogger and deal-lover, Taya. See her dress post here. She had great success at GC in LA and I feel super lucky that there is also a location here in San Francisco. I will definitely be making a stop by GC before my dress shopping is through.
3. Pre-owned (aka 'used,' gasp!) wedding dresses: How GORGE is the gown above?! It is Monique Lhuillier, listed for $3,000 - more than $2k off the retail price. The site I found this one on has so many designers - see more at PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com. I think this would be for the bride who has found the exact dress she wants, knows her size and has time to wait and see if it becomes available on the site. You also have to be the type of person who doesn't mind if someone has worn the dress before you. As long as the dress came clean I really wouldn't care that it had already been worn. And, hey, you know the girl who wore it before you must have impeccable taste! ;-)
I recently heard of a company called Nearly Newlywed. Not only can you buy 'nearly new' dresses, but you can also sell your dress to them after your big day (post dry-cleaning, of course).
Sources: left, right
Here are some other resources where you can find used dresses: Once Wed, 100 Layer Cake, SmartBride
Then there is always the option of getting a dress that is not technically a wedding dress, like a white prom dress or something not branded as 'wedding.' I think I am going to stick with the 'wedding dresses', but I could definitely see this working for the right person with a knack for fashion.
Have you considered any alternatives to buying a new dress at a boutique? Did you have a good experience?