Let's face it - getting married can be an expensive proposition! But it doesn't have to be, for the savvy bride who knows where to shop.
There are lots of tricks you can use to find items of choice at below retail value, and your wedding dress can be the best find of your whole planning experience!
Consider the following ideas to locate an inexpensive wedding dress:
Heirloom: Your mother or grandmother may have a dress tucked away in an attic and would absolutely love for you to wear it. Perhaps they don't mention it because they don't want to offend you. Ask around and you may find an aunt or someone who knows of an heirloom dress you can make your own for no cost whatsoever. You can even spend a little money and have a seamstress update the dress's look to suit you by removing the sleeves, for example, or adjusting the length.
Auctions: Online auctions such as ebay, and local auctions you find by searching online or in the papers, can be a great source for cheap wedding dresses. Often women will want to recover a little of their investment after their special day, and you can get deep discounts on beautiful dresses. Once it's been dry cleaned it will be as good as new, and you save lots of money for your other wedding expenses.
Second hand or never-used: Local second-hand shops can be a great source. Set aside some time for sleuthing in your local shops, and put the word out to the salespeople about what you're looking for. Often they will have something come in that you can work with and which will cost you very little. If you are in North America, your local craigslist, kijiji or backpage online classifieds can be a super source for a cheap and perfectly good wedding dress.
Sample sales: Keep your eyes and ears peeled - many designers and wedding shops hold sample sales at the end of each season or once a year. These sales are a fantastic opportunity to acquire a new dress at a deep discount. Be prepared to go early and to shop until you drop, and be prepared for many other eager and possibly aggressive brides-to-be!
Discontinued, damaged or returned dresses: Ask around at your local bridal shops. Let them know what you are looking for and that you are on a budget. They may have something that has been damaged but can be corrected by a seamstress, or perhaps something that is discontinued or has been returned and already altered (thus considered by them to be no longer saleable at retail).
Friends or relatives: Put the word out among your friends and relatives. Maybe your best friend's cousin's best friend had her wedding last year and would LOVE to sell you or give you her dress. In this day of email and instant messaging, your request could go far and you may stand a good chance of finding something that will work for you, especially with a little tailoring.
Non-traditional: 'Fancy' dress stores such as those which carry evening and cocktail dresses often carry dresses that would be suitable for a wedding. Cream, white or pale pastel gowns can be perfect for a wedding if paired with the right accessories, and can often be hundreds or even thousands less than what you would pay for a 'true' wedding dress in a bridal shop. Some of these stores and boutiques even carry traditional wedding dress styles that are very affordable.
This should get you started on your hunt for an inexpensive or cheap wedding dress. There is nothing wrong with wanting to save money on planning what can be a very expensive day. No one will know any different, but you can enjoy a smile to yourself knowing you have been smart about your money!