Save money on your wedding dresses with style. While looking fabulous!

By Maddy Burrows

There are plenty of choices open for a thrifty bride, here's how to do it & where to look!

When you’re stuck with a high-street budget, or you just can’t bear the thought of spending several months’ rent on a dress that you’re likely to only ever wear once in your life, you may feel that your options are limited- however, you’d be wrong! Believe it or not, it's possible to be a thrifty bride and still look fabulous on your special day, you just need to know where to look! Bridal boutiques, the high-street, eBay, charity shops and many more- here is a overview of some pros and cons of affordable wedding dress retailers.

When to hit the High Street?

Your initial thought might be exploring the high-street in search of a good deal; if it falls in line with the time of your wedding, it may be worth checking the January sales for a bargain

Larger specialist outlets like WED2BE offer a huge selection of dresses, which range in price from £40-£599;but if you’re planning to shop at the lower end of the scale, you’re unlikely to get that classic wedding dress ‘train’ that has become synonymous with the occasion. They run frequent competitions on their Facebook pages, which are worth checking out if you fancy being in with the chance of winning your dream dress!

Check out British high-street staples such as Monsoon, M&S, Debenhams, and John Lewis. These may be an easy, visible option and they, have seasonal sales, and you don’t have to book a viewing; however, as they are not specialist bridal shops their collections are likely to be smaller, and someone may have seen your dress before- if that’s something that bothers you!

Searching on Ebay

One of the options that was suggested to me when I started looking for my dress was to order one online from Chinese dressmakers on Ebay, costing a fraction of what British retailers charge. There are, however, quite a few pitfalls; you have to factor in shipping time- some parcels can take up to three months to arrive from China, and some never do. This isn’t good for brides who need to get married soon.

You should make sure you buy from a trusted seller- it’s one thing being refunded by Paypal if things go tits up, but having to stress shop for another wedding dress is not fun!


Try your thrifty luck at a charity shop

Another option that may serve you well (depending on how lucky you feel), is to try cruising the charity shops in search of a good deal. Some well known shops like OXFAM even have their own wedding dress departments- but I would suggest booking an appointment with them, just to ensure that you get a proper look around the dresses without any interruptions!

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket; because these dresses are second hand, it can be a bit of a lottery whether or not you find one which you like, and is in your size;  if you do find one that fits, be sure to check it for any signs that its previous owner might have gone for a little adventure after her big day! When we went charity shop hunting we found a variety of armpit stains, mud scuffs, and chocolate specs on the dresses in question- not bridal accessories that I’m sure anyone wants to wear!

Second hand websites

There are a variety of other second hand options to explore besides charity shops,  like OnceWed, Bride2Bride,  and StillWhite- more often than not, these dresses have only been worn once and come at a massive discount!

Do it yourself

If you happen to be a competent enough seamstress, then the DIY route could be for you; it’s more fun than dress shopping, and when someone inevitably asks where you got your dress from, you can proudly tell them that you did it yourself. There are plenty of stunning patterns to choose from online, a lot of them are under £10! However, a word or two of caution: dressmaking takes a long time, so make sure that you start early, quality fabrics are also expensive, so do your research!

Use your loyalty card

You’ll find that some stores that you regularly shop at, like Tesco, offer loyalty cards- you probably already have one. These can be redeemed as food vouchers in restaurants, or they can be spent in store.  Tesco actually has its own range of clothing called F&F, and they also stock wedding dresses! Instead of going out for a pizza, it might be worth saving your Clubcard points up and buying a dress instead.

Top Takeaway

With the average wedding in the UK costing a whopping  £24K, a wedding dress can be a sizable chunk of this, with the average bride-to-be forking out around £1000. It may be your ‘big day’, but this doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank! Remember that the wedding industry is huge, there are a lot of different outlets to explore, and, in this age of technology, affordable fashion is more accessible than ever before! Checking well-known brands and retailers online, like ASOS, often also allows you to adjust your price brackets, so if you only want to look for dresses under £150, they’re there at the click of a button!

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