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Where to Start to Find the Right Wedding Dress

Updated on July 8, 2015
Where to Start to Find the Right Wedding Dress
Where to Start to Find the Right Wedding Dress | Source

A girl’s wedding dress is THE most important aspect of the entire wedding. A bride should feel like she’s getting married, like she’s the most beautiful woman in the room, and the center of attention the entire day. The perfect dress will do just this for you. No cheap little white dress for you!

This is an amazingly important day for you and it should feel that way all over. Not to mention that the “trying on dresses” ritual is one that should not be missed, and it’s free!

To start this amazing part of your planning process, make sure to devour any wedding magazines, wedding sites, and anything else you can get your hands on to find pictures of dresses you can’t possibly live without. By no means am I insisting that you spend the enormous amounts of money on your dress that any of these sites or magazines suggest (we’ll get to that in a bit), but you definitely want to have a good idea about what you are looking for, how you want to feel and what you’d like to try on when you get to your first bridal shop.

Bone up on dresses styles, lengths, sleeve types, necklines, waistlines, etc. considering the type of wedding you are having. For instance, if you are planning a casual beach wedding where your groom won’t even be wearing shoes, obviously a full ball gown would just end up looking funny. Then as good as you felt in the store simply won’t matter in the long run. I’m sure you’ve already considered that. But that doesn’t necessarily mean your wedding has to determine your dress. As long as it’s reasonable, it won’t injure you on the wedding day, and you’re sure it’s the right dress, be assured that it will be perfect. You will be the most dressed up one there anyway, and should be. It’s your wedding day!

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Where have you already looked for dresses?

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Especially if you are not one for frills or don’t really have much invested in planning your wedding, it’s hard to truly believe that there is “the perfect dress” out there for you. Trust me though, there is!

Whether the dress of your dreams is a light sundress, a dress straight out of the 40s, one even more vintage still, one of many colors, or the traditional long white dress, the perfect one is out there for you. But you’ll never find it until you put yourself out there and try some on!

Don’t give up, even if this might take awhile. My mom and I visited every bridal shop in Texas, I think, until we found just the perfect one, and the wait was definitely worth it. When you find it, you’ll feel beautiful, all warm and cozy inside, and last but not least, like you’re truly getting married. In fact, finding the perfect dress will probably coincide with the realization that you’re about to become a wife to the love of your life!

Price: Yes, you knew we eventually had to talk about it. In my opinion, there’s no reason you should ever have to spend more than $500 or $600 for a great dress. My wedding gown was $130 and was the most beautiful, most comfortable dress I’ve ever seen in my life. Even now that I’ve been married for a while, I still get tons of compliments on my beautiful dress.

There are so many options available for you to find your dream dress without having to pay gobs of money, so you can breathe easily. Let’s walk through some of them.

Where to Start to Find the Right Wedding Dress
Where to Start to Find the Right Wedding Dress | Source

Off the Rack at Bridal Shops

What this means is that you are purchasing your dress at a bridal shop, but that you don’t have to order it or pay all of those extra fees and fines. You may be purchasing a dress that other girls have tried on, but as long as it is in good shape, or can be easily fixed, if you like it, get it! They offer dresses “off the rack” for much, much less than if you had them order one for you. Many shops may even have off the rack sales days where they lower the prices even more for one or two days to make room for all of the new designs coming in. Cha-Ching!

Trunk Shows

These are shows advertised along with bridal shows on the internet put on by designers themselves, allowing you to purchase your wedding gown straight from the original designer for MUCH lower rates than normal. Sometimes the prices still aren’t low enough, but I’ve heard some truly amazing stories of unbelievable deals!

Small Bridal Shops

You can easily find some of the greatest deals just by visiting no name bridal shops that most people wouldn’t know about without doing some research. I can’t promise quality every time, but sometimes you get lucky and can find some really beautiful dresses for cheaper than you would ever have imagined.

Thrift Stores

The idea of visiting a thrift store for one of the most important purchases of your life may be simply appalling to many of you. However, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find. There are many second-hand clothing stores all around you that you might not even be aware of. Many of these have beautiful wedding gowns for surprising low prices available to you. But I would call before making the drive.

Bulk Discount Bridal Shops

These are stores known not for their selection or designers, but their amazing number of wedding gowns that you can get for cheap cheap. Most of these types of store will be more than obvious because of the likelihood of the term DISCOUNT in their store name.

These dresses are not used, but they are not designer either. These stores are simply what they advertise and have tons of off-brand dresses at super low prices. You are able to try as many of the on as you’d like and even step up on the “stage” and look at yourself in the mirror like most bridal shops, but there will be no pampering here (you are on your own) and it’s more like a warehouse than a nice bridal shop., eBay, and Amazon

For those of you that have either known exactly what you’ve wanted from the beginning or have been to more shops than you care to share and know exactly what you are looking for in a dress (and don’t mind a few alterations), these are killer for prices. Nothing can beat some of the great prices you’ll find here except maybe borrowing the dress from someone for free. Check it out for yourself!

Where to Start to Find the Right Wedding Dress
Where to Start to Find the Right Wedding Dress | Source

Discount Bridalwear Websites

The key to really benefiting from sites like these is to already have your size and the dress or style you are looking for. It will really pay off to have visited a good number of bridal shops and have your ideal dress in mind, because you are simply purchasing the dress from a previous bride and there are usually no refunds. (You’ll have to check the refund policy for each individual site.) However, by utilizing available opportunities like this you could end up paying $100 or so for a truly gorgeous gown. What a bargain! Here are some that I suggest.


Making Your Own or Having One Made

If you are struggling to find the right dress, or just don't believe it's out there, this may end up being the only option you’ll consider. Whether you are really picky and have decided that you want the top from dress 1, the middle from dress 2, the bottom from dress 3, and the fabric from dress 4, or if you simply cannot find the dress you are looking for, this is an amazing option. Seamstresses can create any dress you’d like, any way you’d like to perfectly fit you for around $600 regardless the style or size. Consider this as a last resort if nothing else is working for you. This way, you’ll always have a back-up plan!

Family Members or Friends

Finally, last but not least, the free option! Many brides still delight in the idea of wearing their mother’s wedding dress as they walk down the aisle, but if you don’t particularly fancy hers, consider a sister’s, aunt’s, cousin’s, or friend’s dress.

What’s really great about this option is that it’s absolutely free (except maybe your considerate dry cleaning before you return it). Especially if you really liked a friend or family member’s dress, take a chance and see if they would be up for lending it to you for your wedding day. I bet if you lavished them with compliments and told them how unbelievably amazing they looked on their wedding day, they might ease up and actually be flattered that you wanted to share in that with them. You never know unless you try.

There are so many incredible options available for brides searching for their perfect wedding dress.

Designers know that you have to find just the right one, so they feature an enormous variety of dresses with every option that could possibly be available.

If for some reason you can't find it, you can have one pieced together for you from several dresses, make one yourself, or have one made for you.

Check out my articles on How to Make Your Own Wedding Dress and Wedding Dress Fabric Choices Defined for a solid start to making one on your own.

For those of you getting a little discouraged, every bride finds her perfect dress in a different place and has her own unique story.

Don't give up, your dress is out there somewhere. Just try looking in a different place and making use of all of your options.

If you do decide to let someone make you one from scratch, just make sure to have good pictures of what you are looking for, or a great drawing if you have a talented friend.

They don't cost that much at all in the grand scheme of things, and you will feel like a princess through the process.

Good luck! I hope this helps!

Quick Poll

How much do you plan on spending on your wedding dress?

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© 2014 Victoria Van Ness


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    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Thanks! We had our whole beautiful wedding for less than $1,000 and it was amazing. There's no reason other girls can't have the same. :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Weddings are so different from when I was married years ago. The cost alone can be quite an investment. Your suggestions, such as consignment shops, will help others to save on this necessary part of a wedding.

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Oh my goodness. That would have been terrible! I'm so glad your dress was okay. :) Thank you for the story! I always love your comments!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      My mother had a seamstress and she did my wedding dress. I remember that I looked in several magazines to try to choose which dress I would like to have and I finally chose a model that both my parents seemed to like the best. It was not my first choice but it was a beautiful dress (I still have it).

      But something very bad almost happened to that dress a few days before the wedding. I hope that I will explain it well because it's not part of my regular vocabulary... there was a chimney in the room where the seamstress was working. A few days before the wedding, she wrapped my dress in a big plastic and moved it to another room of her home... and I think the day after she moved my dress she had soot coming out of the chimney and everything was stained with soot in her working room. I can see the headlines.... and the bride wore a black dress ;-)

      But the good thing, my dress was all white and nice :-)

      Have a great week!