Vera Wang 'Dinah' - Spring 2010
Wedding dress shopping can be one of the most fun parts of planning a wedding – as well as the most frustrating. Hopefully my first post in this series shed some light on how to steer your hunt for the perfect gown amidst an overwhelming sea of white dresses. Once you know what type of dress you are looking for, it’s time to set a budget and begin the official search.
Wedding Dress Budgeting
When we help The Stylish Soiree clients set their wedding dress budget, we first gauge the importance of the dress to the bride. Since the majority of our brides are fashion-philes, their dress budget trends higher than usual. Generally speaking, however, your wedding dress budget shouldn’t exceed ten percent of the overall wedding budget. Additionally, don’t forget to leave some room in your budget for tax, alterations and pressing, which can add nearly $1,000 to the price tag on the wedding dress.
When Bargain Hunting Hurts
When shopping for a wedding dress, many brides make the mistake of ruling out high end wedding department stores, thinking that they cannot afford the gowns inside. But sometimes, bargain hunting for a dress can actually hurt your budget – or your wedding day look – in the long run. Here are a few important things to take into consideration before crossing a store like Saks bridal or Neiman Marcus bridal off the list:
1. High end stores typically offer much better service and attentive salespeople who are brimming with knowledge.
Their knowledge on fit, styles and pricing alone is often worth spending more. Instead of heading to a store where the salespeople don’t have great taste and advise you to try on less-than ideal gowns, go where the fit and taste are held to a higher standard and emerge with a dress that suits you to a T.
2. High end stores have a wide selection of wedding dresses that range dramatically in price.
The big dress stores carry a huge range of wedding gowns- both in style and in cost. Before you go, ask the price ranges of their gowns – you just might be surprised to find that many are very affordable. Also, save even more by visiting when the store is having trunk shows and wedding dress designers offer discounts on their gowns.
3. High end stores can save you money – really! And in multiple ways.
Finally, high end wedding dress stores (like Saks or Neiman Marcus bridal) can actually save a bride money over purchasing a gown at a wedding dress boutique. I’ve heard numerous tales from brides (as well as witnessed it myself!) about factors outside their dream dress’s price tag that made a huge difference in the final cost. At a ‘bargain’ wedding dress store, alterations can range from $300 – $500 (or more if you buy a badly treated sample dress), and pressing can cost up to $250. Another thing to take into consideration with buying a sample gown is the cost of cleaning it before the wedding, which can run another $150 – $250.
Alternately, the Saks bridal department in Beverly Hills will almost always include alterations in the price of the wedding dress as well as provide free pressing for the bride. This might not seem like a big deal, but it can literally save hundreds of dollars – up to $600, in fact. This gives you more wiggle room in your dress budget to spend for the quality of gown instead of buying a cheaper gown in order to pay for the alteration & pressing services tacked onto the bill at the end.
Additionally, if you are getting married in a city outside your home town, buying your wedding dress in a big store can have another benefit – free store to store shipping. Instead of toting your gown on and off the airplane while worrying about snags, dirt and wrinkles, have the store ship it from your hometown location to a city near where your nuptials will take place. It’s worry free, hassle free shipping that keeps your dress safe & sound – and will usually be done for free.
There are so many more great ways to save money while wedding dress shopping, which I’ll cover this week in later posts. Stay tuned for more insider shopping info, and let me know if there is something in particular you’d like me to answer!
Yelena Johnson – Creative Director & Lead Wedding Planner, The Stylish Soiree