This Blog Post by La Boutique de Bridal & Tuxedos

Now that your man has put a ring on it, it’s time to think about what you’re going to wear down the aisle. We totally get it, it’s one of the biggest parts of wedding planning! It can also be one of the most confusing and stressful. Most likely this will be the most expensive garment you will every buy.  Let us break down the parts and timeframe to shopping and give you some money saving tips along the way.

Research Research Research

Rip the pages out of bridal magazines, explore bridal store websites for designers and surf the internet. Take the prices you see online with a grain of salt. Thanks to fake Chinese websites the internet is flooded with $200 gowns that are replicas of $2500 gowns, if it’s too good to be true, it is. Now you should have an idea of what you want, A-line, ball gown, mermaid, sheath, lace, tule, or chiffon. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with what is out there and what each gown designers have to offer. This process should help you establish what you like and don’t like in a wedding gown. When you do go shopping keep an open mind, things look different on you than the models, what you thought you did not like, might look stunning on you! Start researching as soon as you’re engaged. This will allow you enough time to build up a great gallery of ideas for when you’re ready to go shopping for real.

Scheduling Your Appointments

It’s recommended that brides schedule their appointments two weeks or more in advance before you plan on shopping. That date should be a year before the wedding.  You will most likely want to visit more than one store to try on gowns, research their website before to get a feel for their prices and services and remember keep an open mind. We see women come into our store with a set idea of what they want for a gown, then try it on, some love it and others don’t.  We will make suggestions for them based on their body type and or their previous choices and they may fall for something completely different they’d never have considered. That is the advantage of having an appointment over being a walk in, the guarantee of having that one on one with a bridal consultant to assist you finding the dress of your dreams, learning the ordering options, color choices, etc. Many of the dresses on the rack come in other color choices and options. In most bridal stores, the dresses aren’t displayed in a way where you can just leaf through them and browse on your own, the way you can in other retail stores. Most brides will also need assistance with clipping oversized dresses and lacing corset backs

Placing Your Order/ Buying off the rack

Deals can be had if you buy a dress off the rack. These are dresses that are purchased by the store for brides to try on. When a bride does not have time to order they are a great option to get the dress of your dreams. These dresses may come at a discount depending on the time of the year. If they just came in and are new, most likely will not be discounted. But if they are last season’s style maybe, just ask.

Placing an order for your dress. This is where you can really save some money, especially on alterations and changes. Wedding gowns are often made-to-order and take an average of six to eight months to arrive at the boutique for you to pick up. You will need to allow one to two months for alterations in store. Therefore, you should purchase your gown up to one year before but no later than eight months before your wedding. Be sure to ask the bridal consultant that you’re working with to confirm the lead time for your specific gown to make sure that it will arrive in plenty of time for your wedding date. Ordering with Chinese New Year in the middle will add extra time. If you have less than the time set above, let the bridal consultant know your date. They should have alternatives for you. You already know about “off the rack”, there are also domestic warehouses that have stock that can be gotten in about a week or two. Not every dress is in stock in every size and color but there is much more than on the store’s racks. Then next final option is a “Rush order”, basically your dress goes to the top of the list and gets made first. Of course, there is a fee that goes along with this, but it can save you potentially two months but allow no custom changes to the dress.  Now a money saving tip, Ordering “Hollow to Hem”. The bride is measured, and the dress is cut to her height with shoes on. If the dress has a layered skirt or lots of lace on the skirt, everything is made to the correct proportions. This saves lots on the cost on the hemming and has a much better look. The average hem cost is $200 to $600. Many designers also do custom changes such as filling in sheer areas, adding sleeves and more possibly at a lesser cost than alterations.  My next tip is to never buy a dress off the rack that is way too big to save money. Heavily beaded dresses do not buy larger than 2 sizes, simpler dresses 3 sizes unless the store is doing the alteration has quoted you a price you can live with. We do outside alterations and get heavily beaded dresses in that have been sold 4 sizes too large, and the dresses must be taken completely apart and put back together again, and hand beaded. Lots of work = big bill. We would never sell a dress like that knowing the alterations needed and the bride would have never bought it had she had known beforehand. Its best to buy from a boutique that does the alterations in-house that can quote you an alteration estimate when buying the dress so there are no surprises.

The Final Word

Once you have ordered/bought your gown stop shopping for gowns, no good can come of it! Be confident that you will look as stunning and amazing on your wedding day as you did when you saw yourself in the mirror when you bought your gown.  We know you may have more shopping to do. Just stop shopping for your gowns and continue shopping for your bridal accessories like veils, shoes, jewelry, etc.  Remember you need your shoes and bra before alterations. Don’t forget to book the alteration appointment well in advance according to boutiques recommendations that are doing the alterations. This first appointment should be about six to eight weeks in advance before your wedding and you may need more notice to get that date. By keeping time on your side, you avoid rush charges, have more choices and alleviate stress.