A bridal gown is a big ticket purchase these days, with prices for couture gowns by the top designers like Vera and Oscar commonly reaching into the $10,000 range (yes, really!). Before you start shopping for a gown - well, before you do ANY wedding planning, really – you should sit down with your fiance and anyone else who will be helping you out financially (i.e. mom and dad), and hash out a budget. Figuring out a definite amount that you want to and are ABLE to spend on a gown will save you and your bridal consultant a lot of headache, and potentially heartache. Here are just a couple of budget rules to live by when shopping for a gown:
- Don’t forget to factor in all the “hidden” costs of a wedding ensemble.
Alterations, a veil, shoes, jewelry – all of these things can drive up the overall cost of your bridal ensemble very quickly. Typically, alterations can run anywhere from $300 (simple hem and bustle) to $650+ (hem, bustle, side seams, putting cups in, changing the neckline, etc.). Veils also tend to be much pricier that most girls are prepared for, although sometimes a great seamstress can make you a simple custom veil. And if you have your heart set on that fabulous pair of Manolo’s you saw at Nordstrom’s, be sure to factor those puppies in as well and adjust the budget accordingly!
- ALWAYS discuss the dress budget before shopping
Whomever is paying for the gown, whether it’s you, your fiance, or daddy dearest, make sure you have a frank and honest discussion of how much you are able to spend on a gown before you ever pick up the phone to make appointments. There is nothing worse than finding your dream gown, assuming that your parents will be fine with the price tag, only to find out that they are most definitely not.
- ALWAYS be honest with your bridal consultant about your budget
As bridal consultants, we ask you for your budget for a reason. We want to be able to find you the perfect gown WITH the perfect price tag. Again, the last thing we want is to see you fall in love with a gown that we were told is within your budget, only to find out later that what you TOLD us was your budget is not ACTUALLY your budget – it’s frustrating for us, because the last thing we want is for you to leave your shopping experience discouraged and longing for a gown you won’t be able to afford.
If you start shopping, and find that you have champagne taste on a beer budget, a high end consignment shop might just be the best answer for you – you can potentially save thousands of dollars that you could be spending on expanding the guest list, booking your DJ and your photographer for more time, or putting towards your honeymoon. Consignment shopping isn’t just for girls with tight budgets, either – even if you have a $10,000 budget for your gown, why not find one for $6,000 and spend that extra $4,000 on something else fabulous??
I hope this helps some brides-to-be put their budgets into perspective – being realistic about budget will only help enhance your shopping experience!