Dress to Impress (for Less), Thriftster weddings

Secondhand dressed

The other day, I eavesdropped on a conversation between two mothers. One was telling the other how hard it was to find a decent wedding dresses for under a thousand bucks. Yep, it’s common knowledge that wedding dresses are expensive, a fact that the wedding industry tries to perpetuate with its talk of ‘couture’, ‘bespoke’, and ‘chantilly lace’.

For a mustbethrifty bride, however, the wedding dress is an opportunity for some genuine savings. Unless you DIY, it’s hard to skimp on food, drinks, and entertainment, whereas it’s relatively easy to be parsimonious with wedding dresses, especially if you’re not afraid to wear something secondhand.It also makes sense. I MEAN, IT MIGHT BE A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME DRESS, BUT YOU’RE ONLY GOING TO WEAR IT ONCE, SO WHY SPEND HUNDREDS/THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ON IT IF YOU’RE ONLY GOING TO WEAR IT ONCE…YOU’RE PLANNING ON WEARING IT ONLY ONCE, RIGHT?

I’ve been doing some window-shopping, online and elsewhere, and here are some budget wedding-dress alternatives:

$750 Wendy Makin 'Lilly' dress from 2nd-hand bridal couture boutique, Love Me Twice

Found online: Wendy Makin ‘Lilly’ gown from secondhand bridal couture boutique Love Me Twice ($750).

$275 vintage wedding gown from Etsy store, State and Main Vintage
Found on Etsy: 1960s vintage wedding gown by Brideallure from Etsy store, State and Main Vintage ($275)

1950s Antoinette gown from Etsy seller Bohemian Bisoux

Found on Etsy: vintage 1950s champagne satin gown in the style of Marie Antoinette from Etsy seller Bohemian Bisoux ($428).

Vintage wedding dress found in an op shop

Found in an op shop: 1970s French-made wedding dress from Georges of Collin Street ($60).

Flapper-style dress from Anthea Crawford

Found in an op shop: flapper-style 1980s dress from Anthea Crawford ($20).

If you do opt for secondhand, inspect the dress carefully. Check for rips along the seams and bottom hem and in areas of stress such as the rear. Check for stains, especially under the armpits and around the collar. Make sure the zip works and the buttons and or beading are all there. Smell the fabric. Does it have a stale or musty odour? Does it smell of mothballs, pets, or cigarette smoke?

Determine whether the dress can be easily restored and or altered. For instance, a missing button can be replaced. Shattered silk, on the other hand, is irreversible. A dress that is too big can be taken in, but a dress that is too small will almost always stay too small.

Make sure the secondhand wedding dress of your dreams falls generously below budget, so that you have enough mullah for hidden costs such as repairs, alterations, dry cleaning, postage and handling and postal insurance. Repairs and alterations can be quite pricey, sometimes costing more than the actual preowned garment.

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