Beach Bridal Budget Advice

Less than a year ago I closed my dress shop, and I am very happy to still provide guidance & assistance with dress buying. Recently, a friend call to tell me that her Daughter is getting married. And, could I offer some advice for the Wedding Gown?  Yes!

Background information first, the bride is a petite size 2 getting married on the beach, and Mom and Dad have offered to pay $800 towards the gown. Frankly, I am a firm believer that you can find a beautiful dress for under $1,000, and to pay much more than that is just absurd.

My favorite Bridal shop close to the Bride is Uptown Bridal in Chandler, Arizona. The gowns are beautiful and I have heard extremely favorable comments about the customer service. Every time I pass the store front I swoon a bit over the stunning gowns on display.

A well kept secret is pre-owned gowns. A lovely lady named Julie owns & operates Encore Bridal for pre-owned designer gowns. She has exquisite taste and only deals with pristine designer gowns.

Another little known secret is to purchase a designer gown in white (or ivory, off-white, silver,etc). These may be marketed as pageant or prom gowns, but essentially are high-quality, gorgeous gowns that are significantly lower priced than a “bridal” gown. The best time to shop for these gems is in the spring when stores are fully stocked for prom, and manufacturers are cutting the largest quantity. There are some absolutely stunning gowns that are perfect for a destination wedding, such as the beach wedding example. It is really impracticable (and looks silly) to wear a large puffy dress with train for a beach ceremony!

Another item of note is the difference between “Couture” which are typically tens of thousands of dollars and traditionally one-of-a-kind, versus special orders. Think of special orders more like a dress that is not cut & sewn until you order it, but it is a selection of pre-defined fabrics and cut to a set size chart. The dress is not custom made for you in any way “custom” is it still made from the basic pattern and size chart, regardless of your exact measurements.

In fact, many bridal shops will order the next size larger to guarantee that dress can be tailored to fit you perfectly, for an extra charge. This will cover any weight gain, padded bra, or any number of changes to your original fitting because it is much easier to alter a dress down to a smaller size than to have a dress that is just too small.  Our Bride is petite and should plan for a hem.  Otherwise, ask about alterations before any gown is purchased.  If the correct dress is ordered, or better yet purchased “off-the-rack”, then very little alterations should be required.

My first search on eBay already found tons of (new) spectacular designer gowns under the $800 budget.  The wedding gown is such a huge part of your day, but that does not mean it has to be such a huge part of your BUDGET!

Sell Your Prom Dress

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Are you thinking about selling your Prom dress? You need some extra money, it does not fit anymore, you already wore it once, you will never wear it again, whatever your reason…

Now is the perfect time to sell your Prom Dress! Prom is just around the corner. Most Prom events occur in April, and many Canadians buy a formal gown for “grad” (graduation events that are like American Prom). Here are some tips to get the best deal for your dress.

Decide where you are going to sell it. Expensive name brand & designer dresses sell very well on eBay. Check out similar listings and price accordingly. If the dress is in perfect condition you may get close to 30-50% of the original retail price. Off-brands may actually sell better on Craigslist, or to a younger friend. Ask your younger friends, younger Sister’s friends, etc if they know any one that would like to buy your dress. A local buyer will save on shipping and eBay fees. If posting on Craigslist, be safe and offer to meet the potential buyer at a local coffee shop or some public place with a bathroom that is clean enough to let your dress be tried on. Consignment stores are really the worst option for Prom resale. Your beautiful dress is likely to be damaged in the store and may not sell before prom, then you no longer have the dress nor any money. The consignment store sets the price for your area, but it may sell for considerably more money in another location.

Have the dress professionally cleaned after you know what it may sell for. It is silly to spend $40 on cleaning for a dress that will likely sell for $75 used. But, $40 to clean a designer dress that will resale for several hundred dollars is worth it. The resale value of the dress will also give you a better idea if requires any repair. Again, consider the resale value of the dress with cleaning and repair to determine if it is worth selling.

Post several well-lit photos of just your dress. Get close-up photos of the bust, any embellishments, and full length front & back. It is better to crop your head out of the photo and show the dress being worn, than a shapeless mass on the hanger. Be careful using “stock” photos, but if you have the original designer name & style number you may be able to post a link to a photo of your dress, in addition to the photos that you took.

Be honest! Make sure you mention that it was previously worn, if you are selling locally (like Craigslist or classified ad) disclose what school & year it was worn. Any damage, repair, stains or any sign of wear must be mentioned or you will have a very unhappy buyer (and an unwanted return).

Provide dress size and measurements. Include the designer size chart, if available, but get a real measurement of the dress. Sometimes the easiest way to measure the dress is while you (or someone who fits in it) is wearing it.

Alterations can be a good selling point. If you are petite and had the dress hemmed, be sure to mention how tall you are, how tall your shoes were, and the finished length of the dress after hem. If you kept any extra fabric from a matching wrap, or leftover fabric from alterations be sure to mention that too. Extra fabric can be used for a matching headband or accessory, and to coordinate the date’s tux.

Estimate postage and shipping. Most prom dresses are bulky, and really not that heavy. Compare prices for regular USPS, FedEx, and UPS. If your dress can fit in a smaller (less than 12 inches long for the longest side) it is almost always cheaper to mail through regular postal service. If your dress contains ANY beading or embellishments that could be crushed or broken, use a box!