Or, how to try to save money on a wedding dress and absolutely fail.
At first, I didn’t even want a wedding dress. I thought maybe a white sundress would do. I started looking online, and realized that designer sundresses were still cheaper than “bargain” wedding dresses. Awesome! I thought I’d order as many as I liked from Nordstrom and send or take back the ones I didn’t choose.
But something didn’t sit right. There was something “wrong” with everything I saw online, and I was relatively sure I wouldn’t like any of them, which would give my credit card a workout, but would end up being a big waste of time.
At the same time, a friend I’d lost touch with asked me to come over for dinner. Turns out, she’s totally into weddings, which is great, because I’m not, and I need that help. She knows flowers, she has great ideas, and she has time on her hands to search for things on my behalf. Awesome!
So, one Saturday afternoon, she sent me a Craigslist ad. “Come to this wedding warehouse thing. Dresses are deeply discounted!” It was a quiet Saturday. My sister was out of town. Brent was out of town. Two of my bridesmaids were home with infants, and one was putting the finishing touches on her dissertation. I hadn’t left the house yet by 1pm, so I decided to go by myself.
Do not buy a wedding dress by yourself! You will second (and third, and fourth, and fifth) guess yourself until you’re blue in the face.
There was some urgency because this store was going to lose its lease, and hadn’t yet found a new one. I have to go today, I thought. So, I got in my car and headed east, into deep Southeast Portland.
“So this is where they keep the strip clubs,” I thought to myself.
When I got to Fabulous Affordable Bridal, it was … dumpy. The strip mall hadn’t been updated since it was built in the 70s. The paint was peeling. How could someone possibly raise the rent on this place? But the pitch that the woman gave me couldn’t be beat. There were used wedding dresses, and new wedding dresses. Organized by size, all on the racks. This could be fun!
They had dresses in all shapes and sizes. It was fun to sift through all the pretty fabric. But I wanted to rent one of the older ladies who was in there with her friend talking about her daughter’s dress. I wanted to tell her that her daughter won’t like anything she picked out simply because she was going to be the one picking it out, so why don’t you come help me? But I didn’t. I knew what I was looking for, too.
Or so I thought.
I ended up trying on three or four dresses. The person helping me told me I looked good in all of them, but that’s what she’s paid to say.
I found one I liked, then tried on the next one. I liked it even more. I wasn’t in a great mood, but I liked the dress, and I liked the price: $254.
When Caitlin finally came home a week later, I was dying to show her. I could exchange it if Caitlin didn’t like it. I was definitely willing to do that. In fact, I thought it would be the most likely outcome (I lean heavily on my sister for fashion advice), but she liked it. She told me I needed to get it altered sooner rather than later so we could get a sense for how fancy the bridesmaids should be.
Alterations Are Expensive
Amy, one of my bridesmaids, got the name of an alterations person who her friend had raved about. I have no prior knowledge of alteration people (newsflash: they’re called tailors!), so I went with Alterations by Tatyana. Again, I went deep into Southeast Portland, to a woman’s home, and put my dress on. I wanted to make it knee length, and it was too long. Evidently, I want expensive things.
She is taking the waist out (I said, “I think I could lose enough weight by then for you not to have to take this out,” and she asked when the wedding was, and said, “NO. I take this out. Two inches.”) and shortening the straps. Those are normal prices. The shortening of the dress? Is expensive.
Total cost of alterations: $400.
That’s right, $150 more than the cost of the dress itself.
So, now I’m in it for $650, and that’s pretty much a “normal” price for a wedding dress.
However, with the alterations, it’s going to be exactly the dress I want, and there’s something to be said for that. Also I don’t want to go dress shopping again. So there’s that, too.
I never imagined I’d spend that much money on a wedding dress. Really. I have simple tastes, and this wedding is going to be non-traditional, except for the fact that we end up married at the end of it.
Oh well. Onward!
What did you spend on your wedding dress?