Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Dress - How to Buy

There is nothing wrong with buying your wedding dress from a traditional bridal boutique - they do what they do well, and they will handle alterations and pressing for you, and give you peace of mind. But there are other options! I know wedding magazines sometimes won't have you believe it, but it's true.

Buying secondhand is one choice, and has huge cost savings. Check out TradeMe and see what you can find! The downsides are that you may not be able to find what you want, and you don't have the same buyer protection so I'd recommend (unless it's very cheap) that you make sure you can check out the dress in person and try it on.

Another option is buying online - often you can purchase the designer dresses the boutiques sell from websites - the prices will often be several hundred dollars lower. My dress is coming from Jo Ling Bridal, who are a sort of hybrid - though they do have a shop I think they do the majority of their business online. I saved around $500 off the boutique price.

Have it made in China. Sites like Light in the Box and DHGate have very inexpensive options and can have the impact without the price tag (LitB is generally a bit pricier but has better quality controls). DHGate is a marketplace site, so aggregates lots of traders and mileage may vary so check their feedback, and note that most of the time the photos are taken from designer sites and the DHGate traders copy, rather than photos being of the product. The quality will probably be a bit lower than a "proper" boutique dress, but in most cases not noticeably. Note that this probably works better for satin and taffeta dresses than lace, due to fabric quality.

How about buying a non-wedding dress off the rack? If you're not into the whole fluffy meringue look this might work for you. I have to say, New Zealand makes this a bit trickier because we're not that good at dressing up in general so there's less available, but if you find something that you like it's bound to be a lot cheaper (plus you can probably pull off wearing it again, which isn't really an option for the traditional dresses).

And then, for the completely custom look you could have it made for you - there are definitely reasonable local services which do this, just ask around for recommendations - or, if you're really brave, make it yourself. Just allow yourself loads of time if you take the latter option!

Have I missed anything? What's your pick from these options? Is anyone brave enough to have made their own?


  1. my aunty made my dress for me, it was great I just picked bits from different dresses in magazines and said, I want this from this dress, this from this dress etc. It was perfect exactly what I wanted, however it was only finished a few days before the wedding so slightly stressful, she also made the bridesmaids dresses and was finishing the last one the morning of the wedding

  2. Kat, that's awesome - except the last minute bit. I have to confess I made my sister's bridesmaid dresses 5 years ago and was still finishing them on the morning of the wedding! But definitely great to get exactly what you want. :-)