Friday, June 19, 2009

Frugal Find Friday-My Wedding Dress

Mike and I by Lake Michigan
Wedding...such a time of love and excitement and stress and debt for so many! Mike and I knew we wanted our wedding to be a fun weekend for us and our guests. We wanted people to have a great time, to eat well, to dance the night away to great live music, and we wanted to do so without breaking the bank. I come from a large extended family and we ended up having two receptions due to the number of polka fans that would want to celebrate with Mike and I as well. So, how did we do that without spending the $30-50,000 they say is the 'norm' now?
We did spend a lot compared to many frugal people, but what we did best was to spend money on what was important to us and not on what wasn't. We had a live 11 piece swing band at our Saturday reception, we had a strolling polka trio during the dinner hour, we had an unbelievably yummy wedding cake and other food. We had the groomsmen all wear their own black suits and bought Mike's off the rack, we had the bridesmaids buy off the rack dresses from Macy's ($60-$90, no alterations and they've actually worn them again!), I did all the flowers, and I bought my wedding dress from the SALVATION ARMY!
Yes, I wore a used wedding dress and lived to tell about it. Originally, I decided to order a dress direct from Hong Kong. This is an interesting and frugal option if you want the big, beautiful dress and do not want to spend tons of money. I did find one I really liked and had placed my order. Then I stopped in at the Salvation Army one day and there was this dress. It was a bigger size than I wear, but after a day of trying on dresses at boutiques I quickly had learned that they aren't sized like clothes. It was a bit dirty on the bottom of the dress and there was just a tiny sweep train. I did want a dress with a big train, but knew that I could add one somehow if I put my mind and a seamstress on it. So, I figured, what the heck, I should try this on. Turns out this store had no dressing room.
Now picture me by myself pulling on a strapless wedding dress over my t-shirt and jean skirt in the middle of two rows of clothes that are bulging full. It was not an easy task. It is never easy to get into a wedding dress and it is not made simpler when you are already dressed and have no assistance. So, I put it on and it fits. It fits pretty well. It's too long, but if it is hemmed than the dirty bottom wouldn't matter. I look at the tag and decide it is coming home with me. Oh, I actually started calling all my bridesmaids and my sister and with some encouragement/support from them I decide it is coming home with me.
Here's the thought process...if I get the dress from overseas and I don't like it, I'll have this one. If I get the dress from overseas and it doesn't fit and can't be fixed without spending a fortune I have this one. If I get the dress from overseas and I love it I can still wear this one for our Sunday reception where I'll be polka dancing like crazy and having no train would be a benefit. Anyway you cut it spend the $40 and buy the darn dress. I'm the frugalest one in my wedding party and they were giving it to me for even questioning myself.
Oh, did I forget to mention that this dress, this very in style and in great condition dress was marked $40? Yup. I paid $40 for my wedding dress.
I ended up cancelling the overseas dress and just refunding their paypal fees of $20. I did have a woman hem the dress, make me a train that I could take off for the two receptions, and make me straps in case I decided I didn't want strapless. She charged me $20, but I gave her $40 and she ended up providing all the gourds and pumpkins we used on the tables and around the hall for decorating too. So if you include all of the costs associated with the dress I still only paid a total of $100.
The dress worked hard that weekend and is now hanging in my closet. One thing I really loved about my non-traditional route was that it didn't bother me if my dress wasn't perfect at the end of the night. I didn't pay $800-$2000 like most people I know and if someone spilled or the bottom was gross I wasn't stressing over it. After everything was over on Sunday I knew I'd gotten my money's worth out of that dress...I wore it for about 19 hours that weekend. So total it cost about $5/hour for me to have my dress. Of course, it wasn't exactly what I would have designed for myself, but it was right along the lines. I liked the pearls and sparkles on top that trailed down the front. I liked the wrap part that attached on the side and the way it fell down to the floor. I liked the little sweep train and how it had a baby bustle on the bottom for me to dance like crazy and not trip over my dress.
One of my bridesmaids had said that I needed to have a good story and I think I accomplished that! It wouldn't have been fitting for me to buy a wedding dress at a regular boutique. My little gem was out there, just among all the other fun finds at my local Salvation Army!
Have any great finds to share? Let us know!


  1. Your wedding dress is truly awesome. Well, I got married few months back and I got beautiful bridesmaid dresses from Macy's.

  2. Kenzie,

    We also got our bridesmaid dresses from Macy's. It worked out so well for our ladies and they've all worn the dresses again. In fact, one wore it BEFORE the wedding...I knew I had picked a great dress.

    Thanks for the compliment.