Your wedding dress will most certainly take up a large chunk of the wedding budget. But that doesn’t mean to say you must purchase from a bridal boutique if you are on a tight budget. If you look in the right places, you could find your wedding dress online, brand new, for 50% less than the RRP.
There are quite a few websites that focus primarily on sample dresses. These are dresses where designers or bridal shops have perhaps over-ordered or are from end-of-season collections. For instance, I once found a ‘used dress’ website full of brand new dresses from a bridal store – all because they were moving premises and had far too much stock.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be careful, on the contrary. Unless you are able to travel and try the dress on before you buy, the first time you see it is likely to be after you have paid for it.
There are ways around this.
Try dresses on in shops first to see what styles you like and more importantly, what size you will need for each of the different designers. Once you have that in mind, you can start searching online. However, if you have fell in love with a dress online but can’t find it in any of the stores, most bridal shops will order in the dress directly from the designer. If you buy the dress from the shop, this is deducted from the total price. If you buy elsewhere, you are charged around £15-30 – which, let’s face it, is still cost-effective if you find the same dress online, brand new, for 50% less.
A few factors to consider:
- Don’t pay for a dress unless you are sure that the person selling it is genuine. Perhaps pay via Paypal where you can track the payment.
- Ask to see the dress over Skype.
- Request receipts (original and an additional one for your purchase).
- Check if you would be applicable for any customs charges, if coming from overseas. And request the shipping, postage and packaging cost upfront.
- Remember that US sizes are different so take this into consideration when searching US sites.
- Ask to see as many photos as you require to ensure the dress is authentic and not a copy. Look at the seams, embroidery, detailing and zips – these will provide an indicator on the quality of workmanship.
- Dresses are uploaded regularly so don’t feel disheartened if you don’t find your dream dress on your first try.
- Ask the seller if there are any imperfections on the dress – particularly as it is a sample.
- Dresses can be altered to fit you if they are 1 or 2 sizes too big (depending on the style) but a smaller dress can not be made larger. If you go down this route, request a quote from a seamstress before you purchase the dress.
- Look at the seller credentials – are they a bridal boutique or an individual? Do they have any testimonials? Have they sold any other sample dresses online?
Before I found a dressmaker for my own wedding dress, I had been searching the below websites for my dream dress. My top two are PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com and StillWhite.co.uk:
From the name of this website you would assume that they only sell pre-owned wedding dresses but this is not the case. They also have the option for you to select ‘sample’ dresses or ‘new with tags/unaltered’ in the search tab. If you are superstitious and don’t want to buy a dress that someone else originally bought, perhaps stick to the sample dresses.
Having just had a quick look, there are a few Pronovias sample dresses for as little as $499 USD.
As StillWhite.co.uk is a UK website, you could potentially ask the seller if it possible to view and try the dress on before you purchase (if you live in the UK). Once again, select ‘sample’ in the ‘Condition’ search tab, along with your size and the maximum price you wish to spend. There are currently some lovely dresses on there, like the long-sleeve Ellis Bridal 11350 dress in a size 14, priced at £750 (original dress is £1,540).
Other websites that allow you to search for ‘sample’ dresses by refining the search criteria, include: