Wedding clothes that fit your bottom line
Nine ways to cut the cost of your look without sacrificing style
Groomsmen can wear their own suits in the same color family. (Photo by Studio This Is)
Even so, when it came to her own nuptials in 2006, Roney had trouble finding a dress that fit her budget.
"My mom really wanted to buy my gown, and I felt it was important to stay within a certain range," Roney said.
At her last stop, a national department store chain, Roney described the simple body-skimming style she wanted. The sales associate recommended she look not just at bridal gowns but also bridesmaid dresses, many of which are available in ivory. One designer style was being sold as both, depending on how individual retailers wanted to market it.
"My gown when sold as a bride's gown was $1,250, but if they chose to sell it as a bridesmaid's gown, it was $250," Roney said.
Guess which version she bought? A hint:
"My mom had enough money left over to buy my jewelry, shoes and veil," Roney said, "which made her feel great."
On average, what the bride's wearing accounts for 8 percent to 10 percent of a wedding budget, according to a recent survey by the WeddingChannel.com & TheKnot.com. But there are ways for shrewd couples to lessen that cost without sacrificing style. (That goes for the bridal party's clothing as well.)
The bride's attire
Shop bridesmaid dresses: As Roney learned, shopping bridesmaid dresses is one way to save, if you're looking for an elegant dress with simple lines. Bridesmaid dresses are not heavily embellished, and the national average price for one is $144, versus $1,100 spent on the average bridal gown, according to the survey.
Unexpected stores: National chains J.Crew and Ann Taylor offer streamlined wedding collections featuring sophisticated styles, many of which are under $600. If your date is in 2011, Urban Outfitters, the parent company of Anthropologie, is debuting an as-yet-unnamed bridal dress brand, inspired by Anthropologie's aesthetic, next spring.
"A lot of times, the cost of the dress is associated with the complexity of detailing," said bridal planner Karen Bussen, author of the new "Simple Stunning Bride" and a member of David's Bridal Style Council. "So think about buying a simpler dress and then adding a borrowed vintage brooch from your grandmother or take a band at the waist from your mother's wedding dress and add that."
Consignment: For more intricate designs, shopping upscale consignment gowns at sites such as whitexchange.com can save you as much as $10,000 on a $13,000 Vera Wang gown.
Local consignment shops and bridal sample sales are another treasure trove, said Sharon Stimpfle, deputy site director of weddingchannel.com. Boutiques often have sample sales from April to May and October to December. Filene's Basement has its famous "Running of the Brides" sample sale in various cities through July this year. Plus, you can always ask sales associates if you can see last season's styles, Bussen said.
Rent or borrow: Consider renting fine jewelry, a wrap and your bridal handbag from sites such as adorn.com or renttherunway.com, Stimpfle suggested. The average cost of a bride's wedding day jewelry is $752, the survey revealed. At adorn.com, a pair of Hartley diamond and pearl drop earrings, which would retail for $3,100, can be rented for as little as $75.
Also, try borrowing a veil a friend wore, which isn't so personal as a gown.
Fabric choice: About the gown: Trading silk for less-expensive fabrics, such as polyester, can cut costs significantly, particularly at national chains that have buying power. David's Bridal stores carry gowns from Oleg Cassini, Galina Signature and Galina Collection, some of which cost a few hundred dollars versus a few thousand for designer gowns elsewhere. If you can find one on sale — through its occasional $99-and-up sale — you can save even more.
Shoes: For shoes, buy ones that are dyeable so you can turn them black or red afterward for black-tie events, Bussen said.
In a fresh trend, Ursula Guyer of whitexchange.com has noticed more brides wearing colorful heels to reflect their personal style. "Why not wear a pair of shoes you already own and love?" Guyer said.