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Sweet biscuit sugar plum. Halvah chocolate bar jujubes. Dragée donut candy.

Meet Chloé

Planning a wedding includes so many small and difficult intricacies that it can be hard to tell where exactly to start. One of the major expenses is, of course, the wedding dress. And with buying a wedding dress comes the responsibility of establishing your wedding dress budget. As a former bridal stylist, I’ve seen my fair share of brides who’ve left unhappy because they couldn’t afford the dress of their dreams. In that amount of time, I learned a few helpful tips that I’m ready to share. So if you’ve ever wondered just how to plan your wedding dress budget – this is for you!

Image by @ashley_taylorphotography on Instagram

Tip #1: Your Wedding Dress is Not Part of Your Wedding Budget

If it’s not obvious enough already, you need to go into your bridal appointment with a dollar amount in mind. Whether it’s <$1,000 or >$20,000 makes no difference. Ultimately, you need to pick a feasible number for you and your lifestyle. With that said, when establishing your wedding dress budget, it’s extremely important to make this expense separate from that of your actual wedding. Pro-tip: same goes for your honeymoon!

The reason why you’re better off keeping these expenses apart is quite simple: planning a wedding is not clean and simple. Yes, you and your fiancé almost assuredly have a budget in mind for the big day. However, the reality is that more often than not, most people end up going over that budget by thousands of dollars. Perhaps flowers were a bit more than you expected, or you found out your venue required that you pay for security, or your mother law insisted that it was essential her friend from book club you’ve never met before be invited. Whatever it is, you’re just about guaranteed to end up going over budget. The last thing you want to fall to the wayside on your wedding day is your dress! Plain and simple. Separating your wedding dress budget from your wedding budget is absolutely critical in empowering you to buy the dress of your dreams.

Tip #2: Accept Help When It’s Offered To You

For the vast majority of us, gone are the days of tradition where a bride’s parents paid for the majority of, if not all of, a wedding. More and more couples are paying for their weddings out of pocket, and expenses add up quickly. While your parents may not be footing the bill entirely, it’s quite likely (for those of us that are privileged enough) that you’ll be offered some sort of monetary help from family when it comes to your wedding. One really helpful idea when establishing your wedding dress budget is to allocate some of that help specifically to your dress.

Imagine this…

I’d like to highlight a common example that I witnessed often while working in a bridal shop. Let’s say you’re shopping with your mother, and she has offered to pay for the entirety of your dress. However, you haven’t explicitly spoken with one another about how much she is comfortable spending. You find yourself ecstatic about a $3,000 dress, but deep down you know that your mother cannot afford that expense right now. This is super tough, because you’ve found the dress of your dreams, but don’t want to put your family under any sort of financial strain in order to fund it!

In an ideal world, you would’ve had a chance to express to one another what that budget is in explicit detail, but, that’s not always how things work out. When you’re in this predicament, you don’t have to sacrifice your dream gown. First of all, that’s never the family member’s intention when offering to help in the first place. The offer is coming from a place of love, and one where they want to make your dreams become a reality. They want to see you with the dress that makes you smile like never before. This is where it’s crucial that you had your own price in mind, at the least. If you think you’re mother could ‘comfortably spend $2,000 as opposed to $3,000 – accept that amount.

But, now what?

This, of course, can be tricky in itself as well. Y0u don’t want to make your family member feel as though they couldn’t deliver. Ultimately, this conversation all comes down to the delivery of it. First and foremost, don’t have this conversation at the bridal shop or in front of other’s who are not privy to financial conversations. It’s more than okay to leave the bridal shop and return another day. Take some time to speak with your mother or other family member, and speak in more detail about what they are able to offer you. Now, you’ve established your baseline. Let’s continue on with the $2,000 wedding dress budget for now. This means you have another $1,000 left to go in order to buy your dream dress. If it’s feasbile for you, pay the remaining amount on your own. Let your family member know that you love and appreciate them and are extremely grateful for what they have offered. As long as this is extremely clear to them, they should feel secure in what they’ve helped you accomplish! Remember – they want to feel valued and respected in this process, too.

This is an effective approach, though it may not be as simple for everyone. Sometimes that $1,000 just isn’t readily at your disposal. When that happens, it’s time to make some changes.

Tip #3: Trim the Fat

If you’re currently planning your wedding, chances are, you’re already looking at a laundry list of potential guests that in reality you’re not super excited about. If your choice comes down to picking the dress you’ve always dreamt about or inviting 10 people you’re not particularly ecstatic about…trim that fat, girl. Between invitations, furniture rentals, and food, the cost of a singular person at your wedding is easily in the hundreds. Think about that! Who really wants to spend $300+ on a guest that ultimately you’ll never see again? Um, no one.

As in tip #2, it all comes down to broaching the subject respectfully. Of course, do not disinvite someone to your wedding, unless the situation is dire and calls for it. Ideally, you should be shopping for your wedding dress about a year in advance. Long before invitations are sent out! So, if you’re still looking at the guest list and the wedding dress you want seems just out of reach, you know what to do.

Image from @madewithlovebridal on Instagram

Tip #4: Trust the Trunk Show

If you haven’t already heard about trunk shows, they’re essentially a temporary time window where a bridal shop will have a designer’s entire collection available try on. Typically, a bridal shop will only carry a limited selection of those dresses as opposed to the entire line. This is because not every dress will serve the ideal customer of that area. But when a trunk show comes around, your options grow greatly!

Not only does this mean you can view an entire collection (the newest one, too, by the way), but you’ll also still have access to try on the backlog of last season’s dresses that the store already had in stock. But, how does this play into maximizing your wedding dress budget? Discounts.

With a trunk show often also comes a sale! Many establishments will be offering ~10% off the cost of your gown when purchased on the weekend of a trunk show. This is because more often than not, brides shopping a trunk show are already quite definitive about what dress or designer they want, and are therefore more likely to buy than they may have been otherwise. You get the dress you’ve always dreamed of, without having to pay the full price. Meanwhile, the bridal shop makes more in sales than usual. It’s a win-win!

Image from @lovelybride on Instagram

Tip #5: Don’t Be Scared of Samples

When you hear the term “sample sale” you probably only associate it with the infamous once-a-year event from Kleinfeld. You may associate it with images of brides standing outside in the freezing cold for hours, only to then find themselves brawling over a heavily discounted Pnina Tornai. But alas, there is far more to sample sales than just that.

First, floor samples are available at just about every bridal shop that you’ll visit. No, they probably won’t be widely advertised on the internet. In fact, you probably won’t see it on their website at all. That’s because bridal shops don’t necessarily plan for a dress to be sold as a floor sample. Here are the circumstances that make this a reality for some gown:

1. They no longer carry that designer

Just because a shop has stopped ordering dresses from a designer does not mean that their current selection goes to waste. It just means that they cannot place orders for brand new/customized dresses from them and that they will not have new collections arriving in-store. They still need to sell whatever is left, though! In my former place of employment, I saw a gorgeous Gala by Galia Lahav gown originally priced at over $6,000 be sold for under $2,000. All because they no longer carried that line, and that one dress just took a bit too long to sell. That bride got the deal of a lifetime!

2. The dress isn’t particularly popular

This is absolutely not to be confused with the dress being “ugly” or “undesirable”. Sometimes, a dress just doesn’t jive with a lot of people. But when it finds its rightful bride, it’s pure magic. I’ve seen plenty of dresses get extremely popular and be worn by just about every bride, so seeing a hidden gem be found and loved is always a sight to see!

To be completely transparent, buying a floor sample is not without its challenges. More often than not, the sizing will be extremely limited. And aside from that, it’s important to remember that this dress has been tried on by a good number of brides already. Up close, it may not have the same fresh look as a newly ordered gown. Don’t let this scare you too much, though. A thorough cleaning and some light touch ups can make a dress good as new. And more importantly, it can save you thousands on your wedding dress budget.

- Name of Client

"Sweet biscuit sugar plum. Halvah chocolate bar jujubes. Dragée donut candy gingerbread muffin chocolate bar topping tootsie roll. Fruitcake danish sesame snaps pastry tart jujubes halvah biscuit. Cupcake donut gingerbread. Bonbon sweet roll oat cake pie pastry bonbon jelly-o bonbon jelly beans."

"Chloé captured this season of life so perfectly."

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- Name of Client

"Sweet biscuit sugar plum. Halvah chocolate bar jujubes. Dragée donut candy gingerbread muffin chocolate bar topping tootsie roll. Fruitcake danish sesame snaps pastry tart jujubes halvah biscuit. Cupcake donut gingerbread. Bonbon sweet roll oat cake pie pastry bonbon jelly-o bonbon jelly beans."

"This experience was so special to me."

- Name of Client

"Sweet biscuit sugar plum. Halvah chocolate bar jujubes. Dragée donut candy gingerbread muffin chocolate bar topping tootsie roll. Fruitcake danish sesame snaps pastry tart jujubes halvah biscuit. Cupcake donut gingerbread. Bonbon sweet roll oat cake pie pastry bonbon jelly-o bonbon jelly beans."

"I recommend Chloé for all mothers to be."