Saturday, May 17, 2008

Unexpected beauty

It's definitely easy to get sucked into the messages thrown at you once you start the wedding planning process. Buying a dress can be very emotional because there are so many things that look good. At the same time, the better they look the more expensive they tend to be.

I took my girlfriends with me last month and found a dress that I preferred within the first day. I really did have the "this is the one" kind of feeling when the sales person zipped it up. It's strapless, chiffon over satin, and has a cascade of beads and embroidery that gradually fade away at the hip. Still, I fretted over it because it wasn't what I expected to like. But it was less than $800 which was good. I have given myself a very reasonable budget of $1,000 (including alterations). A dress I really liked is over $2,000 which I knew was totally crazy given the dress had a 12-hour life. I searched website after website to get an idea of what real prices are for dresses versus what the tags say at the stores.

Honestly, if you are the right size, there are deals to be had. Whether it be a used gown, a sample dress, or someone who just changed their minds, the prices can be great. The trick is either finding a way to try the dress before you buy the cheaper one or you trust that you will be able to alter it to fit.

Being someone who is particularly small and has lopsided measurements, I didn't want to try altering something that was 2-3 sizes bigger. Without a good seamstress, it's challenging to retain the shape and intended style.

In terms of auctions, I saw many dresses I liked and even tried to bid on a few, but I was never willing to go high enough to win. I don't have a good sense of what is a fair price to bid (that and my innate desire to get a deal). Also, it just seemed a little scary to not know if and when I'd find and win a dress that I want. Yeah, that'd be stupid to be dressless one month before the wedding and have to wear something I didn't like.

I hate indecision, so in the end, I found a store that had a better price on the $800 gown and ordered. Knowing that all my girlfriends AND my mother like it easy my worries. It will be here in July. In the meantime, I've been cruising the sites to see what kinds of deals pop up.

Since I already have a dress, I'm not too serious about bidding. However, if I could get something cheap, I thought it'd be a good backup or practice dress. There are a couple vendors that regularly post sample dresses for cheap. These dress typically have a "retail" tag between $600-$900. The bids usually end up going as high as $30-$60 plus shipping. It's a price I could stand to spend for entertainment.

For weeks, I've bid on some, but always lost out to someone who wanted it more. That's fine. But one weekend, I forgot that I'd thrown in a maximum bid of $15 on a gown. At the last minute, someone raised the current bid from $11.49 to $13. Because I had bidder earlier, the price increased to $13.49.

Let me tell you how surprised I was to see my e-mail the next day saying I won the auction! I had been expecting to lose the auction so really didn't know what I was even buying except that it might be a little tight at the waist. (It's probably also why there were so few people bidding on that particular gown.) I remember looking at the pictures again and thinking that the sweetheart neckline wasn't appealing.

The package showed up a week later at my door. I have to say the gown was in great condition. It only has two faint streaks of dirt, no doubt from someone trying it on. But otherwise it's clean and brand new! It's definitely tight at the waist. I don't feel like I can bend over without exploding. It also weighs a ton. (That's why more expensive silk dress are nicer than satin polyester.) Ignoring that, I think it's quite lovely for it's simple design. The lace and beading at the high waist is elegant and helps make the bottom half of me look longer and taller.

I'm not one of those bridezilla types that has to have everything exactly perfect. Yes it's nice to have a dress that you feel beautiful in and want to see in pictures. I've learned from talking to many people that few people beyond the bride, groom, and family will remember the dress in any great detail. Many dresses will look good. I probably could be happy with this sample dress.

Now, I'm thinking why didn't I just take the risk and buy a couple different dresses for cheap? If I bought three for $50-$70 each, I'd still save an amazing amount of money. How fun it would be to run around the house in three different dresses. :)


Anna May Won't said...

i think it's beatiful! simple yet elegant. i actually like the neckline. i think it'll elongate your neck, like you said, and you can show off a nice necklace.

as for the too tight waist, you will probably lose a few pounds right before the wedding from busy-ness and stress, and i doubt you will be eating much that day.

zerodoll said...

i'm with anna may; its lovely. and i did lose 3 pounds the week before the wedding, not that the wedding was the stress, but we had a lot of other stuff going on and eating became less important (very unusual for me!) i totally agree about the silk vs polyester and also that not many people will remember much about the dress (or the invitations or the music or ...) my friend was hilarious, saying how proud he was of the invitations he made for his own wedding and weren't they so nice (i had no memory of them.) then he promptly gave our invitation back after the wedding saying he'd just throw it out and maybe we could use it.

now, i did go crazy with the dresses and bought too many and sold them and i did spend about $2000 on my dress and just now sent it off to a charity that sells them for cancer patients, a good tax write off.

Pandax said...

Well, my more expensive dress is hopefully being made somewhere in China already. I suppose it's nice to know I can choose between the two when the times comes for alterations.

Considering how inexpensive this dress is, I've been thinking maybe I'll use it for crazy wedding pictures - dragging it camping in Yosemite or to the honeymoon in South America. How fun would that be?

I've definitely been planning to donate the cheaper dress if I don't use it. It'd be great if someone else can use it and give to a good cause.

Zerodoll - you don't actually get to write off the entire cost of the dress do you? (Perfect timing with the house eh?)

teahouse said...

That's beautiful!

I bought my dress at a children's charity. Last year's samples are donated by the designers, and the money all goes to this orphanage. It was great.

Nicky said...

I think you're on the right track with this. I loved my dress and spent a lot on it and now feel pretty silly about that. You want to feel great about your dress but it's definitely not the most important thing, and buying a couple of inexpensive ones to try out is a great great great idea.