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Budget Wedding Dresses: Do They Really Exist?

10 min read
Budget Wedding Dresses: Do They Really Exist?

Budget wedding dresses are all over the internet. Each advertising you could get a beautiful ball gown from $100 or even lower. How can this be possible, you ask yourself, hoping it’s possible.

Sorry. It’s not.

Many of these budget wedding dress sites are really scams. They use professional photos from other wedding dress designers, or even order another designer’s dress, and then attempt to duplicate it with subpar materials and even more subpar workmanship.

How Can I Tell if a Dress Site is a Scam?

These sites sometimes manage to look so legitimate that few things on the site itself would even tip you off. They might publish glowing reviews from alleged customers. They might say they offer refunds or returns if you’re unhappy with the garment. Even the most savvy shopper who wants to save some money could be sucked into a scam like this. 

Here are two main ways I used to tell if a wedding dress site is a scam. 

  1. The pictures of customer dresses in reviews are clearly not the same dress as in the professional photos. At first glance, you might think, sure, this is the dress. But on a closer inspection, you might realize the color is only vaguely in the same palette, the applique is floating in the wind instead of secured to the dress, or the craftsmanship on the finer details is just not there.
  2. Look for reviews from 3rd party sites. Research the company to see what other brides are saying. Wedding forum posts that pop up with dozens of consistently negative experiences, ranging from poorly made results to an inability to get a refund, can tell you what kind of company you’re dealing with. 

Other ways include simply recognizing the dress the other merchant is claiming to sell. I had been eyeing a rainbow bridal gown for months and was very familiar with how it looked. I hopped onto eBay one day to check out their offers and was very surprised to see the same dress being sold at a fraction of the price from a seller who wasn’t the designer.

Budget Wedding Dresses: Do They Really Exist?

What’s Wrong with a Knock Off Dress?

Besides the obvious issues with quality, some brides wonder what’s so bad about ordering one of these gowns. After all, when you don’t have the budget for a $3,000 gown, why not order a slightly cheaper version from the internet?

Here’s just few reasons.

  • The site is stealing a designer’s work without compensating them and if you realize what’s going on, you’re complicit
  • You will spend money on an inferior product that might not be wearable for your wedding
  • You will probably not be able to get a refund or return the dress should it not be what you wanted
  • Having to buy another dress after the first one falls through is a financial nightmare
  • You will be perpetuating an industry that steals from designers, dupes customers, and churns out poorly-made gowns
Budget Wedding Dresses: Do They Really Exist?

What Are Some Other Options for Budget Wedding Gowns?

Thankfully, the problem the internet created is a problem the internet can solve. Follow these steps to help you find the dress of your dreams without the pricetag of your nightmares.

  • Google dresses that resemble what you want and don’t include the word “wedding.” Your perfect dress could be a prom gown or a formal wear dress. Remember, wedding dresses don’t have to be white. Colored gowns are statement makers and could result in a much lower price tag.
  • Go to your favorite clothing brands and see if they offer anything that could work as a wedding dress. I looked at Torrid’s plus size Wedding Shop and even eShakti’s gowns, most of which are around $100.
  • Look for lower cost wedding gowns: They are out there! Cocomelody is a great example of a designer who sells affordable gowns. Instead of their gowns mostly being around the $1500 range (the cost of the average bridal gown), their dresses start at $139 and top out at $1899. They also offer inexpensive bridesmaids gowns in 50 different colors.
  • Buy a pre-owned gown. These dresses have usually only been worn once (some not at all) and sell for less than half of the retail cost. What’s more, brides are sometimes willing to haggle and dresses can be listed at a 70% discount or lower.
  • Check thrift stores. This might sound like the last thing you want to do for your wedding dress, but you might be surprised what you find. Inexplicably, I once found 6 brand new wedding dresses at one store. They were beautiful and modern as well, not the 80s nightmares you think of when you think thrift store bridal gowns.

What’s in a Gown, Anyway?

It’s pretty common to think of the wedding gown as one of the most important elements of a wedding. After all, this is the dress we’re told to dream about as children. This is usually the most expensive article of clothing we’ll ever purchase. Not to mention, we all want to feel special and a little bit pampered on our wedding day. Which, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

However, an expensive dress doesn’t mean that our partners will love us more, our marriage will last longer, or we’ll ultimately be happier with our lives. What we often forget is that it’s not the dress that makes the day special or even makes us special. It’s us. We do that. We can do that in any dress in the world.

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