Broke-Ass Category: Wedding Dress Shopping

4/20

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Reader Sandra commented on this post looking for a floaty dress for her 30th anniversary vow renewal:

“Just found “Can’t Afford It” today. Wonderful! My husband and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary in 2018, and would like to have a vow renewal and small party. I really like Inga Nataya’s “River Fairy” dress in Lilac, but $900 is too much for me to spend on a dress. (My original wedding dress, veil and shoes cost less than $300). I love the Edwardian look of Jenny Packham’s Azalea as well. I’d only like to spend $400 or less, and I hope to be able to wear the dress again to occasions like a graduation party or someone else’s wedding.
Also, I’m 52 and love vintage clothing. While I love the floaty look of the above dresses, I don’t want anything too youthful.
Hoping this is not all impossible!
Can you help? Thanks!!!”

Sandra, first off — congratulations on your soon-to-be 30 married years! For your renewal dress, I’ll focus my search on simpler “floaty” dresses without trains and won’t limit it to just traditional white gowns. The River Fairy gown has a soft shrug overlay with sleeve look, and I’ll see if I can find this kind of versatility in the dresses in my search, and keep it from going to “young” looking.  I’ll also keep an eye for some Edwardian dresses, which is also a lovely style.  Let’s see them …

Can't Afford It

Inga Nataya River Fairy in Lilac

River Fairy dress in Lilac, $900 by Inga Nataya

Get Over It

Nordstrom - Embellished Lace Gown 319

La Femme Embellished Lace Gown; $319 at Nordstrom

ASOS - Lace Paneled Flutter Sleeve Maxi Dress 113

Lace Paneled Flutter Sleeve Maxi Dress in blue; $113 at ASOS

ASOS - Needle & Thread Daisy Embroidery Maxi Dress With Cold Shoulder 376

Needle & Thread Daisy Embroidery Maxi Dress With Cold Shoulder; $376 at ASOS

Macys - Adelyn Rae Lace Maxi Dress 148

Adelyn Rae Lace maxi Dress; $148 at Nordstrom

Macys - J Kara Beaded V Back Capelet Gown 289

J Kara Beaded V-Back Capelet Gown; $289 at Macy’s

Macys -Adrianna Papell Beaded Mesh Gown 349

Adrianna Papell Beaded Mesh Gown; $349 at Macy’s

Macys -Adrianna Papell Embellished Popover Xapelet Gown 369

Adrianna Papell Embellished Popover Capelet Gown; $369 at Macy’s

Dillards - JS Collection Romantic Ruffle Sheer Matte jersey Gown 258

JS Collections Romantic Ruffle Sheer Matte Jersey Gown; $258 at Dillard’s

Dillards - R&M Richards Sequined Lace and Chiffon Jacket Dress 130

R & M Richards Sequined Lace & Chiffon Jacket Dress in Lavender; $130 at Dillard’s

Dillards - Adrianna Papell Sleeveless Sequin Lace Organza Riffle Tiered Gown 219

Adrianna Papell Sleeveless Sequin Lace & Organza Ruffle Tiered Gown; $219 at Dillard’s

So what do you think, is there a dress here for your vow renewal, Sandra?  I wish you 30 more years of married bliss.

Got a gown that you just can’t get off your mind? We’re happy to help you get over it! Just tell us in the comments below! Please remember to include the budget you’re working with so we can find you the best alternative for you. Please be aware, though, that because you guys love this column so much, we can often build up quite the queue and it may be a while before we can get to your dream dress. Rest assured, though, Team Broke-Ass is on the case!

*As always, please do your own research before buying a gown online. Team Broke-Ass is here to provide you with inspiration and resources, but it is up to the consumer to know what they’re purchasing.
  • 3/31

    Picking out your wedding wear is a major milestone in the planning process, but how do you know if that online order is a good idea? With so many concerns about overseas sellers, mother of the bride Leisa hit us up for some advice on how to know the buying experience will be a good one. She writes:

    I am the mother of the bride who will be married in September 23, 2017. I have been doing a lot of research in helping her to find a wedding dress. It is overwhelming, to say the least. There are so many beautiful and more affordable dresses on Etsy; many of which are made overseas. I would like to hear from more people about their experiences in ordering dresses online.  You have many posts that highlight Etsy sellers’ gowns, but I’d like to here about experiences in ordering them; which are reliable, no hidden costs, etc.   Thank you…I love your posts!

    Hi, Leisa and thanks for reading!

    It’s a great question and one that comes up often when looking for a dress. It’s no secret that cheap knock-offs exist on all corners of the internet, and Etsy, despite its handmade reputation isn’t immune. Of course, beautiful, quality dresses abound and there are a few things to look for to ensure that deal is worth making. Wedding planning sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire have entire forums for brides who’ve bought dresses from Etsy which can be an invaluable source for first-hand experiences. For some tips on knowing when you’ve found a great seller, I’ll do a little experiment with you:

    Etsy feather ballgown dress

    Feathered lace gown available from Etsy seller CustomDress1900

    After going to Etsy’s wedding dress and separates section, I pulled this ornate gown with a sub-$500 price because I was suspicious. It looks like a lot of dress for the money.

    When you click on a dress you’ve already cursory looked at the picture, so the first thing to check out (before you fall in love with a dress that may not be the real deal!) is the product name; there can be clues there. “Vintage Lace Wedding Dress Beige Champagne Wedding Gowns Formal Bridal Gown Princess Luxury Puffy Feather Lace Dress for Wedding” is a LOT of words, BUT they all apply to the dress. Some sellers stuff their titles so full of keywords to make customers more likely to find the item from a variety of searches.

    The problem is when they use misleading or completely untrue words simply because customers frequently search for those words.

    If the title had included, say, beaded or mermaid or gold, potential scam alert! If they’re scammy with their title they’re likely to be scammy with their sales.

    Looking for items with multiple photos including close-ups is smart, but pay attention to what’s in the photos. This dress is displayed on a mannequin, not a model and watermarked with the shop name. Personally, I count that as a plus. If someone is selling a knock-off, they frequently lift the photo from designer websites which almost always have a model wearing the dress. If the picture looks like it came straight out of a bridal magazine, chances are it did — but your dress didn’t.

    If you suspect that might be the case (or just want to make double sure), do a reverse photo search on Google.

    For anyone unfamiliar with that process, save a picture to your own computer, then go to the Google homepage. Up in the right hand corner you’ll see “images” in small text; click on that and a camera icon will appear in the search bar. Click on the camera and upload the picture. This will bring up sites where the image appears. Other than a couple instances where someone saved it to Pinterest, every instance of this photo comes from this seller. It’s probable that this dress is an original!

    Customdress1900 google image search

    Now it’s time to move on to reviews. Under “feedback” there are over 400 reviews, but they’re for the entire store, not the specific dress. However, out of those 400+ reviews, this shop still averages 5 stars and many of the reviews include pictures of the dress received (bonus information). Take some time to read the comments and look for genuine-sounding, emotional words. A store can have thousands of five-star ratings, but if the comments are just a bunch of “great seller” and “item as pictured,” you may be looking at fake feedback.

    Even if an item doesn’t have dedicated feedback, looking at the store’s info can bring up some make-it-or-break-it points.

    By clicking on the store name at the top of the page, you’ll be redirected to the store front. Right at the top are the three numbers you want to see.

    Customdress1900 homepage

    Customdress1900 has racked up almost 1,600 sales and has been in business on Etsy since 2013. Rip-off sites that accrue too many negative reviews will shut a page down and start a new one, so it’s wise look for businesses that have been operating at least two years. Again, we see there are 403 reviews, almost all of which are five stars. Highlights in the first few comments are that the owner of this site is great with communication, accepts custom orders and ships quickly.

    If everything checks out but you’re still uncomfortable, use the “Ask the seller a question” button to send them a direct message. A reputable seller should get back to you within a couple days with a professional demeanor and relevant answers to your questions. Once you feel comfortable with a seller, have a seamstress take the necessary measurements and double, no, triple check the information before sending it along. This is your dressmaker’s only tangible way of figuring the proper fit, so it’s best to be exact!

    I hope this gives you some peace of mind as you go forth on the great dress hunt!

    Do you have any additional bits of wisdom on how to be sure you’re not getting ripped off? Share in the comments!

  • 3/28

    I am so happy to report that I have finally made a concrete decision on something ... THE DRESS! About a week and a half ago I hauled my mom, my bridesmaid Shay and my two girls to David's Bridal in the hopes that I could finally get this ball rolling and make a decision on something. Chris has recently taken on a paramedic certification class…

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    3/23

    Hi BABs!  This week's request comes from reader Randi, who is in love with a Carol Hannah gown: "I love your Can't Afford It? Get Over It! posts... And your book. If I could climb a mountain (Hard to find in New Jersey...) and sing its praises, I would, but for now I've been recommending it to all my newly engaged broke-ass friends. I recently…

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    3/10

    This week's request comes from reader Tammi for a very unique look: "Can't Afford it - I'm looking for something like the green version of Jenny Packham's Joy dress. You did such a great job finding alternatives with the JP dress before, I'm hoping you can help me. I can't find anything else even remotely similar anywhere. My budget is under $1500, preferably closer to…

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  • 3/2

    Reader Rachel is searching for a dress for her fairy tale wedding: "Avina Valenta Style 9616.   Any dress you can recommend similar to this dress, which is over $2500 and I can't spend over $400 on a dress, but I want something sexy yet fairytale for my wedding! :) Love your blog, Thank you, Rachel" Thanks for the love, Rachel!  I hear you, this dress…

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    2/15

    We're all about finding fab frocks for less, and we're always super thrilled to get an amazing deal. Whether it's your priority to not spend a ton of dollars on your dress because you think you'll only wear it once and you'd rather allocate the cash to something that lasts longer (hello, photography!) or you're boot-scootin' it to the courthouse -- big party be damned!…

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    2/9

    Today’s CAI/GOI request is for a look-alike dress of "Edythe" from Pallas Couture's 2010 collection. Reader CircusorBust commented on this post with: "I love these posts! They have helped me so much. The gown I am trying to find an alternative to is Edythe by Pallas Couture. I am trying to find something under $400. Any kind of dress that is similar to this in style I…

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  • 1/27

    Reader Armarni was checking out this previous post, when she fell in love with a Get Over It gown we featured. Unfortunately, the Sabine Dress by Jenny Yoo was sold out and over budget, so Armani asked us for help: "Any suggestions for a similar vintage inspired dress for under $250? Was also thinking of adding a detachable train for the drama!" First off, if…

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