Broke-Ass Tag: broke-ass advice

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!

  • 3/17

    organized wedding

    Raise your hand if you’re a disorganized hot mess most of the time … yep, me too! Now where are my Type A friends who get anxiety when someone even touches something on your desk? There’s news for you, too. No matter where you fall on the messy-organized spectrum, putting together an orderly, executable system for wedding day set up is going to save you a lot of anxiety while you get all pretty (Is everything there? Are they doing it right?). It’s also a huge kindness to the people working their tails off so your day looks perfect.

    Whether it’s a backyard gathering for 20 or a ballroom gala for 200, you probably have some feelings on how you want your wedding to look. When other people — whether they’re friends and family or hired event staff — are doing the set-up without proper guidance, you’re forcing them to make decisions for themselves. By setting up a detailed plan of action that your set-up crew can see beforehand, you take the guesswork out of it, giving everyone some peace of mind.

    Don’t expect people to read your mind.

    You may think everything is perfectly obvious, but that unlabeled box of personal photos and candlesticks was supposed to be divided among the guest tables, yet Aunt Jane assumed they were supposed to go on the shelf in the entryway. Your box of extra, in-case-of-emergency candles got mistaken for desired decor, so your cousin just kind of stuck them wherever he thought would look good. They’re both reasonable assumptions, but it’s not what you wanted.

    So how do you deal?

    Make diagrams and either print them out or email them to the people helping. The easiest way to do this is set up a mock-up somewhere in your home and take a picture. If there are items you’re renting and don’t have stashed around your home pre-wedding, grab a stand-in item and make a note that (for example) the water glass will actually be the 9-inch cylinder vase at the venue. This way, everyone knows what your plan is.

    Separate items by table, not by decoration type.

    This is a foolproof way of making sure things go where they need to go, especially if your tables will have different decor. Rather than putting all of the candle holders in one box and hoping for the best, put three candleholders in a box with the respective candles, the two photos of you and your partner at 3 years old, the #3 card, a holder for the card, and, if you have them with you, the linens and centerpiece vase. Label that box (visible from the outside) Table 3 and repeat as necessary. Separate other decorations like the buffet tables, desert table, sign-in table. Not only does this make it less confusing, it saves precious time and you’ll ensure all the things for each table are present and accounted for.

    Assign people to take home you items at tear-down.

    True Story: My husband of well over a year and I bought a plain white puzzle for our guestbook. I have not seen this since I lovingly admired a few of the messages at our wedding reception. I have no idea who took it home or what box it could be in. Learn from my mistake! Since it’s unlikely you’ll be doing the packing up yourself, have a list of what needs to go home with someone and ask specific people to be in charge of it. This way you know that Uncle Jim loaded all of the table decor into his Suburban; Mom has the gifts and cards; your best friend grabbed your bouquet and all the flowers … you get the picture. Of course, make sure that these people live relatively close so you can coordinate to pick things up after the wedding.

    Make clear what was rented and needs to be returned.

    Renting items can get pricey. The last thing you want it to get hit with a replacement fee after the wedding. Since the people helping tear down may not be the same people who helped you set up, make sure there’s a list of rental items so everyone there can easily identify what goes home with you and what gets returned. If you’ve rented from multiple businesses, separate the lists and make note of what will be picked up and what needs to be taken back personally.

    Providing all of your helpers with a plan takes less work than you think. Simply knowing how you’re going to pack your boxes can be less stressful than cramming things in arbitrarily and trying to figure out what else will fit. Plus, in all honesty, people will love you for it. The less stress you put on people before your wedding, the happier they are once the whole shindig kicks off.

    If that level of organization isn’t your game, find someone who color-coordinates their closet or alphabetizes their book shelf. Organized people usually love to help other people get organized, so it’s a win-win. Knowing where to find your precious memories in the days after your wedding will be well worth it!

    Do you have any other organization tips? Let us know in the comments below!

  • 2/17

    Finding the love of your life and taking that next big step towards forever is a blissful time of your life, but what happens when someone you love has life experiences that are giving them a broken heart? Whether it's the ending of a relationship, loss of a loved one, money, job or health troubles, certain struggles can zap the celebration spirit right out of…

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    1/20

    If the new year brought you a new big step in your relationship, congratulations! We're so happy to have you! As you jump into the world of wedding planning, know that it's totally normal and very much ok to be feeling a little ... overwhelmed about where to start, to say the least. If your head is feeling like a giant cloud full of tulle…

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    11/11

    Whether you're hand-writing on the envelope or using a convenient print-out label, addressing your wedding invites comes with a few *rules* that etiquette specialists still advise you follow. We don't want you to be left searching, so here's what you need to know before sending out that stationery. Before you get started, make sure to check and double-check that spelling! Your partner's cousin Ashleigh is…

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  • 10/28

    Weddings -- planning them, paying for them, putting them on -- are kind of an ordeal. Even the simplest of soirees can have a lot of moving parts and when those parts get to rolling, the unsolicited advice starts coming in. Seriously: death, taxes, unsolicited wedding advice. Plenty of people out there have already explained that it's important not to take these opinions (or thinly veiled…

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    10/14

    Cash Wallet, $56 by Etsy seller BlackArrowStudio I've been wracking my brain to come up with some truly epic wedding advice for you, BABs. This being my last advice post for The Broke-Ass Bride for the moment, I'm feeling some (self-imposed) pressure to get it right! ? I hope you enjoy it, and remember that you can always reply in the comments or email BAB directly…

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    9/30

    Marathon Runner Cake Topper, $205 by Etsy seller Clayphory Pre-post disclaimer: If you're looking for fitspiration, you've come to the wrong place. This is not a post about losing weight, working out, or changing your appearance for your wedding day. Instead, this post contains tips to (hopefully) keep you from passing out on your wedding day. These are general tips, not medical advice. As always, consult your doctor or nutritionist…

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  • 9/16

    Credit: Lucky Photographer from Kate & Daniel's Real Wedding One of the decisions that can significantly impact your wedding budget is about how you'll serve your guests. This applies whether you're serving dinner, appetizers, cake and punch, breakfast-for-dinner or any other type of meal. So let's break down some of the options, shall we? Buffet Pros: This is typically a more cost effective option if you want to offer…

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