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Wedding dress for less!

Despite what people may advise, it is a BAD idea to borrow a friend's dress.  She will never forgive you if you spill red wine down it or stick your foot through the hem, and you could spoil your day by worrying that you might!  It is a GOOD idea to borrow her veil, tiara, shoes and accessories that have a nasty habit of running up the bill.

Unless you know what you are doing, it is also a BAD idea to try and make your own.  The pattern may look simple but unless you get the fit exactly right, you will look like you are wearing a bin liner.

It you are good with  sewing, look in charity shops.  Their dresses often offer a lot of fabric and lace for the money and can be altered and remodelled to look stunning.  Oxfam have ten specialist wedding dress shops (see oxfam) for addresses.

Ebay is the obvious place to look for designer bargains.  Once you have chosen a dress or designer that you like, just keep typing the name into their search engine and over a month or so you may well find what you want.  It is probably worth only bidding on things fairly near to you geographically so you can go and look at them before you bid.  Remember to check not just the size but also the height of the bride - if the dress has been shortened to fit a 5' 2" girl, it isn't much use of the someone of 5'10".   Of course going the other way, dresses can be shortened, but this really needs to be done professionally and can cost about £50, so remember to factor this into your costings.  Always be careful when dealing on ebay - check out the person's ratings and  use paypal (only use cash if you are collecting in person). Also check out Preloved for some real bargains.

Lots of people are now opting to buy dresses on-line from China.  There are some real bargains to be had but always, of course, some risks.  Do you homework, checking out others who have bought from the company - 'feedback' can sometimes be rigged.  Allow plenty of time in case things so wrong, but if the dress is not quite right for you, it could always be sold on ebay again!

Of course you don't actually have to have a "wedding" dress.  A stunning evening dress would look fantastic for a civil ceremony and you could theme the wedding's colours around the dress.  Look for bargains in the January sales.

But if what you really want is a new dress, it does pay to shop around.  When you have chosen which dress you want, find all the stockists for that brand in your area and ring round checking prices.  There are not huge differences but you could save £50.  If you are buying from a small independent shop always pay deposits by credit card (not debit card).

If you are buying from a shop, do watch out for the 'tiara trick'.  You have chosen your dress, you look stunning, and then the assistant pops a tiara on your head, which looks perfect!  Knowing you have already decided to spend hundreds of pounds on the dress, what's another £80 for the tiara? NO! Take a careful look at it, then find one the same on the internet for a quarter of the price. 

If a tiara isn't your thing, why not try just adding  pearl hair pins to the back of you hair?  This is the view that most people will see during the ceremony.

When choosing shoes, remember you will be standing (or dancing!) most of the day, and your feet must be comfortable.  If you already have a pair of shoes which would fit the bill, why not just jazz them up by gluing or sewing on some decoration.