Here’s how I found my gown for just £190 and tips on how you can get your dream dress without breaking the bank.

Having never tried on any wedding dresses before I had no idea what would suit me. Like most brides, I wanted to do the typical trying on session like you see if the films and on TV shows so back in October I found a boutique in Chester that were happy to help me find a style.

When I made the booking I was very clear that it was highly unlikely I would be purchasing a dress and that I just wanted to try on different styles to help work out what suited me. The shop assistant was fab and told they were happy to do this and that there was no obligation to buy.

When we arrived for the appointment we were greeted with a bottle of prosecco and I was able to try on lots of different styles. It all felt a bit weird at first and like I was playing dress up. All the dresses were gorgeous but I didn’t find the one – partly because they didn’t feel right and partly because they were £1600! I did however have a clear idea of what shape and style I wanted.

I wouldn’t advise making a trip like this to everyone as there is a risk of falling in love with a dress that is way out of your budget. Luckily, I am the type of person that can resist falling in love with something that’s too expensive.

Fast forward to January, I was bored one evening and ended up watching ‘Say Yes to the Dress UK’ which is sponsored by Wed2b. I had heard about Wed2b before and was planning on visiting them as they do off the rack dress, ready to take away on the day dresses with prices range from £299-£599. Significantly cheaper dresses than the boutique prices I had tried on back in October.

I decided to browse the dresses on Wed2b and quickly found one that I really liked the look of and it was an amazing £399! There weren’t many pictures of the dress though so I headed to Google to see if I could fine any more pictures, after a little bit of searching I had stumbled across the exact same dress on ebay. It was my size, brand new and the starting price for the auction was £190!

It seemed too good to be true, no one had bid on it, there were only two days left on the auction and the pick up location was Stoke. Coincidentally, that’s just a forty minutes drive from my mums house which is where I was going to be that very weekend!

I quickly sent the seller a message to find out a bit more. It turns out she had bought the gown on impulse and by the time she had realised it wasn’t the one for her the 14 day return period had passed. She has since bought her dream dress so this one was just sitting in a dress bag in her spare room going to waste.

She told me if I won the auction she would be happy to let me try the dress on first before committing to purchasing it. She also said she had a belt with it that she was happy to include in the price! At this point it seemed worth going for. Two days later, the auction ended and I was the only person who had bid so I got it for £190 – less than half the price it is in the shops!

A couple of day later I made the trip to Stoke; the lady had kindly hung the dress up and put out a full length mirror so I could try it on. It did seem strange trying it on in a strangers house but as I had done the fancy trip to a dress boutique I didn’t mind especially as this going to save me hundreds of pounds. My mum helped me into the dress and once it was on I automatically knew it was the one for me.

I was unsure about the belt but decided to take it, I offered the lady extra for the belt but she declined, saying she had no use for it and she was happy that both the dress and belt were going to someone who would get use out of them. As I was about to get my money out my mum said she was paying; I had budgeted to buy it myself so this was an amazing surprise.

Once we got back to my mum’s house I tried to the dress on again and got some pictures so I could show my bridesmaids. I absolutely love it but decided not to use the belt, it’s really pretty but I want something a little daintier. Instead I am paying the ladies generosity and kindness forward by giving it to a friend of mine who has been looking for a bargain bridal sash.

For now the dress is staying at my mum’s house so I’m not tempted to keep looking at it or wanting to try it on all the time. I’m not showing anyone else what it looks like so it’ll be a surprise on the big day. I can’t for everyone to see my amazingly beautiful bargain dress and I hope this goes to show that it is possible to get a gown on a small budget.

I have been incredibly lucky finding mine at the perfect time and that might not be possible for everyone but below you’ll find some other tips on how to find your own bridal gown on a budget.

  1. Wed2B – Buy off the rack on the day and save yourself the made to order boutique prices.
  2. Buy second hand – places like ebay, Gumtree and Shpock can be brilliant places to find a designer dress for a fraction of the price if you’re happy to buy a preloved gown. You might be as lucky as me and stumble across someone selling one brand new.
  3. Try a chairty shop – Oxfam have some branches that specialise in wedding attire some second hand and some brand new. There are lots of other charity shops that do the same so it’s worth checking what you have local to you.
  4. Buy off the high street – retailers like Debenhams, Chi Chi London, Asos and many more sell purse friendly wedding dreses.
  5. Have a family gown altered – If your mum has a retro gown tucked away in the loft you could have a dress maker redesign it into a more modern style.
  6. Find a sample sale – there are so many shops that offer their sample dresses at a reduced price you can often get a designer dress for a lot less.
  7. Shop at a wedding dress outlet – a colleague of mine recommended an outlet in Stockport as that is where she got her dress. These places offer a warehouse full of discount dresses so it’s worth seeing what you can find.
  8. There are of course options to buy dress online from China but we have all seen the ‘expectation vs reality’ pictures. There are some sites that have decent reviews and if you’re happy to take a risk it might be worth it. One site with good reviews is JJShouse. If you do decide to order from somewhere like this I would advise using PayPal to cover you in case you do have any problems. Remember, you might have to pay import charges when ordering from places like this so it’s really important to check exactly what the cost will be.

If anyone else has some money saving tips for finding your wedding dress let me know!

Happy dress hunting,


Thrifty Clair x





7 thoughts on “Say Yes to the Dress for Less!

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