A good friend of mine passed along her "bridal bible" if you will, Bridal Bargins Book by Denise and Alan Fields. I've started reading this book and was just shocked at what all I needed to do as far as asking questions on certain topics etc...I recommend it to every bride on a budget!
About 9 months ago, I found my dress...It was perfect to me and made me feel skinny and gorgeous! I felt like I could conquer anything. Any plus size girl knows that you have the right outfit on, you are rockin your self esteem and could take over the world! lol Anyway, We were 1 year out from our original wedding date. I go to order my dress, the store owner tells me that they, for someodd reason, can't get ahold of the designer! They've tried faxing, calling, emailing, everything short of carrier pegion! O.O That left me with one option...buying the sample dress. Problem was though, the owner was not willing to part with it for nothing less than what they charge for the dress BRAND NEW! Yes girls, he did! **insert shocked and horrified face here, cause I did!** I told him I was not paying full price for a dress that I didn't know how many others had tried on, stretched out, stepped on, etc. He also wouldn't have it cleaned. So I had to walk away from my dress...saddened.
Back to the book...as I read along, I read that the dress has a order of how it arrives to the bridal stores. It is created by the designers...The sketches and patterns are shipped to China and sewn for the designer. It is then shipped to the designers ( add about $200-$500 mark up)...The designers send them to the US warehouses (Add more money here) and then sent to the retailers ( add final store mark up here) So you are looking at a dress that cost roughly $50 to make and has now changed hands3 times and with that, the dress price tag has gone up so you are easily looking at that dress going from $50 to final price tag of $1000! I was like WOAH! Um no! I read the next section about cutting out the middle man and going straight to the sewing party. in China. They listed their top picks for the Chinese seamstresses. With that info, I went and researched their sites, their eBay sites, nothing but POSITIVE and AWESOME reviews/feedback.
I've always been a little leary of ordering my dress online and from overseas. I did contact this one man in particular. He is in the "BEST" group in the book, also remember the friend who passed on this wealth of knowledge book to me? She ordered her dress from him. While I still felt nervous, I gave it a shot and emailed them my situation. They replied the next day (for them anyway bc of the time diference) and answered all 23 questions I had! Very professional,, nice, English is very well spoken. He quoted me $420 to replicate my dress. That price also includes the $80 shipping and $35 for the custom petticoat that goes under the dress. So the dress itself is $305 and that is a custom dress. I can add and take away anything.
I wanted to pass this along to you all and let you know this is a fabulous option! There are other Chinese seamstresses who charge way way way less! I saw one dress for $17.50! It's just for the dress though, however the petti's run about $35 so you can't beat it.
Also, if you find that your bridal shop is charging you a "Shipping Fee" to have your dress shipped to the store, refuse to pay that! They aren't shipping the dress directly to your house! They are shipping it to themselves and it costs them next to nada to have it shipped and you still have to come pick it up! Chances are, other items they need for their store are coming with your dress from their warehouse and you just paid for their printer paper to be shipped! Regardless, you do not have to pay that! If they fight you on it, tell them you'll spend your money elsewhere, mostly likely they will back down. If they don't, I'd walk out bc they obviously have no problem abusing their brides.
I'd also recommend the book. There are hundreds of ways to save money and have the wedding of your dreams.