06 February 2010

Febusave - The Dress and The Rest

Photo kindly provided by Jen at Green Wedding Shoes

So there we were, at our last stop for the day, in one of Brisbane’s most highly regarded (read: expensive) Wedding Boutiques. The Journo (also my bridesmaid) was trying to convince me to try on a dress with a built in lace bolero.

I was resisting.

I don’t like lace, and I was pretty sure that lace didn’t like me.

But she begged and she pleaded and she pulled out the puppy dog eyes – so I gave in, secretly hoping that this dress would be awesome and we could finish the dreaded (for me) wedding dress shopping.

With no mirror in the change room, I emerged with eyes closed and waited for the verdict.

Like a hyena on heat, my best friend, erupted into high pitched giggles. “WHAT???” I demanded. She struggled to compose herself, glancing furtively at the customers (much more highbrow than we) and whispered “It looks like my Nanna’s lace doily shat on you”. And then collapsed into more giggles. Nice.

Safe to say – I did not buy that dress and I still do NOT wear lace.

I will openly admit that I was not your typical bride. I did not cry while trying on wedding dresses, I did not make my husband take dancing lessons (god knows, I should have been the one to do that!) and I did not dictate what the bridal party could wear, right down to their undies and nail polish.

In fact – I was so relaxed about the whole process that I got asked a few times if I was “helping a friend” organise her wedding.

Trying on dresses was traumatic for me. I had not actually worn a dress since my high school formal. I’m 6 feet tall and particularly tomboyish, so never felt comfortable swanning around in an outfit that screamed femininity. So if you, like me, are a little apprehensive about finding THE dress, or just simply don’t want to remortgage the house in doing so, some of these tips might help you out.

The Dress:

Think outside the box: If a traditional Wedding dress isn’t really your style – try high end Evening Gowns instead. Wayne Cooper, Lisa Ho, Collette Dinnigan to name a few or – where I got mine from Living Silk (although I confess that it was actually a Bridesmaid’s dress – but was exactly what I wanted). The bonus being that you can wear them again as an evening gown, or have dyed and shortened into a cocktail dress.

Have it made: Research dressmakers in your area, find out who does the Couture dressmakers alterations (they rarely do it them themselves) or find a reputable dressmaker on Ebay . Most often they are based in China, but can produce a very similar looking dress to a Designer Gown for a fraction of the price, and made specifically to your measurements.

Pre loved: Check out: Ebay, I do, Bride Online or Smart Bride. Although these dresses will be sold as second-hand – not all of these dresses will have actually been worn. Some brides have babies, gain or lose a lot of weight or simply change their mind. Take advantage of their circumstances and secure yourself a stunning dress for a bargain price.

Buy shoes that you love, and that you will wear again. If your favourite colour is emerald green, consider a gorgeous pair of stilettos in that colour – your guests will only see flashes of them through your long dress but it will add personality to your outfit and a stunning pair of shoes to your wardrobe…

Photo kindly provided by Jen at Green Wedding Shoes

In stead of buying expensive jewellery, can you borrow something beautiful from a friend or family member? Not only will it save you money but it will also add sentimentality to the outfit.

The Rest:

Don’t buy Wedding magazines. You can borrow them from Libraries and buy them heavily discounted from places like Ebay, The Trading Post and Garage Sales. Otherwise the internet is the most fabulous source of inspiration – and it’s free.

Join a wedding forum like Brides Diary. This is a great place to get ideas, inspiration, advice and other bride’s second hand items that they changed their mind on, or never ended up using.

Make your own invitations – if you are so inclined, and have the ability to match – or check out online Stationers like Stationery Online and Vista Print  to name a few that do stunning invitations for a reasonable cost.

If you want to make your own – try Cristina Re  for gorgeous paper - but even Officeworks and Big W have embellishments for invitations. Be warned. Although it looks cheap –get an accurate quote before you start and keep in mind that you will need to have extras available for any that “don’t quite work out". I found that it was actually $40 cheaper to get mine done through Stationery Online  than it was to make them myself, as well as the convenience of the envelopes already addressed.

Photo courtesty of Beast Pieces via Jen at Green Wedding Shoes

Are there things that you can make yourself? Wishing well, Pomanders, Place Cards, Cakes Toppers, Table Centrepieces etc. Sites like Martha Stewart Weddings  are invaluable; not only for the ideas, but also tutorials.

Use flowers that are in season. Although I do know of someone that had specific roses flown over from Japan, they also had a limitless budget. I originally wanted Calla Lilies but due to the tragic bushfire season in Australia – they were unavailable so I had beautiful orchids instead. Be flexible and ask your Florist for advice.

Limit your flowers: If you have flowers on every pew of the church – is there someone that can remove them and take to the Reception or will they just be wasted by sitting there? Do the flowers need to come from a Florist or could someone do something simple and elegant with bouquets from a Flower Market?

Does everyone in the bridal party need to have a corsage? Consider an alternative to bouquets for your Bridesmaids e.g. Chinese Fan, Pomanders, Pashmina or nothing at all.

If you have a photographer – negotiate to get the negatives or original files so that you can reprint yourself and not have to pay inflated costs to do so. Places like Harvey Norman  and Memento  allow you to create your own Coffee Table Book and Photo Albums and you can reprint and resize for a fraction of the cost a photographer will charge.

Send postcards instead of thank you cards, not only will it save you a fortune in printing and postage – but you can write the cards before the wedding and post from your honeymoon location.

It’s all about the money

Because at first we lived in sin,
We’ve got the sheets and a rubbish bin…

Rather than having a traditional gift table (and adding another 4 toasters and 3 kettles to your kitchen) – consider registering for gifts at a Department Store or online so that you get things you actually want and need.

Or if you really don’t want gifts - a Honeymoon Register where your guests can contribute towards the cost of your honeymoon is a wonderful concept.

Last but not least – the most popular option – a wishing well. These can be done a number of ways: From a vintage birdcage, oversized cognac glass or even an actual mini Well. The options are limitless for you to choose something that fits with your theme.

Photo kindly provided by Jen at Green Wedding Shoes

So dear Reader, was your Wedding Dress shopping as traumatic as mine? Or did everything go smoothly?


  1. I wore ruby red stilettos under my big white wedding dress and still wear (and love) them to this day... 4 years on :D

  2. Mine was relatively easy although now without a bit od tension. I knew the Collette Dinnigan wedding gown as soon as I saw it. The only problem was that a huge amount of people had put their names down for one and they were only bringing in a certain number. So I had to literally come in within 1 hour of their phone call that "the dress has landed" or I would have missed out on it. I got the dress thankfully and paired it with some amazing Manolos *phew*

  3. I've been looking EVERYWHERE for vintage birdcages, and I can't seem to locate any.

    I think god is teasing me, with images of pretty bird cages lololol.

  4. THANK YOU! coming from someone who couldn't be bothered to organise her wedding and really dreds doing every odd and end and HATES with a passion trying on clothes and couldn't think of anything worse than shopping for "THE DRESS" with mothers and grandmothers, your article has eased my mind, my problems and given me a push I needed!

  5. Kristy - where do you live? I'd be happy to ask around for you? I"m a member on a few Bridal Forums (still!).
    But definately try Antique shops, 2nd hand shops, Craft shops or see if you can rent one from a Prop House / Staging Company :)

    Anonymous - We have so much in common. If I can offer you any advice - ENJOY your wedding and the planning that goes with it. You will hopefully only do it once, and you don't want to be miserable - it should be so special. Do what you want, where you want and in the style you want. Let your personality shine through - at the end of the day, if you don't get the day you want - you will be resentful. But if you Mum / Grandmother etc don't get what they want - they wont remember it once the day is finished.
    Good luck!! :)

  6. Oh, boy, thinking outside of the box describes my wedding to a tee. 12 guests, poor bride and groom and no desire to do anything the traditional or usual way. In my opinion, I hate it when one wedding looks just like the next. Go with your personality and make it you! Are their photos? Please?