How To Dress For The Wedding Of Your Dreams...on a Time & Money Budget!

We are so excited to see that weddings are within reach again! As couples are booking - or rebooking - events, many venues are already scheduling out into the next few years. Some engaged couples are willing to wait it out for the wedding of their dreams (after all, you've waited this long...), but just as many are opting for a more intimate wedding with a quicker date. (Because after've waited this long!)

For those looking to move quickly, getting wedding attire on point can be stressful. You will look back at your wedding photos for years to come, and you want to love what you wore! Don't let a quick date or a tight budget mean a disappointing outfit. Here are some tips to look great on your big (or small) day when you are crunched for time, money, or a little bit of both!

wedding stylist, Risa Kostis
wedding stylist, Risa Kostis, checks out dress options for her brides

Off The Rack Attire Options

Never underestimate the selection that retail stores have ready for purchase! If these stores are local to you, plan a day to try on a lot of different styles and sizes. Don't forget to take photos in the outfits, and also of the size and item number on the tags so you can find them again later! Make sure you have appropriate undergarments on. We suggest a skin tone strapless bra and barely-there underwear. 

Online shopping can also be a breeze. Make sure to plan for plenty of time to peruse the options and styles. Sizing charts will help you determine how the item will fit. If you already have The Bride Kit, you are one step ahead! Pull out the tailor's measuring tape from the travel sewing kit to take your measurements and compare them to the sizing chart offered by each company. This will get you the closest to a perfect fit without ever leaving your house!

These are some of our favorite shopping sites that sell off the rack wedding attire.

My Theresa

Non-Traditional Attire

Who says you need to wear a dress? We love the idea of...

A great romper or pantsuit 
A mini dress for your micro wedding 
Adding a little sparkle
A suit situation 

This bride was looking for something simple and classic...and found it in her soon-to-be sister in law's closet! A few minor adjustments and the dress was given a new life.
This bride was looking for something simple and classic...and found it in her soon-to-be sister in law's closet! A few minor adjustments and the dress was given a new life.

Vintage and Borrowed

Sustainable fashion is ALWAYS in style!

Resale is a fantastic way to wear what you've always dreamed of. Remember that amazing wedding look you pinned five years ago? Chances are it's long gone from traditional retail, but with a little work you can still make that unique vision come to life. Shopping sample sales, local vintage markets, thrift shops, and even eBay are fantastic ways to find what you want, and will often save you money as well.

Borrowing a dress is the ultimate sustainable fashion move and often has serious sentimental vibes. Take a look at what your grandmother, mother, or best friend might have preserved! Don't be afraid to think outside of the box to add character and meaning to your big day. We love these stores for incredible options for your entire wedding look (think vintage clutches, kid gloves, gorgeous jewelry!):

The Real Real
Luxury Garage Sale
What Goes Around Comes Around
Decades Inc.
Still White

Bride wears a custom made dress by her mother for her wedding

This bride knew exactly what she wanted. She found a seamstress to make her dream dress a reality for a fraction of the cost! The best part? The seamstress was her mother, making the dress even more uniquely sentimental.

How to Tailor

Tips for tailoring...

Take a piece that was worn by a parent, family member or close friend and turn it into your dream piece. Find a skilled tailor that can help you make the changes to an existing piece that has sentimental value and consider adding applique, changing the straps to update the silhouette, saving the buttons and using them on a new piece, or even just simply adjusting the size if you love the item as is! There are tons of ways to make something old into something new and it's a great way to make your event that much more special. 

When it comes to alterations, if you don't have a tried and true tailor, make sure you get multiple positive reviews from reputable vendors and friends before using them. Don't skimp on this part and ALWAYS ask: 

  • For before and after images of their work
  • How and when they take payment
  • If they've worked on similar fabrics and styles to your gown
  • To save all material and notions they remove during alterations
  • For a signed contract with guaranteed fitting schedule, scope of work, and completion date

Do not make the mistake of working with the wrong tailor, or you could be left with no time to spare for corrections. We suggest bringing a bridesmaid or trusted person to accompany you to hear everything that is discussed in your consults.

If you have the perfect dress in mind, chances are someone can make it come to life. Take a lot of pictures of what you try on and bring them to a tailor to talk about how to create your vision. Add straps, remove straps, add a bow, add lace, or even start from scratch. A good tailor can do all of those things!

How to Style for Photography 

Having everything hands free makes styling your wedding portraits so much easier. Utilize the tote that comes with The Bride Kit to carry everything you need, and hand it off to your most responsible wedding party member. You can read more about styling portraits here!

Bridesmaids in dresses they hand picked for themselves, based on the wedding theme

Based on the wedding theme, these bridesmaids chose their own dresses. This allows for the wedding party to purchase within their own style and budget, and saves the bride time and energy as well! Bonus: they can also choose something they will wear again in the future!

Quick or Inexpensive Options for the Wedding Party Attire

If you don't care about your wedding party matching exactly, you can give a color and a theme and let them choose what they feel most comfortable in. If you take this route, be specific - should dresses be long or short, printed or solid? Should jackets or tops be a certain material?

For quick off the rack options for suits or tuxedos, we recommend:

Suit Supply (really high end looking with middle of the road pricing)
Men's Warehouse (easy, less expensive)
Renting (short term, easy solution)

For dresses we recommend:

Rent The Runway
Bella Bridesmaids 

We hope this gets you started in the right direction for planning a wedding on a time or money budget. We love to problem solve....drop any questions in the comments below!


risa + jess

Patrick McNamara Photography
Emilie, Inc.
Schultz Digital