How I Paid Less Than $300 For My Wedding Dress And Shoes

How I Paid Less Than $300 For My Wedding Dress And Shoes

Wow, I can’t believe it’s August already! In less than a month, Mr. NavigatingAdulthood and I will hit our one year wedding anniversary. Today, I’m going to share how I paid less than $300 for my wedding dress and shoes. If you missed my previous post on how we saved money on my engagement ring, click here.

I went into our wedding knowing that I wanted to have a nice day to remember, but for me, I knew that I didn’t want it to be the “best day ever.” In my mind, a wedding day [however amazing it may be] was just one day and my frugal self couldn’t help but think about how a $30,000-$30,000 wedding could be a sizable down payment on a house. And let’s not forget that we live in a very expensive city. According to Zillow, the median home value in Cambridge is $729,400 (Source).

Having a nice house soon was more important to us than having an indulgent wedding day, so we opted to have a nice, but budget-friendly event.

How I Paid Less Than $200 For My Wedding Dress

Wedding Dress: Tulle Tank Gown From David’s Bridal

Retail: $1050
Price Paid: $150 ($165 after tax)

David's Bridal Wedding Gown
Image via David’s Bridal

Here’s the non-romantic story behind how I got the dress: literally a month after we got engaged, I was browsing on the David’s Bridal website. I saw this dress and fell in love. I loved the simple silhouette and the romantic feel. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that I printed off the dress information from the website, and I drove to the store within the span of an hour.

When I got to David’s Bridal, a super nice sales associate helped me determine what size I was in that particular designer. They didn’t have that particular dress at the location that I was at, so the sales associate hopped on the computer to help me locate one. She was so impressed by the price of the dress that she literally said, “I’m not even going to try to talk you into another dress because that is one of the best deals I’ve ever seen and I am going to help you get that dress.”

She was amazing!! She looked in the database and told me that this was a designer dress from 2013 [hence the huge markdown], and she thought the pricing might be a computer error since it was so low. There were 2 dresses in my size in the entire David’s Bridal inventory across the United States. She called both locations to inquire about the conditions of the dresses- one dress was a floor model and had some sequins missing. The second dress was in Portland, Maine and she confirmed with a sales associate at that location that it was in a great condition.

….I then signed and paid for a wedding dress that I had literally never seen in person. I might have been freaking out and calling Mr. NavigatingAdulthood while this was all happening but once he heard that I was buying my wedding dress for $164 after tax, he assured me that if I didn’t love it, we could probably sell it and make a profit.

When the dress arrived, it was perfect! The condition was excellent and it mostly fit- it only needed minor alterations, which was a huge cost and time saver.

Alterations

I’m going to be completely honest and say that 80% of the reason why I was able to save so much [more money] on my wedding dress was because of Mr. NavigatingAdulthood’s delightful 80+ year old grandma. She graciously offered to help do our wedding attire alterations as her gift for our big day. As my “something old” she added a piece of her own wedding dress from over 60+ years ago. It’s such a special memory that I cherish from our wedding.

Alterations included:

  • Securing loose beading and sequins
  • Cutting off the train– For some reason, I’m not a huge fan of trains and since our wedding was outside, I didn’t like how the fabric would drag across the grass. Cutting off the train gives the dress more of a mermaid gown sort of feel.
  • Adding a removable belt– I’m shaped like a rectangle, so I felt I needed a belt to help define a waist
  • Raising the neckline– this was due to a family member’s concerns that the existing neckline was too low

As you may or may not know, I lost 13 pounds in the 5 weeks before our wedding due to a nasty kidney infection. This affected how the dress fit, so I was super thankful for the belt-I’m sure I would have swam in the dress if I didn’t have it. I remember zipping up the dress and having half an inch between my back and the zipper.

I think it turned out pretty well!

How I Paid Less Than $300 For My Wedding Dress
Image courtesy of HammondPreuss Photography

Wedding Shoes: Jimmy Choo Lottie Sandal

Retail: $850
Price Paid: $110 (Later sold for $85)

Similar to The Luxe Strategist, I got my wedding shoes on Ebay! Mr. NavigatingAdulthood was originally planning on surprising me with a pair of designer heels right before our wedding, but then he realized that I might need to try said shoes on to ensure that they fit. You know what I learned when I went to go try on super expensive designer shoes? They’re not comfortable. I tried on Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, and Jimmy Choo, and I would call none of them comfortable- which is kind of absurd considering these shoes cost over $600!! Based on aesthetics, I liked Jimmy Choo the best, but I knew that I didn’t want to pay full price. Side note to Mr. NA: I’m sorry for ruining your grand plans and finding my own budget option! 

I went on Ebay and after a few searches, I found a pair of $850 Jimmy Choo sandals that were selling for $110. They looked like they had been worn a few times, but were in really good condition. To be honest: it looked like someone had worn them once for a fancy occasion and wanted to pass them on. I know some people are weird about pr-eowned shoes, but it doesn’t bother me because I know I can sanitize them.

Here’s what the shoes looked like brand-new:

Main Image - Jimmy Choo 'Lottie' Sandal
Image via Nordstrom.com

I did a little DIY for the bottom of the shoes [to hide the wear on the soles and to also add a personal touch]. I still receive countless compliments on them!

How I Paid Less Than $300 For My Wedding Dress and Jimmy Choo Lottie Sandals NavigatingAdulthood

As much as I loved the shoes, they were still uncomfortable during our wedding day….so I sold them. I was able to sell them for $85 after the wedding, which means that I really paid less than $30 [including the DIY project on the soles] for a pair of designer shoes that would have cost me $850 had I purchased them new.

How I Paid Less Than $300 For My Wedding Dress And Shoes-Conclusion

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to look great on your wedding day! The total retail value of my wedding attire cost almost $2,000 and I spent less than $300. I admittedly got super lucky with free alterations to my dress and finding my dress at an amazing price. However, part of luck requires work- don’t be afraid to look at the sales section when you’re looking for a dress and don’t discount the powers of Ebay!

What about you? Would you buy your wedding dress on super sale or go the preowned route for designer shoes?

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13 Comments

  1. I wore a feather skirt for our wedding from Club Monaco that ended up being on sale right after Christmas for about $175 and my blue python shoes were a $PLURGE from Maison Margiela but I still wear them literally all the time, so I don’t consider that a wedding expense, more just like a really great shoe purchase. We also didn’t think a wedding should be crazy expensive since it’s the marriage that counts!

    1. If you wear the feather skirt to the holiday party this year, won’t it make the cost per wear even better? [I kid] I love the idea of designer shoes, but I’m old and I need orthotic insoles if I’m going to be wearing them for over 20 minutes. When I find a gorgeous pair of expensive shoes that I’ll actually wear, I’m definitely going to get them as a belated wedding present to myself.

      I love your wedding! It was so unique and I love how you incorporated hot dogs, so NY, haha

    1. It was definitely a rare unicorn! When Mr. NA’s grandma was doing the alterations, she commented that buying all the fabric, beads, etc would have cost more on their own than what I paid. I also didn’t realize that all the beading was done by hand- so this dress remains one of my best frugal finds EVER.

  2. Your dress is gorgeous! I also bought my dress from David’s Bridal and I don’t regret it one bit. My shoes were a pair of wedges from… Crocs! They were comfy and just the height I needed. Plus, I re-wear them all the time, lol.

  3. I’m totally with you on the whole “wedding is just one day” thing. I never felt like like there was omg, just one dress, either! Your dress was gorgeous and SUCH a steal. I’m glad they didn’t try to figure out the price hiccup! And awesome deal on the shoes. I looked for Jimmy Choos too and none of them were in that great of condition, and they were asking for well over $110. My shoes worked out for me, though. Just had to be patient with time.
    The Luxe Strategist recently posted…How to Sell Clothes on eBay Better than Everyone ElseMy Profile

  4. Your DIY is adorable! Under $300 is a steal! I staked out a Monique Lhuillier sample sale with my best friend in LA from 2am and the dress she ended up leaving with was still over $2000!

    Alterations sound amazing–even for regular clothes. I still haven’t gotten to trying it out yet, maybe it’s just the upfront cost, but it really seems to transform a piece of clothing 🙂 Haha, it’s hilarious your family wanted the neckline raised on your dress!
    Jing recently posted…6 Reasons To Budget With MintMy Profile

    1. Ahh, I thought about going to a sample sale in NYC since tickets from Boston are super cheap. Ultimately, I realized that there was a high chance I would totally spend $600 on a $4,000 full-price dress. Alterations are something that I’m trying to be more open-minded about- I’m hoping to learn how to sew from Mr. NA’s grandma.

      And yes, the dress neckline was hotly contested by me, but you can’t win everything!

  5. Way to go! I suspect our entire wedding cost less than $300 but that was in Jurassic Era dollars. The dress was sewn from scratch by my wife’s mom and the wedding was held at their church. All our friends and family were there and it was probably fun but I really don’t remember too many details in spite of it being an alcohol free event. Even the rings were less than $100 each. Probably no chance the marriage will last with that meager start. So far it’s held up for only 39 years but time will tell. My millennial son and his wife of seven years got by for about the same amount. Only two guests, the best man and bridesmaid and no family. They seem to be doing OK too. It was their choice, we went ahead and gave them the money we had been planning on spending on the wedding and they put it to better use starting out their new lives together. I love seeing this generation being even more frugal than most of mine was. Gives me great hope for the future!

    1. That’s such a sweet story- that sounds like the wedding of my in-laws. You got married at the church and if you were lucky, you got some punch and cake. Weddings have definitely gotten more fancy and pricey in recent years. Our wedding was also super small- we had immediate family and a best man + maid of honor- 13 people including the both of us!

  6. What a gorgeous dress and pair of shoes! And I love the color pop the belt added 🙂

    I am with you! Our wedding day was not “the best day of my life”. It was an incredible day and marked our new life together, but I didn’t need it to be a $50K fairy tale! My dress cost a bit more than yours, but I was glad we frugal-ed our way through most of it 😉
    Mrs. Adventure Rich recently posted…Five Lessons from the Uber Frugal Month ChallengeMy Profile

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