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Cheaper Wedding Dresses

Top Tips for saving money on your Wedding DressThe Chief Bridesmaid Affordable wedding dress

A wedding dress might be something you've been thinking about since you were a child, but there's still no reason why you can't still save money on it.

By being canny, you can still have your dream wedding dress without the debt.

Here is The Chief Bridesmaid's guide to how you can find a fantastic Wedding Dress more cheaply:

Do you have a specific wedding dress design or designer in mind? There’s no need to pay top dollar – you might be able to find it by going to one of the following:

Bridal Wedding Dress Sample Sales

Found the wedding dress of your dreams, but the price doesn't match your budget? It's always worth checking out the sample sales in Wedding Dress shops. Nearly all Bridal shops, whatever the price range, have sample sales once or twice a year so keep an eye on our "Looking Good" page to see if any of the Bridal shops near you are holding one. Wedding dress shops tend to stock one or two samples of each dress style in a “standard” size for Brides to try on then. These samples are then sold off at the end of every season. Samples tend to be sized 12-14 so if you happen to be “sample sized”, you’ll also save money on making alterations. Check out the foot of this page for advice on buying from sample sales without the sweat!

There's one shop that holds one huge year-round permanent sample sale: Copplestone's Bridal Gown and Wedding Dress Outlet in Liverpool have over 500 designer wedding dresses from £99 to £299 in sizes from 8 - 30.  All the Wedding dresses are brand new and top quality, the collection just happens to be made up of  samples, one-offs and previous season's wedding dresses. Check it out for designers like Amanda Wyatt and Charlotte Balbier at hugely discounted prices.

Unworn Wedding Dresses in Charity Shops

Charity Shops not only get wedding dresses donated to them by generous ex-brides, but they get given unworn wedding dresses too- donated by Designer Bridal shops who've used them in their catwalk shows. These are often in mint condition.

Eleven of Oxfam’s stores have specialist Bridal departments: Bracknell, Bradford, Cambridge, Chippenham, Coventry, Eastbourne, Heswall, Leicester, Poole and Southampton (the address and contact details are below). They are as-new top designer dresses that have been used for displays, modelled on catwalks. TheIdeas Tips Advice for Cheaper Wedding Dresses Wedding departments in Oxfam shops are not well advertised and their opening times are quite restrictive, but if you are getting married, want a stunning dress and want to save yourself several hundred pounds (£1500 reduced to £200 would be typical) then check it out. The wedding dresses there sell for roughly 30% of what they would in the actual bridal shops - the average price being £250.

The Oxfam Charity shops that specialise in selling Wedding dresses can be found at the following locations - call in advance to arrange an appointment or to discuss if they have anything suitable -

Oxfam England

Oxfam Bracknell
96 Broadway
RG12 1AR
Tel:  01344 427698  

Oxfam Bradford
54/58 Darley Street
Tel:  01274 306700 

Oxfam Cambridge
20 Burleigh Street
Tel:  01223 329841 

Oxfam Chippenham
5 The Bridge,
SN15 1HA
Tel:  01249 447061  Please telephone for an appointment

Oxfam Coventry
300 Walsgrave Road,
Tel:  024 76 448909 

Oxfam Heswall
258/258a Telegraph Road,
CH60 7SG
Tel:  0151 342 8416 

Oxfam Leatherhead
42 High Street                                                                                                                                            Leatherhead                                                                                                                                        Surrey. KT22 8AJ.                                                                                                                                   Tel: 01372 378819 for appointments and details.


Oxfam Leicester
22 Market Street,
Tel:  0116 2556455 

Oxfam Poole
136 High Street
BH15 1DN
Tel:  01202 674086 
Please telephone for an appointment

Oxfam Southampton
76/78 High Street,
SO15 3NE
By appointment only, please call Sue Hutchings on  07969 668939 

The Oxfam in Shirley, Southampton not only wedding gowns, but Prom and Bridesmaid dresses, wedding shoes and all types of cheap bridal accessories. At last count, this Oxfam shop in Shirley, Southhampton had a whopping 392 discounted wedding dresses on sale!

Oxfam Dublin, Ireland

At the end of June, Oxfam launched its new bridal website to raise awareness of its dedicated bridal boutique, which is on the second floor of the charity’s George’s Street shop in Dublin. According to figures from Oxfam up to 95% of the stock is new, while the remainder is donated by brides after their wedding day. The average price of a dress in Oxfam’s bridal store is between €200 and €400, but dresses on its discount rail can sell for as little as €70. Virtually, worth a trip to Ireland just for that!

St Ann's Hospice, Cheadle

At St Ann's Hospice in Cheadle, you wouldn't even know you were in a Charity shop were it not for the discount prices. It's bridal department has a large changing room, relaxed viewing area where your Mum, bridesmaid or other wedding dress advisors can sit. I spoke to a bride just last month who had bought an amazing wedding dress by  Amanda Wyatt from here at a much reduced price. Congratualtions Emily! Find it at 3, High Street, Cheadle, Cheshire SK8 1AX. Tel:  0161 428 5949 . Open Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 4.30pm.                                                                               

The Red Cross Bridal Shop, Surrey

The Red Cross have a bridal charity shop in Dorking, Surrey, which has a beautiful range of both new and second-hand wedding dresses and bridal wear. They sell an array of new and second-hand wedding dresses, wedding accessories, veils, hats, bags, shoes and jewellery, as well as books giving wedding advice and bridal magazines. They also have a good selection of donated formal, party and evening wear, suitable for the mother of the bride and wedding guests.

These dresses tend to be donated from wedding shops across the country or from brides who want their wedding dresses to help others. The bridal boutique is above the Red Cross charity shop on Dorking’s bustling high street, surrounded by Box Hill and the Surrey countryside. There is ample parking nearby and regular trains to London, Horsham, East Croydon and Reading.

Red Cross bridal charity shop
191-193 High Street
Telephone  01... Opening hours Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm; Closed Sunday.

Sense, Bridal Stores, Kingswinford and Margate 

The Sense shops in Kingswinford and Margate both stock a wide range of pre-owned wedding gowns and bridesmaids' dresses, plus an extensive range of mother of the bride attire, new items and accessories. With donations being received and re-sold all the time, it's not uncommon to discover a real gem of a designer or vintage outfit that would make that special day truly exceptional.

Sense Charity Shop (Tel:  01384 402564 ) Open 9am - 5pm (Mon - Sat)
21 Market Street
West Midlands

Sense Charity Shop (Tel:  01843 297666 ) Open 9am - 4:30pm (Mon - Sat)
126 High Street

Tenovus, Bristol

Tenovus stock an extensive range of nearly new bridal gowns, beautiful bridesmaid dresses, mother of the bride outfits, and fantastic hats and accessories - all at reasonable prices. The bridal department is set on it's own floor and has a spacious and private dressing room.

The Bridal Department at Tenovus
181 Gloucester Road, Bishopston
Bristol BS7 8BG (on the A38 opposite the old swimming baths)

The Sobell House Hospice shop, Botley

Sobell House Hospice shop has a specialist Bridal departmemt upstairs with around 30 dresses currently to choose from. The cost of the wedding dresses is hugely reduced -  prices start from £20 with the most expensive one being £130 (originally £1,300). They also stock Mother-of-the-Bride outfits - which recently included a Donna Karan suit. Wedding dresses can be viewed at any time, but to try them on, call 01865 251204 to book an appointment.

Credit Crunch Brides, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Credit Crunch Brides is run by Angie Eldridge and part of Hospice in the Weald.
They have 60 - 70 wedding dresses plus a selection of bridesmaid dresses in stock plus lots of acessories accessories. They also have retro bridal gowns all at affordable prices with the proceeds going to a very worthy cause. They are based at 114 Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN1 2QX tel: 01892 523206.


Bargain Wedding Dresses found from Private Sellers

Another easy way to save money on your wedding dress is to buy from a private seller - these private sellers are typically brides who are seeking to sell their worn dresses, or back up options that they've decided against wearing on their big day. Try specialist wedding dress websites such as Share the Dream or more general sites such as Ebay or Gumtree, but don't hand over any money until you've seen the dress, tried it on and inspected it for marks and tears.

Save money by wearing a Bridesmaid dress - in white!Save money on Wedding Dresses with The Chief Bridesmaid

Bridesmaid dresses can be every bit as show-stopping as wedding dresses and yet are  cheap in comparison. So why not order a favourite bridemaid dress in white? As long as your bridesmaids are wearing something different, no-one need ever know the difference. This is a particularly great money saving tip if you're having a more casual, beach wedding as the bigger gowns can look out of context in this setting.

Londoners - save money by heading to the suburbs

The bridal shops in Central London tend to sell designer wedding dresses and therefore come with a designer price tag. By looking out of town to the suburban shops, you'll be able to see dresses from cheaper designers and have a means of comparison on cost. 

Top tips for buying Wedding Dresses at Sample Sales

  1. It’s best not to visit any sample sales at all until you’ve had a good shop around and are aware of the various options out there. Sample sales are typically non-returnable so only buy a wedding dress there if you’ve already had a good shop around and you know that this dress is “the one”. 
  2. It’s best to take a trustworthy friend along with you to ensure you don’t get caught up in the moment and make a rash purchase. I’ve seen heaps of unworn wedding dress samples for sale on 2nd hand dress sites – don’t become a statistic!
  3. I’d recommend booking an appointment out of sample sale time so you can try on dresses and get a clear idea of what suits you when the shop is less busy. Then when you go back in sample sale time, you can be much more focussed about which dresses you try on (and it’ll be less traumatic when you have to share a mirror with 5 other brides-to-be). Sometimes wedding dress shops can also enforce a maximum number of dresses that you’re allowed to try on, which can be tricky if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. 
  4. It’s worth shopping around for a tailor to alter your dress as using the alterations service within the dress shop can be pretty pricey, particularly if it’s a designer bridal store. 
  5. You’d be surprised how easier it is to negotiate further discounts during sale time – will they throw in a veil or shoes for free? Will they give you another £50 off if you buy a bridesmaid dress too? It’s never rude to ask for a discount – as long as you do it with a smile on your face!
  6. Finally, it’s obvious, but before you buy, double check the dress for any stains, marks and tears. Mums & Aunts tend to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of marks that will come out and those that won’t, so it can be helpful to have them on hand  to advise whether a mark is a deal-breaker or something that can be removed quite easily. Even if it is the latter, you should still ask for some sort of discount – after all, it’s going to be more difficult for the shop to sell it onto anyone else.

So got your dress sorted, how about finding out how to save money on Bridesmaid dresses? Cheap wedding accessories tips? Or how to save money on wedding catering?