If you take your time and plan it one year or at the least a few seasons ahead, go to the bridal store and choose a dress from the clearance rack. If you find the perfect dress but the train is short or not right you can get alterations done for free or close to it at these places.
found this last night & was amazed :
Bespoke Without Going Broke!
Do you want custom clothes on the cheap? Can't find jeans that fit? Want a perfect suit, fitted shirt or unique prom / wedding dress? Go to craigslist.com and post an ad under "creative gigs" (it's free to post) and ask for a fashion student or "new" designer. Generally, if you offer to cover the cost of materials, you can get great quality custom clothes made at a huge discount. We posted and got a ton of responses!
Suggested by: Julie
Please don't assume that alterations are free or even cheap at bridal stores. My experience, at least in our area, is that alterations are an additional charge they tack on, and they have been VERY expensive! They will say "Yes, we can alter that to fit", but don't usually say that it will cost you! If you are lucky enough to find a place that doesn't charge extra consider yourself very fortunate!
I've said it before on this form, and I'll say it once again - check out the J.C. Penny's Bridal Catalog. My beautiful dress came from there for only $300! I had a heart shaped train and it was perfect! They did alterations at the store after it came in, don't remember specifically how much that was, but it wasn't a lot.
For my wedding, I found an awesome deal on my wedding dress. We went to a consignment shop, which is basically a high end thrift store except you sell back the items instead of donating. I got a dress the originally costed well over 1000$ for less the 200$ factor in the dress cleaning and I only spent about 350$ on a very expensive designer dress... and no one except me and my maid of honor knew it was used. Heck, I still get compliments about that dress. And I know that some people might be turned off, but think about someone bought it and literally wore it once, its a great tip for the bride on a strict budget.
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