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Your wedding dress — it may be new, used, borrowed or blue

Brides have many options for the perfect dress, from online shopping to rental or ‘pre-loved’

Your bridal gown is the focal point of your wedding day, so you want it to reflect your style, your personality and your budget.  But there are many options available to today’s brides in choosing just the perfect wedding dress. Yes, you can buy a top-of-the-line designer gown for $5,000 and up, but you can also choose an average- priced wedding dress for $1,000 or less.  For more savings, consider buying a “pre-loved” wedding dress that is gently used once, or maybe even renting your dream dress, just for your special day. Buying new  Start your search a year in advance and begin by setting a budget. Don’t forget to include the dress, but also taxes, alterations, possibly shipping, and the very important accessories, like your veil, shoes and jewelry.  Before you start shopping, figure out the style you’re looking for, starting with the ambiance of your wedding venue. A beach wedding will require a very different style than an upscale hotel wedding.  Consider the silhouettes that look best on your body shape. Look through photos of wedding dresses online and in magazines and tear out/print your favorite styles. Consider the Wedding LookBook by The Knot app, where you can search thousands of gowns by style and find local salons that carry them.  Bring either your mom or a trusted friend with you to shop, but no more than two or three people total, advises The Knot. Too many opinions can make the process more confusing.  Take photos with you of styles you like to narrow down your search with a salesperson.  You’ll know it’s “the one” when you don’t want to take it off, says The Knot.  Be prepared to sign a contract and put down a deposit, usually about 60 percent of the price of the gown. Make sure to start gown shopping early enough, as it takes an average of 16 to 20 weeks from the day you place your order, until it comes into the salon.  Plan on about three fittings to get the dress altered to fit your body just right. A simple hem might cost $200 and major alterations could amount to more than $1,000, so be prepared with this in your budget.

Buying used  Buying a used wedding dress can be a little more of a gamble than buying new, but you can save hundreds of dollars by being thrifty.  Since your dress will have to be tailored to your body, a larger size is easier to work with for alterations, rather than a too-small gown, says The Knot. Fabric can always be subtracted, but adding fabric that matches the gown can be an expensive proposition.  Try local consignment stores, or use Facebook sites like Local Resale, where you can see posted pictures. Another Facebook site is Wedding Consignment, a totally free site that matches buyers and sellers with wedding attire, décor, etc.  The Knot recommends Nearly Newlywed, a used wedding boutique and inspirational blog. If you’re buying a used wedding dress, the application process ensures you’re paying for the “real deal,” not a counterfeit wedding dress. This website does charge a 25 percent commission fee.  Other websites for buying and selling used wedding dresses include Tradesy, Still White and PreOwned Wedding Dresses. Where to rent a wedding dress  Ready-to-wear rental websites like Rent the Runway and Vow to Be Chic give today’s bride an opportunity to wear an expensive designer gown at a fraction of the retail price. The downside is the gown’s availability for your wedding date. You also can’t make alterations on the dress, nor will you have a keepsake gown in the end. What about tuxes for the men?  Glik’s of Fenton on Silver Parkway offers tux rentals all year ‘round for weddings, proms, etc., priced from $79.95 up to $189, according to store co-manager Ashley Stobaugh.

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