Your wedding day is likely one of the biggest and most memorable days of your life. But we all know it can come with a cost. Before getting engaged, I even wondered if it was worth spending money on a wedding. Being thrifty, the idea of spending thousands for one day frightened me!
Although we opted for a small wedding, I must admit we ended up spending over our original budget. Regardless, the thrift in me did everything possible to get the best deals without compromising quality. One of the biggest savings – that I’m specifically proud of – was my wedding dress.
So here are the secrets of how I managed to save thousands on my wedding dress!
How I started wedding dress shopping
Everyone planning a wedding have different priorities on how they want to spend their wedding budget. If your biggest dream is to have a £5,000+ designer wedding dress and you can afford it, then go for it! While I don’t mind spending money on a designer piece I can enjoy for years, personally, I couldn’t justify spending thousands (or even one thousand) on a dress I would only wear once.
Because I knew I wanted a mermaid-style dress, I visited a few lower-price point bridal stores to try on some options. I found this useful to make sure the style I was after suited me. However, I wasn’t impressed with how ill-fitting all the retail dresses were and how much I would need to pay extra to get them altered for my exact size.
Therefore, I started researching alternatives to traditional bridal shops. I reviewed all the options between high-street shops and online stores to Etsy and second-hand bridal gown marketplaces. Finally, I ended up finding various sellers online that provided made-to-measure and custom wedding dresses.
One of these sellers was Byg Wedding Factory which mainly provides dresses for bridal stores but sells directly to consumers too. They are based in China (where 80% of western-style wedding dresses are produced anyway), however, they ship globally. Because the sale doesn’t include a middleman (i.e. a bridal store), the prices are a fraction of the prices at stores in the UK! In addition to their dress styles being to my liking, their prices and communication were great, so I ended up making my order with them.
Note: Byg Wedding Factory is not sponsoring this post. Because I was happy with my dress and their service overall, I wanted to share my experience and help you save on your wedding dress too!
Custom made wedding dress process
Many brides might feel uncomfortable ordering their wedding dress from a foreign online seller. But if you would like to save money on your wedding dress while getting a made-to-measure and/or a customer dress, it’s something I would highly recommend. To put your mind at ease, here are my tips for the process based on my own experience:
1. Choose a silhouette and style you want
It’s much easier to start looking for dresses once you know the kind of style you are after. If you don’t know what style suits your body type, I’d recommend having a fitting session in a bridal store to find out.
2. Choose a seller
When I had an idea of what I wanted, I found a few potential sellers on Etsy, Instagram and elsewhere online. I messaged them all to understand how responsive they would be. This is something I would recommend doing in addition to checking any reviews and social media followers. I originally found Byg Wedding Factory on Instagram and as I liked a few of their designs, I sent them a DM asking for a quote with a few dress alterations. The quote was very competitive (in fact, cheaper than on their website) so I decided to go ahead. While I couldn’t really find reviews for them, their social media following was fairly large (and the followers were authentic) so I decided to give it a go.
3. Make the dress order
I ordered my dress 5 months before the wedding as I was instructed the whole process would take around 8 weeks. Instead of going for a fully customised dress, I used one of Byg’s existing designs as an inspiration and just asked them to make a few changes. They sent me a simple visualisation of the new design with the changes and once I was happy with it, I paid 50% of the final price as a deposit through their website. I made sure to use a credit card for more protection in case something went wrong. Byg will charge you in dollars, so be mindful of any foreign transaction fees on your credit card (often 2.99%) if this isn’t your usual currency.
4. Take your measurements
To make sure the dress fits like a glove, they ask you for your measurements for around 15-20 different areas of your body. Some of these measurements are difficult to take yourself so have someone to help you. It’s also worth checking measurement instructions on Youtube to get them right. In addition, the Byg team was super helpful to clarify when I didn’t know how to take some of the requested measurements. When I sent them my measurements, they even flagged that my shoulder-to-shoulder measurement seemed to be a couple of cm off – I measured it again and they were right!
5. Wait for your dress to be made
Once the seller has all the details they need, they’ll start working on your dress. For normal orders, it usually takes them around 8 weeks to make a custom/made-to-measure dress. But if you need your dress quicker, you can request an express order (which might cost extra).
While Byg was making my dress, I was in touch with them through WhatsApp for regular updates. Since I had requested changes to their original design, they also contacted me a few times to make sure what they were doing was what I wanted. This also gave me a chance to request some further adjustments to the dress during the process.
6. Approve your dress for shipping
Once your dress is ready, Byg will send you photos and videos of your dress. They also offer to do a video call to show the dress but personally, I didn’t find it necessary. After the photos, I still asked them to add a few more beads to the neckline of my dress. They then sent the final photos and I approved the dress for shipping. My dress was shipped by FedEx and it took around a week to arrive in the UK from China. While the Byg website prices include shipping, the custom design quotes might not. So don’t forget to check the shipping cost when requesting a quote.
How much I saved on my wedding dress
And now to the most important part; how much did I actually save on my wedding dress?
The dress itself was $428 and the FedEx express shipping was $63, taking the total to $491 (or £409 based on the exchange rate at the time of writing this July 2022). Not bad, right?!
Made-to-measure dresses don’t usually need further alterations because they should fit you almost perfectly. I (unintentionally) lost a little bit of weight after making the order so I decided to take my dress to a seamstress to take it in slightly. The seamstress even said she didn’t think it needed any work but I wanted the dress to fit tight and was happy to pay a little extra for it.
My seamstress also used to make dresses so I decided to ask her how much I would pay for an equivalent dress in the UK. You won’t believe it, her estimate was £3,000 (or $3601)! In fact, she was shocked when I told her what I had paid! Also, worth noting that her estimate wasn’t even the retail price but the price I would likely pay if I wanted a similar dress made in the UK. A price in a bridal shop would likely be even higher.
So, to conclude, my total saving on my wedding dress was £2,591/$3,110.
Would I order from Byg Wedding Factory again?
Absolutely, I would! And here are the main reasons why:
- Unique design: You can get a dress that is truly unique to you and reflects your personality and style. The sky is the limit when it comes to the number of styles available.
- Perfect fit: You can get a dress that fits like a glove. Most of us are not a standard size so gowns from bridal shops often need heavy alterations that cost extra. I never even found a dress that I liked in the bridal stores. While there were plenty of gorgeous dresses in stores, I got very frustrated as I didn’t like how they fit (or mainly didn’t fit) my body type and couldn’t imagine what they would look like once altered.
- Bespoke service: You can get your dress created and customised to your exact requirements. While I didn’t make huge changes to Byg’s original design, I appreciated the fact that I got to make changes that I knew would make the dress more flattering for me – and with no extra cost. I was also happy with the communication and Byg’s quick replies to my messages.
- Saving money: Most importantly, you get all the above benefits for a fraction of the price in bridal stores! Weddings can already be very expensive so why splurge more than you need to on your dress?
Summary: Tips on buying a custom dress online
If you are shopping for a wedding dress and considering buying a custom dress online, I hope this article helped you to learn about the process. To conclude, here are my top tips on buying a custom wedding dress online to save money:
- Find out what style/silhouette suits you by trying on dresses in a bridal store first.
- Find a seller whose designs you like. Many of the sellers are small businesses (or mainly sell to bridal stores directly) so reviews can be hard to find. Contact them directly to see how responsive they are and check their online presence, such as social media accounts (and how authentic their social followers are).
- Make a payment with a credit card or through Paypal. In case something goes wrong, you can make a claim with them directly.
- Get someone to help you take your measurements and make sure they are taken correctly. If you think you might lose or gain weight before your wedding, it might be worth considering a dress with a corset back. This gives you more room to tighten or loosen the dress if needed. Alternatively, you can pay extra to take your dress to a seamstress closer to your wedding.
- Be patient and mindful of the time difference if the seller is in a different time zone (usually in China or elsewhere in Asia). They might not be able to answer your queries immediately unless you catch them during their working hours.
- Stick to your decision. Custom dress or not, many brides have second thoughts about the dress their choose, which is completely normal. While getting a custom dress allows you to get some small changes done throughout the process, it’s not worth overthinking your decision.