Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wrestling With A Wedding Budget

Yesterday I made an embarrassing mistake. I'd made an appointment with a dressmaker (for "the" dress), and whilst I had mentioned that price would need to be discussed, I didn't specifically ask for a ball park figure. So, my Matron of Honour (MOH) and I met up and went off to talk with the dressmaker.

I had been into the city prior to the appointment and had bought some samples to play with, so I pulled out my collection of pictures of dresses that had inspired me, and my fabric and colour swatches, and was having a lot of fun discussing length of dress, style, colour, sleeves vs. sleeveless. The dressmaker started an impassioned plea for upgrading my fabric to silk because "it is so much nicer", "the look is much better", and "it IS your wedding dress". I thought I did quite well not to fall off my chair when I asked how much it was, and she replied with a calm "$98 a metre" (instead of the $18.99 option I'd sampled). I knew the style of dress I want requires more than just enough fabric to wrap around me... considerably more - 4.5 to 5 metres of fabric in fact... and then it needs to be lined, the interfacing, boning, the other accent pieces and the petticoats and all sorts... I was getting dangerously close to my imagined budget in materials alone.

The dressmaker must have read my face at the same time, and asked me my budget, and did have the courtesy not to outright laugh at me when I told her, but I think there was a titter. Let's just say she thought there would be $1,100 labour alone - and that is with no beading, no train and no lace work.

I should not have been surprised. The wedding "industry" is built around the "But it is you WEDDING!!!!? THE most important day of your life.... " principle.

The pragmatist in me says it is ONE day of my life. An important one, don't get me wrong... but just one...

The suppliers focus on how everything must be "just so", whilst I try to come to terms with the single use nature of what it is I'm doing. I thought I'd managed to find a balance, until I discovered that most brides seem to think that $1,500+ on ONE dress is a reasonable thing.

We left the dressmakers and went for a cup of tea.

We then decided to go look at ready made dresses at a "clearance" shop, given that our girlie bonding over dresses had ended prematurely. It was fun. I tried on about 4 dresses I had no intention of buying... they were all at the $1500 mark, and if I wanted to spend at that level, I'd get a custom made dress.

As always, the last one I tried on was the one that worked best, and the lady was even kind enough to indulge me with a veil to complete the look. My MOH almost cried.... because I was looking very um "bride-y".

The penultimate dress had a neckline cut to the bottom of my bra... and if you know the size of my boobs... that's a bit much cleavage to be flashing - Dad's (imagined) threats of "You can't leave the house in THAT" is not what a bride wants on her wedding day... nor having to go to the wedding with a cardigan on over the frock one just forked out $1,500 for!!!

I had a nice day with my MOH. I do however, feel that almost back to square one on the dress options though. I do know that there are shops that have dresses in my price range, but they aren't the dress I want. I know the dress I want doesn't have to be that complicated to make.
I will chase up some smaller dressmakers that work from home. I would also consider making it myself, it is after all, a dress I plan to wear once.

Or, I might have to look at spending more :/


jac :-) said...

wendy makin has a clearance sale once a year - nothing over $550. they will also do alterations at a very good price for you. or there is a shop at strathpine, above the godfreys next to the shopping centre - i think they max out at about $800.

Girl Clumsy said...

Wedding dresses are amazingly expensive, in the small experience I've had with them.

I know one girl who spent $5000 on her dress. A friend last year spent $2000 - the whole wedding cost $6000, so her dress was one-third the budget. It always seems to be a significant outlay of cash, and as you said, for something that will only be worn once. Yes, it's a special day, but I think you definitely can strike a balance between price and quality - you especially, as you've got your head screwed on when it comes to the finances.

I think a smaller dressmaker might do you better, or one of those dress sales that your friend mentions above. Is it possible to exclude "wedding" from your order? Maybe if you approached a dress-maker saying you were going to a formal event and needed a white gown, it may not be as expensive. Although they'll probably twig. That would be easier if you decided not to wear pure white, but maybe a cream or something (you can really tell I know next to nothing in this area!)

Cheers, Natalie

Crazy Cat Lady said...

I did have a bit of a renewal of faith after I'd had my blog vent.

I noticed for the first time, a dressmaker in Albion. A Thai Lady who told me she'd been there for nearly 30 years! I asked her what her ball park wedding dress price was.... and at $500 (with beading and sequining on top of that, which is fine, because I'm not interested in that...), she came in at a mark I'm eminently more comfortable with! I also have the name of another dressmaker who works from home to call.

I think I'm going to have to get it made, or compromise severely on the styling that I want, because what I want is not what is on the rack at most bridal shops...

$5k on a dress, THE dress, is a big indulgence I certainly can't afford... that's a bit scary actually!

Rastas said...

If it helps, I have a couple of old bleached flour bags (you can only just see the Defiance Flour brand, but it is in pink)

I also have the olde bag needle and as a compromise, I could use the white minty taste dental floss as thread...

As it is for a wedding, I will only charge the labour cost... Consider the fabric a gift!!!

(and just as an aside, the word verification on this email is "muzphuk".. Sometimes I wish my name was Murray or Muz for short.. Hmmm, I don't really wish my name was Murray!)