We’ve all heard of or been a part of a wedding where the Bridezilla stories come to life. My heart aches for those brides and mothers of the brides where the “Perfect Wedding which must Impress ALL” desire steals the joy of their special day.
I believe that every little girl deserves her dream wedding. Somewhere down deep, we all dream of our own fairy tale wedding, but what I also know is that a Cinderella storybook day can happen for everyone, no matter what the budget. It begins with the heart attitude, and a little creativity.
Last month, I had the privilege of being a part of my niece’s Cinderella day. If you follow me on facebook or instagram, you’ll recognize these photos. In the midst of wedding day craze, I managed to steal a few phone photos, but that was about it. I realized that everyone was sporting either thrifted outfits or clothes that were snatched up at some severely discounted prices.
The first picture, above, was taken moments before my niece was to walk down the aisle. There were some “technical” difficulties, which delayed the start of the ceremony, and instead of freaking out, which most wedding parties would do, my three nieces started a game of ping pong, oh yes, they did.
That wonderfully laid back, I am grateful for every moment of this day, mentality was just one unique reason why my sweet niece radiated joy throughout her day.
Her desire was that her guests felt loved and appreciated.
When most brides want to take in a day where it’s all about them, (which is absolutely fine because that is what your wedding day is about), she just wanted everyone to enjoy themselves.
Now some might say, she did this to a wonderful fault. On Wednesday, my niece realized she hadn’t gotten a dress for her rehearsal. Yes, the rehearsal and large party that was on Friday evening, so Thursday she headed out to Goodwill and the Lord hand picked the perfect dress just for her. Now, as much as I love a good thrift store find, I DO NOT recommend waiting til the day before your event, since most likely, you will not find what you are looking for, but in this case, it was a special God “find.”
She couldn’t wait to tell me what she found, and wow, she radiated – gorgeous. The intricate embroidery gave the appearance of a high end dress and it fit her like a glove, all for just $5.
Now, please hear my heart on this. A wedding is the most special day of your life. If there’s a time when one wants to splurge on something extra special, this is definitely the time to do it, but I am just sharing that there are options. I am here to celebrate those options. Their choice was to invest in the most gorgeous reception hall and not spend money elsewhere.
In addition, my niece is very much like me when it comes to fashion. If it’s beautiful, and you love it, it doesn’t matter from what store it comes.
The same held true for myself and the mother of the bride when it came to the rehearsal. My pink dress was a silk thrift store find for only $5, where as my sister in love’s gorgeous mother of the bride rehearsal dress was found at Belk’s outlet for only $21. Yes, only $21 and it was gorgeous.
She went a few times and found both this dress and her actual mother of the bride dress below.
That gorgeous blue dress was only $27, and it looked as if she spent hundreds.
It was so elegant, if you can get beyond this iphone quality pic.
My niece purchased her dress at a rock bottom price. Since I didn’t get her permission first to spill the beans, I won’t, but I love that she found a dream dress without breaking the bank.
Because she was sensitive to our budgets as well, she didn’t insist that we order matching flower girl dresses. As a mom of one of the flower girls, I was so appreciative. Her dress was not pure white, but a bit off-white, so that was the only stipulation.
Since the two girls walked down the aisle at different times, you could not even tell one bit that their dresses weren’t identical shades. I searched Goodwill for a month to no avail. The other flower girl’s dress was found at JC Penny’s outlet for only $16, but they didn’t have it at ours.
After scouring department stores and still not finding something off white for a reasonable price, I sent out a plea to a friend, and would you know that she had the perfect dress in my daughter’s exact size?? We replaced the brown sash with white and my daughter even wore the exact same necklace that I wore on my wedding day. Yes, something borrowed, even for her.
I love “God Send” stories like that.
I was willing to splurge a bit and buy something new for this wedding. Since I was singing a solo, I had no problem budgeting in some special fashion funds for the night, but when I found this dress the month before, I knew that this would work perfectly for a summer wedding in NC.
My entire outfit, with accessories, dress and shoes, totaled only around $10 and trust me, it’s more than fun for me to mix and mingle feeling such as “designerish” as the ladies who spent hundreds. 🙂
The earlier technical difficulty I spoke of early came in the form of our ring bearer who had no pants. Yes, with the wedding beginning at 4:00, reality hit that his pants were no where to be found. Everyone kept assuming that others had them in their car, and at 3:55, a friend was sent out to Once Upon a Child to grab pants – any pants. It was quite the hilarious moment, but grey pants were found and if we hadn’t announced the funny story to the whole church, no one would have been the wiser. Trust me, our sweet Edison was a stud, and he puts all other ring bearers to shame. 🙂
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate my sons sense of style, and the fact that they don’t care where their fashion comes from as long as it looks “cool.” (Is how they often put it.)
Since all three sons all well over six feet now, we are branching out past just yard sale and thrift store finds to TJ Maxx and Ross, but I’d estimate that 70% of their wardrobe still comes from my thrifting finds. All of their outfits (shoes, shirts, pants, and ties) are a combination of thrift store and whole sale buys, and they all are looking pretty sharp on our small fashion budget. If you have a teen son, I’ve written about this topic before in my, “Can Teen Guys and Thrifting for Fashion Work?”
I wish I could go person by person and tell you all the amazing prices and finds. My other sister in law also wore some adorable finds at both the rehearsal and wedding as well, but since I’m writing this at wee hours of the morning, I didn’t have a picture on my phone or facebook. Just know, it’s definitely a family affair. We’ve even been known to find tuxes at Goodwill for wedding, but I have yet to out that dear family member without permission. 🙂
My desire of this post?
To encourage and celebrate the fact that dream weddings and Cinderella fairy-tales come in all different shapes, forms and pocket books.
I can 100% guarantee you that the millionaires that were in attendance at this wedding are absolutely none the wiser.
Have you ever found a great fashion find just when you needed it?
I’d love to hear about it.
I have the same lace dress as the Mother of the Bride but only in black and wore it to my 20 year HS reunion last summer but paid MUCH, MUCH more!!
I simply cannot find clothes and shoes at the prices you quote. Wish I could. Our Goodwille stores are much higher.
yes, it’s crazy how much the prices of Goodwill stores vary. I stick with one where all the dresses are $5 unless they mark them as a “special find.” Some of them offer 50% off days though and you may want to ask if they do that.
Wow, nothing looked ‘discount’ about those dresses. Great tips!
I have totally enjoyed this wedding post. To see your beautiful family
and niece (the exact opposite of a Bridezilla) has made my day!
Please tell me where a Belk outlet store is? I love your sisters dress. I know a Dillard outlet is in Lexington up I-85, but I didn’t know there was a Belk outlet near Charlotte.
Wow this wedding is beautiful and so inexpensive. Awesome!
I look for bargains as often as I can, but one thing I can never get cheaply is my shoes. I live in a small town and I wear an 8 1/2 AAA shoe. Finding shoes to fit at any price is a headache, and I almost never find them on sale. Even if I do, they are usually around $50 or more. Any suggestions?
Yes, since you have a unique size, that would be much trickier. Have you tried looking online? Before the holidays hit, there are some amazing sales for shoes, typically with great coupons codes (for new shoes.)
Jen, I just loved this whole story of your nieces wedding, there wondful sensibility of wedding planning and how thrifty everyone was including yourself. We planned two daughter’s weddings with that same vein of thought. First daughter’s wedding was elegant and refine and under $4000. There was over 100 people there who bragged for weeks on my daughter and son in law’s creativity. It was time well spent thriftiness, crafting, and planning. Second daughter’s wedding was a bigger event over 150 plus but she put all her efforts on the hall and her dress, two of her favorites. The rest, thrifting, crafting, and planning. Her friends thought she spent thousands of dollars.We know it wasn’t even close. But it sure looked it!
When my brother was married, his future father in law had purchased his tux at a yard sale for $10. He also wore it at his other daughter’s wedding! That was a great deal! $5 BUCKS per wedding!
Jen, thanks for sharing this story.
What great finds and wonderful memories, too.
We returned from MB this past week and we wanted to stop at the Goodwill in Conway on the way home. Our daughter wanted to buy a souvenir from our beach trip. We found some adorable clothes for school and some great polos for hubby as well.
Do you remember where the GW at the beach is located? We went looking for that one, but didn’t have good directions. Oh well, next time!
Have a blessed week.
I love this!! my mom has bought wedding dresses priced at $100 or more before at value village for only 99 cents because of their promotional deals that were very cute! Just a quick question and not trying to offend anyone does the ring bearer have down syndrome? my little brother has down syndrome and i know he absolutely LOVES weddings and this ring bearer reminded me a lot of my little brother and made me smile! he is such a cutie!
I am not offended at all. Yes, he is our precious blessing from Equador. Just love that little guy like he’s my own and I got the privilege of bringing him home. You can read more about his story here.
I know they are such blessings!! i just love meeting people with downs (including my brother) because they are genuine and real and they don’t know how to fake emotions so you know 100% that that is how they are! I would have to say i think my brother truly taught me how to love because of how genuine he is!
@Kris, I have to tell you what my uber-fashionista highschooler said about Down’s syndrome teenagers:
“The world needs more Down’s kids. I see them at school, and, no matter what, they’re never MEAN.”
Oh, how beautiful! What a lovely post. Your niece looks amazing and I pray her marriage honors the Lord, whatever life brings. And Jen, you simply look amazing. Your heart shines through in your writing, your face, and all you do. Love reading your blog, love your heart, love what you think, and love what you have to say….. 🙂
That’s wonderful! I was a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding this weekend, and she let us choose our own dresses and shoes as long as they were the right color. My outfit came to about $27 total (Steinmart sale + coupon and Target clearance shoes), and I was thrilled to hear that two out of the other three bridesmaids spent just about the same! (I didn’t ask the third one.) If you can find beautiful things for sensible prices, there’s no reason to pay more. This wedding looked beautiful–congrats!
Love that story, Diana. How wonderful that she let you pick your own dresses. That makes such a difference. How often have brides said, “Oh, you’ll be able to shorten that and wear it later.” Nope, never happens. 🙂
@Diana, I did that for my wedding as well. We got married the weekend before Christmas and I just requested that they wear a silver dress. One was able to wear a silver bridesmaid dress she had purchased for another friend’s wedding and my SIL purchased a lovely silver dress she could wear to future occasions that was her style. They looked so beautiful and I was glad that they were stuck with all of the bridesmaid dresses I had accumulated over the years. 🙂
@Ac, Ack! NOT stuck with…
My daughter got married in 2009 and we had a grand total of six weeks to plan from start to finish. (She wanted to be married before the school year started, her second year of teaching.)
We were very lucky to find a dress at David’s Bridal that fit like a glove except for the length. It had been altered for another bride but did not fit her. The total price was $300 and we walked out the store with it. I hemmed the dress and sewed a black sash and bow at my daughter’s request to replace the matching sash that came with the dress.
The flower girls dresses came from Old Navy. The bridesmaids all wore street length black dresses of their choosing. (A very practical option.) We printed the invitations at home and I made the cakes. Although we spent more than I would have wanted, our time frame limited our options for some items.
It was a great day and did not break the bank.
My brother was getting married. My husband, son, and daughter were all in the wedding, so we had a lot of expenses! Although I wasn’t in the wedding party, I still wanted to look nice! I went to a JCPenney outlet and found a beautiful dress for $5! It was a floor length dress, so I shortened it a bit and it was perfect! I also found my shoes there for $10 – I had a great outfit, and got a lot of compliments.
NO WAY! Janel – you get the PRIZE! That is fantastic. Isn’t that SO much fun to find such a special treasure like that?
Jen, Where did your other sister (the one on the far right) get her dress – it is gorgeous! I need a dress for my son’s wedding next year (along with the other 7 people in our family who are ALL in the wedding), so pinching pennies is #1!!
Isn’t it beyond gorgeous? I will double check with her, but it was either the Belk or Dillard’s outlet. (We live in NC.) Most of the major department stores have outlets or clearance centers. It’s just finding out which ones are within driving distance.
I enjoyed this post. I have 6 daughters so it is nice to know you can plan a wedding without spending a fortune. I planned a shower for my niece who got married last spring. I was on a small budget but my girls and I tried to make it super special by thinking of a lot of nice touches we could do on our own. You don’t need a lot of money to make things nice. You need to put a lot of thought into it and that means more than anything to people. Anyone can spend money but when you give of yourself that means more.
Wonderful, with a little planning a creativity you can save yourself alot of money! Congratulation to your family on such a wonderful event.
Wondering if you have any just average-looking people in your family…yooda looked great in anything. What an inspirational wedding!!!
I read your post way back in August but just had a “perfect thrift store fancy dress find of the year” this past week and had to share it:) http://alittlepieceofjoy.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-wedding-dress.html.
Happy New Year 2013!
OH MY WORD!! IT’s GORGEOUS! You look gorgeous! You know that I can completely celebrate with you, and I am SO glad you decided to take just a peak around at something more than the shoes. 😉
I am so impressed by your site. I love that your neice was not out to impress the guests but allow them to have a great time. That is so missing in todays weddings. I can’t understand spending a fortune on a wedding and forgetting about the honeymoon, as my nephew did. Hearing talk at work about all the frills at upcoming weddings makes me sad for the couples because I know the hardships spending all that money is going to bring them. Also it can only be a huge disappointment if everything does not turn out perfect. many years ago I found my perfect wedding dress off the clearance rack at the popular bridal shop and it included all the fittings just like all the new dresses. My brides bought thier dresses at JCP outlet and my flowers were from a local grocery store. I cried tears of joy when I saw my flowers as they were gorgeous and just 2 mos earlier my sister went to a upscale flower shop and cried tears of fustration over hers. I had a brunch reception at a very nice restaraunt in the area that made waffles and omlets ala cart. I chose that because my family does not dance or drink. I loved it. The Wedding business has gotten out of hand.
I have to say you and your family would look good in anything!!!!
Thank you! keep up the good work!!!!!
I just love your spirit! I have a friend who I bump into all the time at the local thrift, our kids all attend a local religious private school and we LOVE thrifting! Every year our school holds a fancy schmancy auction and every year my friend and I walk up to each other with our beautiful dresses and accessories and list off the amounts we paid “$2.00, $3.00 !” Sometimes we trade or borrow them too. We love it and we smile with all the compliments! It is so much joy to have fun shopping and not feel guilty or debt ridden. So far my kids are very open to learning about “second hand shopping” and it seems yours are too..I believe we are teaching them a lifelong skill. Keep the fashion posts coming..I am learning so much from you! God Bless!
My ‘God sent’ dress was my wedding dress as well. I live in a smallish town and there are two wedding shops with very expensive dresses. I didn’t have time to get to David’s Bridal or another discount store, so I ordered something online and when it came it was entirely unsuitable (translate see through – which it did not appear on the catalog page!). With a few weeks to go, I went to our local flea market and found a dress that had never been worn from the 80’s that was originally marked $1275 but because it was so dated, I purchased it for $50. Then the fun began. I bought it mostly for the embellishments, which I thought I could apply to a shift dress, but as I looked at the yards and yards and YARDS of material, I began to take the whole thing apart and completely reuse the material. I took long, button-up sleeves and high neckline off the bodice and it turned into a beautiful beaded camisole top. The little-bo-peep drop-waisted skirt with yards of netting and a 5 foot train was reduced into a two-tiered tea-length skirt with the original scalloped beaded hem. From the remaining cloth, I made a shrug to be covered for the church setting. It turned out magnicificently. And the other surprise is that because I kept everything separate, I was able to transform my top and jacket, paired with a $4 thrift store dress, into a going-away outfit.
@beth, That’s amazing, and I’m thoroughly impressed! Reminds me of Beth in Little Women, piecing together a dress out of scrapped material! What’s interesting is that even rich women did this hundreds of years ago — huge dresses with panniers became a robe a l’anglaise, then were turned into Regency nightgown dresses, etc…
When I got married on 2007, I purchased a brand new wedding dress on Ebay for $50 but it was too small (Dress #1). I found another brand new wedding dress on Ebay for $148 that turned out to be ‘THE ONE’ and it fit perfectly (Dress #2). I listed Dress #1 back on Ebay and was just hoping to recoup the $50 I paid for it. During the last 5 minutes of the listing, much to my surprise, a bidding war ensued and I made a large profit on the dress so when I subtracted the profit on Dress #1 from what I paid for Dress #2, it turned out I only paid $8 for my brand new wedding dress.
I also held a destination wedding in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and a couple of days before we had to leave to go down there, my now-husband told me he couldn’t find the shirt that went with the suit he planned to wear at the wedding. I immediately ran out to a local thrift store and found a brand new shirt with tags on it in his size that exactly matched his suit for only $3.
We had a number of other bargains related to our wedding, most notably at our reception. We held our reception at a local BBQ restaurant in Gatlinburg and did not have any entertainment planned. It turned out that evening a country music artist that regularly tours with George Strait just happened to be playing there that night for free as a favor to the owner of the restaurant. All of our guests thought we hired him and they could not believe he didn’t cost us a penny!
I cannot tell you how many times I had to repeat this story after we got married because no one could believe my wedding bargain finds.
Oh my – I am so glad you shared that fun story. Celebrating along with you, even all these years later. 🙂
My frugal wedding: Dress-$300, bridesmaids’ dresses (3)-$40ea (JCP…they paid), ALL the rings (engagement and both bands)-$900 (pawn shops), cake-$180 (small 3-tier and large sheet), gorgeous veil-gift, hors d’oeuvre buffet-gift, bar-$400, music-gift, photography-gift, silk flower bouquets, boutonnieres and corsages-gift (with flowers from friends), tuxedo-$60, attendants’ gifts (6)-$120, In-state weekend honeymoon-$400…..less than $3000. 🙂 🙂 🙂
YOU ROCK!!! FIST PUMP!! 🙂
I love this post. Twenty three years ago I bought my wedding dress at a consignment store for $50.00 and paid a small fee to have it altered to fit me. It didn’t make a bit of difference to me that it had been worn before since it looked brand new and was the current style.
I love this and one of my next FF posts is about mine too, although for me, it was 21 years ago. 🙂