Your Wedding on a Budget – The Dress

“A wedding doesn’t have to be expensive to be memorable” – Colin Cowie

So, just like me, you are beginning to discover how expensive weddings really are.  Even with 14 years in the business I had no idea that the overall bill could rack up to such a high figure, and the average price of a UK wedding seems to increase every year.

“How Much!”

The average price of a UK wedding over the last three years:

  1. 2013 = £18,244 (According to The Telegraph)
  2. 2014 = £20,500 (According to ‘You & Your Wedding‘)
  3. 2015 = £24,000 (According to

That’s just under the average UK annual wage for full time employment which is £27,500 (according to, and lets face it, how many of us actually earn even that per year?!

This is the first of many ‘Your Wedding on a Budget‘ blogs to come.  Yes, it IS possible to achieve a beautiful wedding on a budget that suits your pocket! And this blog will help you no matter what country you live in!

Chapter 1: The Dress

Let’s start with some DO’s and DON’Ts which have lead to some unfortunate situations in some of my brides lives and also saved some ladies too…

First for the do’s.  This is where I reveal some seriously awesome ideas which really could save you thousands!


1. DO Start looking for your dress 12-15 months before the big day
It sounds early doesn’t it.  Some of you are probably thinking, “Isn’t that usually the length of an engagement?” It could take you months to find your dream dress, it could even take you a year, and what’s important to remember is that when ordering your wedding dress from a store, it can take 6 months for it to arrive in store and that’s not taking into account time for alterations that may be needed.  My advice would be to aim to HAVE your dress 6 months before the big day because if there are any problems with the dress, you will have plenty of time to get them sorted.  You do NOT want a last minute panic weeks before your wedding day.

They say that the idea you have in your head of the dream dress, is not what you leave the store with, so in your first few appointments, be open minded, trying on different styles, even if you don’t like them on the hanger.  It will give you a better idea of what looks good and what doesn’t look good on your body shape.  You might be surprised at the style which you actually fall in love with

2. DO buy second hand
Don’t turn your nose up at a second hand wedding dress, you could grab an absolute bargain, and there are loads of websites out there to browse:
– Preloved
– Sell My Wedding Dress
– Confetti
– Gumtree
– The Dress Market

But one second hand store which you will NOT expect, is Oxfam.  No word of a lie, they have 11 specialist Wedding departments in the UK.  When buying second hand, always bare in mind that the dress will probably need alterations, so cost this in (around £50) when looking at the price.

Bradford            – 54/58 Darley Street, BD1 3HN – 01274 306 700
Cambridge        – 20 Burleigh Street, CB1 1DG – 01223 329841
Chippenham    – 5 The Bridge, SN15 1HA – 01249 447061
Coventry           – 300 Walsgrave Road – 02476 455968
Glasgow            – 14/15 The Toll, G76 7BG
Heswall             – 258 Telegraph Road, CH60 7SG – 01513 428416
Leatherhead    – 42 High Street, KT22 8AJ – 01372 378819
Leicester           – 22 Market Street, LE1 6DP – 0116 2556455
Poole                  – 136 High Street, BH15 1DN – 01202 674086
Southampton  – 76/78 High Street, SO15 3NE – 02380 773192
York                    – 7 Goodramgate, YO1 7LJ – 01904 659001

I filmed a music video in 2011 and the producer asked me to wear a wedding dress in one of the scenes.  I ventured to the York Oxfam store and they were wonderful.  The Wedding dress you’ll see in this music video only cost £120 and then £50 for alterations.

3. DO buy in cheaper alternative stores

There are some alternative stores which are not typically Wedding Dress Stores…

The cheapest Wedding dress at Debenhams is £120 and the most expensive being £650.  There are some lovely dresses.  I had a nosey to see what I could find on there, and picked this one out as my favourite. It’s £595 and from Phase Eight
Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 21.49.15Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 21.49.48

I couldn’t believe it when I found that ASOS sold Wedding dresses.  There are some really lovely ones for the young bride who like a subtle Bo-Ho style with prices ranging from £40.50 to £300

4. DO recycle
This is a fantastic way to save money whilst adding a personal and meaningful touch to your beautiful Wedding.  Borrow a tiara, veil and jewellery from a close friend or member of your family who you adore, like your Grandma or your Mum.

5. DO discover Trunk Shows and Sample Sales
Probably the best discovery on earth when it comes to Weddings!  Honestly, they can be madness, but they are an experience not to be missed and you literally could save Thousands.

“What on earth is a Trunk show?” I hear you say.

It’s not quite as mental as that episode in friends where Monica, Rachael and Phoebe go dress shopping, but it IS good fun.  Brides can reserve their slots online or by phoning, but some stores use a queueing system where tickets are handed out and each Bride gets given a time to return.  When you enter the room, there are racks and racks of dresses, hundreds of dresses for you to search through from such a wide range of designers.  You can try on as many dresses as you like.  The dresses are all hugely discounted, so if you find one, you must be prepared to pay for it on the day and take it away with you.  Remember, that it’s highly likely that the dress will need altering, and perhaps even mending as sometimes the chaos of brides frantically trying on dresses means that one may have a tear in it.

Here are some Trunk Shows featuring in the UK this year (2016)…make sure you ring up to book your slot (it’s usually free unless you request a VIP ticket):

14th May            – Fabulous Weddings, 29 Chapelside, DE21 7JQ    – Ella Rose Collection
14th May            – The Wedding Rooms, Selby                                       – Blue by Enzoani
20th-21st May – Elbeth Gillis, Birmingham                                         – 2017 Collection
21st May             – Carol Roberts Couture Bridal, Cumbria                 – Kenneth Winston Collection
4th June              – Sophie Grace Couture, EH41 3AF                             – Ella Rose Collection
13th-14th June  – Les Trois Soeurs Bridal, London                              -Zahavit Tshuba
18th-30th July   – Angelica Bridal, Islington, N1 8ED

NOTE:  You’ll need a beautiful box or hanger for your Wedding Dress, so I thought I’d let you know of two amazing places to look.  Etsy is awesome…you can buy so much wedding stuff from Etsy but the Wedding Dress hangers, oh my life, there are some beautiful ones AND you can have them personalised.  Another place to check out is The Hanger Boutique.  Amazing!!!

Now for the DON’Ts *grits teeth*

1. DON’T buy your dress from China on eBay
wedding dress fail
This (above) is similar to what you could end up with.  I can’t tell you the amount of horror stories that I have heard from ladies who have got a bargain and bought their wedding dress from China on Ebay.  4 words…do not do it!!!

2. DON’T buy your wedding dress more than 12 months before your wedding
Ok, so it’s not a complete don’t…if you find THE dress, the one that sings to you as you slip into it, then flipping buy it.  The risk of buying your dress more than 12 months before the big day is that by the time the wedding comes around, you’ll have got bored with the dress or want to find a new one, what you like may have changed…or may be, doubt sets in.  Fashion trends and styles change all of the time, and whether we like it or not, some of us are swayed by what’s “in”.

3. DON’T panic and just buy a dress that you’re not in love with
What ever you do, don’t panic and just buy a dress that’s “nice”.  You might try on 100 dresses before you find “The One” or you may be one of the lucky ones and find that it’s the first ever dress that you try on.  Patience really is the key here, and just like falling in love with your fiancé, they say that, “When you know, you know.”

4. DON’T forget your accessories
Forgetting your veil, tiara, necklace and other accessories for your wedding day would be like having a face with no nose or eyebrows.  They are essential to finishing off your look!

5. DON’T buy a dress online without seeing it for real, or without trying it on
…because this could happen…honestly, there are no words haha

bad dress 4bad dress 2bad dress

The most important thing to remember is that you have a budget, make sure that you stick to it.  Don’t go trying on dresses that are £30,000 if your budget is £1000 because there’s nothing worse than walking down the aisle in one dress, but thinking of another.

It’s not like the good old days where tradition was key, in that the Brides parents pay for the Wedding.  Most couples pay for their own Weddings now and it’s really tough going.  What ever you do, don’t let pride take over when you’re looking at booking things.  The amount you spend isn’t important.  What IS important is that it means something to you and your fiancé.  The day is about celebrating spending your life together, not about having a Wedding!



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