5 easy ways to save on wedding dresses

Don't Waste Your Money

The cost of the average wedding is now $25,000, and for many brides, 2 or $3,000 of that is just for their gown.

So we have some ways to cut that expense, but still have a beautiful gown that's the envy of everyone at the wedding.

Sticker shock

Like a lot of brides to be, Cynthia Hopstic was hit with sticker shock when she started shopping for a gown.

"I looked online and I looked in some magazines and I found they were pretty expensive," said Hopstic.

Bridesmaids Alecia and Amanda Lowry found some big markdowns at web retailers, but they've heard too many horror stories of dresses arriving that are not what people order.

Both women emphatically said "no" when asked if they would consider ordering one online.

Save without being scammed

So if you are looking for that perfect gown, but don't want to risk disappointment, SmartMoney Magazine has five simple tips:

#1: Don't fall in love with the dress in the window: Displayed dresses tend to be more expensive, especially if it's the first dress you see as you enter the store.

#2: Don't be afraid to haggle. Alecia's sister Amanda suggests finding a similar dress online, then asking your local bridal shop for a discount.

Amanda said,  "just ask, negotiate, and they'll do what they can to beat competitors prices. Always have some sort of Internet source with you."

#3: Consider buying a floor model the store is trying to clear out, as long as it is clean. Guests don't know that it was on the rack, or tried on a few times.

#4: Keep it simple: Detail, frills, and silk are pricey. Simple lines and synthetic fibers are much cheaper.

#5: If you are determined to order a dress online, research the seller thoroughly. Look for a real street address and a Better Business Bureau review. Also, Google them for complaints to make sure dresses arrive on time and are the same dresses shown in online photos.

We found a discount bridal shop, offering $500 wedding gowns, with no address, poor grammar on its website, and just a phone number in another country.

It turned out to be the same phone number used by an overseas gym shoe outlet. Do you really want a wedding gown from a gym shoe outlet in China?

The guests won't know you saved

Finally, SmartMoney magazine points out that no one at your wedding will check the tag inside your gown for the designer label.

Nor will they feel it to see if it's really silk, or if it's synthetic, and they shouldn't ask you what you paid for it.

And that way you don't waste your money.

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Don't  Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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