We’ve all done it, browsing pinterest and scrolling through hundreds of thousands of photos of the most gorgeous wedding gowns. You see a stunning lace gown, and a price listed underneath the photo with a link to a website. Only $279??? You follow the link, the site looks alright, you scroll through beautiful pictures and amazing prices, and you think this wedding won’t cost you too much after all!

But I’m here to burst your bubble, and I am truly sorry. Those prices are fake, those gowns are fake, those photos are stolen from designer websites and catalogues. That site is run by an overseas company looking to bait and switch you into purchasing a poorly made knock off. I know, it’s awful, and I might have just ruined your day. Never fear though, there are ways to get a great deal on a legitimate gown if your budget isn’t that of brides on popular tv wedding shows. You just might have to do a lot more foot work. But why would I care if the gown is a “copycat” or a “knockoff” if I can save thousands of dollars on it? Good question.

Here are some reasons why, from someone who has altered many a knock off gown and bore witness to many a heartbroken and panicked bride who walked in my door with a copycat dress.

– These gowns are not quality controlled. They come from factories overseas who are not run by companies that care to provide you with a legitimate product.

– They are made with the cheapest fabric and methods. Often are glued together.

– Due to the lack of quality control, the patterns are not made correctly or sized appropriately (yes, even though they will tell you the gown will be custom made to your size…it is only a marketing poly) and thus 90% of the time will require expensive and last-minute alterations to fix.

– They take their time to get to you, meaning you may get your gown shortly before your event resulting in last minute panic.

– Colors are not what they appear. These are poorly copied designs; thus, the fabrics are not exact matches, and neither are colors. (I got a woman with a yellow dress once who ordered ivory, as well as a gal who ordered blush and got PINK).

– If nothing else, these designs are a designer’s intellectual property. Paying someone else who has stolen that property to make money off it without even respecting the original integrity of the designer is just morally wrong…

Now, how do you get a wedding gown that doesn’t cost the same as a down payment on a house, or a car? I knew you’d ask. With ingenuity and persistence.

1. Call around to your local bridal stores/boutiques. Ask them about their current sales and promotions. Ask about any military discounts (if that applies to you, please don’t lie), sample sales, or upcoming deals they may know about.

2. Ask about the average price range the type of gown your looking for can run in the brands they carry. Examples being Lace gowns, ballgowns, satin gowns….be specific.

3. Do NOT go shopping at a store that carries gowns outside your price range. I do not care if it sounds fun, it will be emotionally rough for you to try on gowns you can’t reasonably take home. (From this information you can then decide what budget you are willing to put towards your gown. Please be realistic from here on what you can get for that budget.)

4. Check online retailers like preownedweddingdresses.com or tradsy.com for gowns you might like that are being sold by brides who either wore them once or not at all. Often you can save a lot of money on a gown this way. Make sure though you are measured and order according to your measurements, not the size you wear at the mall!

5. Check out consignment stores or stores that sell off the rack, you can often find a beautiful gown at a fraction of it’s original price at places like this!