How to clean a wedding gown

According to this article, the average cost to clean and preserve a wedding gown range from $150 – $225. I bought my wedding gown used and I received it in a box with a receipt of the dry cleaning costing the previous owner about $250. I brought my wedding gown for $436, including shipping. If you do the math, the previous owner paid about 57% of my purchase price to clean and preserve the gown. Take note that the original price of this gown is $1,923.

I knew that I will sell my gown after my wedding. I thought about having the gown be professionally cleaned, but the cost is ridiculous. Even the cheapest is about $125. I decided to wash my own gown and here’s how I did it.

Steps

  1. Check the fabric and details of the gown. Make sure that your gown is NOT silk. Majority of the gowns are polyester. If the gown is beaded, check to make sure that there are no lose beading. Mine is made of organza and polyester.
  2. Spot clean the gown. Major things to look for are the train, armpits and neckline. I diluted a normal fabric detergent and water. Using a rag, I spot clean the gown. Do this more than once for heavy stains.
  3. Make sure that your washer is clean.
  4. Make sure that the gown zipper and buttons area all closed
  5. Turn the gown inside out
  6. Turn the washer to delicate and wash the gown. I used woolite for detergent. If you spot clean a lot of areas, you don’t need to put more detergent. I rinsed it twice to make sure that detergents were removed.
  7. After washing, check to make sure that stains are removed.
  8. Hang it dry.
  9. Turn it inside out, check to make sure that the stains were removed or any lose beading
  10. Store it back in the preservation box (if you have one).

Washing the gown is easier that I expected. I was really surprised with the result. It looks just like the way I bought it and it smells minty fresh!

How to sell your wedding dress online

I wrote about tips on buying your wedding gown online here. I bought my gown more than 70 percent off the original price and sold it for half the cost after I used it. There are many reasons to sell the gown aside from an extra income. Personally, I wouldn’t want to keep a fabulous garment in a closet. I would love to see the gown used by another bride again and pass the savings.

I bought my gown for $436 including shipping. I sold it for $270. I spent $15.69 to ship it and $30 to list it at preownedweddingdress.com

How to sell your wedding dress online

Step 1: Know your size the day of your wedding. This is an important detail because you will use it when you list the gown. Measure yourself and take note of it before you go on a honeymoon so it’s handy. This includes the length of the gown with the shoes that you’re wearing.

Step 2: Ask your photographer to take a photo of the gown by itself. A professional image can add value to the actual price of the gown. Take some photo with yourself as well. Seeing it on a person can give buyers ideas if it fit their vision.

Step 3: Clean your gown, either professionally or yourself. I personally put my wedding gown on a wash — yes you can wash your own wedding gown and saved at least $200 of dry cleaning fee. You have to make sure that the gown is polyester, which most wedding gowns are. For those that are scared, have it professionally dry clean. If you dry clean it, keep the receipt.

Step 4: List it as soon as possible. This can be hard for some. Who doesn’t want to look at their wedding gowns and be reminded of their special day? If you wait, you might find yourself staring at it in your closet 5 years later. Unless your gown is vintage, the value of the gown DO NOT appreciate. Don’t wait to list it.

Step 5: List on multiple sites or on a consignment store. Before listing it, I send some photos to my local consignment stores of the wedding gown. I prefer to sell it locally, but the shop didn’t accept it. I then listed on ebay and preownedwedding dress. Preowned wedding dress charge a $25 fee to list the dress. If you sell on ebay take note that they charge a selling fee. This fee includes the shipping cost.

You can also list it to the following website that specialized on selling used wedding gowns. I did not personally use any of these but I checked it out when I was looking to purchase.

Nearly Newlywed – This company will clean, ship and hold the dress for you. They charge a pretty hefty 35% fee. As a buyer, I also noticed that their prices are higher. It might work for you if you have a designer gown and looking to sell for top dollar. They charge an extra $235 to clean the dress.

Tradesy – This company will send you a shipping kit. If you don’t have a box that comes with the gown, this might be a good option.

Step 6: List as much information as you can. This includes, the gown size, the street size you typically wear, your measurements when you wore the gown as noted on step #1. Add the location of the wedding. An outdoor wedding typically means the gown is dirtier. Include the designer, fabric and the style of the gown. Add the photos too – at least 4 pictures of just the gown. If you have some details like beading, add it there. Add a couple more pictures with a person wearing it.

Step 7: Price it well. This is the most important step. I initially price my gown for $400. I searched through the site and it has a comparable price. I waited for about 6 months and I still don’t have any leads. I slash the price to $270 and I sold it within a week.

Step 8: Promote the gown. Post the link on Facebook or Instagram. I paid an additional $5 to promote the gown on preowned wedding dress. It’s totally worth it because I received 5 leads in a week and sold my gown during the same week.

Step 9: Ship the gown. I’m lucky that I get a discount from UPS and was able to ship it for 1/3 of the price. When you ship it, make sure that you box it well. I kept the original box it came with when I purchased it.

Step 10: Enjoy knowing that someone else can walk down the aisle with a beautiful dress just like you did!

Wedding Under 20K

After more than 6 months, I finally have the final cost of our wedding. In total, we spent $17,582.65. I was surprised in a good way when I saw the result. I’m almost certain that we spent more than $20K since we didn’t set aside a budget.

Wait, we don’t have a budget?

Yes, this is odd, especially since I blog about personal finance. I had my doubts too in the beginning, but I know us well enough. Frugality is ingrained for both of us as an individual. We (mostly he) don’t obsessed at looking at every line items. As an accountant, I like looking at this. My husband was also surprised when I told him about the total.

Instead of setting a budget, we set our priorities. There were 3 things on top of my list, location, food and number of guests. For him, he want to have an open bar and he wants it to be “nice”. So really – open bar is part of the list.

We ended up with 104 guests. Half of our guests are from out of state. We stayed in the city as I wished and had a gorgeous water view, the food was delicious and libations were served generously.

Wedding Venue and Reception = $10,838.26

This is the biggest expense of the wedding. We got married during the summer and everything in the city with water view is ridiculously expensive. We prefer to have a wedding on a Saturday but the only availability of this place is Sunday. It ended up being a wise decision. We didn’t just save on the cost, we were also lucky with the weather.

We got married on a retired ferry that is permanently dock on a lake overlooking the city skyline. The ceremony took place on the bow of the boat and the reception was inside. The place was so nice that we didn’t have to do a lot for decor. We need to use the catering and I also opted to order the cake through the same company. The food and the cake were delicious. The food were generous. We didn’t want to skim on this. For the cake, I ordered a two tier cake and a sheet cake to save. I DIY my own cake topper instead of ordering through them.

Photography = $2,541.97

This is the next line item. I’m pretty happy with the result, although I wished that I research more. I could probably get this to less than $2K. Included here is a “gift” of either an engagement photo shoot or an anniversary photo shoot. We chose the anniversary photo shoot. For our engagement photos, I purchased a groupon deal for $35 which includes 3 digital copies of the photos. It was funny how the photographer was trying to sell the rest of the photos that she took. I almost bought a couple because I feel bad. My husband, the ever practical one was firm and chose 3. Men, I knew I married the right one! I also printed my own photos through mpix. It cost an additional $54 that were included on this. I received an album from my in-laws for Christmas and used it instead of ordering a wedding album.

Wardrobe = $1,155.79

This includes my wedding dress, tux rental for the groom (including shoes), ties we purchased for the groomsmen and products I used to paint my shoe. Majority of this is my wedding gown. I purchased a wedding gown on e-bay for $75. It was sample gown and I even had it altered which cost another $200. After the alteration, I didn’t really like it. I ended up purchasing a used one from preowned wedding dress. It cost $435 including shipping. The dress came on a wedding gown box from a professional dry cleaner. It fit like a glove. I wish that I was more careful with this purchase right away. Anyway, the gown is back on preowned wedding dress. I’m hoping that another bride can use it and can benefit from the savings. I’m a fan wearing a used wedding gown. It’s ridiculous that a dress this nice stays in a closet.

DJ = $800

One of my bridesmaids knows a DJ, who coincidentally is a godfather of my god daughter. His rate was $700 for the full ceremony and reception. We added another $100 for the tip. He is awesome and kept the party going.

Alcohol = $657.64

We were lucky that the place allowed us to bring our own alcohol. We paid for the bartending as part of the catering and purchased the non alcoholic drinks. We got our wine from Trader Joe’s, beer from Costco, sprits from Bevmo and champagne from Wine World. We purchased a LOT. We probably need another party just to get rid of the excess spirits and beer. The wine were a hit. I got an Italian white, a Spanish Red and a Riesling. We still have some left over alcohol 6 months later and going.

Misc = $1,588.99

The rest are below. Flowers, and invitations are DIY. The guestbook is a puzzle that I ordered online using our engagement photos. I paid for my brother’s flight as he was out of town.

Category20152016Comments
MiscBrother's flight580.2Flew my brother out
Hair and makeupHair and makeup351.96
FlowersFlowers313.43These are flowers from Costco and Trader Joes
PaperInvitations69.42
Ceremony and menu73.43
Thank you cards26.87
Save the dates16.71
DecorCake toper4.06
Decor28.88
Guest book45.75
RingsRings69.28These are from Amazon. I used an old gift card so it's low
licenseLicense93 copies of the marriage certificate

 

Cost that we didn’t pay

Our parents helped us entertain our guest from out of town. We had people over our home for Friday. My parents cooked the food. His parents hosted a rehearsal dinner that Saturday and provided the goody bags for our guest.

Overall, I wouldn’t change a single thing. I’m really glad that I had a wedding. Everyone enjoyed it. The out of town guest love the city. It really felt that 2 families became 1 during the day. It was a wonderful and joyous occasion.

Wedding on a budget: Cake and Cake Topper

We purchased our wedding cake through the same vendor that cater our wedding. We can opt to pay a fee and purchased the cake somewhere else but chose to buy it from the same vendor to minimize the logistic of transporting the cake. I did not hire a wedding planner and I don’t want to coordinate anything during the day of the wedding.

Our cake cost $372.50. I chose to purchase a 2 tier wedding cake to cut and a sheet cake to serve the guests. To save, I purchased a sheet cake instead of a 4 tier wedding cake. It taste the same and half the price.

Another unnecessary expense is the cake topper. We provided our own to save some more. Looking online, the cake topper price varies from $10 – $50. I got lucky and saw a cake topper from Walmart for 75 cents. I painted it in gold to match our color theme.

Total cost, $373.25.

Weddings don’t need to be expensive. There are many ways to cut your expenses as long as you keep an open mind and prioritize. The rest don’t need to be perfect.

 

9 tips for buying a wedding dress online

According to this article, the average cost of a wedding dress is $1,259. Additional alterations can run from $200 – $400. I couldn’t justify the cost of buying a new gown, because I know that it will only be worn for a day. Instead, I bought my dress online and saved so much, not just with the dress but with the alterations. It took some time and a lot of research, but I ultimately found the dress. This will not work for all, especially if you’re set with a specific style, but if you keep an open mind, buying a dress online is easier than you think and can be a lot of fun.

Tip 1 – Try on some clothes in-store and check out what you like and what you don’t like

This is the fun part. I went to 5 different stores to check out their gowns. I tried on different styles. I realized that it’s a lot easier for me to decide on what I don’t want than what I want. Going through the iterations also made me realize what fits me well, and the style and fabric that is most comfortable with the venue

Tip 2 – Take some pictures of dresses you tried on

Once you tried it on, take a lot of pictures. Ask for the designer and the style number. Go back home and see if you can find it online. If not, look at the same designer and the year. Design and styles are very cohesive. There’s a big chance that you can find the same style. Use these photos while shopping online as a resource.

Tip 3 – Go to a reputable online store

I visited 3 online stores while shopping for a gown

  • Nearly Newlywed – this store curates the dresses and guarantee authenticity. The seller sends the dress to get inspected, which is then shipped to the buyer.  They also have a 5 day risk free return. You can order as much dress as you want for $25 return shipping fee. This is a good choice if you have a specific designer dress in mind. Since this is risk free, you basically pay for your peace of mind. Prices of the gown are only 20 to 30 percent off the original price.
  • Tradesy – this site sells high end designer items. They also guarantee authenticity but returns are set by the seller. The price are set by the seller. If you’re lucky you might find one on a good deal.
  • PreOwned Wedding dress – this site have thousands and thousands of wedding dresses. This is where I bought my dress. It can be overwhelming but if you know the style and size, it’s easy to filter it. You deal directly with the seller and can negotiate the price. I had a smooth transaction and only paid 20% of the original price, including shipping.

Tip 4 – Ask for receipt, both the original and dry cleaning purchase

If you’re dealing with the seller directly, ask if she kept the original receipt and the dry cleaner receipt. This is important if you are planning to sell the gown after.

Tip 5 – Get the wedding venue details

If the wedding is outdoors, chances are there will be some dirt in the gown, especially the hem. You can either plan for this to be included in the price or negotiate the price

Tip 6 – Ask for specific measurements, both street size and gown size.

This is very important to me. I want to save some money on alterations so I specifically look for the gown on my size, including the hemline with a shoe in mind. If the seller can’t give me measurements, I move on.

Tip 7 – Secure the shipment

Depending on the price of the gown, you can get some insurance to ship it. I personally didn’t bother. I just asked it to be delivered at the Fedex office to guarantee my signature

Tip 8 – Use secure payment

Paypal is the option at preownedweddingdresses. The seller will send you the invoice to pay. It’s the only way to file for a claim in case you had an issue with the seller.

Tip 9 – Be polite

Buying online is a very different experience. I don’t think you can be a bridezilla here. There will be sellers that don’t respond right away and you just have to be patient. Once you find a dress you like, contact the seller, but don’t rush into buying it. It took me about a month with some back and forth from the time I first contacted the seller. This is very important if there’s no return policy. At the end of it, I feel like I know the seller personally and it’s such a joy to give life to the dress once again.

Cost of my Gown: $436.00 (including shipping)

Enjoy and happy hunting!

 

My DIY Wedding Favors for less than $1

Wedding favors, though not mandatory are great way to thank your guests. According to wedding stats, the average cost of a wedding favor is $251. For 100 guests, that is an additional $2.50 per guest.

Weddings are expensive and these little things add up. That said, I remembered the favors from the previous weddings and I remembered liking if it is something edible. I also know that this is an easy DIY project, so I decided to do it.

I want something edible, something sweet and something that I really liked with minimal cost. After looking through some options, I decided to give out some chocolate covered raisins and personalized it in a small container. I bought 5 3lbs chocolate covered raisins from Costco for  $9.99 each and a simple container from Amazon for $26.99. My mom helped us and added a logo on top that was printed by my sister. A couple of days before the wedding, we put the raisins in the container. Total cost for me is $76.94.

I heard from my guests that they loved it! It’s simple but I’m glad that I didn’t forego it.

The perfect wedding shoes for less than $30

Being comfortable on your wedding day should always be the top priority for the bride. This means everything that you wear should fit perfectly, including shoes. I’ve been searching for the wedding shoes right after I got my wedding dress. I have flat feet and I’ve been wearing minimalist shoes for the past 3 years. In addition to my flat feet, I also have a bunion. You can only imagine the difficulty I have finding the proper shoes.

I will not compromise comfort, especially my feet. I’ve seen many situations where women complain that their feet hurts, can’t walk a couple of blocks, or took their shoes off in the middle on the night with a sigh of relief. And don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of this myself. That said, I know that I need to be on my feet for the whole day so I searched for that perfect shoes — something that I can wear for more than just a day.

So I scour every shoe store in the mall within my area, looking for something that will fit. Of course, they don’t carry my size. I looked online and discover that Amazon prime has free returns for shoes. I tried 3 different styles and sizes to find that perfect fit —  but alas nothing works. All of them were returned for free.

I then went online, typed DIY wedding shoes on the search bar and all of a sudden I have this idea on my head to paint one of my old comfortable cute brown shoes. I love this shoe and worn it so many times on my previous job, worn it at weddings or any time that skirt is part of my outfit. It’s been re-heeled and will probably need to get new pair of soles. This pair of shoe is at least 7 years old (I didn’t exactly keep the receipt, but know that I got it a couple of years after graduation).

So here’s how I managed to diy my wedding shoes for $26.22. Cost doesn’t include the actual price of the shoe. I honestly can’t remember how much it was 7 years ago.

Supplies:

  1. Rubbing alcohol and cotton balls to prepare the surface
  2. Leather Paint – I used a Jacquard Lumiere leather paint . I got the sample pack so I can play with the color.
  3. Fan Brush – This was recommended from the you tube videos. I got mine here.
  4. Rags
  5. cotton bud
  6. Water
  7. plastic cups
  8. Pledge Floor Finisher. I got this from a local hardware store.

Step 1 – Prepare the shoe. If you have a leather shoe, use cotton balls and rubbing alcohol. You don’t need a lot!

Step 2 – Pick a color and paint. I recommend trying a little of the color you choose to see if it is really the color that you want in the leather. I used a plastic cup (think of jello shot cups) and our a little of the paint there. I dipped the tip of the fan brush and paint it. If you make a mistake, make sure to erase it by dipping the cotton bud to water. You need to do this before the paint dry. You can re-apply as necessary, but from my experience, little paint really goes a long way.

Step 3 – finish the shoe with the pledge floor finisher. Again, you only need very little of this.

Here’s a before and after photo. I love the result!