Cheap Princess Gowns for Weddings

[To my horror, I found these fully-written wedding-related posts from THREE YEARS BACK, before we got married, just sitting in the drafts folder… So I just clicked “publish”. Also, feeling kinda really sad that I have put on so much pregnancy weight since these pictures below were taken!]

Jasmine: I’ve made pretty clear that I’m no fan of the princess gown… Until I actually tried one on, while shopping with my mum at Far East Plaza.

And realised, horror of horror, that with a very simple bodice, the exaggerated train and full skirt could actually look rather… pretty.

I felt like I was cheating on my own wedding dress- the one that I had painstakingly designed and made at Emanuel B.

On a budget of less than $200, I decided that I would search for a second gown that I could rent. I wasn’t planning to have a change of wedding gown on the actual day itself, but just thought I’d rent one for a different bridal silhouette in pictures.

I decided to go really low-end for this because the ballgown style is so overwhelmingly popular at Taiwanese-style studios that there was sure to be much price competition which would drive prices down. I wouldn’t recommend low-end studios if you want a form-fitted sheath or quality materials, but an A-line gown is still relatively easy to do.

Of the low-end rentals I sourced, most charged around $200-300 for a three day rental, inclusive of alteration and dryclean.

The cheapest was Bridal Closet, which offered rentals from $188, which included not only alterations and drycleaning, but also free rental of veils and accessories (though I didn’t need those).

As I needed to have my measurements re-taken for my cheongsam (reached my goal weight… yay!), Bridal Closet had the advantage of being 5 min drive away from my cheongsam tailor, so we decided to pop by.

This was one of the dresses I tried on:

Option 1

It’s got the sweeping train which shows up well in photos and I liked that the beading wasn’t too overdone, but up close I could tell that the skeleton of the bustier had gone awry and the waistline was crooked. Next.

Option 2:

All along, I had been looking for something more modern, like Option 1. However, this dress was decently-tailored. Also, despite my best efforts to veer away from the traditional gown, I kinda liked the way the tulle skirt was gathered and the lacework was pretty, albeit in a retro way.

Even better, both options cost under $200… to buy. Bridal Closet even threw in free alterations and drycleaning.

Here’s what Option 2 looked like after alteration and removal of the sash:

A few key points about bridal shopping for the budget-conscious:

  • Always inspect the garment carefully to ensure that all joinings are straight and seams don’t pucker (looks especially awful on shiny fabrics like satin and gives away bad workmanship immediately)
  • If you are going for a princess gown (or any gown), make sure that the embellishment does not overpower your frame
  • When in doubt, less is more. Remove all annoying accoutrements. Unnecessary adornment is often used to disguise crappy workmanship
  • Shop with one, maximum two trusted friends with good taste. (Especially important for low-end studios, because you’ll really need to spearate the wheat from the chaff)

I saw too many girls at Bridal Closet who were trying on hideous, butt-ugly gowns (Crime Scene Exhibit A: red and black mermaid gown, with TWO sashes bisecting the natural waist and the low waist, thereby successfully showing off her paunch) but their mums and boyfriends were not offering them the wake-up call they really needed.

When Andrew and I were shooting at National Museum, we saw six other bridal couples, and all the brides were wearing princess gowns which were too complicated and looked like they harked from the ’80s. For example, they had pleating on the bust and massive amounts of embroidery on the skirt. The hairstyle (typically, fussy updo with lots of waves and a TIARA on top of all that) never differed from bride to bride and made the whole getup look dated. Someone really needed to tell them that less is more (ironic, coming from the girl with two wedding gowns).

Princess gown or not, I always maintain that the bride should wear the gown and not the other way around.

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