Flash Sale Websites: An Unexpected Source for Inexpensive Wedding Dresses

Image via HauteLook

Dear reader, the daily deal model may be declining, but flash sale websites still have a lot to offer the bride on a budget.  Last week, while browsing for dresses for my sister to check out, I stumbled across a healthy selection of Sue Wong white evening dresses (read: wedding dresses) on luxury flash sale websites Ideeli and HauteLook.  When I saw that they were selling at more than half-off, my deal-loving heart quickened!  I told my sister and she purchased the two dresses below to try on.


Curious to see what other flash sale websites were offering, I signed up for every “invitation only” site known to man.  Much to my surprise and delight, I discovered that deeply discounted evening and bridal gowns are widely available on this shopping platform, at least at this time of year.

Why hadn’t I thought about sourcing wedding dresses on flash sale sites like Gilt and Rue La La before? I think it’s mostly because of the flash sale model itself. Unless you’re already a member of the site, you’re unlikely to hear about the sales — which typically last only 36 to 48 hours — until it’s too late. For this same reason, online shopping tools don’t seem to pick up on these sales either.  But by becoming a member, you’ll be emailed daily with a list of upcoming deals, or what the retailers call “events.”   All of this means that shopping the flash sales can be really rewarding… and really annoying.

The other downside to the flash sale is that it requires immediate action.  “Buy now or forever miss out on this deal” doesn’t work for every consumer, and for the budget-conscious bride, it can be even more unnerving.  What made it easier for my sister to buy those lovely Sue Wong numbers was the return policy.  Had either of these dresses been final sale, I don’t think “buy now” would have been quite so appealing, even at 50%+ off.

My advice: stay away from flash sales if you are bad at making quick decisions and hate being bombarded with promotional emails.  Otherwise, if you love a good bargain and don’t mind staying on top of your inbox, flash sale websites are a great (and unexpected) source for deeply discounted wedding dresses.  Here are the sites I’d recommend:

Impressed by the Dress: Tadashi Shoji Cypress via BHLDN

Image via BHLDN

Dear reader, like so many brides these days, my sister is enamored by the fancy-backed gowns from that darling of Pinterest Claire Pettibone.  But considering she has allocated about $500 for her wedding dress, pricey “couture” bridal is hardly within scope.  That’s why I was so excited when I stumbled across this gem of an evening gown from designer Tadashi Shoji.  It has all the hallmarks of a those expensive dresses she loves:  the intricately beaded back, the real silk shell, the beautifully gathered chiffon — and it’s only $548!

Images via BHLDN

We stalked the website for about a month and the secondary markets to see if it would show up in a size 0 (I know, skinny person problems), but no luck.  So imagine our delight when BHLDN revealed it would be offering this dress (now named the “Cypress” dress) in its new Fall 2013 collection.  Starting on August 28, 2013, the dress will be available in sizes from 0 to 16 through BHLDN for a slightly higher, but still reasonable, price of $600.  (If you’re a size 6 or higher though, it’s still a better deal to purchase directly from the designer.)

Images via Dress Safari

Essential Shopping Tools for Busy Brides

Image via ShopStyle

Dear reader, whether you are a budget bride looking for her dream dress online, or a busy bride looking for the perfect bridesmaids dress, there are applications and websites that can make your search so much easier.  I am a big fan of two of these shopping applications: ShopStyle and Polyvore.  I regularly use both (even though they do overlap somewhat in their listings) to find good deals and to explore the wide selection available from internet retailers on one platform.

Both of these applications allow you to filter your search based on garment type, color, price, designer, sales and store.   And both offer to email you when your favs go on sale.  In my opinion, these websites are essential tools for any bride who wants to minimize the amount of time and money she’s spending on wedding planning.

Image via Polyvore