In today’s day and age, it doesn’t hurt to save a few dollars here and there, especially when you consider the cost of an average wedding is upwards of $34,000. (Read the article here).
That might mean you look for some side gigs to tuck away a little more every month, work up a budget and stick to it, or remove the little odds and ends that make it easy to exceed your spending limit every month. It could be that you scrutinize your wedding costs and nix the horse-drawn carriage, custom floral ceilings, or even simple things like tablescape details. Where else could you save a few bucks?
One idea is shopping at discount bridal outlets. These are affordable bridal shops that offer their bridal wear at lower prices versus luxury boutiques that sell the same designer gowns. Some discount bridal shops, like Blue Bridal in Cincinnati’s Reading bridal outlet, do this by selling overstock items collected from top designers, as well as actual original designer gowns at 30-60% off. Other shops sell their sample gowns at discounted prices, through trunk sales or sample sales.
If you’re on board for buying a discount bridal gown, you might think online shopping, rather than at affordable bridal shops in person, could have the biggest savings for the same product. While it may be true, you might save a few dollars, you definitely can’t guarantee that it’ll be the same product. We’ve come across so many horror stories of brides ordering a gown that seems too good to be true and - spoiler alert - it frequently is!
We’ve heard of everything from poor quality fabrics and craftsmanship to opening a box to find a gown described as “snow white” that, in person, is light blue! You might see a photo online of a gorgeous gown, but the dress that arrives is made of a different type of fabric, is improperly pieced together, creating an unflattering cut, or it could be the wrong size. If this happens, don’t count on getting your money back. Even more costly could be the alterations required to make it possible for you to wear the guess (if there’s enough to salvage). Yikes!
Higher-quality gowns are almost always handmade, with special attention paid to more delicate details like beadwork and lace, and the work involved, as well as the luxurious fabrics, mean that those gowns will simply cost more to make. Paying less than $100 online for discounted wedding dresses means that somewhere along the line, someone’s likely being fooled.
Another reason we believe that it’s better to purchase discount wedding dresses at stores rather than online is that independent brick-and-mortar stores provide benefits like jobs, income, and meaning to their communities. Online retailers don’t.
According to the 3/50 Project, an effort that supports local retailers and local economies, “For every $100 spent in independently owned shops, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend the same $100 at a national chain store, only $43 stays here! And if you spend it online, nothing comes home.” You can learn more about the 3/50 Project here.
If you’re hoping to score a designer gown for less than ticket-price, shopping at affordable bridal shops is a great way to go. Because you’ll be buying right off the rack, this option is perfect for brides who have short engagements or are on a time crunch for other reasons. Depending on the fit of the gown, you may still need to visit a seamstress for alterations, but many brides still end up spending only a fraction of the cost of full-price bridalwear.
There are a few different types of routes you can take when you go wedding dress shopping for discount gowns, and there are definitely pros and cons to all of them. They range from consignment wedding dress outlets, where you can buy one-of-a-kind vintage dresses, to big-name bridal warehouses, to sample sales at high-end boutiques, to shops like Blue Bridal, in the Cincinnati bridal district that sell overstock designer gowns.
An important note about some sample sales - gowns are frequently in a size 8, so if you find a gown you love, be sure that if it needs alterations, there’s enough fabric and the construction of the gown allows for them. Also, keep in mind that it’s a good idea to budget for possible alterations, no matter how you purchase your gown. Keep in mind, when planning for alterations, that many seamstress’ book up well in advance and that this labor can take quite a long time, as you may need to visit the seamstress for regular fittings. If you’re working on finding a gown in a time crunch, you may be better off choosing a gown with minimal required alterations.
At Blue Bridal, which is one of the Cincinnati bridal shops located in the Reading Bridal District (more about it below!), you can save 30-60% off all brand new designer wedding gowns that are overstock items collected from top designers. Since they’re overstock, they’re carried in sizes 2 to 32 and their average price is $999.
If you’ve searched “bridal shops cincinnati oh,” the chances are good that you’ve come across stores in the Reading Bridal District. What is this bridal district and what can you expect to find when it comes to affordable bridal shops?
The Reading Bridal District in Cincinnati is made up of all kinds of wedding-industry businesses, making it America’s largest bridal district. In fact, it offers more than 44 different wedding-related businesses and services within a two-mile radius. This bridal district Cincinnati is where brides from all over Ohio, the Midwest, and from around the nation visit to search for gowns, photographers, stationary, and so much more.
According to its website, the Reading Bridal District stores have over 9,000 wedding gowns for sale in its 10+ gown stores. The good news? A number of these stores have discount wedding dresses!
Read more about them below!
As we mentioned above, our store, which is located in the heart of the Reading Bridal District, carries overstock items for brides that are curated from top designers. We are inclusive and focus on every bride and every-body, and we feature sizes from 2 to 32.
You can visit our online bridal gallery of our gowns to know what to expect to see on our racks. From A-line and ballgown to sheath and boho, our styles range from traditional to modern.
When you attend your appointment at Blue Bridal, you and your guests will be guided through the process by a professional bridal stylist, who will help you try on a variety of gowns and give honest feedback, all while making sure you’re comfortable. To provide you with great service, we do require appointments.
Offering discount bridalwear in sizes 4 - 32, the Reading Bridal Outlet, at 133 W. Benson St, describes itself as a budget-friendly option for brides who are looking for chic and sophisticated gowns. Learn more here.
This store sells the samples from its two sister bridal stores in Cincinnati Ohio, and is an option for brides who want to take home their gown that same day. Appointments are recommended, as walk-ins are only accepted if there’s availability.
Luxe Redux Bridal is a designer sample boutique that sells gowns that have been heavily discounted from the original price, with most of the gowns ranging from $1,000 to $3,500.
We love that Luxe Redux offers Luxe in a Box options, in which the Luxe Redux stylists curate accessories for you to try on at home. You can also opt to select three gowns to have shipped to your house. What a cool way to blend the online shopping experience with being able to try on your gown before final purchase, especially if you’re not nearby other Cincinnati bridal shops.
The Kuhn’s Bridal and Formal store, which is located halfway between Columbus and Cleveland in Mansfield, OH - carries sizes 0 to 34-plus and has more than 4,000 dresses at a time on their formal wear shop salesfloor. Kuhn’s Bridal and Formal Outlet has options for weddings and events of all kinds.
Bonus - Kuhn’s also carries mother-of-the bride, bridesmaid, and other formal wear for special occasions, so there’s a chance it could be a one-stop shop for you and your whole bridal party!
The stylists at Kuhn’s Bridal and Formal Outlet require appointments, during which they will navigate you through the process of selecting the gown that makes you shine on your wedding day.
If you’ve got some time to search for a discount wedding gown and are up for visiting a department store that’s full of clearance items from other Dillard’s, the Dillard’s Clearance Center is another place to visit when seeking discount wedding dresses. It’s located at Eastgate Mall in the Cincinnati metro area, and may have wedding gowns in stock to check out.
We highly recommend checking out the shoe section at Dillard’s Clearance Center, as well as the accessories section. Whether you’re looking for strappy sandals or four-inch heels, you’re likely to find them at a lower price point at Dillard’s, with the great bonus of being able to try them on. It’s also a good place to peruse jewelry, from necklaces and earrings to bracelets.
Like other discount department stores, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself for a visit so that you don’t end up making extra purchases during your visit (make a list! Trust us!) and wind up fatigued or overwhelmed. It’s also important to know that at Dillard’s Clearance Center, all sales are final.
As you prepare to shop for discount wedding dresses, there are a few tips that are sure to make your experience as pleasant as it can be.
While there are definitely pros to scouring Pinterest and wedding websites to check out the trends and new styles out there on the market, we want to remind you to keep an open mind when you actually head out to shop. You might think that you want one silhouette, or a certain kind of fabric, or only lace, and restrict yourself to those styles only, putting a ton of pressure on yourself in the process, when there’s a gown that would look absolutely stunning on you on the rack at perhaps even a cheaper price point!
That’s another benefit of shopping at independent stores - they frequently have staff that’s invested in helping you find a gown that makes you feel confident and are usually willing to go to great lengths to support you in the process!
We always suggest checking ahead of time if the shops you intend to visit require appointments, and if they do, book them right away! Many shops require appointments to provide support and service to brides, and booking those appointments will be a solid step in the process of dress shopping. When you make any appointments, we recommend checking to see if the shop has size limits on groups.
Knowing this will help you plan how many friends and family members to take along, we recommend keeping your group size small, and only having the people whose opinions you really value. It can be a day with a lot of emotions, and being able to be fully present and fully yourself makes it a lot more fun.
On the day of your visit, you’ll likely be on your feet a lot, so we suggest you wear supportive shoes and loose-fitting clothing that doesn’t restrict your movement. Undergarments that you’re comfortable wearing in front of your stylist but that don't leave wrinkles or lines when you’re in front of the mirror checking out that gown is a good idea as well.
Before making appointments to visit any bridal outlets, know that there’s a wide range of experiences you may have at different discount bridal shops. While many are high-quality, with experienced, knowledgeable bridal consultants and a huge inventory of on-trend gowns, some might leave shoppers a bit more to their own devices, have a smaller inventory, or more restricted sizes.
While some brides might appreciate the more hands-off approach experienced at some bridal warehouses, most genuinely appreciate the professional assistance that trained consultants can offer - whether it’s helping you into or out of your gown, understanding fabrics and tailoring basics, or being able to provide knowledge about designers and trends.
We recommend planning on visiting a variety of affordable bridal shops. Some require appointments, and when you visit these, you can reasonably expect to be paired with a bridal consultant, who will likely guide you through trying on dresses of varying styles and can provide unbiased feedback and advice. The truth is, bridal stylists are passionate about the wedding industry, well-versed in their field, and genuinely want you to feel comfortable and at your very best on your big day.
At Blue Bridal, we pride ourselves on our amazing team of consultants. In fact, we believe that our crew, in addition to our ever-changing inventory and discounted prices, makes us stand out among Cincinnati bridal shops. Our staff is made up of stylists who each have, on average, 15+ years of bridal experience in the industry. Colleen, our owner, says, “I love creating magic when we find brides their perfect gown! The joy we feel when we see you in your dream dress is our daily fuel.”
Whether you’ve Googled “wedding dress shops near me,” checked out online wedding dress outlets, or have visited wedding dress boutiques in person, you’ve probably discovered that there are quite a few ways to save when looking for your perfect wedding gown.
In fact, with so many discounted bridal gown options and outlets - especially in the Reading Bridal District and throughout Ohio, finding your perfect gown for your special day might even be one of your favorite parts of the wedding preparation process!
Although it might feel overwhelming at first, when you’re trying to figure out how you’ll make each dollar stretch a bit farther, there’s a constantly-changing inventory of wedding gowns available at discount wedding shops that won’t make you compromise cost for quality. Just take a deep breath, stick to that budget, look at some inspiration photos, keep your mind open, and start setting up appointments. You’ll be saying yes to the dress in no time!