How much is too much to spend on a wedding dress?

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The Vera Wang dress I fell in love with.
The Vera Wang dress I fell in love with.

By NATALIA HAWK

I fell in love when I was seventeen.

I remember it well – I was at the movies with a friend during the summer holidays. We were watching Bride Wars, the latest Kate Hudson/Anne Hathaway movie.

In the movie, Kate Hudson went shopping for a wedding dress and picked the first one she tried on. It was white and strapless, with a beautifully full tulle skirt and a coloured ribbon around the waist.

It was Vera Wang, and it was beautiful.

I was instantly head-over-heels.

I knew that Vera Wang was the one for me. I didn’t know when my big day would happen. I didn’t even know IF it would happen. But I knew that if I was to one day walk down that aisle towards a loving future husband, it would be in Vera.

To me, the cost of a Vera dress was a non-issue. You’re paying for what is essentially art in dress form. Why wouldn’t you fork out, say, the same amount of money with which you could buy a second-hand car or a really exotic cat?

But when I expressed these opinions in the Mamamia office, I was met with complete disbelief.

Nicky spent a few grand on her wedding dress. Worth it.
Nicky spent a few grand on her wedding dress. Worth it.

Lucy and Jamila could not understand my willingness to pay that amount of money for a dress that’s only going to be worn for one DAY. For only a few hours. That will probably be put into storage and probably stay there forevermore.

The pair of them promised me that they wouldn’t imagine spending thousands of dollars on a dress. That they’d rather save their cash and spend it on a really awesome party for their guests.

MM Brisbane staffer Kate Hunter agreed with them – she commissioned a friend’s mum, Mrs Szornet, to make her wedding dress. It cost $300, plus fabric. Mrs Szornet even came to the church with her sewing kit to make last minute adjustments. Now that’s service.

As for Mia – she can’t even remember how much her dress cost. Nor can she remember where it actually went. She thinks she might have given it to a friend.

Luckily, there was one person in the Mamamia office who agreed with me. Nicky Champ (who is, incidentally, our Style expert – ha!) said that she tried to buy a bargain dress… and then just couldn’t find anything decent under $1000. She ended up spending two and a half, and was happy with the dress.

It’s a far, far cry from the latest trend – 99 cent wedding dresses.

Yes, you can legitimately buy a wedding dress online for 99 cents. And they’re tailor-made. You pick your colour and size, send your measurements through, and – after paying a bit of a postage fee- your dress will be on your doorstep within weeks.

This from news.com.au:

The tailor-made dresses, which come in a choice of designs, colours and fabric, are being auctioned off at super cheap prices by Chinese clothing manufacturers keen to capitalise on the western wedding market.

Even with hefty postage fees of $130 to $150, bridal bargain hunters say it’s worth it for the overall price.

And apparently it’s entirely worth the risk. Thirty-eight-year-old Allison McPhee ordered an eBay dress for $140.99 (postage cost $140). And guess what? She loved it.

The paramedic, who is marrying fiance Greg Doyle, 33, in October next year, said she expected the worst when she received the gown in the mail just six weeks after emailing off her measurements.

“I was very worried, I thought I would unwrap it and it would be made of cellophane or something but it is beautiful, the workmanship is superb and it fits perfectly,” she said. “I would definitely be telling other people to do it.”

There may be something attractive about the concept of spending less than $200 on a wedding dress. Think of all the money you could spend on champagne and boutonnieres instead!

But then again… as my father always likes to say… you pay for peanuts, you get monkeys.

And I don’t want monkeys. I want Vera.

Flick through our gallery of some of the cheaper dresses available on the web (from Etsy and eBay):

NOTE: If you ARE going to buy a 99c dress, then you’ve got to question how the garment was possibly made that cheaply. Chances are it wasn’t made by people who were paid decent wages and with fair working conditions.

Over to you – would you ever buy a 99 cent wedding dress? Or do you want to fork out the big bucks? If you’ve had a wedding – how much did you spend?

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