Getting your wedding supplies online (Yes, we're talking Taobao) can really slash your budget, but what about your gown?
The affordable price may be seriously tempting but there's always the risk when you open that parcel - think faded colours, ill-fitting garments and generally bad workmanship.
Sourcing for your locally not only allows you to get to see how it fits you before you actually purchase it, you'll also be able to get tips and advice from your gown retailer on what works for you and what doesn't.
But don't let us stop you if you're contemplating getting your wedding dress online. Here's how AsiaOne writer and real bride Melissa Goh got three dresses for a steal on Taobao:
Photo: Pixioo via Facebook/ Melissa Goh
Planning for a wedding shouldn't have to be stressful. After all, it only happens once in a lifetime (fingers crossed) and you want to enjoy your big day without incurring debt at the start of your new chapter in life.
I like to look for cheaper options when I make purchases, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are of lower quality; I learnt that the hard way from spending tonnes of money on popular blogshops only to realise they got their dresses from Taobao.
After browsing through a few bridal gown rental sites and seeing similar designs appearing on Taobao too, I decided to not shell out thousands of dollars for my bridal gowns when I got married two years ago.
The money can be better spent elsewhere, such as having a higher budget for the honeymoon and funding our home renovations.
Granted, you cannot try out the gowns before making a purchase, but here's how I tried to pick out the better quality dresses from Taobao whilst not breaking the bank.
I bought three gowns for my pre-wedding photoshoot and the actual wedding day, all for under $200. Surprisingly, the measurements stated were accurate and they fit quite snugly.
Also read: 6 GREAT COST-FREE WEDDING IDEAS WE LOVE
KNOWING THE STYLES YOU WANT FOR YOUR GOWNS
Before searching mindlessly through Taobao to look for a dress, you'll want to peruse wedding catalogues to have a rough idea of the style you're going for.
This day next month :) #gohingyangswedding . May we always be reminded in years to come to walk together in holy perfection (17.07.17) and in "Yachad", Hebrew for "unity" (22.07.17). . @ttrolololll thank you for being slow to anger and guiding me along in life, and for extending your comforting arms when I'm frazzled with work, wedding and the new home. I'm blessed beyond measure to know I'll be coming home to these arms this July :) I love you, most ardently, always. . (PC : @pixioo) • : @freshfromkenneth • : @charlane_yu
I knew I wanted a flowy gown with a sheer illusion neckline as one of the dresses for my pre-wedding photoshoot at the nature park because I was going to be walking around a lot. The last thing I wanted was to fuss over a strapless gown that's sliding off me.
The sheer illusion neckline gown was soft from the glow of the sunlight, and I was comfortable moving about in it, even on rocky terrain.
CHECK THE REVIEWS
Unlike at gown fitting sessions, you don't have to immediately "say yes to the dress" when you find the one you like on Taobao.
Make sure you read through every comment to see what people are saying about the gown.
I'll scrutinise every photo review even if it takes hours, to have an idea of the gown's quality. It'll be a bonus if the reviewer posts multiple angles of the dress.
Photo: Pixioo via Facebook/ Melissa Goh
If the reviews aren't up to your standard or the material looks a little inferior, you might want to look for alternatives.
This red gown may have cost just RMB155.40 (S$32.60), but turns out, the chiffon wasn't flimsy and it comes lined, surpassing my expectations. I was happy that the photo reviews helped in cementing my decision to get it.
COMPARE PRICES AMONG DIFFERENT SELLERS
If you browse through Taobao long enough, you'll find that the same dress is carried by different sellers and prices may vary.
So don't be too quick to jump on the cheapest dress. Again, look through the reviews as some designs may have been copied and remade in a lower quality, as compared to the same dress that costs just a couple of dollars more.
DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP
While the gowns I bought were great, it's not always a 100 per cent hit rate. I'm pretty sure the other brides who Taobao their bridal gowns will tell you the same as well.
I bought a pink fishtail wedding gown for $80, not knowing that it doesn't suit my body type, but thankfully I managed to quickly resell it for $70 without feeling the pinch.
It was snapped up quickly because there are brides who are on the lookout for cheap wedding dresses, especially if you provide them with actual photos of the gowns.
I had a really fun time shopping for my wedding gowns on Taobao and never once regretted doing so.
Sure, it took me about a month to finalise the dresses and another three weeks for it to finally get mailed to my house, but the experience was different from when I accompanied my friend to her gown-fitting session — the gown designs were limited to the number of racks available in the shop, and she had to pick out the dresses in that one fitting.
Buying from Taobao, however, was slightly exhilarating and fulfilling after having personally found the dress from the thousands listed on the platform. At least I get to keep them after the wedding too.
The only thing I would have done differently is spending an additional $100 to alter the actual day wedding gown to make it look more 'made-to-measure', which I felt made the dress look less glorious after some layers were removed. It was already good before the alteration. (Read: 6 Singapore wedding dress alteration services to check out)
If you're thinking of buying your wedding gowns from Taobao, be sure to do a thorough research even though the dresses may be cheap. You don't want to rush the little wedding details, so take your time to enjoy the process.
This story was originally published on AsiaOne.