savvy wedding wednesday: save time for sales

When shopping with my mother as a small child, whenever I wanted something in a store that I didn’t necessarily need, she’d ask me one simple question, “Is it on sale?” I didn’t really know how to read then, but I’d look for that big glossy sign or telltale orange sticker, and if it wasn’t on sale, it went back on the shelf. My mother ingrained this in me so much that I actually thought if something wasn’t “on sale” it wasn’t “for sale.” This often perplexed me – if it’s not “on sale” why is it even in the store?

Then one day, when I was probably about three or four and had not yet learned out to read, my mom was reading the daily newspaper when I peered over her shoulder exclaimed, “look mom, that says sale!” Sure enough, “sale” was actually the first word I learned to read.

Throughout most of my life I’ve been a pretty savvy bargain hunter, though in my adult years I’ve also learned the value of treating yourself to things you really want (only of course if they’re within your means). I’ve found the few items I’ve splurged on I’ve used the most. I’ve worn my most expensive pair of boots nearly more than any other pair of shoes I’ve owned – and my $500 Coach bag? I think I used it literally every day for the first two years after I purchased it.

When it comes to wedding planning, I think it’s good to find a balance between splurging and bargain shopping and I’ve found the major key to this is time. The bridesmaids dresses and my gown were all purchased on sale, and not because we went hunting around for a bargain, but because we had time to wait for a sale.

Since my future mother-in-law and my mom both live in different states and both wanted to shop with me, I had to start when they each happened to be visiting, which was more than a year before our wedding date. After a few different outings, I finally chose my dress, and then learned it would be 30% off during a trunk show a few months later. Fortunately I had time to wait, so I was able to benefit from the sale and got my gorgeous Allure Bridal gown for less than $1,000 (sorry – can’t share this yet since it’s still a surprise to Chris).

As soon as my dress was picked out, I moved on to the bridesmaids. They also live 3,000 miles away, so I tried the dresses on myself and immediately fell in love with J.Crew’s silk chiffon dresses in “spiced wine.” The styles were gorgeous, but it was mainly the color that stood out to me, as I hadn’t seen anything like it anywhere else. The only problem was the price tag – $250. I’d set $200 as my loose budget, but was really hoping to keep it well under that.

Disappointed that my favorite dresses might not be a reality, I spent a little more time shopping around and also surveyed my bridesmaids. Unfortunately I didn’t find anything else that lived up to the dresses, but I came to an exciting realization – J. Crew has sales all the time, especially around the holidays. Since their bridesmaid dresses don’t require any extra shipping time, we had leeway to wait for a sale. It was mid summer when I decided on the dresses and since my wedding is in April, I gave my bridesmaids a deadline of January 1 to purchase their dresses, assuming there’d be a sale during the holidays. I monitored the J.Crew website daily, and sure enough, sometime in October they offered 25% off all items over $150. Each of my bridesmaids rushed to purchase their dresses that week and they only had to spend about $180. As a matter-of-fact, they’re running this same sale right now, so if you’re looking to buy J.Crew bridesmaid dresses, now is the time!

Okay, so maybe I’m just lucky the things I wanted eventually went on sale, but remember this – if you don’t have time to wait or even shop around – you’re going to pay a premium – unless, of course, you’re REALLY lucky and things happen to be on sale when you discover them. Needless to say, if you have time, it doesn’t always hurt to wait a little to see if you can get a better price.

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savvy wedding wednesday: tuxes optional

So I’m realizing it’s a bit tougher to write about wedding stuff when I don’t have any finished products to show you yet. I have a couple great ideas I want to share, but feel like it’d be more beneficial after the wedding so you can see how things turned out. Though I guess it can’t hurt to share my experience along the way now can it?

I’ll post more about this as the look comes together, but I wanted to start with menswear since it’s something I was totally clueless about. When it came time to start thinking about what the guys would wear for our wedding, I started asking friends what they had done, and pretty much got the same “tux rental from Men’s Wearhouse” answer from everyone. This seemed like a good route to take, so Chris and I scheduled an appointment for Men’s Wearhouse hoping to quickly cross tux rentals off of our to-do list. Unfortunately, we were wrong.

Without going into too much detail, I have to say I was extremely disappointed with the customer service at Men’s Wearhouse. Extremely. Since our appointment was on a busy Friday night, I decided to try again on my own a few days later at a quieter time, and had an equally miserable experience. While I know not everyone’s experiences with this store have been as bad as mine, and I’m sure they do have some genuinely good sales people, I was so put off by them that I decided I did not want to give them a single cent – so what next?

I suppose the one good thing that came out of my experience with Men’s Wearhouse was the decision to buy a nice black suit for Chris to wear rather than rent a tux. Without being able to see much of the selection in person, let alone try it on before renting, we figured buying a suit that could be altered and worn again was way more practical.

Chris got his suit at Jos. A. Bank during a 50% off sale for about $400. Granted this is more expensive than renting a tux, he’ll get a greater ROI. He’ll be able to have the suit altered so that it fits him perfectly and can totally wear it again – either together or as separates.

If you’re going to go this route for the groom, you should seriously be aware of sales. Jos. A. Bank has different sales every few weeks – 50% off, buy one, get one, buy one get three and so on. If you’re not in a rush it’s definitely wise to wait for a sale that works best for you. Men’s Wearhouse has similar suit sales too.

We haven’t purchased the other pieces yet, but will definitely hunt around for the best deals. We looked at vests at Jos. A. Bank and they were pretty pricey. While we sprung for the suit, a vest is a different story since it’s not likely to be worn again. We decided we might skip it altogether, but also noticed some great options at Koh’s the other day for around $30! You can check those out here.

But what about the groomsmen? Wouldn’t buying suits for them be too expensive? Well, it doesn’t have to be!

Chris consulted his groomsmen about his decision and about ⅓ of them already owned plain black suits and the rest were totally fine with purchasing one. While this might seem like a lot to ask, remember this –  bridesmaids have to buy their dresses and the cost can range anywhere from $100 on (unless you’re a super savvy shopper). And when we did enquire about tux rentals at Men’s Wearhouse, it was around $180 for something that wouldn’t be tailored to fit properly and the guys would never get to wear again! At least bridesmaids can keep their dresses if they want to wear them again – or can try to sell them (probably more likely in most cases).

I’m definitely glad we decided to go the route of buying suits. It sounds like it’d be so much more complicated and expensive, but it doesn’t really have to be if you know where to look. Stay tuned to see how the look comes together and where to find the best deals on suits for the groomsmen too!

target find – swimwear part II

I wrote a similar post last year, but in case you missed it, I love Target swimwear!

To summarize quickly –  last year I ordered a non-returnable J.Crew bathing suit on clearance and was totally bummed when it didn’t fit quite right. Days later I found an awesome suit at Target, which I’ve been wearing ever since. I’ve received so many compliments and people are always surprised to learn it’s from Target.

Anyway, I’m going on my honeymoon in May and figured it’s time to start shopping around for a new bikini or two. I’ve been working my butt off to get in shape for the wedding, so I think I deserve it, right?

Last week I was running some errands and decided to stop and try on a few bathing suits at Macy’s just for fun. Since I have a giftcard burning a hole in my pocket I figured it’d be a good place to start. I tried on three different bikinis ranging in price from $50 to $125. All were cute on the hanger and decent on me, but I wasn’t totally wowed by any. Not for those prices at least.

Yesterday I was running errands again and found myself in the Target swimwear section, so I tried on this little Mossimo number.

Mossimo® Women’s Mix and Match Reversible Stripe Triangle Swim Top -Peppermint

Mossimo® Women’s Mix and Match Stripe Side Tie Swim Bottom -Peppermint

Much to my surprise, or maybe not, it was so much cuter and more flattering than the pricey Macy’s suits I tried on. Since I was “just looking,” I decided to leave it behind, but when Chris saw the photos I took (everyone does that when trying on clothes, right?) he sent me right back to Target to buy it.

What I love about these bathing suits is that they’re sold as mix and match separates, which is perfect for all kinds of body types. Not into the triangle top? (I’m not usually that brave – but hey – it’s my honeymoon in Mexico.) They’ve got a few different styles, including a tankini. They even have a swim skirt too. With prices ranging from $17.99 to $19.99 per piece, you can get a full suit for less than $40! Heck, I’m tempted to buy some extra pieces so I can mix and match at home too.

Here are a couple more pieces in the “Peppermint Mix and Match” collection for your viewing pleasure.

Mossimo® Women’s Mix and Match Bandeau Swim Top -Peppermint

Mossimo® Women’s Mix and Match Swim Skirtini -Peppermint

Mossimo® Women’s Mix and Match Stripe Tankini Swim Top -Peppermint

Mossimo® Women’s Mix and Match Tab Side Swim Bottom -Peppermint