Cheap and Easy (Dresses, not the Bridesmaids)

So, my friend Katie got engaged a while ago on a beach in the Dominican.  I always assumed her wedding would go somewhat the same– on a beach on some tropical island, on a boat off the coast of no-where, by Elvis in the Chapel of Love under the bright lights of Vegas.   However, once it was apparent her family, future family, and probably future husband weren’t too kean on any elopement theories they set their destination in a little place called Cow Head.  I know, I know.  However, you’ll be surprised to find that Cow Head is actually a beautiful little place. 

Now, here’s the catch.  Try having a full and lavish wedding with an elopement wedding timeframe.  Katie had about three months to plan and execute a dazzling display of love, devotion, commitment and all that other traditional foolishness.  Understandably, brides who have months of planning and wedding planners at their disposal often end up in a tearful heap on the bathroom floor more than once.  To me the term “Bride-zilla” is synonymous with “Just-trying-to-freaking-cope”.  Granted, many matrimonial monsters are created out of the “me-me-me” attitude that has an overwhelming fear that everything won’t be perfect for “MY special day”.  However, I suspect that many wives-to-be, my best friend Katie included, are afraid that their guests won’t have a good time, or that, they’ll have 50 years with the memory of a streamer and tissue paper nightmare of a decorating job.   So, when Katie asked us all to pick out our own bridesmaids dresses, she was being a real peach of a bride.  However, finding brown dresses to fit our four different body types and preferences was easier said than done.  A week before the wedding Katie became the oh-so-gracious-one again and actually friggin changed everything around to accommodate us and what was available. We picked up some pretty purple dresses, but it got me to thinking that wedding attire in a pinch can be a real sticky sitch.  Therefore, I have preplanned my bridesmaid’s dresses (for my imaginary  wedding, of course).  They’re a little bit granola, but they’re also inexpensive, hassle-free, and unlike every other bridesmaid’s dress in the universe, you can actually where them again (minus the sash).

Step One:
Buy a white cotton dress.  These are easy to find and extremely inexpensive.  I bought this one at Winners for 15 bucks.  As well, while they may have a slightly different cut, most knee length white cotton dresses have the same look to them.  So finding a number of them in an array of shapes and sizes is no problem-o.

Step Two:

Wash said white cotton dress.  For the dying to work it needs to be clean and free of any dusty-bits that may be there from sitting on the rack.

Step Three:

 Read instructions carefully (This may require taping them back together if you’re a savage at opening things like me).

Step Four:
Follow instructions and commence the dying sequence.  Just a couple side notes, if your instructions say add salt, add lots of freaking salt.  The last time I went a-dying I skimped a little and ended up with what I call my Jackson Pollock dress.  Also, when the instructions say “Not for tub dying”, they are not kidding (see picture below for proof).  Use a plastic bucket or something you can give the old heave-ho to after you’re done. 

Step Four:

Once you’ve soaked your dress until it’s good and covered, let it sit for a little bit.  The colour it is when it’s washed and finished will be muuuuch lighter than right now.  So, wash it, let it dry and if it’s not the colour you’re looking for, give it another go. 

Step Five:

Ad any pretty little embellishments you would like to make your dress look fancy.  I bought this giant spool of ribbon at Michaels (or as I like to call it, Church of the Crafty), for 14 dollars.  It has enough ribbon on it to make about 6 sashes. 

Step Six:

Get all gussied up.  Not too shabby for a dress that costs about 20 dollars.


59 thoughts on “Cheap and Easy (Dresses, not the Bridesmaids)

  1. Love this! I just recently got married and fully believe in DIY. I did so well on my budget that I actually for an insane moment thought of starting my own wedding planning business. I’ve decided to just give my unsolicited advice to friends and family that are getting married!

  2. I’m sure you have made a lot of brides-to-be (and bridesmaids) happy! I didn’t bother having a wedding party when I got married…didn’t wear white…and made everyone come to the after party (not reception) in costume. It was easy since I got married on Halloween…but my husband and I continue to receive compliments on how relaxed and fun it was. And the only stress I had (which I still took amazingly well) was the fact that my dress was shipped to Africa – three weeks before the wedding date! Woo hoo! Serves me right for planning in less than three months…but don’t regreat a bit of it!

  3. Nice work on the dress! Its amazing how you were able to change something old into something brand new and beautiful. And not only beautiful, but the newly redesigned dress is modern as well. Got any other crafty ideas? I bet they will come in handy when Christmas arrives, a great way to make presents without spending the cash.

    • oh man, do I ever, Christmas is my time to shine, but first I’ve got to make Halloween my bitch 😉 But I’ve got a whole mess o’ ideas a’churnin’ for the holiday season. I think my ferret has a teeny tiny scarf coming to him sometime in the near future, haha.

  4. Funny name, you Crafty Bitch! I do love the dress! I wonder if I would make a giant mess though! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. I love a great bargain like that, too!!!

    • Hey there! Gloves are essential. I thought I could forego them this time and I’ve been walking around with brown nails for days. But, besides that, everything is pretty contained 🙂 Thanks for reading, and happy dye-ing!

  5. This is such a great idea. My friend is getting married and having to have two ceremonies (one formal and one not so formal) in two different states. I will pass along the idea. So cute and what a great money saver AND you can still get what you want and make your brides maids happy! Love it.

  6. > To me the term “Bride-zilla” is synonymous with “Just-trying-to-freaking-cope”.

    Reading your post (and any number of other sources), I dare say that the problem is not trying to cope—but trying to cope which a project which is far larger, more expensive, and more overblown in emotional importance than can be warranted. If the whole attitude of “the most important day of my life” was dropped, the proportion of bridezillas would shrink to almost nothing. (And there is a fair chance that the groom would be very happy with “European” wedding.)

    If nothing else, there are always two crucial questions any potential bridezilla should consider:

    1. What is more important, your wedding or the rest of your marriage?

    2. Why do you consider this the most important day of your life?

    (Hint: Answers like “This is my day to shine, where I can dazzle everyone, be at the center of attention, [etc.]” are dead wrong.)

  7. This is a great idea! I’ve seen so many DIY wedding ideas that just didn’t work (one wedding in which the bridesmaids had dresses made of t-shirts that had been torn and tied together), but this looks great! I can imagine the perfect wedding for bridesmaid’s dresses like this.

  8. Kudos to you on that dress! Very pretty!! Love your sense of humor about weddings; “three months to plan and execute a dazzling display of love, devotion, commitment and all that other traditional foolishness.” LMAO!!! Ain’t that the truth!!

  9. i love it for my birthday espically the one coming up i always freak out about how i’m going to dress you have inspired me awesome post:P check out my blog i just posted the first chapter of my soon to be published novel enjoy

  10. You had a lot more time than I did. My daughter gave me two weeks to plan a wedding. I bought 4 patterns for my bridezilla and concocted a dress. I bought lace appliques and we glued on sequins and beads. We got a hat and attached veiling and sequins and beads, the whole dress cost about $150.00. The Maid of Honor bought a dress on sale at a local department store for less than $100.00 ( they left the security tag on it which we covered with black taffeta from an old prom dress (no one even noticed). She took the dress back the next day and got her money back. We had red roses which we fashioned into a bouquet for the bride and the Maid of Honor carried a single rose. All in all, with the food, flowers, champagne, throw away silk bouquet and reception at home we spent about $400.00 Everyone thought my daughter’s dress cost over $1000.00, It amazes me to this day I was able to pull it off so cheaply. Many thanks to my sister and my friends from work who helped with table decorations and a beautiful homemade cake (3 tiers) and last minute stitching of the hem.

  11. I love it!!! And you chose a great dye color 🙂 I just remembered that my sister also has a thing with worn out jeans or dresses. She alters them and TADA! “new” clothing for her. I’m looking forward to your other posts 🙂 Cheers and warm regards.


  12. oh my gosh! it is adorable! my cousin’s wedding is in july and i would rather wear cotton than satin in 100 degree weather. so, i may do this. her colors are brown and teal. i may go with a teal bow.

    • Hi there, that sounds great! If you go to Michael’s or other stores that carry wide varieties of dye there are some really hot teal colours too.

  13. Pingback: How to make cheap and Easy Dresses « Meet2inchina's Blog

  14. Pingback: The life of a single… « The past to the present

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