How I Taobao-ed my wedding gown (and why it may make more sense to rent locally)
Getting your wedding gown(s) - Should you Taobao or rent locally?
Being a Taobao bride can really help you to save a lot of money on your wedding outfits, accessories, decor, and more! There are even vendors offering video editing services, invitation card designs and prints on Taobao, and other related services. You'll just have to be good at using keywords to find all these hidden gems. However, what looks good on the models may not always look good on you.

On the other hand, there's a reason why most brides still prefer to rent. When you rent locally, it allows you to try on the gown and ensure that it looks good on you in real life. Most importantly, you'll also get to ensure a good fit, so that you don't have to worry about your gown being loose or too tight on your actual day.

I thus tried renting as my first option, but with many of the studios I enquired with charging me a rental rate of $1500 to $1600 a gown, my eyes popped! It wasn't until much later that I found some other budget studios, which I'll talk about later.

So after seeing how exorbitant rental shops were charging, I decided to DIY via Taobao as I believed it would be much cheaper. I got 1 white gown and 2 evening gowns from Taobao.

The main gown
My actual day wedding dress - a princess-like ballroom gown - was made-to-measure and sourced from Taobao. It cost me slightly under $300 after shipping, and I used SGShop as my agent for two reasons - to ensure that the measurements would be accurately communicated across, and that the quality would be checked in their China warehouse before it gets shipped over to Singapore. 

When it arrived, the quality was fantastic! The beads and crystals used was fantastic, and I didn't spot any tears or defects in the dress. It truly looked like a dream and everyone was so surprised when I told them it was a Taobao custom-made gown, haha!

Here's a photo of me in my Taobao white gown on my actual wedding day: 

My only grouse was that it was too heavy to walk around in, much less use it for my pre-wedding photoshoot. The costs of dry-cleaning was also ridiculously high ($250 given the material, weight and length). 

I thus ended up buying bought another lighter gown for my pre-wedding shoot. The quality wasn't the best, but good enough for me since I had intended for it to be a "throwaway" gown! (I didn't want to worry about having to step on dirty grounds during the shoot or get slapped with high dry-cleaning costs after...)

Paid about SGD 80 for this gown after shipping and agent fees. As it wasn't custom-made, the fit wasn't perfect, but nothing that a few safety pins couldn't hide during the photoshoot! Take a look at how it fared during my photoshoot:

For brides looking for the oriental kua tea dress, Taobao has them too! I found this gem that worked out to be less than SGD 40 after shipping and agent fees.

Evening gowns from Taobao
I bought 2 evening gowns - the first was in September 2016, and the second gown in November 2016.

The first looked really good on the model but extremely unflattering on me. No photos because I hated how fat it made me look! In addition, despite ordering according to the measurements, the actual cutting was too small and I couldn't zip up the mermaid dress.

So I ordered a second one, hoping that I'll be lucky this time round. Nope - the second gown arrived with the colours looking a lot more washed out in real life than they did in the model's photo. Furthermore, it was extremely ill-fitting and although I got it altered later on, it still didn't fit as well as it was supposed to.

I was stuck. There was no more time left for me to buy a third gown from Taobao, and I didn't want to risk not having an evening gown for my wedding day. 

Budget gowns rental in Singapore
With just 8 weeks to the wedding, I was getting desperate for my evening gown after getting 2 from Taobao which just didn't fit! Help finally came when someone introduced me to theWarehouseBridal which is a "not-so-secret" budget rental outlet for wedding gowns made by a local Singaporean designer. She truly has an eye for detail, and I loved all the evening gowns I tried on that I had such a hard time deciding which one to pick!

They are quite under-the-radar as they do not spend much money on marketing so that they can keep the operating costs and thus dress rates low for consumers. Prices were unbelievably affordable at $150 onwards to rent, or $500 onwards to purchase (yes, you get to own your own gown for good at just $500+!). I used them for my actual day evening gown and was pleased with the price and quality I paid for. Here are some photos to share!

See also: "How I Pulled Off My Fairy Tale Wedding For $88 Per Guest"

This story was first published in SG Budget Babes.

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