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Bridal Bargains: Secrets to Throwing a Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget

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Inside this revised and expanded bestseller, brides and grooms discover ways to save on every aspect of their wedding. New chapters explore the hot trend of destination weddings and bargain honeymoons. Photos & illustrations.

468 pages, Paperback

First published November 19, 2013

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Denise Fields

22 books8 followers

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5 stars
181 (29%)
4 stars
191 (30%)
3 stars
174 (28%)
2 stars
51 (8%)
1 star
21 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 90 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica.
391 reviews40 followers
August 30, 2007
This is the smartest book about planning a wedding I have ever encountered. It exposes, with a wry voice, the million little scams perpetrated on unsuspecting brides and grooms by the wedding-industrial complex, and gives excellent tips on how to avoid the pitfalls. What's refreshing is that it never tries to push a particular kind of wedding (small and non-traditional vs. large and observant of traditions, for example) but helps you figure out what kind of wedding you want to have, and then helps weed out the extraneous and the overpriced. Best general tip: wherever possible, refrain from telling vendors that you're having a wedding, which often tacks on all kinds of premium pricing that, say, a family reunion won't have. Best NYC tip: buy the dress from RK Bridal, which unlike most bridal gown shops, does not cut the manufacturer's tags out of the gowns (illegal) so that you can comparison shop the styles, and lets you take pictures of yourself in the dresses you try on.
Profile Image for Kristy M.
35 reviews
December 8, 2009
I'm updating this review from my previous "yay". Yes this book is chocked full of great info but there are some annoyances:
1.) I originally read most of the parts from a previous edition from the library. Imagine my disappointment when I saw that the coveted breakdown of dress manufacture quirks was - missing. Instead they only provide you with a quick reference chart. This was extremely disappointing to me as I gathered from a previous edition that some of the problems that give a lower rating has NOTHING to do with quality. Since I was not buying from a salon (was looking on used and sample sites) this was extremely misleading.
2.) Which brings me to point 2: little mention of sites where you can get used or sample items. Except for craigslist which they acted like was some new invention (I'll bet most brides reading this book are already very familiar with craigslist.) Sites like BravoBride.com (and MANY others) are like a gold mine for good deals.
3.) Things they alluded to having TONS OF INFO on their website were sadly sparse and hard to locate. Very few brides use the forums, making them hardly useful. Especially when you are looking for local vendor suggestions.
4.) I don't know if several of their recommendations went defunct after publishing or if they just didn't check them to begin with: very annoying. In either case, this info should have been provided in the update section of their website. It's not and there are many errors. After awhile you don't even want to keep looking to see if websites or info is accurate.
5.)They put recommendations from brides without checking on them. For example, there is a recommendation for an invitation website in India that has beautiful cards. The recommendation gave a price quote that was wrong. No the prices weren't raised, she just didn't include shipping, handling, printing, etc. - which from that website (and most Indian Invitation websites) will be well over $150.00. The $125 worth of invitations quickly jumps to $300+ when you printing with S&H. A bride could spend several hours of wasted time before figuring this out. Since this is a bridal bargain book, it really should have incorportated WAAAAAYYYYYY more DIY alternatives.

There are more, but you get my drift. It might be better just to see if your local library carries the book in a past version as most of the useful stuff has not changed (except maybe some dress purchasing items that can quickly be found out. One of their previous recemmendations went out of business.)
Profile Image for Sarah Toton.
194 reviews
July 5, 2017
This book in particular really irritated me. There are lots of ways to save money on a wedding but I felt like this book offered cheap solutions that could harm your special day.

One of the examples they gave was telling your venue that you were having an event, A family reunion, instead of a wedding so that you don't get wedding prices, which can be higher than a regular event fee. First of all, this destroys trust with your vendors and secondly there is a reason for the wedding up-charge as they are much more involved, longer, and often messier than other events.

They had quite a few suggestions like this one that I thought were just plain bad ideas.
Profile Image for Myridian.
386 reviews42 followers
December 29, 2008
This book really does have good advice and I'm sure I'll save money by following it. The only thing is that after reading the first "bridal apparel" section I felt really depressed. One of the things I always thought would be fun about getting married was being able to justify a really cool, expensive dress. The upshot of the wedding dress section is that everyone will try to rip you off. And while it's good to know and watch out for this and their other consumer awareness tips, it does feel like it takes a lot of the fun out of planning.
Profile Image for Codie.
92 reviews
May 26, 2018
I've read this book three times (or more) cover to cover during my wedding planning process. It's as close to a bible as I can imagine for brides working on a shoestring budget.
Profile Image for Sarah S.
915 reviews7 followers
August 17, 2018
While some of the information was out of date (websites or companies that no longer exist, price changes, etc.), there was still tons of useful advice to help you plan, organize, and avoid common scams and potential disasters.
19 reviews
June 8, 2017
Good for US weddings and traditional ceremonies. A little information for Canadian brides and destination weddings. Good read but don't purchase if your from CANADA.
Profile Image for Marissa.
225 reviews6 followers
December 2, 2008
This is a great book for people who haven't ever planned a massively scaled party before. Thanks to my previous job- corporate event planning- I've got 3 "practice runs" of them under my belt (each for 250+ people, 2 buffet & 1 sit down all on budget(s)- <20K, ,<30k, & 45K- and in Manhattan) and I feel prepared to plan my own wedding. However, this book has been invaluable for dealing with the wedding industry specifically. The same venues that I have worked with in the past do charge an enormous markup just for saying the word "wedding". I am shocked and dismayed by this practice. However, I intend to keep pursuing my dream of getting married somewhere in NYC, without going into debt. This book is chockful of dead on advice for the novice planner and yet still has tidbits even for someone like me. For example- order a small designer wedding cake for display and order enough frosted sheet cake to feed the rest- since it will really be sliced in the kitchen anyway-invaluable!!!!
I was a little dismayed by the wedding dress section but perhaps it's because I know I don't need a Vera Wang. While it has loads of helpful places to get 10-50% off desigenr gown prices- it was kind of vague on where to go if you didn't care for a designer name for a dress you can only wear once. Well, I went to Filene's "Running of the Brides" at the end of the day and got a lovely, unique dress for $250. No, I don't know if it's a designer dress, the designer's tag was ripped off (must have been a sample at a store). However, I know it is a beautiful dress with solid consutruction and I would have gladly paid $250 to buy it as a formal gown. (I certainly would not have paid the 7K the tag said it's original price was. For 7K for a single use dress, it better have jewels sewn into it or a little gnome to massage my feet through the evening!) At Filene's I was able to run around the store with 2 close friends pulling whatever dress I felt like to try on- no sales person hovering over me and no pressure tomake a decision. Yes, there were a lot of trashed dresses but there were a lot of great ones too- you do have to look, really look at every dress on every rack- and try on anything that catches your eye! The evening spent trying on 40 someodd gowns was one of the most fun evenings I've had in a long time. Who doesn't remember playing dress up as a kid? With only 30 other brides and families looking at dresses- everyone was helpful and so nice! We all took pictures and shared dresses. (Word of caution- don't bring any men with you, you can't use the dressing rooms and carrying 400 pounds of silks and taffetas back and forth is exhausting- I had no qualms about running around the store in spanx, as many of the other girls did, but I felt bad for the men- they were uncomfortable and didn't know where to look and they couldn't sit or hide anywhere.)

But I digress... In short- this is a great wedding planning book- I do not intend to look at any wedding magazines or other planning books. I had given it to my sister-in-law whne she was pallning her wedding and she loved it and gave it back to me now that I'm planning my own! (This was a regift of the best kind!) :)
Profile Image for Jessica.
67 reviews
January 31, 2013
A few days before Christmas I went from girlfriend to fiance and like every other bride-to-be once my head stopped swimming reality set in. I now had a party to plan. A big, expensive, 130 people on the guest list party.


I'm not going to try and kid myself here. While I've planned corporate parties for 300, I've never planned this kind of party and never, ever when my own credit card was involved. I wanted... no needed some info to help prepare me for the battles ahead. Enter 'Bridal Bargains' as my first choice read.

The author's summary promises money saving hints and tips in addition to guidance on navigating the rocky, pariah ridden landscape that is wedding planning. Good stuff if they deliver even better when it's laid out in a fun, functional way.

So let's say this is good stuff that falls just short of great. As my first, and so far only, bridal title, I really appreciated the conversational, honest tone that the author's have. It just oozes confident experience. And the cost saving hints are actually things that seem both reasonable and executable. No previous experience necessary - this one is perfect for us novices.

Where this title falls short is that while the cost saving hints are great, they get repeated over and over again. With the repetition I feel as though the book could have been about a third shorter. The repetition also makes it an interesting adventure to find the tip you're looking for. Nothing bothers me more about a book designed to be used as an informative handbook that you need to dig through. I'm not a fan of playing detective and if it weren't for the search function gained through my Kindle, well, after the first read this book would have been pretty useless. That said, with bookmarks and keyword searches, this reference title is absolutely awesome.

Bottom line: If you don't have a clue where to start your planning and you'd like to build a good, cost saving baseline this one is for you. If you're independently wealthy and don't care about surprise fees, flower costs, or are thinking about picking this one up in print, walk on by.

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Profile Image for Marcie.
56 reviews5 followers
September 22, 2010
This book was amazing - best of the genre in my opinion. There were a lot of things I wasn't going to do at my wedding just because I couldn't afford them and this book allowed me to do them all. My entire wedding & reception only came to about $3500 using this book. It gave me a practical time table so that everything was done in time. I was able to get the most amazing dress for $250, which would have cost me about $1000 at David's bridal. We were able to get a great price on a suit for my husband that he was able to keep (under $200) instead of doing a rental. My flowers were beautiful and affordable. It also had very good practical advice on how to deal with high-pressure sales that are involved in the wedding industry. I could go on and on, but my advice is, if you're planning a wedding, to just get this book. You wont be sorry. For those do-it-yourself types, I paired this book with The Artful bride to make my invitations, party favors, and center pieces. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Diana.
4 reviews
April 30, 2012
It's a good book to get an idea on how to work with vendors. However, regardless of how many books one reads while planning for their wedding it's always important to know that some vendors do not care to work with their clients aka the bride/groom or their family even if asked nicely. Think of it as a general rule of thumb when flipping through these pages to get an idea of what may or may not work for yourself. Again, the book has a ton of insight and I cannot praise them enough for not boasting the infamous David's Bridal... Having been a victim of David's personally, I can vouch that you should steer clear of them any other bridal gown stores that mistreat and flat out disrespect their customers.
Profile Image for Christa.
371 reviews
January 6, 2013
The tips in general are very helpful and the tone is casual and friendly. There are great suggestions for what to look out for and avoid when dealing with different aspects of making purchases and signing contracts, which is helpful because presumably you've never done any of this stuff before. It also doesn't answer every question with "spend more money," as sites like theknot.com do. When it gets down to specifics the book is flawed, recommending websites that barely function and weird things like suggesting that you observe your potential DJ at another wedding they're working at(why would anyone let you do that??). All in all I found it to be an easy to manage and fairly useful reference.
Profile Image for Becca.
282 reviews3 followers
June 6, 2014
There were a few other interesting points made in the book, most of which don't apply to me (tips on videographers or limos, for example) or things I already knew as a musician who has done other people's weddings, but if you need these things, you might find these things more helpful than I did.

It was still a useful book, and I did appreciate the plain language and letter grades of certain websites and companies.

It boils down to pretty much 4 points:
1) Pay for everything with a credit card, so you'll have a paper trail, just in case
2) Get EVERYTHING in writing, just in case
3) Take at least a few days with every decision and make sure you're not getting ripped off
4) Don't pay retail.
Profile Image for Amber Ziegler.
103 reviews
September 13, 2007
This book had a lot of good tips for saving money while planning a wedding. One thing I really liked is that it had tips for people on any budget, whether big, small, or somewhere in the middle. Even if you're not necessarily looking to save money, this book alerts you to potential scams that target brides, teaches you how to plan a wedding, and warns you of some of the unexpected issues that the inexperienced wedding planner may encounter. For example, I had no idea that so many bridal shops go out of business, leaving brides with no dress but a dent in their bank account. Definitely a worthwhile read for anyone planning a wedding.
Profile Image for Colleen.
253 reviews2 followers
May 6, 2008
Packed with actual specific information about how to save money on your wedding purchases, this book is a must-have for anyone even thinking of planning a wedding. Unlike many books in this category which provide vague advice on cutting costs, this book provides names of companies along with contact phone numbers and even web addresses to help you get what you want at a better price. The information on finding a wedding gown for less was invaluable as was the heads-up on the deceptive practice of tearing labels out of dresses to prevent comparison shopping. I highly recommend reading this book before you set foot in a bridal store!
Profile Image for Lauren.
379 reviews1 follower
July 2, 2009
Once the first gloss of planning wears off and The Knot becomes laughably annoying, this book really helps you wade through the whole process. It works great as a "watch out for this" guide and also as basic planning tool. The questions to ask and the pitfalls to avoid were especially helpful. Yes, this may rub away at the some of the bright and shiny appearance of the bridal industry, but not enough to leave you jaded. With no experience hiring professionals or throwing such a large party, I was glad to have this on hand. I didn't follow all the tips and some things may not apply to your situation but overall it's worth picking up.
Profile Image for Nicole.
62 reviews
September 3, 2014
A great horror book!

But seriously, it's better to be paranoid than naive when money is on the line. We had a small, self-funded wedding (~75 people) for around $3500, thanks mostly to this book. It's sad that $3500 is considered a small, brag-worthy amount...

Anyways, read this book, if just to help shatter the stars from your eyes that have settled in there after the joy of the engagement. The wedding industry is greedy and insane. I am still on some bride-to-be mailing lists, no matter how many times i click unsubscribe.

Be smart and remember it is just one day of the rest of your lives. You won't remember most of the day anyways, trust me, booze or no booze.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
33 reviews4 followers
November 7, 2008
Information with a "conspiracy theory" twist! The book has a great deal of practical advice on how to execute the money-saving ideas suggested on bridal websites and in magazines. Now that I'm knee-deep in wedding planning, though, I find some of the ideas to still be out of my price range and would appreciate ideas on how to cut costs even further. But I suppose that people looking to cut costs even further than this book allows probably wouldn't spend their money on a book.

I'm happy to sell/swap this book after October, 2008. I'll never need it again!
Profile Image for Kathryn.
14 reviews8 followers
January 8, 2010
Probably one of the three most useful types of books I used to plan my wedding (without hiring a wedding coordinator!). This book is fantastic in helping you choose wedding gown and bridesmaid dress designers, and helping you navigate the wedding invitation industry.

I would consider this book a must-have. Because this book isn't necessarily inspirational and because it doesn't really address etiquette, you'll still need some books with lots of pictures (or magazines) for visual inspiration and a book or two that talk about how to word your invitations and address your envelopes.
Profile Image for Wendy Phillips.
48 reviews7 followers
July 10, 2012
I found this book to be the most helpful of all of the bridal books I have read to date. In fact, after checking it out from the library, I purchased this book for my personal library.
So many of these money-saving books of all types give the same advice, much of which isn't always practical. I appreciated the breakdowns on each section about why things cost what they do, what to watch out for, what things are negotiable, and what questions to ask yourself to get your priorities in order. This book is a must-read for all brides, regardless of budget.
Profile Image for Lisa.
154 reviews1 follower
November 9, 2008
This is a great book for anyone newly engaged or someone in the midst of planning a wedding. It's also a great gift for bride-to-be before she starts planning, as it has lots of sage advice. It also has lots of great tips to streamline unnecessary spending and still come away with the wedding you want and have always dreamed of. You don't have to go broke to get married and enjoy yourself at your own wedding.
Profile Image for Cherie.
76 reviews
January 23, 2009
This book is filled with helpful tips for negotiating contracts and finding a dress. But I had a hard time getting past the fact that the book wasn't proofread (my fiance copyedits, so it's possible this was more aggravating to me than most). There are many simple errors that I found highly distracting. Still, I'd recommend it to others looking for tips on minimizing the effect of the wedding scam.
Profile Image for Nichole.
69 reviews2 followers
January 13, 2011
Honestly, some of it just became too repetitive. If I were using it as a quick reference and skipping around, this wouldn't have been as much of an issue. I realize they were trying to be factual and thorough but it would continue for pages on something they covered for several pages before. It's worth saving as a reference to use someday when the time comes, especially the hints about getting cheaper dresses or defeating some of the ridiculous mark-ups on the dresses, sites, food and DJs.
Profile Image for Rachel.
141 reviews
July 14, 2011
Small, relatively concise, and has websites and specific ratings and things that are useful. Most of it seemed common sense to me, but common sense doesn't seem to be that common these days. A good gift for anyone in the bridal area. It did spawn a few ideas for me - not even always what they were talking about, but just opening my thoughts and eyes to what could be. Gotten out of the library, best of the bunch so far.
Profile Image for Katie.
108 reviews15 followers
April 13, 2012
This book is AMAZING for anyone planning a wedding. My boss gave it to me, along with her top 5 tips for wedding planning. I highly recommend this book to bride-to-be. The book has tons of recommendations for ways to cut costs and still have a beautiful wedding. Make sure you pick up the latest version (I read the 10th edition) as the authors update it each year with new relevant information, new websites, etc.
Profile Image for Chris.
201 reviews2 followers
September 3, 2007
Of all the "bridal porn" out there, this is the one book that will stand out in my memory when I look back on these halcyon days of wedding planning. Great ideas for cutting costs, all kinds of online resources, and info from former brides on what worked/what didn't and how to get hitched and still be able to afford a honeymoon.
Profile Image for Jill.
1,149 reviews74 followers
July 2, 2008
I read it 'cuz my daddy ain't Bill Gates.

Alright I need to be done with this. I've read it, and basically forgotten to use the stuff it tells me to do. So... God Knows what a non-bargain wreck the wedding will be. Bet ya'll wanna invitation now, don't you?

As long as Tim shows up, I'm doing alllllllll riiiiight.
Profile Image for Lauri.
223 reviews50 followers
June 11, 2008
This book has tons and tons of ideas to help you save money on your wedding. It also points out the biggest scams that vendors employ to try and get more of your money. A very helpful book for every bride to be, but may not save you as much money on your wedding as you hope. The best bargain tip I got was from a friend: Try to find a dress on Craigs List. I did and saved over $700.
Profile Image for Claire.
107 reviews8 followers
August 6, 2008
Lots of really concrete advise (unlike another wedding-on-a-budget book I read recently). And very few of their suggestions struck me as cheap or unclassy. Could have used a bit of editing, and some of the websites they mention are defunct, but overall this book is a good resource for keeping nuptial expenses in perspective. I hope to get some good use out of it as I plan.
Profile Image for Gwen.
99 reviews
April 23, 2009
This book really helped me get my head around the multitude of choices out there for wedding planning. It offered realistic reviews, when the expense might be worth it, and important questions to ask vendors. Wedding planning is still overwhelming, but at least I felt like I knew some of the questions to ask when interviewing vendors.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 90 reviews

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