Ring Shopping Tips

diamond engagment ringBuying an engagement ring or wedding bands costs a significant sum of money – three months’ salary, if you believe the general rule “out there”. But regardless of your budget, here are some tips to help you get the best value for your money. After all, a 1-carat diamond ring with the perfect cut, clarify and colour has the same market evaluation value regardless of where it came from. And trust me, when ladies show off their engagement ring, no one will ask her where she got it.

Our engagement/wedding ring shopping tips:

  1. Do your research and know what you’re talking about. Find out about how diamonds are classified and valued.
  2. Go to a retail store to get an idea of what styles are available, and if you want to make it a shared experience, have the bride try on rings to see what she likes. Generally though, you want to avoid buying it at full retail. You can start keeping an eye out for sales, People’s regularly hold sales twice a year.
  3. Start asking around to see if friends/family/coworker knows someone in the business and can get you significant discounts. Trust me, these discounts are worth your time. Think about it…. 30% savings of your 3 months salary! Make sure no one blabs to the bride and ruin your surprise.
  4. Consider unconventional ring shopping places and methods! Here are some money-saving suggestions: 
  • Bluenile.ca – an award winning site that lets you order certified rings to custom size and custom specs. There is a large selection of ring design, and prices are very competitive. It’s delivered right to your address. How much easier can this be, especially for men who hate the malls?
  • Costco – believe it or not, Costco offers great value for its rings. They have a selection of high-quality diamond rings online as well as in stores (look for the jewellery cases near the entrance). Most are set in platinum with flawless diamonds. Con: selection is limited and the rings do need to be resized if not purchased at the right size.
  • Go on a Caribbean cruise – you will need to use your bartering and bargaining skills, but the jewellery stores in St. Maarten offer certified diamond rings at a great price. These are not a stall on the street, but nice air-conditioned stores. Depending on your purchase, the savings on your ring that you would have pay at full retail will pay for the cost of your cruise. Not a bad way to get engaged and get some sun and beach vacation in at the same time.

Good luck! And gentlemen, don’t forget to put some thought into the proposal.

Got other savvy tips to share? Drop us a comment or email me at (briderella at gmail.com).

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Wedding Dress Rental, Second Hand Wedding Dresses, & other budget-saving options!

There are many options for a budget-conscious bride to get the dress of your dream without blowing the budget. We’ll go over some of these:

Wedding dress beading1. Rent a gown

2. Purchase a second hand gown

3. Ebay factory direct priced gowns

4. Netbride, trunk shows, and other great deals

Option 1: Wedding Dress Rental

Renting a dress is a great way to save costs and be environmental. If you are living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), you are in luck! There are many dress rental stores in our area.

Expect the cost to be $500-$600. These stores all carry designer-brands and this season’s bridal gowns. The rental cost includes alteration and dry-cleaning. However you’re going to be a little limited by choices because some dresses with detailing at the bottom are hard to alter (length-wise).

Plus most of these places rent bridal veils, accessories and jewellery as well. Ask for a package cost and discount if you’re buying more than 1 item or dress. There’s always room for negotiation.

Some places to start:

Armour – Great for petite brides, with a huge selection of dresses (e.g. San Patrick, Alfred Angelo) already preshorten and in small sizes. Info: 175 W Beaver Creek Rd Markham, ON 905.763.2300

Vivi Bridal – Again a large selection of gowns. Info: 175 West Beaver Creek Rd. Unit 3. Richmond Hill, ON.

Picture Perfect Bridal – Smaller selection of dresses. Info: 50 Esna Park Dr. Markham. 905.474.5678

Honeymoon Bridal – Large selection of dresses in all sizes and lengths. They also have some rental dresses from older collections that they are now selling for around $150 (be warn, they are obviously selling them for a reason: the styles are no longer popular or in trend. But if you’re looking for a more traditional gown, e.g. one with straps, you would be in luck!) 245 West Beaver Creek Road, Unit 5A. 905. 882-1931

Faces Bridal Boutique – Personally didn’t find a lot of new styles here but they asked me to look only through a catalog which was limiting. 175 West Beaver Creek Rd., Unit 16. 905.764.8432

Hilda Studio – Info: Unit 1, 30 West Beaver Creek Rd, Richmond Hill, ON. 905.764.6137

Wonder Photo Inc. A small-to-fair selection of dresses but not designer branded. Cost is the same though as studios renting designer gowns. 1170 Burnhamthorpe Road West, Missisauga, ON. 905.270.0360

Eills Bridal Boutique – Info: 2201 Brimley Road, Unit 4. Scarborough. 416.291-2108

Taipei Love Forever A friend of mine has checked this place out, her comment was that she wasn’t allowed to try on too many dresses without a deposit. Info: 175 West Beaver Creek Rd. Unit 1-2. 905.709.0516

Option 2: Buy a second-hand good karma wedding gown

Of course, keep in mind too that The Bride’s Project sells secondhand dresses as well as sample dresses donated by bridal stores for around the same price. Pro: goes to a great cause. Con: the selection at rental stores are always new and in-trend. With Bride’s Project, you need to visit at the right time to get your dress. Cost: Destination dresses start at $50-$100. Most dresses are in the $500 range. And top of the price dresses start at $700. Don’t forget you will need dry-clean and alterations, but they have some great seamstress and dry cleaning vendors they will refer you to.

Check bridal forums! Many brides sell their dresses and other wedding items on Bridal Boards, Craighlist, and ebay. Check out:

Canadian Bride – For Sale section

Wedding Bells Swap Shop

Frugal Bride’s Babbling Boards

Kijiji Wedding Dress Sell List

Also check out US based Preownedweddingdresses.com

Option 3: Ebay

Ebay is a great place to order custom-sized factory-direct wedding gowns from China, made exactly to your measurements. They can make a gown based on photos & sketches – the more you can supply the better. Cost: $100-$500. Many of the designer gowns are actually made in China. Of course you have no way of trying on the dress before you purchase it, but you can ask them to send you a photo of the finished product before you send in your final payment. My advice if you want to take this route is to really do your research and find a vendor with solid reviews. Try Milly Bridal, their prices tend to be higher but they are definitely most trusted amongst some bridal boards. After weighing it all in, I decided to go this route! Stay tune for my own Milly Bridal review.

You can also purchase your veil, bridesmaid dresses, and mother of the bride dresses through these suppliers. Again for multiples, ask for a discount as prices are up for negotiation. If you are a petite size bride, you may also get a better price on your dress just by asking.

And more options

– I’ve heard good things about ordering through Netbride – they have selected designer dresses at a better prices, but you may incur custom costs.

– Check out when trunk shows are on. There are many trunk show sales usually around Jan-Feb.

– Check out wedding show specials.

Smart Bride tip: Pay for deposits with credit card and protect yourself!

Paying with credit card

Most wedding vendors require a deposit on reserving their services for your big day. Sometimes, they will offer you a discount for paying this deposit in cash. This is because it’s cheaper for them to take cash payment than credit payment. But here’s a tip for brides: by paying with your credit card, your purchase is protected if the company goes bankrupt and doesn’t deliver the goods/service you order. You can call up your credit card company and dispute the charge. Even if the company has no funds in the business account to return your deposit, this money will be refunded to you by the vendor’s credit card payment processor.

Sometimes, a cash discount is something you’re willing to take a risk on in order to make the most out of your budget, especially if you know the vendor well (e.g. it’s a personal friend) and the service you’re booking is only a week away. But it’s never fool proof! Ruby restaurant was a long-standing and popular Chinese banquet restaurant, yet no one could have foreseen the incident which led to its filing for bankruptcy. Where I was given the credit card option, I took it! Know all your options and choose the right one for you. This goes for booking your honeymoon too! My heart goes out to brides who have made a deposit with Ruby and now have to scramble to find a new venue and struggle to get their money back.