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Most brides get frustrated with the high cost of wedding dresses at some point in the planning process, but some take matters into their own hands by buying their dream dresses for a fraction of the price. And when we say a fraction of the price, we mean paying $200 or less for a dress that normally costs more than a car.

Wedding Dress for Less: Tips to keep in mind

An extreme deal might seem too good to be true, and in some cases, it probably is. Welcome to the world of knock-off wedding dresses, otherwise known as "Roll the dice and hope you get a dress that is wedding-worthy with time to spare, just in case it doesn't work out." Sounds complicated, and it can be. Here are a few tips to make sure you don't get swindled trying to buy the dress of your dreams on the cheap.

  1. Dig around for photo examples and real reviews
  2. It may seem obvious for us to tell you to do your homework, but it's easy enough to forget this crucial step when you're hunting for a bargain wedding dress and blinded by low prices. When faced with seamstresses in other countries, ensure pictures on the website are of their actual work, not photos stolen from other designers' websites. No matter where the manufacturer is located, don't trust every testimonial you read on their site. Instead, search for reviews on sites like Site Jabber, which include reviews from real customers.

    When in doubt, check on return policies and don't buy unless you're OK with gambling that money and potentially having to pay more for alterations.

  3. Learn more about the knock-off industry
  4. Just because you can get an off-brand dress fashioned after runway frocks that cost more than a down payment doesn't mean you should, even if the quality is good. According to commentary by a wedding dress designer in South Jersey's Courier-Post, brides-to-be purchased approximately 600,000 counterfeit wedding dresses from about 1,000 websites selling knock-off gowns. This is after Federal officials put an end to more than 2,700 similar websites in the last three years, yet it keeps happening.

    Educate yourself, consider the whole thing from an ethical standpoint and follow your gut. If something seems suspect, it's probably because it is.

  5. Know the alternatives
  6. Just because you can't find room in the budget for a dress that's hot off the runway doesn't mean you must take the knock-off dress risk. Consignment stores, secondhand bridal boutiques and one-of-a-kind dresses made by aspiring designers are all great options and might take the stress and cost out of dress-hunting.