If you’re a bride to be, you’ve probably been through this (or are just about to) –
Walk into the 15,291st store because you still haven’t found the perfect lehenga. Browse the racks uninterestedly (you’re exhausted for God’s sake!) when suddenly – it’s as if your fortunes have turned, and the heaven’s above are shining down on you (cue: spotlight on the lehenga as you take it in your hands) – could this be IT? The right colours, the right design. Oh. em. gee. It’s beyond perfect! You quickly ruffle through the layers of can-can and 24-kalis to find the price tag.
You’re left gawking. You dump that piece of garbage of a lehenga (case of sour grapes?) and walk out of the store. Never to return…
Let’s rewind that last bit, shall we?
You’re left gawking. BUT, but, but. You’re a TDB reader. And if this lehenga is not WAY over your budget (let’s say, it’s INR 20 to 30,000 over what you wanted to spend), you know how to afford it because you’ve read this post! After a quick chat for customising the lehenga, you pay the advance and in a few weeks time – you own your dream wedding lehenga! *high five!*
This word is going to be your best friend if you’ve found a lehenga you love, but it’s over-budget. You can customise the fabric, the embroidery – by going for cheaper look a-likes, or you can do what my sister and I did –
We removed bits of the embroidery
and managed to bring down the price by 30%!
I’ll show you what my sister did first.
Sister of the Bride’s Lehenga
She bought the lehenga she wore on my wedding from Om Prakash Jawahar Lal (at Chandni Chowk). The original was actually a bridal lehenga, with heavy gota patti work all over. While we retained most of the original, we changed a few things that brought down the price by 20%! Here are the details:
First things first, she opted for a much lighter blouse (don’t have a picture of the original) to offset the heavy skirt.
Next, she removed an entire border from the bottom of the lehenga. It had 3 borders, and according to her – “it was looking too bridal!”
The borders on the skirt and the dupatta were so densely filled with gota patti work that the colours underneath were not peeking through. So she made them lessen the density of the work (made it more “khulla khulla”) so that the beautiful pink and purple were visible on the borders (see picture on the right)
Lastly, there was a big motif on all 4 corners of the dupatta, which she felt was unnecessary. She had them removed in the fresh piece they made for her, and it didn’t make a difference at all! The dupatta was made of net, so the heavy embroidery from the skirt anyway showed through, and the motif was definitely not required.
I’ve summarised this in the picture below –
More pictures of her lehenga from my wedding day –
My Reception Lehenga
You all know the story of how I found my reception lehenga. The original cost a lot more than what we had hoped for, but after some customisation, we reduced the price by 30%! Here are the details –
#1 The lehenga was HEAVY. It had a LOT of stone work on the upper back. But I got most of it removed, because I would have my hair open and it would cover it all up. Unnecessary.
#2 A big triangle of heavy stonework embroidery was there at the bottom of the jacket as well. We got it reduced to a single narrow-ish line because it wouldn’t be visible under the dupatta.
Have a look at what the back eventually looked like – when my hair was open and the dupatta was draped (which is how it was on my Reception). See how it barely makes a difference?
#3 The skirt originally had 4 borders. We reduced it to 2, because the jacket was going to cover the top 2 all over, except on the sides.
See how it looked like on my Reception –
The beauty of the lehenga remained even after removing all of it, and it still looked very heavy and bridal. So you always have the option of getting work reduced to get the price down.
Now for a few caveats about when this is possible:
1. When the store is willing to customise. Chandni Chowk is most willing to customise, as are most boutiques and large-scale stores; but the very high end designers such as Manish Malhotra won’t customise their designs for you. Edit: I’ve been told they’ll customise bridal lehengas, but not anarkalis. So give it a shot!
2. When it’s 20-30% over your budget. More than that, and you’ll have to drastically change the way the lehenga looks for it to fit your budget. Which would be pointless. So move on and find something else.
And a few pointers on how to make it happen:
1. First bargain. When they quote a price, bargain. Bring down the price first (this is when they’re reducing their profit margin).
2. Then customise. Now that they’ve given you a lower price (on which they’ll still be making a big profit, in all likelihood), tell them that it’s still over your budget. Ask if they can customise – which essentially means you’re helping them cut down on the cost of making it for you, so that they can give it to you at a better rate.
3. Always ask for the designer’s suggestions. The designer will be able to visualise and tell you how much change is good change. Please incorporate (if not completely agree with) their suggestions on whether removing embroidery from a particular area will keep the overall look of the lehenga intact.
Phew! That was a lot to take in, right? But I hope this helps you in getting your dream lehenga, within a limited budget – whether you’re the bride to be, or a wedding guest!
Have you ever tweaked an outfit to reduce the price?
Share what you did in the comments!
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