Brides on a budget, area stylist previews Goodwill Bridal Expo

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SOUTH BEND Wedding season means the latest and greatest fashion trends will hit bridal store shelves across the country, but as anyone who has planned a wedding knows, it gets expensive.That's why Goodwill has partnered with area vendors to offer a bridal expo, showcasing inexpensive ways to host the big day in Michiana.

Newscenter 16's Kate Chappell is the event emcee, and area sytlist and image consultant, Kathy Friend, will coordinate the latest bridal fashion trends to hit the expo stage.

Friend sat down with 16 Morning News to share several ways to find the perfect dress before the expo. Her advice, shop early and be prepared. The following are her top tips for brides on a budget.

Set your budget before you go
"The very worst thing that can happen to you when you're searching for that special dress is to fall completely in love with something that's way outside of what you can afford," said Friend.

Figure out what you want
"Get a good idea before you go shopping of what you like and what you don't like," said Friend. "Figure out what dress you have in your closet that's your favorite and that looks great on you, and find something that fits in a similar way."

Be realistic
"If your plan is to order something from a bridal shop," said Friend, "many times it will take up to six months from the time you order something until that garment comes in. Then you'll need another month to two months for alterations."

Don't be afraid to shop thrift
"The fabric and embellishment that you find on wedding dresses, that's what makes them so expensive," said Friend. "So, if you can find something at a thrift shop that maybe you can take to a seamstress and have made into something perfect for you, you're going to save a ton of money."

"Look and make sure all the embellishment is there," said Friend. "It's nearly impossible to match the kind of beading if you need to replace some of it. If there are little threads and things like [that], that's very easy to fix, but missing pieces, it's just impossible to fix and make it look right. Also look at the full garment, top to bottom, to make sure there are no stains."

The Little White Dress fashion show is on Saturday, March 1, at the Windsor Park Conference Center in Mishawaka. Admission is free. Click here for more details.