"The Davey& Goliath Dress Shop is having a $98 gown sale!"
Yeah, I'm sure they are. First off, notice the fine print on the sale ad. Dresses START at the low price. This means two things. One- some of those dresses are going to cost more than $98, many of them, in fact. Two- That's the price for the dress as is, so don't think one Benjamin is gonna cover you. Okay, yes, some brides get lucky. Some brides find the perfect dress at those sales and it fits.
Other brides find a dress that they somewhat like and it sort of fits. Then "Davey& Goliath" offers their in-house tailoring and custom alterations. Suddenly the sale price isn't as spectacular. There are add-in and fees that come out of no-where, and that $98 dress now costs $300 and still doesn't fit right.
I've seen it happen. A bride I knew got so frustrated that she stormed out of the store, walked through the parking lot to a department store, and bought a white sundress off the rack and got married in that. There's nothing wrong with that choice, but her bridesmaids were wearing very elegant gowns and she was in a $12 sundress. She still curses "Davey& Goliath" (not the real shop name) to everyone who will listen. If you search, you'll find her complaints and warning on numerous websites.
There was a wedding I was in a few years ago. My bride and our party went to "Davey& Goliath" to look for dresses. We found a purple gown that looked good on all of us and was affordable. Orders were placed. Money was exchanged. The dresses did not come. First it was that they no longer had the color (watch a bride change the entire color scheme of her wedding in tears at such news), then they lost the order, then the wrong dresses showed up, two of them with the wrong sizes. And that was it. My bride switched dress shops and we all ended up wearing red (the color that was, allegedly, in stock — because she wasn't going to change the scheme back again now). (PS— The bride mentioned here still complains 16 years later about those red dresses, and that "Davey& Goliath" couldn't give us those beautiful purple ones.)
Shop with care. Have someone reputable who won't rip you off do the alterations. And get the dresses in hand as far in advance as possible. If "Jane" manages to lose those ten pounds, she can get her dress resized later. But not too much later— leave time for disasters! Plan for the best and expect the worse.
Tune in tomorrow for a discussion on Eloping.