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!
Want to read more Wedding Planning 101 posts? Find them here!
39 thoughts on “Wedding Planning 101: How To Get Your Dream Lehenga in Your Budget”
Nice ideas 🙂
Very good ideas. I actually have you and the peachesandblush to thank for my lehenga. I went to OPJL straight (after reading both your posts) without going anywhere else (my first trip to Chandni Chowk and that too alone!) and found my lehenga in the first five mins. It was cream colored with a red blouse and red border and red dupatta. I just loved it- but my husband was v keen I wear red or pink for the wedding. So despite loving the cream lehenga, all I did was to tell them to make the same thing in all red and put a pale golden dupatta. And lehenga shopping was done in two hours including commute!
Most shops at Chandini Chowk are willing to customise lehengas to make them within your price range! However, one needs to have ample time to be able to actually make something like this work out. OPJL takes atleast 45 days to do a lehenga!
That’s very true. OPJL does take at least 40 days usually!
“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.”
Hello, I am trying to order stuff from Canada… but haven’t been too successful… it seems like everyone is not willing to negotiate prices with NRIs as much 😦
Can you please tell me the designer’s name of your sisters lehenga from OPJL?
I love the gota patti work!
Thank you 🙂
Big big fan of ur allll posts 🙂 m definitely gonna follow them, great help for to-be-brides. Pls cn u tell from whr u bought ur reception lehnga?
Thanks Divya! The reception lehenga was from Rakhi & Vandana. They used to have a store in South Ex, but I believe they’ve shifted now.
Brilliant post Shinjini!! Great ideas. I feel both outfits look better after customisation.
Just one correction though. A-list designers also customise their designs. Especially bridal wear.
Now that you’ve mentioned it, I remember someone telling me they customise bridal lehengas, but not anarkalis. Thanks for the tip, will make a change in the post!
Hey Shinjini..very good and helpful information…I luvvv reading your blog…I bumped into your blog last year when i was looking for bridal outfit for my wedding on google.BTW my wedding is in March this year…I can’t tell you how informative your blog is (u probably know it :-P)..its not only informtaion, the way u write is like a vision to us..i can feel when you write your experiences (specially ur wedding ones)..there is not a single post of urs dat i can afford to miss…luv you..mmuuuaahh!!
Regarding this post, actually I have done the same for my wedding attire…I am studying in US and I will be in India only 2 weeks before my wedding (no shopping..how scary that is!!) ..I almost gave up a month ago and thought I will have to buy and WEAR a typical red full of mess embroidery lehenga (huhhhh!)…at that point I was very afraid of asking designers or anyone else about the price of a piece I like because of my budget limitations..and to make things worse, some of them literally made some embarassing comments when I told them abt my price. But luckily, I found one designer and I thought of taking a chance and contacted them,,,voilaaa..I found mine!! we together thought of removing some embroidery to cut the cost..I will get to see my lehenga when I go to India ..I am so xcited..yayyyy!! So I just wanna say to all the would-be-brides out there that dont give up..you will find ur lehenga ..m sure 🙂 !!
Am from Mauritius and to be married in June…planning to be in Delhi mid March (my leaves have not been approved yet 😦 mind sharing the designer’s detail? i might get some help…thank u 🙂
Shinjini thank u for yet another awesome read.. 🙂
That’s awesome! You must tell me who this designer is! 🙂 And email me a picture once you’re married, would love to see it!
Please do share the information about your designer! I’m in the same boat, I’m flying down in about 3 weeks from Australia, with limited leave, and as usual about 4 cities to visit too (cos how can you visit India and not meet EVERY SINGLE family member!). So please share your experience!
Have been following your blog for a long time now.. And wanted to thank you for making the lives of brides-to-be so much easier!!! I’m getting engaged next week and wedding is in April (I found out all this only in mid of Jan :P) So once engagement outfit was sorted, my first trip was to OPJL in Chandni Chowk last week for my wedding lehenga which was finalized in less than an hour :D… And YES it was 20% over my budget but unfortunately I did not think of minimizing the work to reduce down the cost! But awesome timing of the post 🙂
Congrats akanksha! Drop me a mail with pics of your engagement, would love to see what you wore!
What if they’re a big shot designer…you possibly can’t ask for a price that is lower than what they’ve listed it for right? I will most likely end up buying online and then when I’m in India, going into the store to try out fittings.
I have a question: if you’re buying your lehenga online from a proper designer, can you ask them to send you samples of the fabric? Esp colours because there are so many different shades of red/pink/orange/blue etc that how would you know which one looks best on you in that material.
I believe it totally depends on the designer. Not sure if they’d make the effort of actually sending you the sample abroad, but they can definitely click pictures of it in different lights and send them to u. No harm in asking!
Love the ideas! I am basically from chandigarh & getting married this December’14! Now i KNOW FROM WHERE to SHOP! thanks to your look book and ideas! I am certainly going to follow your blog!
Keep up the good work! 😀 😀
Much Love! 🙂
Awesome! One of the most useful post read 🙂
Loved your ideas! And Bargaining is a MUST! After continuous bargaining, we brought down the price of a lehenga from 16 lakhs to 9 lakhs WITH THE SAME WORK! Luck also plays a part though 🙂 The designer was present and she was very sweet..Rimple Narula@Defence Colony
Wow! That’s a nice big discount! I’ve heard Rimple Narula makes some great clothing… good to hear you had a positive experience!
Very wise! Great decision to customise the lehenga. In any case I’m a firm believer of the motto Less is More. One motif too many and the entire outfit looks too much. I prefer the lehenga that you customised. Thanks for all the tips.
I also prefer the customised one! 😉
Brilliant ideas to bring down the cost…I wish I had thought of that when I was getting my lehenga done. I am south Indian and we dont actually wear lehengas, only sarees, but I wanted to wear a lehenga for an informal occasion and had a tough time finding something which was in my budget. It never struck me that I could cut down a few details to bring down the cost…ultimately ended up creating a DIY lehenga 😛 It could have been a lot better but I was happy as I got a lot of compliments from my relatives who were not used to seeing the bride in a lehenga 🙂
I want to see pics of this customised lehenga! Send a picture na!
Ok let me see….it’s not as great as what you have featured on your blog 🙂
Lovely post Shinjini. I also caught the interview of yours. You were very calm, collected and well put together. Kudos.
Customisations are good but i wouldn’t recommend them in a place like Chandni Chowk, especially if they involve changing colours. One never knows how an embroidery or stone work will look on a different colour/material. Tread with caution. Telling you from experience. I am currently in between jobs and in my free time creating a blog based on my wedding experience. http://postcardbride.wordpress.com/
Let me know what you think!
Thanks so much! 🙂 And I agree with you, shouldn’t change too many things. It does get hard to visualise.
I did see your blog, it’s looking good! Keep blogging!
Thank you for the encouragement. 🙂 Long way to go!
yes we did.. While we were shopping for my wedding lehenga and my SIL lehenga we did a lot many changes to it and result was awesome..
This is so familiar! I had this done to my sister’s lehenga for my wedding. The shop had asked for way too much than what we were willing to pay. So we asked for some bits of embroidery to be removed and that brought the price down a lot, and you couldn’t even tell in the end! Awesome tip!
Hiii ur blog is fab i must say…m looking for lehenga price range (honestly between) 12-15 k.please suggest shops in delhi
I know it might not be trlated to the topic, but could anyone help me please? I’m an indonesian who is going to have a wedding in delhi. I will have 2 parties in indo and 2 parties in delhi. Since my wedding dress in indo already cost me around $3500, I dont really want to spend too much on a bridal lehenga which I cant hardly rewear anyways..could anyone please tell me where to rent a designer bridal lehenga? My budget is around $1000. Your help would be appreciated. Thanks a lot:))
Hiii delhibride…ur blog is too good…i m looking for lehenga price range between 25-30 k…..Please suggest good shops in delhi…
Hi Saumya! You should try Shahpur Jat. Are you looking for a lehenga for your own wedding, or to wear to a friend’s wedding?
Hi thedelhibride – I am soon going to organise wedding for my devar and getting a cold feet. I need to buy wedding dresses for bride, groom, myself, husband, and parent inlaws!! Can you suggest me some good stores who may be reasonably not-that-expensive and who will be able to customise work to bring the cost down. I am not from delhi.
Thank u all for the relevant information & i found it very useful.
M planning to get marry in April end -may first week
Planning to wear lehanga n gown for my engagement n reception.
And m from Bangalore as time is short.
Please suggest me the quick places where can i get it done n if anything in Bangalore who can serve my wedding wear needs.