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Something borrowed? Wedding poaching is on the rise

Wedding poaching is a growing trend for the busy, rushed or uninspired. Call them copycats or call them resourceful, but for cut-and-paste couples, another wedding’s details may be just the thing they’ve always wanted to make theirs special, too.

A decade ago, wedding poaching was much more difficult — and much more obvious. Brides bought their dresses at local boutiques, not online. Wedding albums resided on parents’ coffee tables, not on Facebook. Florists, photographers, performers and vendors relied on word of mouth rather than recommendations on wedding blogs. 

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    Chic summer bridal gowns

    Take a look at gorgeous wedding dresses from mass market retailers, including Costco, J.Crew and more.

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    Chic within your reach

    Boutiques are no longer the go-to stop for bridal gowns. These days, you can hit up your local mall – or even Costco – to find the wedding dress of your dreams.

    With fashion guidance from TODAY style editor and Bobbie.com’s Bobbie Thomas, take a look at gowns from mass-market retailers that are redefining the bridal industry market.

    Ann Taylor: Rose Petal Wedding Gown, $750
    Flirty florals are always eye-catching: Ann Taylor's silk rose petal wedding gown is covered in appliquéd petals for a mesmerizing effect.

    Bobbie Thomas' take: "This soft and fluttery style is great for a bride who wants to add a little curve to her shape."

    Ann Taylor / Ann Taylor
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    Ann Taylor: Embroidered Tea Length Dress, $695

    Who says it has to be long? Ann Taylor's short, strapless dress features a full crinkle skirt for a play of textures and proportions.

    Bobbie Thomas' take: "A darling combination of sweet and girly – perfect for a day wedding."

    Ann Taylor / Ann Taylor
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    BHLDN: Burnished Organza Gown, $1,400

    Take it up a notch with BHLDN's strapless bohemian gown, featuring sparkling bronze sequins at the top and five dramatic tiers of embroidered silk on the bottom.

    Bobbie Thomas' take: "Interesting details and elements make this gown perfect for the bride who wants something different."

    BHLDN / BHLDN
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    BHLDN: Sweeping Tafetta Ball Gown, $1,600

    If you're looking for sophisticated drama, BHLDN's taffeta gown features a dramatically scooped neckline and a majestic A-line skirt. Not that it's without any whimsy: the dress also comes with handy side pockets.

    Bobbie Thomas' take: "For the belle of the ball, this grand gown makes a statement without looking over-the-top."

    BHLDN / BHLDN
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    BHLDN: Greenbow Lace Gown, $600

    For the hippie in love, Tracy Reese's romantic crocheted lace dress comes dotted with globe buttons and encircled by grosgrain at the waist.

    Bobbie Thomas' take: "Vintage inspired with a romantic bohemian appeal, fantastic for a spring/summer outdoor affair or country wedding."

    BHLDN / BHLDN
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    Kirstie Kelly for Costco: English Net & Alencon Lace, $999.99

    Yes, you can get your gown at Costco! While stocking up on a year's supply of toilet paper, you can also purchase this Kirstie Kelly Alencon lace trumpet gown with an elegant sweetheart neckline.

    Bobbie Thomas' take: "A great option with a universally flattering neckline and sophisticated details."

    Kelly for Costco / Kelly for Costco
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    Kirstie Kelly for Costco: Petal Lace Gown, $1,299.99

    For the romantic bride, Kirstie Kelly offers a petal lace trumpet gown with a subtle sweetheart neckline and cording hand sewn throughout the skirt.

    Bobbie Thomas' take: "This demure, feminine gown is perfect for a bride who is stylish yet conservative."

    Kelly for Costco / Kelly for Costco
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    David's Bridal: Oleg Cassini Gown, $850, with Bolero, $129

    Moments after Kate Middleton revealed her wedding gown, companies feverishly began emulating her classic look. David's Bridal re-creates the royal style – without the palace price tag – by pairing a strapless ball gown silhouette with a lace bolero.

    Bobbie Thomas' take: "Timeless and full of grace, this classic look is a chic option."

    David’s Bridal / David’s Bridal
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    J. Crew: Starling Dress, $1,400

    J. Crew offers the perfect flirty option – a silk taffeta dress with festive ruffles, ostrich feathers and lace.

    Bobbie Thomas' take: "Sweet yet not too simple, this cocktail-length dress is fun, feminine and fabulous for a carefree setting."

    J.Crew / J.Crew
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    J.Crew: Duchesse Satin Noelle Gown, $2,500

    Capture an old-world glamour with this vintage-inspired dress, complete with a traditional empire silhouette, dramatic bottom and three-quarter-length sleeves.

    Bobbie Thomas' take: "Consider this one conservative chic, a traditional gown fit for a queen."

    J.Crew / J.Crew
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    J. Crew: Silk Chiffon Whitney Gown, $425

    Keep it casual with a flowy, strapless gown made of lightweight silk chiffon and boasting an eye-catching sash that falls down the center front.

    Bobbie Thomas' take: "Flowy, breezy and easy, this gown is ideal for a destination wedding."

    J.Crew / J.Crew
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    White by Vera Wang for David's Bridal: Ball Gown with Fully Draped Skirt, $1,400

    For the modern princess, Vera Wang offers a princess-seam bodice and a flowy, breathtaking skirt.

    Bobbie Thomas' take: "Brides in search of the fairy-tale gown will appreciate this delicate yet dramatic gown."

    Vera Wang for David’s Bridal / Vera Wang for David’s Bridal
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    White by Vera Wang for David's Bridal: Gown with Hand Appliqued Lace, $800

    Vera Wang brings her golden touch to this unique lace gown featuring a romantic, asymmetrical pattern over soft, sensuous netting.

    Bobbie Thomas' take: "This understated yet whimsical design feels like a modern fantasy."

    Vera Wang for David’s Bridal / Vera Wang for David’s Bridal

And as national retailers from to   and are streamlining options and making beautiful gowns (without a six-month delivery time), it’s only natural that women are making those choices over and over. 

Then there’s budgetary explanation, as some brides are opting to save money by renting or borrowing used gowns.

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    Best-dressed celebrity brides

    From Yoko Ono to Princess Diana, take a look back at the most iconic wedding dresses.

Take Amelia Nardinelli, the California bride who passed her dress on to two friends after her own 2004 nuptials. The New York Post reports that Nardinelli loaned out the dress partly because of her friends’ budget concerns, and partly because, well, she liked the idea of sharing something so special with other women in her life.

“It’s the most meaningful and memorable piece of clothing I’ll ever wear, and to share it with such close friends is an honor,” she told the paper.

And that’s the thing about wedding poaching: It’s so pervasive that today’s brides don’t actually mind their friends’ copycatting. Even when it comes to highly personal weddings, imitation remains the sincerest form of flattery.

“I think I’m a copycat!” admitted unapologetic poacher Aimee Bois, who confessed to copying “a lot of ideas from friends and co-workers” for her July wedding, including using the same vases and “pretty much the same flower arrangements as my friend.” 

The human resources consultant, 31, who lives in Beverly, Mass., explained that the volume of weddings she’s attended has turned her into a connoisseur, and so feels her expertise justifies her party pilfering. “I’ve been to 35-plus weddings,” she reasoned. “And I’ve witnessed a lot of ideas to steal.”

Janese Pfeiffer, 32, “stole” one particular idea from a friend of a friend for her summer wedding last year. She saw an acquaintance’s early summer wedding photos on Facebook wherein the groomsmen all donned the same striped purple socks. She adopted the idea just in time for her late summer wedding — but in green. When apprised of the poach, the original bride wasn’t angry — she was flattered. 

“Girls are more prone to share, and with sharing comes the risk of copying,” says Anja Winikka, senior editor at wedding site TheKnot.com.

Recently, when a woman posted on The Knot’s message board her frustration over a friend’s buying a similar wedding dress, reactive reader comments were mixed. While some said she should be flattered, “others told her to suck it up — that everyone was wearing fit and flare dresses because that’s the trend,” said Winikka.  

Her advice for brides feeling the copycat burn? Just chill.

“At the end of the day, everyone wants their wedding to be unique and reflect their individuality,” said Winikka. “Just because you used the same Mason jars as her or she wore the same dress doesn’t mean you’re the same. You’re marrying different guys; you’re different people.”

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