Yes to the dress

Designer Bridal Discounts offers big city dresses at Wausau prices


Designer Bridal Discounts owner Tanya Chrostowski found a market for sample gowns

It was about nine years ago when Tanya Chrostowski sold her first formal gown, a Mia Solano that she had purchased for a vow renewal but didn’t end up using. It sold surprisingly quickly, and several people asked if she had more. So she searched, found some fitting dresses for sale from a store in Kaukauna, and it snowballed from there.

Nine years later she has her own dress shop in Wausau. Customers come from as far away as Green Bay, Appleton and Eau Claire to shop for wedding gowns at her shop, Designer Bridal Discounts, at 525 Washington St. in downtown Wausau.

Why? They can get designer dresses that big city bridal shops sell, but at a much lower price than one would pay in, say, Chicago. That’s because Chrostowski buys her dresses from those same shops—the floor models that brides try on while picking out what to wear on the big day.

The wedding gown business started as a side hobby for Chrostowski, who operated from her basement for years before opening a full time shop in Antigo. When Chrostowski’s family moved to Wausau, she maintained the Antigo shop for awhile before finally opening her Wausau shop in February.

Now she sells dresses to about 12-15 brides per month on average, she says, though some months are busier than others. September seems to be the hot month as brides are shopping for summer weddings the following year, Chrostowski says.

The shop is open by appointment only, and bridal parties will spend two to three hours picking out dresses for their big day, Chrostowski says. The shop has been the perfect combination of working in a business she truly loves, and smart business acumen. Many of the bigger city shops appreciate having an outlet to unload their floor models and it’s a handy way for Chrostowski to pick up inventory. “Not everyone can say they love going to work every day,” Chrostowski says.

Chrostowski says she’s able to keep up with the latest styles pretty easily and always keeps a variety of sizes in stock to make sure she has dresses to fit every woman. She also works with local seamstresses who can make alterations and adjustments, Chrostowski says.

Shoppers do well at her shop when they keep an open mind. Often a gown they might not have considered turns out to look good on them when they actually try it on. “If you look outside the box, you can find something great.”

And anyway, you can’t beat the price, Chrostowski explains. While designer bridal dresses can be found online, many of those are cheap knock-offs. The dresses Chrostowski carries are the real deal; they’re inexpensive only because they’ve been tried on. As people look to save money on weddings, paying less than half price for a dress starts to sound awfully appealing.

Designer Bridal Discounts is available by appointment by calling 715-216-1128.