Say yes to a dress that won't break the bank—and will still have you feeling like a million bucks on your wedding day.
Advertisement

If you're a bride-to-be, finding a wedding dress is a big part of the planning. Maybe you grew up having a dream dress in mind, or you're open to looking around for inspo—either way, wedding dresses can be expensive.

The average cost of a wedding dress in the U.S. is $1,631 (and ranges between $500 to $4,000) according to Brides—but the bottom line can easily go beyond that, depending on many different factors, such as fabric, style of gown, and designer.

If you're planning a wedding on a budget, you can still have your dream dress without breaking the bank. "We are seeing an explosion of brides who want to look spectacular on their wedding day and still be budget-friendly," says Sarah Kelly, wedding operations manager at Simply Eloped. "Many brides are looking at vintage gowns, bridesmaid gowns, gently used gowns, and shopping in unexpected places," says Kelly.

Choosing a more affordable wedding dress can leave more room in your budget for other things you really want for your wedding, such as your venue, wedding photographer and videographer, or honeymoon. The experience and memories will stick with you a lot longer than a dress you wear for a few hours, and then stash away for years.

Still, it's your day, and you deserve to have the dress you want. Here are tips from industry experts on ways you can find a wedding dress that you will love, and keep your wedding spending in check.

Related Items

1 Wear a dress that has been in the family.

Like countless romantic comedies have shown us, sometimes the answer is right under your nose—or in your mom's closet. See if there is a wedding dress in your family that you would want to wear, and find a good seamstress near you to alter it to your liking. Since the dress is free, you can spend money on the alterations for a dress that is as unique as it is sentimental.

2 Consider buying a pre-owned wedding dress.

Another option: Consider buying a pre-owned wedding dress. "Purchasing a once-loved gown can save you anywhere from 25 to 75 percent off of the retail price," says Sarah Ghabbour, owner of Loved Twice Bridal, an online pre-owned bridal boutique with a showroom in Beverly Hills. You could find a designer wedding gown for a fraction of the cost—and no one will be able to tell it's used. (Your wallet will thank you for it.)

Not only are pre-owned wedding dresses more affordable, they are more environmentally sustainable, too. "In buying a secondhand gown, you are also choosing to save about $2,500 gallons of water," says Ghabbour. If having an eco-friendly wedding is important to you, a pre-owned dress can be a great option.

"Try on different styles, designers and sizes at a local bridal boutique or dress shop," says budget expert Andrea Woroch. "When you find one you love, jot down the details and search online for it in a used option," she says. If you can't find the dress in your exact size, Woroch suggests sizing up and having a seamstress take it in.

3 Rent a wedding dress.

You could also rent your wedding dress. "In this budget-conscious age, more brides are considering renting their wedding dress and bridesmaids' dresses," says Anastasia Stevenson, a Georgia-based wedding planner.

"Savvy brides can save up to 80 percent off the cost of buying a new dress," says Stevenson. She recommends checking out Rent the Runway, The Dress Outlet, and Dare and Dazzle.

4 Shop a sample sale or buy off the rack.

Remember that Friends episode where Monica goes to a sample sale and buys her dream wedding dress at half the price? Well, that could be you (hopefully minus the fight over the dress with a stranger).

"Designers discontinue product, and boutiques buy new gowns two times a year," says Ghabbour. "This means there will always be a selection of gowns that can be purchased off the rack for a discount," she explains. Ghabbour advises thoroughly inspecting the gown for any flaws if you choose to go to a sample sale.

Department stores also have great deals on wedding dresses—and you can look for coupons to save even more. "Believe it or not, but you can find coupons for wedding dresses," says Woroch. "For example, CouponFollow is offering $30 off at David's Bridal and various deals at SimplyDresses.com." 

5 Buy a dress that isn't a wedding dress.

Save money by finding a dress you love that isn't necessarily a wedding dress.

"Sadly, wedding dresses are often marked up due to the industry and the amount of lace, beading, and other design details," says personal finance blogger, Tana Williams.

"Try buying a simple dress that's a bridesmaid dress or from another non-bridal store," says Williams. "You can find a beautiful dress that can fit the bill (and save you hundred) at department stores or local boutiques," she adds. 

It is definitely possible to find a budget-friendly wedding dress for every style—you just have to get a little creative and be open. As long as you feel good, no one will know (or care) where you got the dress from.