Planning a wedding is a mix of fun, stress and, for many people, brings financial concerns. The potential money spent on a wedding can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars. It is not uncommon for couples who spend a lot of money in order to have a lavish wedding to end up bringing significant amounts of debt into the marriage.
According to The Knot Real Weddings Study in 2014, couples in the United States, on average, spend $29,858 on their weddings. In this study women spent, on average, about $1,300 on their dress. On the high end, the price tag was much more.
The good news is you don’t have to spend that much. While these are average figures, many engaged couples find ways to bring their overall wedding costs way down, including on attire. How, when and where you decide to purchase your wedding dress is one way you can try to save some money.
Bridal shops are often the most expensive option, yet they are the first place most soon-to-be brides look to as they try and find their dream wedding gown. However there are other, often more affordable, options. If you are planning a wedding on a budget there are many different ways you can find a cheap but beautiful wedding dress.
6 ways to save money on your wedding dress:
Wear a family member’s dress
If your mother or grandmother has their wedding dress and it fits or can be altered to fit your size, this is a wonderful way to start a family tradition and save some money at the same time. Many of the wedding dresses from decades ago are lovely and full of charm. To get the same elegance of some of the older dresses brand new often costs a fortune. Wearing a family member’s dress is one of the best ways to save money on a wedding dress. Not to mention a family member would be likely honored to see you wear it. The sentimental value of wearing a family heirloom is priceless and comes at the right sticker price.
Purchase a pre-owned wedding dress
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This is a touchy issue for some, but if you don’t have any qualms about wearing a pre-owned dress, you can save hundreds of dollars or more purchasing someone else’s dress. Pre-owned can mean two things. It may mean a bride has already owned the dress and for whatever reason has decided to sell, but it could also mean the dress is new and a bride never wore the gown.
Places you can find pre-owned wedding dresses are websites such as eBay, Craigslist or other localized classified listings. You can also check out consignment shops and thrift stores. In any of these venues, you might just happen to stumble upon your dream dress.
Not all brides are open to the idea as some feel it might be bad luck to wear a dress where the marriage either ended up in divorce or never took place, however if this does not bother you, purchasing a pre-owned dress can save you significant amounts of money.
Other ways to save on the wedding dress and accessories is to shop the clearance racks at bridal shops or department stores. Since dresses are seasonal, at different times of the year, either short-sleeved or long-sleeved gowns may find their way onto clearance racks. As a result, after the spring and early autumn rush for dresses are over, shops are getting prepared for next season’s wedding gowns and will slash prices on this year’s dresses. Another reason would be that while styles don’t change drastically, from the designer or trendy perspective, some gowns may be considered out of date and priced quick to sell.
You can save a bundle of money shopping clearance. While some wedding dresses do go out of style, most of them are timeless or attractive for many seasons. The big drawback to buying off the rack is you are more limited in your selection and you cannot order a dress in your size, what you see is what you get. You might get lucky, and either way it doesn’t hurt to look. Chances are you might just find your dream dress in your size, or one close to yours, right on the rack at a fraction of the price. Most dress shops will help with alterations or you can take it to a private seamstress to alter the dress so it fits perfectly.
This is especially helpful if you have a long time to plan your wedding and can watch the racks as each season passes and still have time to get the dressed altered to your size.
Decorate a plain dress
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Are you or someone close to you handy with a sewing machine? If so, consider buying a simple and attractive white dress and then add your own designer touches. To do this it’s important to know what you’re doing so you don’t destroy the dress in the process of adding the delicate details such as trim, beads, sequins, lace and other touches. A good chunk of the expenses associated with a wedding dress is the amount of detail, so if you or someone you know is talented, this is a great way to scale back on some of the dress costs. Another option is to make your own.
Depending on your tastes, you might find a dress on a department store rack. These dresses are usually less elegant, but if your taste is simple or you don’t like a lot of decor on your dress, in some of the high-end department stores there are many beautiful white and off-white gowns which can be worn as a wedding dress. If you shop for your wedding gown during the off-season or post-prom you can possibly find a gorgeous dress that you can wear as you walk down the aisle.
Photo credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved
You can search the designer and style number of the dress you want and then do a web search to find out the stores you can purchase the dress. You may discover your dress is on sale in certain stores or if you live near a state that has tax-free clothing, it may be worth your while to make a trip over state lines in order to purchase your dress. Not only can you search for pre-owned dresses, but if you have your heart set on a specific dress or designer, you can comparison shop different places to find the best deal for your dream wedding gown. While this isn’t the cheapest option, it can help bring down costs.
There are many ways to find a cheap but beautiful wedding dress. The biggest drawback is you can’t usually custom order your size, however even if the dress doesn’t fit, but is within range of your dress size, the gown can usually be altered by a good seamstress. The best way to save money is to explore options and then compare to see if the dresses you find are what you’re looking for, if so, you can save a nice amount of money.
Finding ways to save money on your wedding dress often takes a bit of effort, but the financial savings are well worth the time spent if you can find the dress you want at a price you can afford.
Leigh has been writing on the web since 2007. She has a high interest in business, tech, higher education, and Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia travel, but loves to write about a variety of topics. In addition to writing on Writedge, she also runs a blog about the Washington DC Metro Area and a photography blog Photos by Leigh Goessl.