You’re getting married. This is what you’ve been waiting for your whole life. You’ve had dreams about your fairytale wedding since you were old enough to watch Disney movies. Now it’s finally going to happen.
Unsurprisingly, Disney movies never really talk about the costs of these fantastic weddings. According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding these days is $35,329. This is a huge chunk of money, especially when you consider that the wedding dress alone tends to make up 5% or more of that cost!
However, despite what you may see on “Say Yes to the Dress”, you don’t have to spend thousands (or even hundreds!) on your dress for the big day. Below, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on how to save money on your wedding gown.
When You Buy Your Dress Matters
Timing is everything. This is especially true when buying a wedding dress. It is something that can be outrageously priced, but if bought at the right time and at the right place, can also be an absolute steal. Timing can be the difference between spending $500 and $1,500 on the same dress.
Many people are unaware that wedding dresses can go on sale. Like utilities and houses themselves, it kind of just seems like the price is the price. However, they can and do go on sale somewhat frequently. The trick is knowing when and where to look. A store such as houseoffraser.co.uk would be a good place to start.
Winter and Summer are the best times to buy
Peak wedding season is from June through October. For this reason, designers usually roll out their new designs in the spring. To make way for the new designs, dresses from previous years are often marked down heavily. Try shopping for yours over the summer, or just after Thanksgiving. You could get your dream dress for up to 75% off the original price!
Keep an eye out for sample sales
Sample sales are events where bridal salons sell off the gowns that brides-to-be try on in the store. During these sales, they offer significant discounts in order to get rid of old or excess merchandise. These events are held a few times a year – usually in the late summer and spring/winter months. Check the internet, or even ask the manager in person if there are any sample sales coming up. Catching one could save you 20 to 90 (!) percent on your dress.
Find out about trunk shows near you
Trunk shows are special events where bridal salons feature the new collection of a particular designer. Usually, the designer is there in person to show off his or her new line of dresses. At these events, brides-to-be can check out and try on designs that are fresh off the runway. Although the dresses themselves aren’t usually on sale, there is often a discount for buying on the day. Just by showing up for a trunk show, you could end up wearing the newest design by the hottest designer for a fraction of the cost!
Look in the Right Places
When our mothers were getting married, options were limited when it came to where to get a dress. They either had to wear their mother’s dress, have one custom made, or buy one at an expensive boutique. Nowadays, with the emergence of big retailers and the internet, we have a lot more options. Use this variety of options to your advantage, and save a lot of money on your dress in a way your mother couldn’t.
Consider a rental
Admittedly, the idea of renting a dress to wear on the happiest day of your life is not a very romantic one. However, when you stop to consider a few things, the idea starts to sound better and better.
First, you’re only going to wear it one day – and not even a whole day. Why spend so much money on something you’re only going to wear for a few hours?
Second, insurance is usually included in the cost. It covers stains and minor damage. If you have one too many margaritas on the day and have a mishap, you won’t have to pay for dry-cleaning or repairs.
Third, it’s so cheap! You can get dresses that retail for several thousand dollars for a fraction of that. In fact, most go for $100 or less! It’s almost a crime not to go this route.
Check out great rental sites like Rent the Runway, Vow To Be Chic, or Borrowing Magnolia for more details.
The easiest way to get “something borrowed” for your big day is to borrow a dress from a friend or relative. It’s not as romantic as having your own, but again, you only wear your wedding dress once for a few hours anyway. By borrowing a dress from a friend or relative, you get to have a shared keepsake with that person, which will strengthen your bond. You will also save a ton of money! Just make sure you have it cleaned before you return it.
Secondhand is a great option
If you really want to cut costs, but still want to own your own dress, buying secondhand is a great option. Wearing previously owned clothes is never that appealing, but wedding dresses are a different story.
Sometimes, weddings are called off, so the dress is never even worn. Some brides buy more than one dress, then choose the one they like the most to wear during their wedding. Even the ones that are worn are only worn for a few hours at most. Wearing a secondhand dress is really not as bad as it sounds, and they can be as much as 30 to 90 percent off the original price.
Websites like Once Wed, Nearly Newlywed, and Preowned Wedding Dresses offer many beautiful secondhand options that you can get for a steal.
Have a look in less traditional places
Over the past few years, more brides have been looking in unconventional places for dresses. Big retailers such as Zara, J. Crew, and Ann Taylor have entered the wedding industry, with reasonably priced options that are also quite stylish.
Vintage and thrift stores are also unique options. If you are lucky, you can find barely used or even never worn dresses for next to nothing. You may also find dresses that aren’t your style. However, if they are made of a nice fabric like raw silk, you could take it to a seamstress and have a custom dress made out it – and you would still save money!
What Options You Should Consider
First-time brides with little exposure to wedding planning may be surprised at how many options there are to consider when buying a dress. From the shape and neckline to the fabric and color, there are so many things to decide, and each of these decisions can cost (or save) you money.
Go for something simple
Beads, lace, rhinestones, and other embellishments make for beautiful gowns, but they also make for costly ones. Extras like these can increase costs by hundreds of dollars! We all want to make a statement, but we don’t need to do so with the dress alone. Keeping it simple will keep costs down. You can still make a statement by adding accent pieces or off-the-rack accessories.
The silhouette matters
Formal silhouettes are elegant and timeless. A ball gown silhouette with cascading layers and a long train may be the style you’ve always wanted, but more fabric means more money. Before going dress shopping, check out different wedding dress styles and silhouettes like a sheath or mermaid, which require a lot less fabric, look beautiful, and will save you money.
Choose your fabric carefully
Most wedding dresses are made with satin, silk, or velvet. Silk is considered the best, but it’s also the most expensive. Satin and velvet are also quite pricy.
Fortunately, technology has come a long way in recent years and synthetic versions of these fabrics are now widely available. Only an expert with a hand on the fabric will know the difference between them and the real thing. Check out some of the synthetic fabrics like organza or chiffon. You might be surprised at how great they look, and even more surprised at how much money you can save.
Forget about the ‘wedding’ tag
When buying a dress, a lot of brides get stuck in a rut where they are constantly searching “wedding” this and “wedding” that online. While this strategy will definitely get you what you are looking for, it may exclude some other options that may be just right for you.
Bridesmaid dresses are one exciting option that fall into this category. They are significantly cheaper than wedding dresses, but look just as beautiful. Try a white bridesmaid dress. If it’s not elegant enough, you can make some alterations or add some embellishments and still pay well under what you would have with an ordinary wedding dress.
Depending on the time of year and location of your wedding, a regular white evening dress or cocktail dress might be more suitable and much cheaper. For an outdoor ceremony, this is especially true. Think outside the box a bit, and you can save a lot of money.
Piece your dress together
Women these days want to stand out and be noticed. We want to do something different. That’s why, in a more modern take on wedding dresses, women in recent years are opting to mix and match different pieces to form their ensembles. It is now possible to buy separate bodices and skirts to form unique, individual wedding outfits that no one else has worn before. Not only will you stand out and really make a statement, but you will also save a lot of money.
How to Shop for Your Dress
How to shop? Trust me – I know how to shop. Why can’t I just go to a bridal salon, try on some dresses, and buy one I like? You can! There’s no problem with doing it that way, but you want to save money, right?
Below are some money-saving shopping tips based on mistakes I see first-time brides make all the time.
Don’t stray from your budget
This is a mistake I see all too often. A bride-to-be has done her homework and has a clearly defined budget. She knows her price range, yet decides to try on a dress that is just outside of it. This almost always leads to one of two outcomes: she falls in love with the dress and becomes disappointed with the ones within her price range, or she loves it so much that she ends up buying it and going over budget. Both lead to disappointment in some way. Do yourself a favor and don’t stray.
Limit alterations & embellishments
You’ve found a dress that you like, but there are a few things you want to change before the big day. An alteration to the back and some crystal embellishments to the bodice and you’ve got the perfect dress, right? Well, it might be perfect, but it will also be costly. Custom alterations and embellishments can cost hundreds of dollars. Save yourself some money by finding a dress that you love as is. If you still need some alterations, just keep them to a minimum.
Consider having your dress custom made
This may seem like shock, but having your dress custom made may be a lot cheaper than buying a complete dress at a salon or retailer. This is because you have complete control over the shape, style, fabric, and embellishments. And because it’s made for you, it shouldn’t require any alterations. The biggest problem with this option is that you have to know exactly what you want in a dress. If you know what you want, shop around. There are surely some seamstresses around that would be happy to make the dress you want. Just be sure to negotiate a price beforehand.
A wedding dress is a big purchase, with lots of different options and details. As the consumer, you are in charge, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and try to negotiate a little. Salespeople usually work on commission, so they are often willing to throw in extras or offer discounts to ensure the sale. Remember, you miss all of the shots you don’t take. If you are polite and kind, we’ve found that brides tend to make more than they miss.
Weddings are expensive, and planning them is often very stressful. If you follow one or more of the tips we’ve provided above, we are confident that you will save money and feel less stressed as a result. Good luck and congratulations!
Sophie Darling is a wedding expert and editor at WeddingDresses.com. Sophie is known in the industry as a wedding professional who knows how to create the perfect wedding day without breaking the bank. When she’s not pinning wedding-inspo and pining for Mr. Right, she enjoys meeting her girlfriends over margaritas to discuss nonsense and unfulfilled romances.