Undoubtedly one of the most exciting parts of planning a wedding is shopping for a wedding dress! While expensive wedding dresses are gorgeous and are considered the most desirable, you can still find a wedding dress that is beautiful but affordable.
They are out there! But if you’re yet to start your wedding dress search, you may not know how much a wedding dress costs – and how expensive they can sometimes be!
When it comes to how much you should pay for your wedding dress, there isn’t an exact figure.
After all, it depends on what your budget is, and you should always begin your wedding dress search once you have a clear idea of your budget. After all, there are gorgeous wedding dresses available at every price point.
What does the average wedding dress cost?
Prices of wedding gowns vary and are dependent on factors including style, material, and the designer – but we’ll get to that in a little bit!
According to Business Insider, the average price for a wedding dress is between $1,509 to $3,158.
With such a wide range of prices, brides are able to work out a budget and find a wedding gown that suits their needs.
While how much you spend on a wedding dress is up to you, it’s important to stick to your budget. Some brides want to prioritise the dress, while other brides want to spend more on the venue or catering. But you shouldn’t let the average cost of a wedding determine your budget. After all, we’re all different!
Wedding dresses on a budget
If you’re looking for an affordable wedding gown, start looking early on. Here a few tips to get you started on your search for an affordable wedding gown:
David’s Bridal has a section on their website featuring dresses under $100 – less than tenth of the average cost of a wedding dress! Although full-length dresses at this price point are limited, they’re all extremely affordable.
If you find a dress from last season, more often than not it will be discounted. Do not be put off by wearing a dress from last season – if you love it who cares, right?
Used wedding dresses are also a good option, and many are kept in pristine condition. Look in local shops that sell used wedding dresses, or check out Borrowing Magnolia. Many of their dresses are $1,000 and are inspected before they are listed on the website to ensure they are still in good condition.
Another good tip for saving on your wedding gown is to forgo any ornate embellishments and go for a simpler gown. If you’re into beads and sparkles, you can always add those later in the form of jewellery.
How expensive can wedding dresses be?
Some dresses can go for the millions, especially celebrity dresses. They can spend millions on custom-made gowns, but if you know where to look, you can find a beautiful gown for a fraction of the price.
How expensive the dress is doesn’t determine how good you’ll look – and feel – while wearing it.
One mega expensive example of a wedding dress is a dress adorned with diamonds apparently worth $12 million!
Why are wedding dresses so expensive?
It’s no secret that weddings are expensive, but why are wedding dresses so expensive? Well, there are a few factors determining just how expensive these breathtaking gowns are. When budgeting for your wedding dress, keep these factors in mind.
Designer: A dress from a high end designer will cost extra. For example a Vera Wang gown – or a gown from any well-known designer – will cost more than other dresses off the rack.
But while it’s natural to be drawn to a designer dress, the truth is you can find many beautiful gowns that don’t have the designer name or price tag. If you would like a dress from a particular designer however, research their costs so that you’re prepared.
Fabric: The fabric of your dress can affect the price. Fabrics like silk, tulle, and high end lace are usually more expensive than more common materials. If you love the idea of a silk dress, do some research on the cost so you’re prepared.
If you’re looking for more budget-friendly fabrics, there is nothing wrong with polyester. The material has increased in quality over the years, and with the right embellishments your dress will look fabulous no matter what fabric it is made of.
Embellishment and details: Embellishments and how they are made tend to affect the cost of a wedding gown, especially intricate details that require more time to carefully add on.
Opting for a simpler dress and adding extra accessories can help to cut costs. Or if you want an embellished goan, pick a simple dress and ask your seamstress to add extra details like appliques and buttons.
Alterations: Although the wedding dress itself is the big cost, wedding dress alterations also form a part of the total wedding dress budget.
Wedding dress alterations are priced according to what part of the dress needs to be altered or taken in. Material also determines alteration price. Lace and beads are delicate and are more difficult to handle, so the alteration price will increase for these. Be prepared to spend a couple more on alterations and make sure to factor them into your budget!
Accessories: Another factor to your overall wedding dress budget is accessories. You can include these as a separate expense from your dress, but don’t forget to leave enough room in your budget for the rest of your ensemble such as your shoes, veil, undergarments, jewelry and other accessories.
Preservation: This may seem like a strange factor to consider, but the storage and preservation of your wedding dress is also important to take into account. Learn how to store your wedding dress properly and don’t forget to budget for this post-wedding process.
The best place to get tips on how to do this is to ask your bridal shop for recommendations on storing the dress. After all, they were storming it before you bought it! So they should know how to best take care of your specific style and fabric. Keep the dress in the garment bag you were given, and either hang it up or lay it flat. If your dress is especially heavy due to lots of beading and lace, lay it flat. This is because the dress’ weight may cause it to stretch.
While it may be tempting to take peeks of your dress and try it on, avoid touching your dress as much as possible before the big day. If you do need to touch it for any reason, wash your hands and wear gloves to avoid stains.
When you’re travelling with your dress, make sure it does not get damaged in the process. Make sure it is secure and flat to avoid wrinkles. You may also need to wrap more delicate areas in acid-free tissue paper so they travel well.
Also, when you’re getting ready put your dress on last! The last thing you want is make up, hair products, or anything else to get on your dress before you walk down the aisle!
Wedding Dress Sales
The best time to buy a wedding dress is during a retailer’s sample sale, and these usually take place in the summer and winter. Sample sales are typically a final sale, so it’s always good to head to these sales knowing what you want.
Don’t let the name fool you, sample sales actually have a wide variety of wedding dresses on offer. If you’re well-prepared, you could score a major discount in a sample sale.
Trunk shows are another place to buy wedding dresses. This is where a specific designer features products at a bridal salon. Trunk shows might have new, exclusive designs but they’re also a great place for discounts. Designers bring their new line of dresses to trunk shows, meaning you can score hot-off-the-rack dresses at a discount. The best of both worlds!
If you’re patient and know where to find the best deals, it’s totally possible to find a beautiful and affordable wedding gown.
Renting a wedding dress
Renting a wedding gown can actually be a great, budget-friendly option. However, there are a few things to consider before you do this. Renting a dress means that you can’t keep the dress as a memento, but it can be a lot cheaper than buying one. You may even be able to get a deal on a designer dress!
Rent the Runway is a website that helps you find bargains on all kinds of designer clothes – not just wedding dresses! They even have a wedding concierge service that provides dresses and consultations to brides and bridesmaids.
There are also plenty of unique styles available, and if you want to break with tradition, they even have more out-there options like bridal jumpsuits!
You can also rent from some local stores, so it’s worth looking out for these in your area.
Really, the answer to how much you should spend on a wedding dress (and how much you should not spend) isn’t definitive. It all depends on your preferences, budget, and circumstances.
Renting and buying a used dress are two simple ways to save money and stick to your budget, and trunk shows or sample sales are also ideal places to buy your dream dress at a discounted price. You should always be on the alert for sales!
But even though wedding dresses can be pricey, and the pressure to spend big is real, always remember that it doesn’t matter how much you spend on the dress, but how beautiful you feel wearing it.