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How to Save BIG Money on Your Wedding Dress

Updated on February 28, 2018
VVanNess profile image

Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, educator, and blogger at Healthy at Home. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.

Save Money on Your Wedding Dress
Save Money on Your Wedding Dress | Source

When you first get out there and start looking for your perfect wedding dress, you'll no doubt notice not only the extreme amount of styles, and designers out there to choose from, but also the high price tags that go with them.

If you talk to anybody in the wedding industry, you'll hear that wedding dresses typically run around $5,000 and higher and to expect to pay less than this is futile. Not true at all!

Not only can you get a designer dress, if this is what you desire, but you can get the perfect dress for you and your wedding, for thousands less. Yes, I said thousands!

Unfortunately, there's a misconception that in order to get your dress for less you have to get a second-hand dress, one from the thrift store, or one from Craig's list. These are great ways to save money, but you definitely don't have to settle to get the wedding dress you really want.

With a little bit of effort, time, persistence and determination, oh, and some research, your dress is within reach. I would love to share with you how!

Getting a Brand-New Dress

Trunk Shows

A trunk show is essentially a wedding dress sale put on by bridal shops or directly by designers themselves in order to sell last year's designs at lower prices.

In these shows they typically sell remnant and leftover items from runways, samples, and so on. If you look up trunk shows online, you can find tons of them in your area along with the dates of the shows.

However, at trunk shows, dresses are being taken from $20,000 down to $10,000, and $10,000 down to $5,000. About the cheapest you'll find a dress at a trunk show is a few thousand dollars.

Buying Online From Forums

One of your other options for getting a dress that's brand-new is to check out online wedding dress forums. Many brides that no longer need their dresses, for one reason or another, but never got to wear them, are selling them in these forums.

You can get brand-new designer dresses for $800, $600, $300, and sometimes even $100, but not usually. The brides ordered and purchased their dresses brand-new from a bridal shop at anywhere from $1,200 to $3,000 typically, and are now selling them to you for half that price or less.

What's really great is that they typically include brand names, style numbers, the exact size and measurements, and any alterations, just like a brand-new dress, but better.

Have Your Dress Made For You
Have Your Dress Made For You | Source

Have One Made For You

As I'm going in price order, this one definitely needs to go next. For brides that are having trouble finding the dress they want, have decided that they want different parts of multiple dresses, or just want a dress handmade specifically for them, having a seamstress personally make you a dress can be nice.

These talented ladies can usually take even just a picture (or pictures) of the dress you want, and your measurements, and can put a dress together in a matter of 6 months.

If you have the time and patience, this could be an incredible option for you. Expect to pay about $500-$600 for these services.

Buy One Online

This is one option that's quickly gaining popularity amongst modern brides. Just like getting a dress made from a seamstress, you can have a specific dress made to your specific measurements and delivered to you through the mail.

Now, the majority of these companies are in China, and I'm not going to gain any popularity by admitting that these dresses are probably made by cheap labor. However, you are getting the dress of your dreams and only spending $100 or so.

They have great return policies if it doesn't come to you in the right size, the right color, or even if you just don't like the dress once you try it on. But I highly suggest you try dresses on before buying anything online.

Check out my articles on Finding Your Perfect Wedding Dress and How to Find the Right Dress for Your Shape before purchasing anything online please so you know you're getting the right one.

Find One at a Department Store

Stepping down in cost again, you can easily find a beautiful wedding dress in the least likely of places.

Department stores have tons of dresses available for great prices under $100. Although they come in a variety of colors, if you really find one that you like, you can ask the department store to order one for you in white.

Likely, every dress they have for sale can come in white if you request it. These stores simply don't typically order them as white dresses are not as popular as other colors. Consider getting your bridesmaids dresses this way as well!

Make Your Own

For a brand-new dress, one other option you have for sure is to make your own. It's actually not as bad as it sounds.

Check out How to Make Your Own Wedding Dress and Wedding Dress Fabric Choices Defined for a step-by-step guide for making your own as well as a thorough listing of all of the fabric choices you have available to you.

To go this direction, your expenditures will really depend on your choices. What pattern do you choose, what design have you chosen, how much fabric will you need for the train and your veil, are you using a liner, and are you making crinolines or a petticoat?

All of these will determine how much it will ultimately cost. I wouldn't expect to pay more than a couple hundred or so for this project.

Get a Used Wedding Dress
Get a Used Wedding Dress | Source

Getting a Used Dress

Buying "Off the Rack"

One option for purchasing a great dress is to purchase your wedding dress "off the rack." What this means is that when you visit a bridal shop, such as David's Bridal, Alfredo Angelo, or any of the other bridal shops in your area, you actually purchase the dress the you try on.

Likely the dress has been tried on by other brides, and it will probably need to be cleaned and altered for you, but it is much cheaper to buy off the rack rather than to go through the ordering process, which includes tons of extra charges and fees, along with the price of a brand-new dress.

There's nothing wrong with these dresses, and because you're buying them straight "off the rack," you can get an amazing deal on your dress. About the cheapest you can purchase a dress like this is $100-$200.

Buy One Online Used

Another great way to find a dress for an incredible price is to hop online and purchase one from a wedding dress retailer selling dresses for cheap, such as

I'm by no means recommending these shops or supporting them in any way. I am simply offering them as examples.

These shops have gotten quite good at purchasing used dresses from others, cleaning them, repackaging them, and selling them to new prospective brides.

Buy One From Craigslist or eBay

If you're not queasy about purchasing a used dress, or nervous about Craigslist or eBay, this is a great way to get a dress for cheap. I can't promise that the selection on either of these sites will be great, but if you're not picky or squeamish, this can be fun and easy.

I have sold many a bridal gown, petticoat and veil, along with tons of other wedding items, on Craigslist to thrilled brides getting a great deal on their items.

They're clean, I include pictures, sizes, and measurements, and this process allows brides to come and see the item(s), ask me any questions, and pay with cash. eBay is also great in that they have a buyer protection process to protect you from scams and bad deals.

Rent One From a Shop

If you don't care much for needing to keep the dress afterward as a memento, and aren't super attached to one particular wedding dress, this is a great option for you!

There are tons of companies that allow you simply to come and rent the dress for a short period of time. They will give it to you cleaned and pressed, and you can return it dirty for them to take care of the cleaning and pressing afterward.

Buy a Used Gown For Your Wedding
Buy a Used Gown For Your Wedding | Source

Buy One at A Thrift Store or Vintage Shop

A couple last options for you are still available. If you want the opportunity to go on the hunt for your own dress, especially if you are having a vintage event and want a dress of the same decade, thrift stores are for you.

I've personally found tons of great dresses that would make for beautiful wedding gowns at thrift stores, consignment shops, garage sales, vintage stores, and even some antique shops.

You'll never know what you can find if you really want to. Sometimes just the thought of going out and finding the right dress amongst all of the smaller mom and pops shops is enough to get some brides excited.

Borrow One From a Friend or Family Member

Finally, this is one sure way to keep from having to spend any money at all. It will also make someone in your family incredibly happy and create a family wedding dress for future generations.

Some brides find it very meaningful to wear their mother's or grandmother's wedding gown to their weddings.

Maybe you had a sister, or an aunt that recently married that has a beautiful gown they would let you borrow.

There are so many creative ways to save BIG money on your wedding dress. You can find or buy a brand-new one never worn by anyone else for your big day or you can find a used dress that may have only been used once, and make it your own.

There are the options that most people think of when they hear budget wedding or saving money on your dress like borrowing, renting or finding one from a thrift store, but this doesn't make them any less yours.

If this bothers you or you simply want a way to save without compromising your desire for a brand-new designer gown for your wedding, there are great options for doing that as well.

Please don't let stereotypes or what others think guide your money decisions, other than simply finding a reliable seller that will get you the dress you want at the price you decided to pay. Good luck in all of your efforts and I can't wait to see you in the next article!

I know you'll find that perfect dress!

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© 2013 Victoria Van Ness


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