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clothing rack with blue and cream colored wedding dresses

10 Secrets to Nabbing Gorgeous Gowns at Reasonable Prices

One of the biggest and most important expenses for a bride is her coveted wedding dress. According to a 2018 study from TheKnot.com, the average wedding dress costs just over $1,600 including alterations. Of course, not every bride wants to shell out that much dough for a dress she’s going to wear once.

In order to save money on a gorgeous gown, you need to know where to shop, what to expect, and ways to save on the embellishments and accessories. Here are our top 10 secrets to nabbing a gorgeous gown at a reasonable price.

1. Make Your Own Wedding Dress

Make your own wedding dress

Most fabric shops carry wedding dress patterns, making a DIY dress an affordable option. If you don’t trust yourself to make your own dress, ask a family member to help or hire a professional seamstress.

Etsy is another option if you’re okay shopping online for your wedding dress. You can talk to the designer, send her your measurements, and wait for your handmade dress to arrive! No matter which way you go, you’ll have a custom-designed gown at a way cheaper price than a bridal shop.

2. Shop The Sample Sales

clothing rack full of wedding dresses

This budget-friendly option is one of the best choices if your heart is set on having a designer dress. 

Bridal salons clear out their sample dresses a few times a year to make room for new styles. Some stores even offer appointments during these sales. Just remember that you’re leaving the store with that specific gown—cleaning, steaming and alterations are all up to you. Check for imperfections and signs of wear and tear.

3. Borrow a Relatives’ Dress

Wear a relatives' dress

Wearing the same gown as your mother or grandmother will add a ton of sentimental value to your wedding day—and save you some cash too! If your family member isn’t emotionally attached to the gown, they may allow you to alter the dress to fit your size or style. Maybe you can embellish the skirt or add sleeves to create a totally unique look while keeping the cost down.

If you’re returning the dress to the original owner, be sure to get the dress professionally cleaned immediately after the wedding.

4. Buy a Used Dress Online

bride throwing bouquet to women

Your next option to save money is to buy a used wedding dress. Many brides are willing to sell their dress since they won’t wear it again. The gowns are usually in like-new condition and cost much less than a new dress. A number of websites specialize in buying and selling used wedding dresses like:

5. Choose a Color Other Than White

Black & white wedding dress

Colorful wedding dresses are totally in style right now. 

Wow your wedding guests by walking down the aisle in a beautiful blush or even black gown! You may even fall in love with a patterned dress. If you open yourself up to a range of colors, the sky's the limit. Not ready to take the color plunge?

Accessories like shoes, a sash, or a headpiece are ways to add a splash of color and can be bought anywhere!

6. Rent a Dress

clothing rack with blue and cream colored wedding dresses

If men can rent a tux, why can’t you rent a wedding dress? This option allows you to wear the dress of your dreams without taking up room in your closet (and budget) for something you’ll never wear again.

Some of our favorite rental services are:

7. Don’t Underestimate Department & Retail Stores (Especially Online)BHLDN wedding dress

Many department stores and off-the-rack retailers are embracing brides on a budget. Select brick-and-mortar stores even offer appointments, treating you just like a bride at a regular bridal salon.

Bonus: the dresses don’t take months to arrive in store and can be returned if needed. Some of our favorites include Nordstrom, ASOS, BHLDN, ModCloth, Reformation, The Outnet, Fame & Partners.

8. Check Consignment Shops

partially open door entering into clothing shop

If you’re not willing to shop online, there are a number of secondhand stores you can shop to find your perfect gown! You’re sure to find something one-of-a-kind at a vintage store or consignment shop. If you’re wanting something totally unique, piece together your whole wedding ensemble from thrift store finds!

9. Buy a Bridesmaids Dress in Ivory or White

Bridesmaids dress in ivory

Another thing to consider while wedding dress shopping is the type of dress you’re looking for. If you’re planning a simple beach wedding or elopement, a fun bridesmaid dress may be just enough for your big day! Your wallet will thank you later.

10. Choose a Simple Style, then Add Bling

bride wearing sweetheart wedding dress with a big flower necklace

The more embellishments, lace or sequins a dress has, the more likely the price will rise. If you want to stay frugal, pick a simple style paired with bright and bold accessories to add shine. Trust us—it will cost you way less in the long run.

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