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Your wedding dress will be one of the most important purchases you’ll ever make. Unfortunately, they are quite pricey. Dresses can range from $400 to $4,000, with the national average of a wedding dress costing $1,631. This hefty price tag paired with all of your other items on your long list of wedding day expenses, might put a big dent in your savings. But there are cheaper wedding dress options out there that can help you get the dress of your dreams while saving a few coins along the way. Check out these tips and tricks we’ve compiled to land an affordable wedding dress.

Why Do Wedding Dresses Cost So Much?

wedding dresses on rack

Credit: Unsplash

So, why exactly does a dress that you wear one time (hopefully) cost so much? Well, there are several reasons:

  • Brand Name: Big designers like Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta and Justin Alexander will always come at a higher price tag because of their popularity and reputation. A designer gown for a bride can cost several thousand dollars or even more.
  • Alterations: Taking in or letting out? Either way, alterations could run you anywhere between $150-600.
  • Workmanship: Labor is the reason that the dress with the brilliant silhouette, covered in intricate embellishments and hand-spun lace, comes with an expensive price tag. Dresses that require immense attention to detail and hand stitching tend to be more expensive.
  • Materials: Dresses made from expensive fabrics such as silk, satin, and tulle are all materials that will up the price of any garment.
  • Selling Emotions: This NPR article explains that we can’t (or won’t) put a number on weddings because it’s such an emotional event. This means that most shoppers are willing to pay more for wedding dresses even if it isn’t an economically smart decision to purchase one. In addition to this, wedding dresses are often social signals for wealth, status in society and how serious she is taking the impending marriage.

To put it simply: there is a lot of pressure to splurge on a dress.

Best Places To Buy Wedding Dresses on a Budget

wedding dresses on a budget

Lulu’s/Needle & Thread/ASOS

1. Lulus

Lulus is a popular online dress store with over 200 wedding dresses to choose from. Whether you are looking for regal floor-length gowns or sexy mini dresses, Lulus has white dresses for nearly every style. Best of all, you can find wedding dresses for under $100 too.

2. ModCloth

Not only will you find affordable dresses for your big day, but ModCloth has a lot of cute styles for those looking to stray from the conventional white dress look. ModCloth also has fun patterns and some dress sizes are available up to 4X.

3. TJ Maxx

If you’re willing to look, you can find some gems within TJ’s evening and formal clothing sections. Here you can also purchase designer and elegant fashion jewelry for your big day at significantly discounted prices.


Though ASOS is known for streetwear, they have an entire section on their website dedicated to wedding day accessories and apparel. ASOS EDITION has so many styles, from plunge designs and open backs to boho wedding dresses and jumpsuits for something different.

5. David’s Bridal

This is probably the most well-known place to buy affordable wedding dresses. The online bridal shop has a wide selection of styles, accessories, and even tuxedos.

6. Amazon

You can truly buy anything on Amazon – including wedding dresses. Shop thousands of styles and accessories all in one place. Another bonus: some dresses even have Amazon Prime shipping.

7. Revolve

Revolve has a ton of trendy options for wedding dresses. If you’re looking for more minimalist dresses, this is the retailer for you. The prices range from $100-$400 – what a steal!

8. Needle & Thread

Needle & Thread has a variety of elegant and classic options for the bride, including opulent dresses made with sequin and ruffles. Dresses average around $500 so you can look beautiful on your wedding day without breaking the bank. As an added bonus, some dresses are labeled as “responsibly sourced” so you can feel comfortable knowing your gown was created ethically.

9. eShakti

eShakti offers made-to-order dresses that can be customized by neckline, sleeve and length. Want a V-neck instead of a scoop neck? Knee-length instead of ankle-length? You can customize each dress to your liking. You can find bridal dresses for you and bridesmaid dresses for under $100, and some dresses even give you the option to add a pocket.

10. Reformation

Featuring more fashion-forward bridal gowns with off-the-shoulder styles and A-line dresses, Reformation combines sustainability and affordability into its pieces.  The dresses average between $300-$600 and are guaranteed to leave a memorable impression on your guests.

Best Ways To Save Money on Your Wedding Gown

couple in untraditional wedding colors

Credit: Unsplash

Surprisingly, there are actually a lot of ways you can save money when you’re shopping for a wedding dress. Check them out:

1. Shop Lesser known brands

Shopping for smaller names brands is a great way to save money. These brands are often less expensive because they aren’t as widely known or in high demand.

2. Buy in January

It’s kind of a poorly kept secret in the wedding industry that January is the best month to buy a wedding dress. This is because January is the month when designers often drop new collections and offer discounted pricing on older collections. Buy you can still find deals in May and well into the summer if you shop for designs from the previous season. Wedding dresses never really go out of style year-to-year (they usually only change the most over a decade) so feel free to shop past collections to save.

3. Buy Second-Hand

You can find second-hand wedding dresses for a third of the cost of the original price. And since wedding dresses are only worn once, they are probably still in great condition. You might even find some gorgeous and unique vintage dresses being listed. Facebook Marketplace is a great and user-friendly place to look for second-hand dresses.

4. Don’t Count Out Dupes

If you fell in love with a brand-name dress but it’s too expensive, consider looking for a dress of a similar design from a lesser-known brand. Chances

5. Try Non-traditional Colors

There is no rule saying you have to wear white on your wedding day. Picking a non-traditional color will allow you to avoid the costs that are attached to dresses in the wedding category.

6. Use Cheaper Materials

You can still get a quality and gorgeous dress from materials such as polyester or chiffon. Oftentimes, you can have a seamstress make a similar dress with these cheaper materials.

7. Keep it Simple

Not only is the minimalist look in, opting for dresses with little to no embellishments and details is one way to keep the cost down.

Online Wedding Dress Shopping? Follow These Tips.

woman measuring waist with tape measure

Credit: Pixabay

More than ever, people are opting to purchase their wedding dresses online. To ensure you get the best bang for your buck, here are some things to look out for when you’re browsing the web for the perfect dress:

1. Know Your Measurements

Wedding dresses tend to run smaller. So, definitely check the sizing chart and do your own measurements to ensure you are purchasing the most accurate size dress. In doing this, you can eliminate or significantly cut down on alteration costs.

2. Order Ahead

In a time where shipment delays are becoming increasingly more common, ensuring that you give yourself enough time between your wedding day and dress delivery date is probably a good idea.

3. Study the Return Policies

The only thing worse than receiving a dress that is vastly different from what was advertised is not being able to return it if it falls short of your expectations. Before you hit the checkout button, read up on the retailer’s return policy.

4.  Carefully Read the Product Descriptions

Reading the product description will clear up the unknowns such as materials, fit, and even how the dress is lined.

5. Read Reviews

People get brutally honest in the review section. You can use these reviews to map out a solid pros and cons list and avoid any potential issues that other customers have run into.

6. Get Your Credit Card Ready

Dresses can go fast. You might have already envisioned yourself in the dress and then poof, it’s sold out. To prevent this, you can set up alerts on dresses that you’ve had your eye on and get notified when the stock of your dress begins to plummet.


Kennedy Rasberry

Kennedy Rasberry is a Fellow at Complex Networks and a recent graduate of Ohio University. Her work has been published in Complex Magazine, Melanin in the Media, and The Northern Quota. As she adjusts to post-college life, she has been writing about the things she loves (mostly hair products and makeup) and when she’s not doing that, she is chronically online.