budget living relationships

Ways you can save on your wedding dress

Just a MomentI have a number of friends getting married over the summer, which means they’re smack in the middle of the wedding planning rush.

Most wedding timetables tell brides-to-be they should get their bridal gowns at least 6 months ahead of time (if not up to 9 months ahead). This gives the bridal shop time to make your dress if it needs to be custom-made, as well as time for you to have at least 1-2 fittings to make sure everything looks just right.

So that means that if you’re planning a summer wedding, now is the time to start dress shopping!

As a huge fan of Say Yes to the Dress, I can tell you that brides can and do pay ridiculous amounts for their dresses—anywhere from $2,000 up to tens of thousands! Personally, my dress cost $900 on sale (including alterations), and my entire wedding with everything included was less than $10,000. I know people who have slashed number that in half and more.

But even if you’re really bargain savvy, one thing most brides don’t want to “skimp” on is their wedding gown. It’s the thing we dream of ever since we’re a little girl. It’s the thing we’ll remember for years to come in our wedding pictures.

So how do you get the gown of your dreams while still maintaining a frugal wedding budget? Think about these alternative options:

Have a crafty friend make your dress. Do you have a relative or friend who’s a genius seamstress? Ask them if they’d be willing to make your dress for you. Not only will you save money, but it will make it that much more of a special keepsake knowing it was made with love.

Wear a family heirloom. If you like the vintage look, this could be perfect for you—if not, and if the dress’s original owner doesn’t mind, you can have it altered to make it more modern. Turning a long puff-sleeved gown into a strapless is a lot less pricey than buying a whole new dress.

Buy a gently used dress. Consignment shops, vintage shops, and even places like AmVets and Salvation Army can have wedding gowns at huge discounts. You can also find gently used dresses on places like Craigslist and eBay. Just like a passed-down dress, you may need to have some alterations made for the dress to fit your vision, but it’s still a steal.

Take advantage of sample sales. Many bridal shops have off-season “sample sales” where you can get gorgeous gowns at fantastic prices.  Just be prepared to put on your game face…sample sale bridges can be competitive!

Don’t go the expected route. Who says you have to have a princess ball gown with a mile-long train? Maybe you’d be more comfortable dancing it up at your reception in a cute white cocktail dress. If you’re having a beach or backyard wedding, maybe a pretty white sundress would fit your theme more. The most important thing about your dress is that it reflects you and your personals style…not what people think a bride is “supposed” to look like.

Consider renting a dress. More and more websites specialize in this option, and some bridal stores offer it, too. Since this is a dress you’ll only be wearing for one night, this option can make a lot of sense budget-wise…just make sure you’re ready to be careful on your big day! You don’t want someone stepping on your train or spilling wine on a rented gown.

Married ladies out there, did you use any tricks to save money on your wedding dress? Share them with us in the comments!





photo credit:  Nicholaus Haskins


  • I have to say renting a dress sounds like a great idea.

    Plus, even though your dress is in all your pictures, does everyone remember it?

    My cousin Nicole had a really frugal wedding, and she got her dress from a thrift shop and it looked like a white prom style dress. Her husband got a light blue suit and they looked fantastic! We all had so much fun at the wedding and she was comfortable and ready to have fun and I think it was a huge success..

    In the end I think she is just as happy.

    • And that’s all that matters! All that wedding-y stuff that people get so tied up over…favors, place cards, cake, invitations…in the end, all that matters is that you and your guests have a good time and that it’s the start of a happy new life together.

      Congrats to your cousin!

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