It’s the stuff that little girls’ dreams are made of. It may be a cherished family heirloom. It is the focal point of stunning photographs that will grace mantels and side tables for years to come. To many brides, it’s the most important aspect of the most important day of their lives.
We’re talking about the wedding dress, of course.
Given that the average wedding now sets back enamored couples and/or their parents a whopping $34,000, many brides might be hesitant to fork over $1,600 (the average gown cost) for a dress that they’ll only wear once. Luckily, with a little imagination and investigative skills, it’s easy to find affordable wedding dresses that don’t compromise on style. Let’s take a closer look!
1. Go Secondhand Shopping
Plenty of brides save themselves big bucks by wearing a secondhand — or “gently used” — gown. This is an especially smart solution for offbeat brides whose taste caters to retro styles or one-of-a-kind clothing. If the idea of pawing through flouncy, frilly racks of 1980s-era frippery at a thrift store doesn’t appeal to you, don’t fret. Secondhand wedding dresses are available at a variety of retail establishments.
Check consignment shops, which usually have a higher standard than their charity-shop counterparts. Look into stores that specialize in lightly worn wedding apparel, and many bridal boutiques have a selection of not-quite-new gowns. There are also oodles of online outlets, from auction sites and local classifieds to resale sites like:
I (M) have personally found a couple of high-end designer dresses on StillWhite for a fraction of the original cost. Soo worth it! Don’t worry about it not being your perfect size or fit – once you get the dress you can easily take it to a local seamstress and have it tailored just for you.
2. Consider Renting
Since you’ll only wear the dress for a few hours, it makes sense to rent it rather than to purchase it. Rentals are surprisingly affordable, with some online services starting at less than $100. Depending on where you live, a local rental shop is worth checking out if you’re the tactile type who wants to see and touch the gown in person.
Another major advantage of this approach is the fact that you don’t need to worry about cleaning the gown after the big day. Simply package it in the provided box and ship it back.
You can find dresses to rent here:
3. Hand-Me-Down Wedding Dresses
It used to be that women would save their wedding dresses to offer to their daughters down the line, but that practice is falling out of favor. Nevertheless, sentimental brides might find a major score by asking relatives and even beloved family friends if they have a dress to pass along. Imagine how much it would mean to a loved one in your life to provide this very special “something borrowed.”
Just be sure to establish whether the dress is a loaner or an outright gift, to avoid miscommunication and hurt feelings down the line.
4. Try Something Non-traditional
Nowhere is it inscribed in stone that you must wear a bridal gown to get married in. If your style isn’t particularly feminine, or you just want a different silhouette, consider wearing a tailored white skirt suit — or even one with (gasp!) pants. Or pair up separates that you adore (and can wear separately later on).
For that matter, while white is traditional, you can get married in any color you want. Don’t discount prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses, or elegant evening gowns. What’s important is that you choose clothing that makes you feel beautiful and comfortable without breaking the bank.
Affordable Wedding Dresses Are Out There!
Any bride can go into a boutique and find dozens of dresses that she’ll look stunning in. It takes a very special bride to think outside the proverbial box and search through a wide array of affordable wedding dresses to discover — and/or create — an ensemble that is absolutely perfect for them!
Here are some sites that will sell you a brand new wedding dress for a fraction of what a “normal” wedding dress will cost: