7 Ways to Save Money on a Wedding Dress

A strapless wedding dress witha full skirt hanging in front of a window.

Finding your perfect wedding dress can be one of the most exciting moments of the wedding planning process. But it’s also often a significantly expensive endeavor. Here are some ways to save money on this big purchase and still end up with a beautiful gown.

1. Consider Renting a Wedding Dress

There are many websites where you can actually rent a dress for your wedding day. The great thing about this is that it gives you the option to rent a gown that might be much too far out of the budget to purchase, but costs significantly less to rent—and therefore might now be an option for your big day! If you’ve fallen in love with a gown that you’re positive is out of your budget, check out a dress rental site and see if you might still be able to make that dream come true!

2. Shop at a Bridal Outlet or Sample Sale

A rack of various wedding dresses against a white brick wall at a sample sale.

Bridal outlet stores selling “out of season” designer gowns for a fraction of the cost or sample sales at bridal boutiques, where dresses are significantly marked down from standard pricing, are both great options for brides looking to save some serious cash on a gorgeous designer gown. These vendors and sales make great options in particular for brides who have designer dreams but require a lower-budget choice. Sometimes these pieces sell for up to 80% off their retail prices! This is also a great option for brides who know they need the dress sooner rather than later, as these sale prices generally mean you will be leaving with the gown in hand.

3. Shop at Mass Market Retailers Rather than Boutiques

These days, large retailers like Anthropologie and Dillard’s have their own bridal lines, and the dresses tend to be significantly less in price than those in boutique stores. If you know you like an aesthetic that’s offered at one of those stores, try on gowns there first before going to a bridal boutique. This is also a great option if you want to spend more on alterations to personalize a gown to your fit and style. (Just make sure ahead of time that the changes you want are actually feasible for the dress and the budget you’re working with.)

4. Arrive to Your Bridal Appointment Prepared

A bride trying on a wedding dress at a bridal appointment.

Do your research and show up to any bridal appointment prepared with not only knowledge of the styles and designs you might like to try on, but also your official dress budget. Most importantly, do not try on any dresses that are over your budget! Trying on a dress you can’t afford is simply the easiest way to fall in love with it and end up either spending much more than you intended or leaving the store frustrated and disappointed. It is your consultant’s job to sell you a gown, so be prepared to stand your ground on what dresses you’re willing to try on. This may feel hard in the moment with so many options surrounding you, but it will make for a better experience (and a more budget-friendly one!) in the end.

5. DIY Your Accessories Instead of Purchasing Brand New

At bridal salons, it’s standard for consultants to show brides not only the gowns, but also jewelry and accessories that go well with the dress. This might include sashes, belts, veils, tiaras, and a whole host of other pieces. In the store, they may make it seem as though the gown purchase would be incomplete without snagging these other items, too. Hold off on this decision and see what you can piece together yourself separately before paying the boutique price tag for any accessories. Remember, most boutiques keep these items in stock, so you can probably wait on a decision if you want to think about a piece before buying it. Take a photo of the item with the name or barcode number so you have a reference point. You can always go back and purchase it later if you can’t find something else that’s suitable.

6. Wear a Vintage Wedding Dress

A bride wearing a vintage wedding dress as she walks across a lawn with her groom.

Wearing a family member’s vintage wedding dress can be both beautiful and meaningful, so this is a great budget-friendly option for many brides. If you don’t have any family members whose gowns are available or appropriate to your style, search for vintage options elsewhere! Shopping at thrift stores, vintage boutiques, and consignment shops might sound risky, but many of these places do often get beautiful dresses in stock so they’re worth a look if you haven’t found the aesthetic you’ve been seeking thus far. Places online like Etsy and various other websites also have vintage gowns for significantly less than the cost of a high-end designer gown. It’s important to know that with all wedding dresses—but with vintage ones in particular—sizing can be confusing and complicated, so be very careful about reading precise measurements before purchasing.

7. Wear a Secondhand Wedding Dress

If you’re hoping for a more modern style or silhouette and know the vintage look isn’t for you, you can still purchase a gently-used gown in a style that better suits your tastes. In the past, there used to be some stigma attached to wearing a “used” gown, but these days many brides are choosing to sell their gowns after the big day simply because they don’t have use to wear them again! Searching social media sites, resale sites or apps, and even websites specifically devoted to secondhand wedding dresses will bring up lots of beautiful, affordable options.

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