Let’s consider the average cost of wedding dress attire:
o The average cost of a wedding dress is approximately $800 to $1,500
o The average headpiece can cost between $150 to $300
o The average cost of shoes is $50
Given this, you would expect to budget at least $1,000 for your wedding dress. This can create a severe case of sticker shock especially when you consider this is for a one-time event. Following are 10 money saving tips for selecting one for those on tighter budgets.
1. Make Your Wedding Dress – If you have a sewing talent, make your own wedding dres or find a seamstress in the family to make one for you. Or, find an experienced seamstress to create a design from a magazine picture. This costs about 50% less than what you would pay for an almost identical brand label dress in a boutique. If you choose this path, find a designer or seamstress that is well-known and can provide you with references from previous bridal clients (and check those references!). Ask to see pictures of previous work done and ensure that the designer has specific experience with bridal wear as bridal apparel involves specialized techniques when designing and sewing the gowns.
2. Rent a Wedding Dress – If finances don’t allow you to purchase a designer wedding dress, consider renting. Check the yellow pages in your area or in a nearby city for formal wear stores. Many stores rent both dressy formal wear and bridal gowns; others specialize in bridal attire.
3. Shop at Boutique Alternatives – Check out consignment shops or visit a bridal outlet store. Find fantastic bargains on wedding dresses, veils and other bridal accessories without having to pay the full retail price.
4. Borrow a Wedding Dress – Consider them worn by your mother, aunt, sister or friend. Not only is this a cost saving, but also adds sentiment to your special day. Also inquire about veils and other bridal accessories they may still have. Shoes can be dyed and worn again.
5. Check the Newspaper Classifieds – Sometimes weddings are canceled or newly married brides are trying to recoup some of the money just spent so they place an ad in the newspaper in an effort to sell theirs. Even if it needs to be altered and cleaned, this may still be a less expensive alternative.
6. Negotiate with Bridal Salons – Call bridal shops in your area to see if they have any wedding dresses that have never been picked up. Sometimes a bride will put a deposit on one and never returns to pick it up. Since the shop already received a deposit they may be willing to sell it to you for the remaining balance. If you find a dress that is out of your price range, see if the dress can be made in a less expensive fabric. Also check to see if they will give you a discount on yours if you purchase all of the bridesmaid’s dresses from them. It never hurts to ask!
7. Look for Sales – The larger bridal shops tend to have sales once a year, usually held at hotels or other venues.
8. Shop In-Season – For an informal wedding, consider wearing a white bridesmaids dress. Check for gowns in department stores during prom season and around New Year’s when there is more of a variety. If possible, shop for your wedding shoes in the summer when it is more common to find white shoes in department stores or discount shoe stores instead of paying bridal shop prices for shoes.
9. Minimize Design Changes & Alterations – Find a wedding dress that has the design elements you want and avoid expensive changes such as modifying the train length. Keep alterations to a minimum by ordering closest to your size (to your largest measurement according to the manufacturers size chart).
10. Search Online – If you have an idea as to the style you prefer, check online. Online ‘dress stores’ will generally be less expensive, giving you more to play with on your bridal budget.