I paid $220 for my wedding dress. My colleague Angie got hers for $125. Since we were both footing the bill for our own weddings, there was precious little in the budget for our gowns. We both looked lovely, by the way, even without spending two months’ rent on our wedding attire. Here are some of our tried-and-true wedding dress shopping secrets for brides on a budget: Dig through department stores
Angie had no problem shopping a sale at Macy’s; though not designed specifically for weddings, her long, white Battenberg lace dress was a lot less pricey! So if pretty-and-white will work for you, check out the formal wear at your favorite department store.
Check out bridesmaid dress options
I wanted my wedding gown to be sexy and glamorous—and when I tried on a certain raspberry chiffon Watters bridesmaid’s dress, I couldn’t imagine letting my gal-pals steal the spotlight in that red-hot number! Shopping the ‘maids catalogs is a great way to save. Find what you like and then order it in white or ecru (or maybe like me, you’ll decide to walk down the aisle in living color!)
Sure, maybe you’ll get lucky and find a once-used Reem Acra silk wedding dress in size 6 on eBay…but what if you don’t? Reputable, quality bridal resale stores offer more options with less risk. They also offer consignment options online! Websites offer new, sample and used wedding dresses at killer prices.
Rent and return
Nowadays you don't even have to purchase a wedding gown. You can rent one! Online or local rental shops are a great option with tons of bridesmaid dresses and a smaller selection of bridal gowns. You can find lots of dresses with that designer-chic at a deeply discounted price.
Seek out sample sales
Shopping wedding dress sample sales can yield pretty amazing designer bargains. Sign up for email updates from your favorite local bridal salons so you'll be informed about their upcoming sale events. Some of our best tips? Arrive early (with an appointment, if required!), wear your bridal undergarments, and know your size in advance.
(The most common sizes at Sample Sales are 8 and 10, but often these can be altered for a custom fit.)
Sale events are great for bargain hunting, but normally don't come with the same personalized attention you'd receive at a one-on-one bridal salon appointment. And be sure to factor in the cost of professional dry cleaning!
Happy dress shopping!