On TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress, cameras follow brides as they shop for the perfect wedding dress at one of Manhattan’s most famous and posh bridal boutiques. Thousands of dollars later, they have a white lace, silk, or tulle gown that they will wear for exactly one day.
Think that’s crazy? Yeah, me too.
Fortunately, there are many easy ways to save big bucks on a wedding dress and still look stunning while walking down the aisle. Here are 15 ways to save money on your wedding dress.
How to Save Money on Your Wedding Dress
1. Stick to a Budget
If you write down your dress budget on paper, you are more likely to stick to your budget. (In fact, you should write down your budget for your entire wedding plan, including wedding venue, wedding food, and wedding music.) Remember to include in your dress budget money for alterations (estimate about $100), accessories (perhaps another $100 to $200), and dress cleaning costs for after the wedding (could be up to $300).
2. Borrow a Dress
Do you know someone who is about your same size? Would they be willing to let you borrow their dress? Hopefully not too many people who were at her wedding will be at your wedding thinking about how familiar your dress looks! Also, consider borrowing your mother’s dress if she still has it.
3. Buy a Used Dress
You can get some great deals by buying a used dress. Sometimes “used” dresses are not really used but simply “pre-owed” if a bride-to-be called off her wedding or had purchased more than one dress. Check out PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com to find yourself a good deal.
4. Rent a Dress
When there is something that you need for a short duration of time, you don’t buy it, you rent it. For example, on moving day, you rent a moving truck instead of buying one. The same argument can be used for a wedding dress. It’s expensive and will only be used for one day.
5. Buy a Dress Off the Rack
To buy a dress off the rack means to buy a sample dress that is in a bridal store. Bridal stores typically carry sample dresses all in one size. When you order your dress, it will be custom-made just for you. However, bridal stores can sell you their ready-made dresses at a discount if all you will need are minor alterations.
6. Shop Online
By shopping online you are going to greatly increase your options. You are much more likely to find the style of dress you like at the price the fits your budget. One word of caution: make sure there is a return policy just in case the dress is not as impressive in person.
7. Look at Outlet Stores
Just as you would shop at the outlet mall for all your other needs, check out an outlet bridal store for your dress. So what if it is last season’s dress; no one will know the difference if it looks stunning on you!
8. Shop at Bridal Chains
Don’t even bother going in fancy boutiques if you only have a budget of a few hundred dollars. There are lots of bridal chains that offer unbelievable deals on dresses. Some of these chains, such as David’s Bridal, offer dresses for as low as $99.
9. Shop Early
Many bridal stores offer sales during their off-season, which is in the fall. Shopping during the off-season is one of the best ways to save big bucks on your wedding.
10. Don’t Forget to Negotiate
Even if you are unable to negotiate on the dress itself, see if you can negotiate a discount on shoes, a veil, accessories, and alterations. When I was shopping for a wedding dress, I saw these $400 veils. Just for fun, I tried one on and asked for a discount on the veil if I bought a dress there. The salesperson agreed, but at a boutique with $400 veils, the dresses weren’t exactly in my price range either.
11. Consider Sales Tax
Let’s say I live in New Jersey where the sales tax is 7%. I find the perfect dress for $1,000 so my sales tax is going to be $70. Now if I know someone who lives not too far away in Delaware, where there is no state sales tax, I could ask that person to buy the dress for me at a local boutique that carried the same designer to save myself $70. See this states sales tax rates comparison for more information.
12. Make Your Own Dress
You do not have to physically make your own, but you could either have a friend or family member make it, or you could hire a seamstress. This is perfect for the bride who wants to design her own one-of-a-kind dress!
13. Keep It Simple
When my sister was dress shopping, she tried on a $12,ooo Vera Wang dress (just for fun.) The dress was so heavy with material that she could barely move. While the dress was beautiful, there really was no need for my sister to have a dress with so much material and embellishments. Choose a simple design as well as less expensive material.
14. Keep an Open Mind
Even if you are not crazy about a dress on the rack, try it on. Try on every dress you can because dresses look completely different on a person than on a hanger. Start with the most inexpensive ones and work your way up. You might just be surprised. This is how I snagged a great dress at an amazing price for my wedding.
15. Run with the Brides
Each Filene’s Basement store has an annual Running of the Brides where you can get super-expensive designer dresses for less than 1/4 of the price. Grab a few of your girlfriends and make sure to get there early (a few hours before doors open, at least) to snag the best gowns.
There are so many ways to save money on a wedding dress that it is possible for every bride to get the dress she wants at a price she can afford. You will only be wearing this dress for one day in your life so keep that thought in mind as you search for your dress. Happy shopping!
What kind of wedding dress did you end up getting and how much did it cost? Share your best tricks for saving money on dresses here.
(photo credit: Shutterstock)