Saving Money On The Wedding Dress

Wedding gowns can be expensive.

A lot of my brides come to me with ‘sticker shock’, having found out that the dress of their dreams is topping $3000.

This expense comes before sales tax, alterations, a bustle, accessories, and cleaning. I don’t think I have to say ‘yikes’ here to drive home the point.

At the higher price points, the bead work, fabrics, and styling tend to be more luxurious. This doesn’t mean that a low-priced wedding gown is junk! As a matter of fact, there are ways to find great prices on your wedding day attire, save money on the wedding dress of your dreams, and walk down the aisle feeling absolutely gorgeous.

Read on for my tips on saving money on the wedding dress!

Buttoning the Dress by  Sheena Harper Photography

Buttoning the Dress by Sheena Harper Photography

Don’t try on gowns above your budget

Set yourself a budget, and don’t go wildly over it (no matter how tempting it is).

If you have a $900 budget and try on a $6000 Monique Lhullier ‘just for kicks’, you WILL be leaving the bridal salon either heartbroken or totally broke.

If you are struggling to find something you love at your budget, find ways to increase it (who really needs a chocolate fountain, anyways?) or keep looking. Your dress is out there!

Keep an open mind

That $4500 Lazaro gown may have caught your eye, but there are often slightly different versions of popular styles offered at a lower price point.

Look at what has drawn you into the more expensive gown, and find those details in dresses at your price point. Start first with the shape, but also consider the fabric. You may be amazed at what you find! Ask your bridal consultant for advice.

Awaiting the Bride by  Lindy Hickman Photography

Awaiting the Bride by Lindy Hickman Photography

Dress it up

Instead of putting money into the gown itself, find a simple no-frills gown within your budget and splurge a bit on accessories.

An elegant headpiece, veil, blingy belt, or designer shoes can take any dress and make it look and feel very expensive!

Think outside of the box when shopping for accessories. You do not have to buy your bridal belt and headband from the bridal salon. Instead, try shopping antique and estate sales, Etsy, and bridal swaps on Facebook. You never know what you might find. 


This one isn’t for every bride, but for the gal looking for an eco-conscious option, who isn’t super sentimental about the dress, renting a wedding gown can be a great option.

Check out these gorgeous options on Rent the Runway:

Here Comes the Bride by  Scott Quinn Photography

Here Comes the Bride by Scott Quinn Photography

Buy a Used Wedding Dress

Used gym clothes are gross.

Used bridal gowns on the other hand can be amazing.

A lot of brides sell their high-end designer gowns at a significant discount. They are clean and mostly likely already have a bustle (save more money!).

Check your local area for a bridal consignment store, where you can go in and shop the racks.

You can also look online. Pre Owned Wedding Dresses offers an online consignment experience where brides can sell and buy gowns. Search your size, favorite designers, and even search by specific style, fabrics, shapes, and colors.

Shop The Wedding Dress Sample Sale

Follow the social media accounts of your favorite local bridal salons. They occasionally have ‘sample sales’, where they offer gowns off-the-rack. These are cash and carry, as-is gowns and you just might strike gold!

These gowns are often a collection of gowns that other brides have tried on in the store, as well as bridal returns and more. The discounts are often amazing.

You may need to pay for cleaning and some minor repairs, but it’s well worth looking! I know brides that have worn $1500+ silk satin wedding gowns down the aisle, that they paid just $150 for.

Most bridal salons also have a sale rack. Ask your consultant about it, especially if you are on a time crunch to find something.

What NOT to do when trying to save money on your wedding dress

I cannot write a money-saving budget bride post without including a one major heartbreaking pitfall to avoid.

If you look on Amazon, Ebay, and Google, you can find designer gowns at incredible prices.

A $2200 Watters gown for $125.

A $6800 Pnina Tornei for $230.

A $980 Marisa for $98.

These prices are too good to be true. A lot of sellers will use commercial designer photos to advertise their knockoff wedding gowns.

Among the things that I’ve seen and heard, these gowns may:

  • Be made of cheap satin with crooked seams and terrible fit

  • Smell of cigarettes and cat urine

  • Rip when the bride puts them on

  • Have zippers that give out during the ceremony

  • Look nothing like the designer original

  • Show up late (too late)

If you are already on a budget, these gowns are NOT worth the risk. At best they are a copyright violation, at worst, they can ruin your day. Don’t let this happen to you!

I hope you found my post today helpful! I love to help couples plan their dream day and save money at the same time. Send me a note, I’d love to hear from you!

Colorado Wedding Photographers Featured in this Post:

Sheena Harper Photography

Lindy Hickman Photography

Scott Quinn Photography

Dawn Sparks Photography

Wanda Bonner