The Top Strategies for Affordable Wedding Dress Shopping
The perfect wedding dress needn't break the bank
Being a bride is a pinch-me, once-in-a-lifetime moment that many of us have dreamed about for many years. A day when we are the center of attention, forever in the spotlight, with all eyes on us. With that in mind, a statement, show-stopping gown is called for! A design that demands attention and suits your very own unique style. Something you'll look back on in wedding photos years from now and adore. But, there's no getting away from the fact that bridal gowns are expensive, and if your budget is tight, it can be difficult to find the perfect wedding day look. Fortunately, there are ways to buy affordable wedding dresses that offer show-stopping design and feel that every bride wants in their bridal look. And today we'll share just how to do it!
In the realm of bridal fashion, there exists a treasure trove of options that align with both your vision and your budget. From sample sales and trunk shows to consignment shops and online marketplaces, savvy brides are discovering that affordability and beauty can coexist seamlessly.
Imagine walking down the aisle in a gown that not only captures your essence but also leaves room in your budget for other important elements of your wedding. Embrace the thrill of the hunt, exploring both traditional bridal stores and unconventional outlets that specialize in affordable yet stunning dresses.
Consider the allure of pre-loved dresses – many brides-to-be have found hidden gems in vintage shops or through online platforms. These dresses often carry a unique history and charm, adding an extra layer of significance to your special day.
Don't underestimate the power of simplicity. Minimalistic and timeless designs can be just as breathtaking as intricate, high-end creations. Focus on styles that resonate with you personally, and you might discover that the perfect dress doesn't need extravagant embellishments to make a statement.
- How to Find Wedding Dresses on a Budget
- Rent Your Wedding Dress
- Don't Go Over Your Budget
- Keep it Simple
- Go Off-the-Rack
- Keep Your Eye on the Trunk Show Circuit
- Browse Pre-owned Bridal
- Consider a Bridal Gown from a Mass Retailer
How to Find Wedding Dresses on a Budget
There's no need to splurge your budget just to make a statement on your big day. Here are some savvy-shopper ways to save money on your wedding gown.
Rent Your Wedding Dress
We're starting off with, in our opinion, the best way to shop for wedding dresses on a budget — unless you're particularly sentimental… Because when renting, obviously, you do need to give the dress back after you've worn it. But if you think about it, when are you going to wear it again? Probably never. So why not treat yourself to a designer wedding dress that would otherwise be out of your purchase price range.
There are countless online wedding dress rental stores, and even physical wedding wardrobe spaces available, depending on your location.
Don't Go Over Your Budget
Before you start wedding dress shopping, just as with every other part of your wedding budget, you must know how much you can spend.
A good bridal store stylist will ask you your wedding dress budget, so they can show you gowns that fit within that price range. But if not, be sure to let them know you're a bride on a budget.
If you're unsure of how much to budget for your wedding dress, you should check out our wedding budget breakdown, as that offers guidance on every part of wedding financial planning. There you'll see that roughly 10% of your total budget should be set aside for bridal. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it should give you an idea of what you have to work with when buying wedding dresses.
Keep it Simple
It almost goes without saying, but the more complicated and ornate your dress is, the higher the price tag will be. But choosing a simple wedding dress doesn't mean it has to be boring. Alterations experts can work miracles with a needle and thread, turning a once plain tulle ball gown, into a silhouette fit for a princess! Besides, every wedding dress needs to go for alterations anyway, so you might as well add on a few elements while you're there. A process that's surprisingly cheaper than a trendy designer would charge to create.
Simple, uncomplicated wedding dresses are also having a moment right now. A real trend for less fussy, boho wedding dress styles that feel more in keeping with a brides' own style, and less like a total step away from reality.
One of the best places to shop for affordable wedding dresses has historically been off-the-rack. That rail of dresses stores keep in the back ready for brides on a budget, or in need of a gown in a hurry. These dresses are typically samples that are no longer available to re-order from the designer, and therefore need to be sold off. There is often a fair amount of stigma around these sale rails, but they offer a wonderful way to find affordable wedding gowns from recognized designers and brands.
These dresses are typically ready and waiting to be taken away too, saving the stress of waiting for deliveries, knowing that your gown is safely stored away in your wardrobe. Plus, as we said above, every wedding dress will require alterations, so if there are one or two elements you're not overly keen on, get them altered. You'll end up with an almost bespoke wedding gown, at a fraction of the price traditional wedding dress brands would charge.
Keep Your Eye on the Trunk Show Circuit
Trunk shows are particularly useful if you're not in a rush, or you have your heart set on a particular brand. Most designers send out their new collections to stores as a way of promoting them, and often they'll entice brides with an incentivizing offer. These discounts usually range from 10-15%, which, when you're buying a basic t-shirt at the mall, doesn't sound like much. But when applied to an expensive wedding dress, it can really make a difference.
If you're set on having a dress from one designer, go through their retailers section online, and check out the social media of their stores. If they don't already have a calendar with upcoming trunk shows, 'like' their page to not miss any upcoming events. For those not too bothered about brands, and just want to find a budget wedding dress, contact your local stores and see when their next events are. You never know, your dream bohemian bridal could be coming to a town near you soon!
Browse Pre-owned Bridal
The pre-owned wedding dress scene is becoming increasingly popular, with brides looking not just for timeless budget bridal, but also do their part for the planet. Which is fair, when you consider, as we mentioned, you will likely only wear your wedding dress once. So do you need to have something made especially for you?
There are numerous places to find pre-owned bridal online, and these sites tend to offer a more stylish, better cared for selection than your average thrift store. With gowns often on sale for over 40% less than their original asking price.
Consider a Bridal Gown from a Mass Retailer
If you're not looking forward to the traditional bridal gown shopping experience, then there's no shame in checking out the many affordable wedding dress collections available from mass retailers. Whether it's Lulus, ASOS, J Crew or even H&M. You're likely to find unbelievably affordable wedding dresses for every style of celebration imaginable. And while the quality may not be as good as from a traditional wedding shop, and custom sizing will certainly not be available. You cannot argue with the price tag.
These stores are also ideal places to shop for bridesmaid dresses too, especially if your girls are keen to wear their gown again. As the styles will certainly be more fashion forward than bridesmaids from David's Bridal, for example.
We wouldn't, however, suggest ordering plus size wedding dresses online from these types of retailers, as a curvy silhouette demands a higher level of craft. The likes of H&M etc may offer a plus size wedding collection, but you're unlikely to feel your very best in one of their gowns, as the careful structuring just will not be there.
Whether you're drawn to contemporary trends or classic elegance, the key is to approach the search with an open mind and a discerning eye. By navigating the landscape of affordable wedding dresses, you'll not only discover a dress that aligns with your vision but also ensures that your wedding day is as financially stress-free as it is magical.
Explore other topics related to wedding budgeting
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