How to Stay on Budget When Buying a Wedding Dress

The dress is the centerpiece of a bride’s wedding, but it’s also one of the most expensive elements of the day. With so much to consider, it’s easy for brides-to-be to feel overwhelmed when shopping for the perfect gown. We spoke with an expert who broke down the factors that drive costs and how brides can stay within their budget without compromising on style or quality.

Fabric is a major component of any bridal gown and is the biggest driver of cost. High-end fabrics like satin and silk require more time to create, which drives up the price tag. In addition, dresses with embellishments like beading and lace appliques can add up quickly.

Designer dresses also come with a premium, which isn’t surprising considering they often use higher-quality materials and carry the power of a brand name. However, if you are willing to be flexible with your designer, you may find a dress from a smaller label that fits your vision and budget better.

When it comes to necklines, the height and shape can make or break a dress’s overall look. For example, bateau, jewel and halter necklines sit high and offer coverage, while portrait, sweetheart and plunging V-necks reveal more skin (and cleavage, depending on how deep the neckline).

Sleeves are another big factor in determining dress price. While sleeves can add an element of romance and elegance to any gown, they can also be a source of frustration when it comes to staying on-budget. A maximalist puff sleeve can easily double in cost compared to a slim strapless option.

The length of the gown can also impact its price. For example, full-length dresses tend to be more expensive than shorter styles because they are typically more time-consuming to create and a little harder to hem.

Season also impacts the price of a dress, as wedding dresses are stocked in stores and online according to what is selling best. While buying a dress that is in-season may be a bit more costly, it can also help you save by bypassing the markup from wholesalers to retailers.

To save even more, consider nontraditional options like finding a white evening dress from brands that aren’t specific to bridal wear like Mac Duggal, which can be found at department stores such as Nordstrom. Additionally, keeping the amount of accessories to a minimum can also help to keep your dress budget-friendly.

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