Last week I shared my tips on how to save money on your wedding venue and this week I’m continuing the money saving series with some helpful tips for buying your wedding dress. Wedding dresses are strange things because, with an average cost of around $2,000, they are easily the most expensive article of clothing you will ever purchase and only wear once. That being said, there are lots of ways you can get a gorgeous gown, even a designer one, on a tight budget; and who knows, you may even choose to wear it again! So without further ado, here are my 6 tips for saving money on your wedding dress:
1. Buy a Pre-owned Dress
Some people are funny about this one, but if you can over the whole used (or rather pre-owned) part, it’s definitely worth considering for the money you’ll save. It’s also important to remember that pre-owned doesn’t necessarily mean it’s been worn, so even if the idea of wearing a stranger’s dress gives you the heebie-jeebies, you shouldn’t rule this option out completely. If you’re in Toronto or the surrounding area and want to go the pre-owned route, I highly recommend The Brides’ Project. Not only can you get a dress for around 50% off the original price, but all the profits go to a select group of cancer related charities. You’ll save money and do a good deed all in one shopping trip. Other pre-owned dress sources include: Ebay, Once Wed, Craigslist, your local consignment shop , and of course vintage.
Pros: It’s a more eco-friendly option than buying a new gown
Cons: Options and sizes are limited
2. Make your Own
Not for the novice sewer, this option is perfect for the ultimate DIYer. Just remember that doing it yourself isn’t always the cheapest choice, especially when it comes to sewing and the high cost of certain fabrics. For those who feel confident enough to go this route, Burda Style sells a selection of online wedding dress patterns in a whole range of styles for only $5.40 (both dresses in the image above are Burda Style patterns).
Pros: You can truly make the dress of your dreams perfectly tailored to your figure
Cons: Do you really need to add one more thing to your to-do list?
3. Go Online
When it comes to saving money, the internet can be your best friend. In the last few years, online shops have opened up a whole world of options for budget conscious brides that just weren’t previously available. Obviously, not all online shops are budget friendly so it may take you many hours of internet browsing to find that dream dress in your price range, but that’s what your lunch hour is for, right? I recommend starting your search with Ruche and Etsy and maybe even J. Crew.
Pros: No pushy sales ladies and you never even need to get out of your sweatpants
Cons: Let’s be real here, if you can’t buy any article of clothing without trying it on a million times first, this is not the option for you
4. Rent a Dress
Again, if you feel icky about buying a used dress, you’re probably gonna feel icky about renting one too. But before you write this option off completely, think about the possibilities. Have you been dreaming about having two dresses for your wedding – one for the ceremony and one for reception – but nixed the idea because you don’t have the funds? Well, renting one or both of your dresses could easily make this dream a reality by cutting down the cost significantly. My favourite dress rental site is, hands down, Rent Frock Repeat. While not a wedding dress rental site per say, they do offer a number of designer options that would make great reception dresses for as little as $50 (see image above).
Pros: You can have your cake and eat it too
Cons: Not many places offer this service yet and options can be fairly limited
5. Sample Sales
When it comes to wedding dresses, do you have champagne taste, but a beer budget? And are you unwilling to buy or unable to find a pre-owned dress? Well that, my friend, is where the sample sale comes in. Sample sales are often held in early summer and late fall when designers and boutiques want to clear out their sample dresses to make room for a new collection. While discounts vary depending on the shop and the designer, it’s possible to score a wedding gown for up to 80% off at one of these sales. So before you give up your dream of walking down the aisle in Vera Wang make sure to check with your local bridal salons to see if and when they hold sample sales.
Pros: Perfect for last minute brides that don’t have 5-6 months to wait for a dress
Cons: Dresses are sold as is and sample sizes are limited; Beware other crazy brides vying for the same dress, it could get ugly
6. Buy a Non-Wedding Dress
Who says you need to wear a traditional wedding gown? Why not wear a full length bridesmaid dress instead? Most are available in ivory and could easily pass as a wedding gown, but at a fraction of the price. Or why not skip the bridal section altogether and just head to the mall or your favourite boutique? With white being a hot colour for dresses these days, and colour and pattern being hot trends for weddings, your options are pretty much endless. And if Crystal’s stunning gown from Fashion Crimes, pictured above, can’t convince you that this is a great option, nothing can.
Pros: This option is great if you want to show a little personality and look amazing doing it
Cons: If you’re a traditionalist or have your heart set on a full princess gown, this isn’t going to work for you
image credits: Ruche (title card); Taylor Roades; Burda Style; Ruche; Rent Frock Repeat; Nicole Miller; Scarlet O’Neil via Wedding Chicks