Updated: Mar 18, 2019
Buying a wedding dress is unlike purchasing a piece of everyday attire. You’re going to be wearing this dress on one of the most important days of your life, and so you’ll likely spend quite a bit of money on your wedding dress. While wedding dress prices do vary greatly, the average wedding dress cost in the U.S. typically ranges from $400 to $1,700 with most brides spending at least $1,050, but you can purchase a wedding dress for far above and below those prices.
What impacts wedding dress prices?
There are a few factors that will impact your wedding dress cost. Most notably, an extremely detailed wedding dress with lots of beading and pricey fabric (silk, etc.) will cost more than a simpler wedding dress, as more intricate gowns require more labor and materials. So a grand ball gawn with beading and detailed embroidery will cost more than a plainer sheath dress. Also, if you’re set on wearing a wedding dress by a famous dress designer, know that it will likely cost more.
What additional wedding dress costs should a bride plan for?
There are several additional costs that brides should factor into their wedding dress cost and budget. These include:
Alterations: If you want to drastically change your wedding dress, your alterations may end up costing more than your actual wedding dress!
Undergarments and accessories: Be sure to factor in your accessories — bridal undergarments, shoes, and more. These accessories will greatly affect how your gown looks and fits, so don’t forget to include them in your wedding dress cost.
Cleaning and preservation: Don’t be surprised if you’re still spending money on your wedding dress after your wedding! Whether you plan on wearing your wedding dress again, passing it on to a future generation, or none of the above. It’s still a good idea to have your gown professionally cleaned and preserved. Wedding dress cleaning and preservation can cost $200 or more.
How can you save money on a wedding dress?
Yes, a bride’s wedding dress will cost a lot of money — probably more than you’ll spend on another piece of attire in your life! However, there are several ways to save money on your wedding dress while still finding a gown that you absolutely love.
Don’t try on dresses that are over-budget: be upfront with your bridal salon consultant about your budgets — and be sure ask about the cost of each dress you try on. Avoid the temptation of trying on a wedding dress that’s out of your price range.
Find a simple wedding dress, and accessories: as mentioned, a simple and relatively unadorned wedding gown will cost less than an extremely detailed wedding dress. If you’re on a tight wedding dress budget, we recommend finding a simple gown and using a beaded sash or a brooch to give it some extra sparkle.
Find a dress you love as is: any significant alterations or customizations that you do to a wedding dress will cost (a lot of!) money. Therefore, if you want to make significant changes to a wedding dress (add sleeves, change the silhouette, etc.), that gown is probably not for you. Look for a wedding dress that you love mostly as it looks off the hanger.
Scour sample sales: many bridal salons offer sample sales where they sell sample dresses from past seasons. These sample dresses are typically in sizes 6 to 12, so if you fall in that size category, you may find a gorgeous gown at a low price at one of these sales.
Visit trunk shows: if you’re set on purchasing a gown by a specific designer, you might find a deal at a trunk show. Trunk shows are when a bridal salon features the collection of a particular dress designer — and usually offers a discount (usually about 5 or 10 percent off that designer’s wedding dress prices). Research which salons in your area carry your favorite designers, and check their websites for upcoming trunk shows.
Give yourself time to shop: a wedding dress can take several months to arrive after you've ordered it. Be sure to start shopping for your wedding dress as soon as possible — many brides shop at least nine months in advance, if not more. If you wait until the last minute, you may end up paying rush charges for your dress, which can greatly add to your total wedding dress cost.