How to Save Money on Your Wedding: Cheap Wedding Dresses

The bride’s dress is often one of the most expensive components of the wedding, especially when you consider what you get for your money – a dress that will be worn once for 12 hours and then put in the closet. Frankly, wedding dresses are total rip-offs. So, if you’re a frugal bride, your dress is a great place to slash your wedding budget. Before you buy a dress, find your location. Your location will determine the type of dress you need. Then set your wedding dress budget and promise yourself you won’t exceed it.

Where to Find Cheap Wedding Dresses

Bridal salons usually offer dresses in a wide range of prices. When you start searching for a dress online, note the prices of the styles you like. If you like some of the less expensive designers, then you may not need to bargain much. If you like the really expensive designers, it’s time to start searching for alternatives. Start with these five:

Rental Wedding Dresses

I know, most women don’t like the idea of renting a wedding dress, but why not? Your fiancé is renting his tux. If you’re not the sentimental type, you can rent a beautiful dress for just a few hundred dollars and then return it. No one has to know you don’t own it.


Every day new dresses are posted on eBay. Quite frequently, they’ve never been worn. Either the bride found a new dress she liked better or the wedding was cancelled. Before you buy on eBay, try on potential dresses in a real salon and sneak a peak at the size they recommend if they won’t tell you. Wedding dress sizes are not the same as clothing sizes, so buy a bigger dress if you’re not sure what you need. A friend found a Monique Llhuillier dress for $1200 on eBay that would normally sell for $4000.

Wedding Dress Sample Sales

The big designer sample sales are usually held in New York, but local bridal salons also have sample sales. Call frequently to find out when the next sample sale is and then arrive early to be first in line. Usually these are dresses that have been tried on frequently, so be prepared to do some repair work. My cousin bought a sample sale dress for $100. The bodice was trashed, but the full skirt was in great condition. She and my mom made a new bodice for a few hundred dollars. If you can’t sew, find a dressmaker in your area to fix it for you. Once again, wedding message boards are the place to find good seamstresses.

Custom Dresses

I had a theme wedding, so my dress cost $500, including the fabric, which I chose and purchased in the fabric district. However, you can have a fairy-tale dress made by a local seamstress for $1500-$2500. That’s a lot of money, but if you want a $5000 dress, it’s still cheaper.

Discount Retailers

In addition to David’s Bridal and Alfred Angelo, both of which carry less expensive dresses, there are a few wedding dress salons that sell discounted dresses. One of the best is Pearl’s Place in Louisiana. I ordered a bridesmaid’s dress from them for $80 off retail. I simply called and ordered it over the phone. It was shipped within a few weeks. When I was getting married, several brides on the message boards I frequented ordered their dresses from there. The key is to find your dream dress in a salon, then sneak a peek at the tag to find out the designer and style number/name, or at least get the name of the designer and find the dress on his or her website. Have a seamstress take your measurements to give to Pearl’s Place, then find a local seamstress to do the alterations locally for a few hundred dollars.

The best way to save money: stop looking once you find a dress. When I was planning my wedding, I saw several brides buying second or third dresses because they just couldn’t stop. Once you find something you like, stop shopping. Unless your culture dictates special wedding attire for different segments of the ceremony, you don’t need a ceremony dress and a reception dress.

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