How to Save Money on a Wedding Dress

Whether you’ve dreamed of yourself in a beautiful, flowing white dress since you were five-years-old, or you’ve only started to even consider it post-ring, the bridal dress is often a major component of a wedding. There are so many styles available that searching for and trying on dresses can be a long, fun and tiring journey for the bridal party.

However, what some brides aren’t quite prepared for are the costs involved. Many wedding dresses are made with premium materials and involve complex and intricate designs. As a result, the perfect dress could cost you hundreds, if not thousands of pounds.

In the UK, the average amount spent on a wedding dress is £1,400, though it can often be double or even triple this. So, when you consider that the average cost of a wedding is £19,184, spending around 10% of your entire budget on a dress can feel rather daunting.

However, there are plenty of ways to save money on a wedding dress. In this post, we’re going to explore the tips and tricks you can use so you slash your spending while still making sure you have the dress of your five-year-old self’s dreams.

Why are wedding dresses so expensive?

Photo © Kate Joseph Bridal | See their Bridebook profile

Wedding dresses are notoriously pricey for several reasons:

  • They’re made using high-quality materials
  • They’re often hand-made by a skilled and experienced seamstress
  • They’re highly customised
  • It’s tempting to choose a well-known, high-end designer to mark the occasion

As well as these, wedding dresses have huge sentimental value and are massively important to many brides. As a result, vendors and retailers know that brides-to-be will be willing to pay premium prices (unless you follow the below tips, of course).

As a bride do you need to wear a bridal dress on your wedding day?

Photo © Oui Madame Bridal Atelier | See their Bridebook profile

While a dress is traditionally worn by a bride in western countries, you by no means have to wear one on your own wedding day. What you wear at your wedding is down to you, the style and theme of your wedding, and any religious traditions you may wish to stick to.

A white dress may be what many brides choose to wear, but there are plenty who don’t. Examples of these include:

  • A non-traditional dress, which may feature colours or be black
  • Religious or cultural attire, such as a saree, kimono or hanbok
  • Trouser suits or jumpsuits, which are stylish and modern but still elegant
  • A two-piece ensemble, such as a skirt and top

Many non-bridal dresses can also be expensive but are often far more affordable than traditional dresses worn by brides in the West. 

12 ways to save money on your wedding dress

Photo © Rachel Lamb Bridal Design | See their Bridebook profile

If you’re keen to wear a traditional dress on your big day, there are plenty of ways to save money. Below are 12 ways you can make a saving when buying your wedding dress. And for more tips, check out our ultimate guide to saving money on your wedding.

1. Browse affordable designer ranges

Photo © Catherine Blades Couture | See their Bridebook profile

Have you always wanted a stunning Vera Wang gown to get married in but aren’t sure your budget can stretch that far? Well, did you know that most wedding dress designers have a cheaper line available at bargain prices? That means you can go to your favourite designer and not have to break the bank to buy a dress. Also, for reference, for Vera Wang it’s the White collection.

2. Look out for sample sales

When it comes to gorgeous designer gowns, boutiques and designers themselves will host sample sales at the end of seasons. You can find some absolute gems hidden among the endless racks; so as long as you’re willing to forego the typical bridal boutique shopping experience and service, they’re definitely worth it. Contrary to what some believe, the dresses are rarely damaged – although they sometimes do suffer from easily repairable flaws. In sample sales, all sales are final, which means no returns – so inspect your potential dress carefully for any imperfections before you buy.

Photo © Georgina Scott Bridal | See their Bridebook profile

3. Check out some local charity shops

Photo © Bridal Reloved | See their Bridebook profile

Why not consider a preloved gown from a local charity shop? Remember, most brides will only wear their dress once and only for half a day, so the majority of the dresses you’ll find in a charity shop will be as good as new. It’s also a lovely sentiment to wear a dress that’s previously given so much joy to a happy couple. The only thing to bear in mind is that it’s unlikely you’ll find a dress that fits you perfectly, so you’ll have to take it for alterations. 

4. Buy an off-the-rack dress

Photo © Lucy Hart Bridal | See their Bridebook profile

A great tip to save some pennies is to buy a dress that’s made ready to wear. It may need a little bit of tweaking, but the price of an off-the-hanger dress will be much lower than that of a made-to-measure gown. Besides, you’ll probably be surprised by how many dresses fit you like a gorgeous glove and be super comfortable too. This can also save time, as it doesn’t require months of creation and fittings.

5. Shop vintage

Photo © Fairytale Occasions | See their Bridebook profile

If you’re having a vintage-themed wedding, vintage shops are great places to find stunning dresses in a great variety of styles. In fact, you might not even buy a dress that was intended for a wedding at all. White Gatsby-esque evening dresses will look just as impressive as a specially made gown. When browsing, make sure to check the dresses for signs of wear and tear (especially on the hem and the armpits) and think of any potential alterations you may want to make ahead of buying. Then, you can put your bridesmaids in dresses of a complementary style.

6. Call in some favours

Photo © TH&TH Bridesmaids | See their Bridebook profile

This one might be a bit of a stretch, but if you happen to know a fantastic seamstress or dressmaker, you’re one lucky bride. It’s sometimes cheaper to have a dress made by a seamstress (especially if they’re not that experienced), and even more so if you ask for mates’ rates.

7. Shop on the high street

Photo © Lisa Lyons Bridal | See their Bridebook profile

Many high-street retailers, like John Lewis and Next, have a beautiful range of bridal dresses that are fabulous, elegant and – most importantly – affordable. Dresses from popular high-street brands can cost as low as £60, but make sure you shop early in case you need to take it for minor alterations.

8. Consider renting a dress

Photo © Wilden Bride London | See their Bridebook profile

It might not be something you immediately think of as an option, but did you know that, along with wedding suits, you can also rent wedding dresses? If you’re excited to wear a gorgeous, flowing dress but can’t stretch your budget enough to cover the cost, renting can get you into that perfect bridal gown. The only downside is that you have to give it back, so can’t hold on to it for sentimental reasons. Plus, just make sure you’re aware of the return policy, because if you return it late the fees can sting.

9. Choose a dress with a minimalist style

Photo © Laura Loves Bridal | See their Bridebook profile

As we’ve already covered, one of the reasons wedding dresses can be so expensive is because of the high-quality materials and craftsmanship that go into creating them. So, one great way to lower the cost is by choosing a dress with a simple or minimalist design. The fewer intricate details there are, the less work it will take, which will help keep costs down.

10. Hire an up-and-coming local seamstress

Photo © Sew Handy | See their Bridebook profile

Sometimes it can be more affordable to hire a seamstress – particularly if it’s a seamstress with less experience. Of course, a seamstress with decades of experience will produce a fantastic dress, but it will come at a price. By using a less-experienced and local seamstress, you’ll get a beautiful bespoke dress but not have to pay as much. Also, if they’re local (and outside of London) you won’t have to pay for shipping or as many travel costs.

11. Shop online

Photo © HEMYCA | See their Bridebook profile

Online retailers, such as ASOS, can have a wide range of dresses to suit a selection of tastes, styles and budgets. The cost of a dress will often start around £100, but if you keep your eye out for a sale you might be able to pick up a stunning dress for as much as half this amount. The only risk is you might not like it as much in person as you did when you saw the images, so make sure you know the returns policy before purchasing.

12. Sell your dress after your wedding

Photo © Sarah Willard | See their Bridebook profile

Know you really want to wear a certain dress, which means renting, borrowing or buying online are out of the question? You can still splurge and buy an extravagant dress, because there’s always the option of selling your dress once you’re done. Unless you’re particularly sentimental or want to pass it on as an heirloom, sites such as Vinted, Stillwhite or even Facebook Marketplace are great. You more than likely won’t get your money back, but you could get a huge chunk of it, which you could reinvest into your honeymoon.

Plan your wedding with Bridebook and save money

Here at Bridebook, you can plan your perfect wedding with ease. We have a selection of fabulous dressmakers and bridal boutiques to suit any style and budget, including The Bride’s Wardrobe, The Dressing Rooms and Anita Massarella Design Couture. Sign up today and start planning your dream wedding!

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Happy Planning!