If you’re wearing a dress to your wedding, you’ll spend many hours (or , more likely, days and weeks) agonising over what the right dress for you might be. Do you want a ball gown? Mermaid? A-line? Do you want strapless? A train? When it comes to choosing the right wedding dress, there are so many options available it can sometimes be overwhelming. Where do you even start?
Another question you might ask is how much does a wedding dress cost? You may know the style you want for your wedding, but does it align with the budget you have in mind? For many, choosing the perfect dress is just as important – if not more important than – the venue and catering.
In this post, we’re going to explore everything to do with the cost of a wedding dress, including the average cost, what affects the cost and what you might expect for your budget.
In the UK, the average amount couples spend on a wedding dress is about £1,400, but the average wedding dress budget ranges from £1,000-£2,000. However, there are plenty of reasons why you may spend far less than this, and in other cases, why you might spend way more.
It’s important to note that this amount doesn’t include any jewellery or accessories you might wear, nor your shoes. So, expect to pay a little more for those (unless you’re getting married on the beach!) to complete your overall wedding attire. Check out our ultimate wedding budget breakdown for an understanding of how much your wedding might cost.
Even if you don’t have the average amount to spend on a dress, there are still plenty of options available to ensure a stunning dress is within easy reach. Here at Bridebook, we have a fabulous collection of wedding dress suppliers and boutiques, so you can find your perfect dress. There are also a few tricks to be aware of so you can save money on your wedding dress.
With wedding dresses coming in all manners of shapes, designs and sizes, no two dresses cost the same. Plenty of factors mean you may end up spending less – or even a lot more – than the average.
Even if you already have a good idea of the budget for your dress, it can be difficult to know where to start looking. Do you go designer? Which designers suit your budget? How do you find out the wedding dress prices if designers don’t even show them?
To help with the confusion, below is a rough price guide for different stores and designers based on various budget ranges:
£100 – £500
Monsoon, Phase Eight, Ben de Lisi, Pearce II Fonda.
£500 – £1,000
Aneberry, Benjamin Roberts, Alexia, John Lewis.
£1,000 – £2,000
Maggie Sottero, Jenny Packham, Pronovias, Ronald Joyce, Benjamin Roberts, Vera Wang White Collection.
Vera Wang, Suzanne Neville, Jenny Packham, Caroline Castigliano, Pronovias, Monique Lhuillier.
For a bespoke dress, you’ll need a little more than the average paid by couples, with costs starting from £1,850. If you want a dress made by a designer, you‘ll pay for their time designing the dress, the materials and any extras, like intricate beadwork.
Designers like Vera Wang, McQueen and Givenchy will charge premium rates, so if your budget is more forgiving then you’ll have a greater selection of well-known designers to choose from. However, most designers will have a more affordable collection, like White by Vera Wang, if you’re keen on a big-name brand but not necessarily a big-name budget.
An off-the-peg wedding dress can be a fantastic way to reduce your wedding dress cost. Most department stores will have an array of absolutely stunning gowns at a fraction of the price of a bespoke or designer gown. As we highlighted above, John Lewis offers modestly priced wedding dresses that start from as low as £175 (or lower during a sale).
Our advice for an off-the-peg dress is to make sure the gown fits you as close as possible before buying and then taking it to a professional seamstress for any alterations, otherwise it can get quite pricey.
If you still want a bespoke gown but your budget is limited, you can always contact a talented seamstress near you and ask what she would charge for making your wedding dress. Much like designer gowns, you’ll pay for the design, the time and the materials, but at a far more affordable price. The cost for simpler gowns starts at £400 and something more elaborate will start at £1200.
If you’re visiting a department store, you won’t need to make an appointment. However, bridal boutiques are often much smaller, so you’ll likely need to reserve an appointment. Whether or not you have to pay for this appointment depends on the owners’ policy, but many do charge at busy times such as evenings and weekends. The amount can vary between £20 and £50, which is usually discounted from the dress if you make a purchase. But, if you’re making an appointment at several boutiques, then you may lose a little as you’re not likely to buy a dress at every store!
Much like the cost of the dress itself, the cost of alterations can vary based on factors such as location, time, the skills required, and the experience of the seamstress. It can also be cheaper to have the alterations done at the same boutique you bought your dress at as part of a package.
The typical price you might expect to pay for wedding dress alterations is between £100 and £500. However, this is totally dependent on the amount of work required.
The rough price breakdown for a London seamstress is:
Yes, you can buy a wedding dress from a charity shop! More often than not they’re in great condition because they’ve been carefully looked after, and have usually only been worn once before.
Browsing charity shops is a fantastic way to grab a bargain while supporting a good cause. You may even find a wonderful dress for around £50. But, finding the perfect dress for you in a charity shop will take a lot of dedication and luck. It’s also likely that you’ll need to take it to a seamstress for alterations.
Charity shops are also sometimes sent discontinued dresses which will be cheaper than the original cost, but still fairly pricey – especially if by a well-known brand or designer.
The cost of buying your wedding dress isn’t cheap, especially as you’re only going to wear it once. If you’re on a budget, another option is to rent your wedding dress, with costs starting from as low as £12 per day. To put this into perspective, Carrie Johnson’s wedding dress was rented for £45 – far less than the original £2,830 price tag.
And if you’re looking for ways to save money on your wedding dress, we’ve got a load of hacks to help you slash your budget and still look fabulous on your big day.