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How to Buy a Wedding Dress on a Budget

Monday, June 17th

How to Buy a Wedding Dress on a Budget

Purchasing a wedding dress is one of the most important yet stressful events for the bride to be. So many factors have to be considered including the theme of the party, what style will flatter her the most and obviously the wedding dress budget. The average price of a wedding dress is between $1,000 and $2,000 at a local dress shop as a result of high overhead costs and low volume sales.

Today many brides are becoming more savvy with their efforts to shop budget smart and are taking their shopping effort to the internet. This allows them to save astronomically by bypassing retail markup and big overhead charges associated with maintaining a store front, paying for numerous employees, electricity, gas, rent and more. There are a variety of online bridal boutiques with a beautiful selection of wedding dresses from numerous designers in many styles and sizes. Shopping for a bridal dress online also saves you significant time and hassle over driving to and from various dress shops searching through their various inventories for the right dress at the right price.

Preparing for Your Wedding Dress Purchase:

  • The very first step is determining your budget and how much you are willing to spend on your dress. If you start your search with no figure in mind you might not make a smart budget decision and have to incur cuts in other areas that will dampen your event. It's important to stick to the budget you identify and not quickly give in to the first dress you see. A less heard of designer can provide just as beautiful a dress as a one well known.
  • Consider the entire event and what will look best given the theme, time of year and your personal style. A too formal dress with long sleeves will look awkward at a casual Summer wedding. A short informal gown will look out of place at a black tie affair. Will you be salsa dancing late in the night and need to have a gown that allows for free movement and comfort? Make a list of must haves in your dress and keep those aspects in mind as you start your search.
  • Once you've achieved your wedding figure have a professional take your measurements so that you will have them available when you purchase your gown. Make sure you have on the correct bra as that can make a dramatic difference in your measurements. Unfortunately, wedding dress sizes are not standard across all brands and when ordering you'll need to utilize your specific measurements to purchase the right gown. Always error on the bigger end as dresses can be easily taken in where needed but not easily let out. Buying a smaller dress in hopes that you'll fit into it by the wedding is a risky decision. If you would like to lose weight, order the dress to fit you now and if the weight doesn't come off you'll not be naked at your wedding. If you do lose the weight a seamstress will fit the dress to your new size.

Shopping for Your Wedding Dress:

  • A portion of brides are willing to wear a rental gown to their wedding. While this is not for everyone this is a way to save on a wedding dress. Use the internet to find a local wedding gown rental location nearest you and ask friends if others have had a good experience or not.
  • Shop for your wedding gown online. This is one of the top ways to save on your budget. A number of online wedding dress stores are available to save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars off the cost of the dress at a retail store. If you have a specific designer or dress style in mind it's easy to find the same dress quickly from a quality wedding gown store with strong inventory. With your measurements in hand and your list of must haves pull a chair up to the internet and start wedding dress shopping.
  • Choose an online wedding dress store that allows you to return your dress should you change your mind. This is an important aspect of successfully buying a dress online.
  • Utilize independent product reviews to research the online seller before making your final decision. These companies take away much of the hassle for you by identifying return policies, history, customer service levels, selection, costs and more.

Buying an affordable wedding dress doesn't have to be stressful or a budget breaker. Taking steps to plan ahead before shopping and buying your dress online will help you cut hundreds to thousands of dollars over purchasing from a traditional wedding shop.

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Wedding Dress Store FAQ

Congratulations! You can start looking for your dress whenever you like, but a good rule of thumb is to have your date and venue arranged first - so that you'll have an idea of the season, look and theme for your wedding. (For example, a beach wedding in August requires a very different dress from a cathedral wedding in January!)
Most off-the-rack dresses will fall somewhere in the $500-$3000 range, but you can find options priced much lower and much higher. You'll likely need alterations as well, so don't forget to factor in those costs (which will depend on which service you use).
In today's world, you can buy anything on the web - including a wedding dress! In fact, as many as 20% of brides in the US get their dresses online. If you've had a hard time finding one that you love locally, the internet may be your best option. Online retailers of wedding dresses make it much easier to find the right sizes, hottest trends, and all of the accessories to match.
That can be tricky, but almost every single online wedding dress store has a helpful sizing guide. You can usually reach out to the store's customer service team for extra help in taking measurements and finding several dresses to choose from that should be a good fit. Keep in mind that wedding dresses tend to be sized differently from regular clothes, often 1-2 sizes higher than what you wear day-to-day. (So unfair, we know!)
For wedding dresses, it's usually free. (Good luck finding anything else about your wedding that will be!) A few retailers have a minimum order requirement, but let's be honest: with as much as you'll spend on a wedding dress, you probably won't have a hard time reaching that amount!
That's probably the biggest fear brides-to-be have when buying their wedding dress online, but rest assured that most stores let you send it back - as long as it's still in new condition with all tags attached (no wearing it for your big day and then returning it!). Make sure you read the return policy of any store you're considering for your purchase, though: some don't accept returns under any circumstances!
When budgeting and planning for wedding attire, many brides forget that it's not just the dress. You'll need shoes, any desired accessories like a veil, gloves, and/or jewelry, and suitable undergarments!
Great question, because without preservation your dress may yellow or oxidize, experience mold or mildew, or be permanently creased in the wrong places. You can pay a professional to preserve your wedding dress; expect to pay anywhere from $250 to $700 for the service.
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