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A Look at the Average Wedding Dress Cost & What to Expect When Making a Budget

Wedding dresses aren’t cheap. Of course, they’re also so much more than just a dress—they’re an experience, a memory made real of the happiest day of your life.

To make your wedding day perfect, you should find the right dress for you. Maybe you have a perfect dress in mind already. But before you start shopping for wedding dresses, you need to set a budget. And once you have a general budget in mind, make sure you have a bit of a cushion for unforeseen costs or if you find your dream dress and it’s slightly over budget. Do your best to look at dresses in that price range.

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So to help you find that dream dress that’s within budget, consider these tips on how to budget for a dress and what to expect to pay for wedding dresses.

What Is the Average Price of a Wedding Dress?

The average wedding dress cost (excluding alterations) is around $1500-$1800. Alterations are on average an additional $500-$600 with some coming in as high as $1000, particularly when custom work is involved. But you can buy a wedding dress for much less or much more, depending on the type of dress you choose.Woman fluffs a luxurious designer wedding gown as it hangs in a window

What Makes A Dress More or Less Expensive?

The cost of a wedding dress depends on various factors, including:

  • Designer—dresses from high-end designers will typically cost more because you are paying for the quality, one-of-a-kind couture craftsmanship and exclusivity. These gowns often take a lot more time and effort to design and create.
  • Fabric—like all materials, some fabrics are more expensive than others.
  • Details—decorative embellishments, like beading and lace, will cost more because of the time and work involved in making the dress.
  • Season—designers debut bridal gown collections once or twice a year. So new, in-season designs will cost more than gowns from previous seasons.
  • Alterations—changing the style of a dress with alterations will add to the total price of the gown.

Tips to Help You Figure Out Your Budget

Your wedding dress budget should be part of your overall wedding budget. So to figure out how much you should spend on your dress, you must decide how much you want to spend on everything else for your wedding. Also factor in contributions from others in your budget.

Here are examples of the types of dresses you can find with certain budgets:

For $500: You can find a wedding dress at a larger retailer made with synthetic fabrics and minimal hand-detailing. Or, you can find a white designer bridesmaid gown. It’s important to note that a gown sold at this price will typically be poorly constructed and be made of low-quality materials. Remember, you’ll need to get the dress altered to fit you well, so factor in additional costs for alterations.

For $2,000 to $4,000: You can find a high-quality designer wedding dress from a bridal salon, made with high-quality fabrics and hand-detailing. These salons will help you find the perfect dress, measure you, order the dress in your size from the designer, and schedule several fittings to make sure the dress fits just right on your wedding day.

If your dress is the top priority for your wedding day, then budget the rest of your wedding around the cost of your dress. You can cut back costs in other areas, such as finding a cheaper venue and planning the wedding yourself instead of hiring a wedding planner.

And don’t forget about the groom! Keep in mind that the average groom spends less on his attire. But the groom who wants to match his bride in quality and style can spend upwards of thousands on his garb as well.

Sewing needle and thread with scissors and measuring tape lie on soft pink material

What to Include in Your Budget

When you create a budget for your wedding dress, you must also factor in the costs of the following:

  • Alterations – alterations of any kind will have a price, but if you want to make drastic changes to your wedding dress, expect to pay a higher price. This includes changing the neckline, altering the sleeves, lengthening the train, and other decorative details.
  • Undergarments – bridal lingerie can also be pricey. You’ll want to find the perfect undergarments to wear under your dress so you’ll feel sexy and comfortable on your big day.
  • Accessories – a look can only be made complete with the right accessories, so adorn yourself with pieces that will accentuate your wedding day style. Start your search for the right shoes, jewellery, and maybe a headpiece (e.g., tiara or veil), handbag, and shawl to complete your wedding outfit.
  • Cleaning & Preservation—after your wedding, you’ll want to have your dress cleaned and preserved. This service can cost around $200 for a light cleaning and up to $500 for full detail cleaning and preserving, so don’t forget to include this in your budget.

When to Say “When”

Depending on how strict your budget is, you’ll have to know your limit when shopping for wedding gowns. So when budgeting for your dress, add some breathing room in your budget in case you fall in love with a dress that costs a bit more.

Adding a cushion to your limit will mean you’ll be able to buy your beloved dress within budget and without worry of hurting the budget for the rest of your wedding.

Getting Assistance from The Experts at A Bridal Shop

With a clear budget in mind, you can go into a bridal shop, tell the staff your budget, and they will help you find the perfect dress within your budget. Bridal shops will also give you a clear breakdown of all the costs, like alterations and storage, so you won’t be caught off guard when it’s time to pay for your dress.

Finding a wedding gown within your budget will give you one less thing to worry about before your wedding day. So let the experts help you make your day by helping you find the right dress for you.