6 Ways to Get a Cheap Wedding Dress

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This falls under the category of “life’s easier for men.”

When it comes to formal attire, guys can rent a suit or tux … or they can buy one for a few hundred bucks and wear it over and over again.

For ladies, specifically when it comes to wedding gowns, we’re pretty much screwed.

This is a dress that’ll likely cost more than any other piece of clothing you’ll ever buy and that you will only wear once.

Our options:

Buy the perfect dress. This is the “if money were no object …” scenario, good for people willing to dedicate a huge portion of their budget to the dress, or who have a parent/aunt/godmother who wants to shell out the cash. At high-end salons (think Say Yes to the Dress), gowns start at $1,000 and go up to—no joke— $100,000.

Buy a dress for cheap. Most people can find dresses for under $1,000 that still fit their wedding fantasies, at places like local boutiques, J. Crew or even David’s Bridal. Even the cheaper options, though, aren’t so cheap when you add in alterations and fittings. Plus, the selection tends to be more familiar and less outrageous than the high-end places.

Buy a dress used. Or “pre-owned” rather. At preownedweddingdresses.com, you can find discounted gowns that were samples, extras or worn by other brides. A little less than half of the online store’s 6,000 dresses are under $1,000, but the ones that are really cheap are dated, in poor condition and … ugly (this seems to be the case at most Goodwill stores, too). I also don’t see how you could ever purchase a gown without trying it on.

Rent a dress. Turns out this isn’t only an option in Las Vegas. I did some intense Googling and found a few places in Houston that rent wedding gowns for between $75 and $300. Most of them were places that specialize in quinceanera gowns and just offered white versions, and couple were tuxedo rental stores that also had generic bridesmaid dresses and bridal gowns. Very few options.

Borrow a dress. This is what my mother did, wearing her former roommate’s dress. I think this is an option ruined by Facebook. People pay so much attention to wedding photos shared online, I doubt you could slip one by your friends, and wear the exact dress that someone else did.

Make a dress. Believe me, if I were as talented as this bride, I would. Going DIY isn’t easy, though. It took her six months to make by hand and wasn’t done until four days before the wedding. Another thing to stress about … just what all brides need, right?

Overall, most go with options one or two, buying a dress new and then donating it or treasuring it as a keepsake. Couples spend more than 12 percent of their total budget on the dress, which means between $1,900 and $2,000 for the average wedding, according to a survey by the Wedding Report.

Is it worth it because it’s your special day or do you think pricy bridal gowns are a waste?

Kate Shellnutt lives in Houston, where she blogs about religion.

Be sure to check out these other stories on Bundle.com:

Wedding planner secrets: Here's the real reason you'll spend $30,000 for your wedding

My confession: I didn't really pay for that bridesmaid dress


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