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First comes love, then comes marriage. Then comes the mountain of wedding debt you’ll now have to pay.
Last year, couples spent an average of $28,427 on weddings and nuptial-related events, according to TheKnot.com. While the venues, the engagement ring and even the entertainment can cost thousands of dollars, the wardrobe isn’t far down the list.
The average cost of the dress: more than $1,200.
In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson offers multiple ways to avoid spending so much on a wedding gown. Check out more tips after the video.
If you’re looking to dress for less while still wearing a spectacular gown, there are plenty of places to look.
Dozens of websites offer new wedding dresses tailored to your taste and your budget. Some examples:
TheKnot.com. Sign up for the free website to browse thousands of dresses. The site offers a custom search that can browse popular collections and sort by price. You can also search for dresses for other members of the wedding party.
Brides.com. This site also offers a custom search, and has tips on how to find the right dress for your body type.
BestBridalPrices.com. While the search isn’t as user-friendly as the other two sites, there are more options for dresses that cost $200 or less.
Amazon.com. If you didn’t think Amazon had wedding gowns, you were wrong.
Chances are, you’re going to wear your gown only once. Buy one secondhand and then sell it after you say “I do.” Even if you have to pay for dry cleaning, it’s still less expensive than a brand-new dress.
OnceWed.com. Grab designer dresses without paying designer prices. I found at least seven Vera Wang dresses for less than $300.
PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com. I found dresses by Carolina Herrera for as low as $600. Note that sellers pay a one-time $25 fee for posting the listing.
Tradesy.com. This site was formerly known as Recycled Bride.
Ebay.com. Narrow your search by price, size and color. For some, you may have the option to bid or “buy it now.” Check out the groovy vintage dresses in your search.
Some bridal shops that sell dresses also rent them, although there are also specialized boutiques that offer rental-only dresses. While renting eliminates the hassle of selling a dress you bought, look out for a damage deposit — often a $200 upfront fee.
Consignment shop. Keep a lookout for consignment shops that specialize in wedding dresses.
Thrift store. This may take some extra digging, but secondhand stores carry all kinds of treasures, and wedding dresses are no exception. Use The Thrift Shopper to search for a store near you.
Discount department stores. If you’re looking for a nontraditional dress, browse Ross, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx and even Target for less expensive dresses that aren’t strictly the wedding type. A less formal dress can work, depending on the ceremony setting.
From the family
Does your mother, grandmother or sister have a wedding dress she kept? What about friends who have tied the knot? You could land a dress for only the cost of dry cleaning and a bit of tailoring.
Where did you get an affordable wedding dress? Tell us your story on our Facebook page.