First comes love, then comes marriage. Then comes the mountain of wedding debt you’ll have to pay.
Last year, couples spent an average of $33,931 on weddings and nuptial-related events, according to TheKnot.com. While the venues, engagement ring and even entertainment can cost thousands of dollars, the wardrobe isn’t far down the list of top expenses. The average cost of the dress: $1,631.
If you’re looking to dress for less while still wearing a spectacular gown, there are plenty of options online. They include:
1. The Knot
One of the largest wedding sites you’ll find, just sign up at the free website to browse thousands of dresses. They offer 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.
At House of Brides, you’ll find wedding dresses and dresses for bridesmaids, mothers and flower girls.
Best Bridal Prices offers many options for dresses in several price ranges, including dozens that cost $200 to $400.
Amazon has everything, even wedding dresses. Both traditional and nontraditional, and including many plus-size options, Amazon has dozens of different designers, cuts, colors and styles for every type of bride.
The online store for custom-made crafts and goods has hundreds of options by designers who may not have big-name brands but are making one-of-a-kind wedding gowns. Prices range from under $100 up into the thousands.
6. Once Wed
The thing about wedding dresses is that they typically don’t have a chance to get worn out. As a result, looking into used gowns can pay off big time. Once Wed specializes in used designer dresses at much less than designer prices.
This is another great source of pre-owned dresses, including deeply discounted designer gowns.
This site offers options in clothes, handbags, accessories and shoes along with wedding dresses, including authentic designer fashion.
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. If you’re an Ebates user, you can save even more money by getting cash back on your eBay purchase.
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 trying to sell a dress you bought, look out for a damage deposit — often a $200 upfront fee.
11. Consignment shops
Keep a lookout for consignment shops that specialize in wedding dresses. Many women who buy new, high-end fashion sell their old goods through consignment.
12. Thrift stores
Finding a dress here might take some extra digging, but secondhand stores carry all kinds of treasures, wedding dresses among them. Use TheThriftShopper.com to search for a store near you.
13. 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 wedding dresses. A less formal dress can be perfectly acceptable, depending on the ceremony setting and your personal taste.
14. Frocks from family and friends
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.
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