MONEY Budgeting

Say Yes to a Cheaper Wedding Dress

Bride and Groom
Look great, spend less. Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography

You want this once-in-a-lifetime outfit to look great. But that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on your dress (or the groom's suit). Try out one of these ideas for paying less.

Couples spend nearly $30,000 on average to get married in the U.S., according to TheKnot.com. In this three-part series, we asked in-the-know wedding bloggers to share their best ideas for throwing a great party on a budget. Part one offered tips on picking the place, which is your single biggest expense (typically about half of the budget). Part two served up eight ideas for saving money on food and drink. Today’s final installment will help you score a deal on the all-important dress—and tux for the groom.

1. Make the Dress Your “Something Old”

“Shop your mom’s closet and have her wedding dress customized to fit your style, or hit up some consignment shops and see what they have. I’ve stumbled across some gorgeous raw silk wedding gowns at Goodwill that were selling for a steal (think $20 to $50). The fabric alone is worth way more than that, and you could easily take the dress to a seamstress and have her re-work the style for a fraction of the cost of a new dress. While it wasn’t my actual wedding, for a wedding shoot in Paris with my husband I wore my mom’s wedding dress from the ’60s. It has a mod vibe, so it still felt current.”— Sarah Darcy, Classic Bride

2. Score the Store Sample

“If you can find a discontinued dress, you will get an even bigger savings. The shop has to get rid of the sample since they can’t order the dress after discontinuation. So you are doing the shop a favor by taking it out the door. These dresses have often been tried on before, but so has most of the clothing you buy in any store, so that shouldn’t be a deterrent.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride on a Budget

3. Hunt for Designer Discounts

“Shop sites like NearlyNewlywed.com and PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com to find designer dresses at a discount, or check out local bridal shops when they are hosting sample sales to score a major deal on your wedding dress.” — Jessica Lehry Bishop, The Budget Savvy Bride

4. Look Past the Wedding Label

“One of the best ways to save is get a white dress that is not marketed as a wedding dress. If you still want that more traditional wedding look or a more classic dress, I like to look at bridesmaid dress options that come in white.” —Meg Keene, A Practical Wedding

5. Adopt a More Casual Look

If planning a beach or destination wedding, there’s no need to go all out with a wedding dress. Check the clearance racks and even consider a cocktail dress (maybe one with a bit of color). Any dress can be fancied up with a colorful sash or even a pretty crocheted vest or shrug. I mention this because I recently featured a shoot that showcased an $8 dress from Target on clearance. It could easily work for a bride that wanted to wear a dress in a pastel color. It looked beautiful with a crocheted vest over it.” — Brenda Bennett Maille, Brenda’s Wedding Blog

6. Ditch the Tuxedo

“For the guys, consider suits instead of full-blown tuxes. You can get a ton of mileage out of a good suit, and stores like J. Crew and Banana Republic sell them for not-so-staggering prices.” — Dana LaRue, The Broke-Ass Bride

7. Go In as a Group

“Many of the major tuxedo stores will offer a group discount, and often the groom will get his tux for free with a certain number of groomsmen rentals. Be sure to ask about these discounts before ordering. Also, associates will add all accessories at the time of rental (cufflinks, pocket squares, shoes), but not all of them may be required for rental. Ask if anything can be removed. Your groomsmen might all have their own black shoes and can save money by not renting them.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride on a Budget

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