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Best Places to Shop for Affordable Wedding Dresses

Getting ready for your big day is stressful enough, so why spend your entire paycheck on a dress you'll (probably) only wear once? According to The Knot, the average amount of money spent on a wedding gown is around $1,600, but more and more brides are opting for affordable wedding dresses for their walk down the aisle. What you spend is entirely up to you, of course — it's your day, after all! — but if you are looking to save a little money, you're in luck. More labels than ever are offering affordable options that leave you looking like a million bucks.

When you're planning a wedding on a budget, there are plenty of ways to cut corners and save a few bucks. Your wedding dress, however, is not one of those things—but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to spend a small fortune to snag a gorgeous dress. Vogue Ballroom has proven itself to be an iconic wedding venue and function centre in Melbourne. Book today so you don’t miss out.

The cost of an average American wedding jumped to a super-high $33,391 in 2017, according to The Knot's 2017 Real Weddings Study, with many women spending just over $3,000 on a wedding dress. Hey, we totally get you to want to look your absolute best, but it does pay to remember that most of us technically will only wear the dress one time.

The average price of a wedding dress in the United States is just over $1,200, though the final cost depends heavily on the geographical areas. According to statistics published in Huffington Post, Brides in Manhattan spend an average of $3,027 on their gowns, while those in Alaska spend a comparably affordable $804.

Of course, this significant expense has come to be expected, and most brides budget and brace for a pricey gown. But what if you simply don't have the money to spend a fortune on a dress you'll wear only once?

Whether you have a tight wedding budget or you're simply opposed to spending so much money on a single-use article of clothing, there are many more options today than there were in years past. Thanks to a broader selection of gowns online, along with new retailer collections and non-traditional dress options, it's possible to save a ton on your wedding dress and start your financial life with your new spouse on the right foot. Think outside the boutique, and check out some of your best options in wedding dress shopping to save big.

Who said you had to spend a fortune on ​a wedding dress? I ​, for one, don't believe it. Granted, I may be a little biased, as I took the risk ​of ordering my ultra affordable wedding gown ​on eBay. Affordable doesn't mean cheap or tacky. It means you get a quality bridal gown at a price point that fits your budget. If the ​gowns on our list of wedding dresses under $1000 haven't quite matched up to your dream dress, don't worry. 

Of all the words that can describe the experience of shopping for a wedding dress, easy and simple don't typically come up. If movies and television have taught us anything, it's that the quest to "say yes to the dress" is a narrative of blood, sweat, and tears. But in recent years there's been a promise of less painful, less stressful ways to shop for the dress, thanks to online-only bridal destinations (like Fame & Partners and Floravere) and affordable capsules from some of your favourite brands (hello, Sézane and H&M) that offer plenty of on-trend styles and deliver them right to your doorstep.

Yes, you might still need to seek out alterations for a truly "perfect" fit, or want to visit your local bridal salon to consider all your options. But these companies offer an alternative—and, in many cases, more budget-friendly—experience that takes some of the pressure off the process, streamlining decisions and letting you try on things at your own pace. Plus, whether your bridal style is bohemian or classic, there's an online store that has a sample that fits your needs. Looking for Wedding Dress Shops? Look no further, Vogue Ballroom has you covered. 

affordable wedding dresses

Buy Second Hand

Brides only wear their dresses once, so they spend a premium on a dress that might be worn for a maximum of six to eight hours (from ceremony to reception). Buying a secondhand dress means you get a gown that is basically flawless for 50% or more of the original purchase price. You can look for wedding dresses in local online classifieds, or even in second hand stores, such as consignment shops. However, the largest inventory can be found online.

The prices mean deep discounts. For example, Nearly Newlywed has featured a Vera Wang dress for $1,500 that was originally purchased for $3,000. Just be sure to read all details carefully, since you'll be purchasing the dress as-is. Look for one that has been professionally cleaned and stored (it should be boxed after cleaning, never hung in a closet to avoid deterioration, yellowing, and moths), so it's perfect for its encore at your wedding.

If you're not sure where to start when shopping online, head to a brick-and-mortar boutique to try on a few styles to see what you like, you can also take notes on your wedding dress size, which may be larger than your usual dress size.

You'll definitely need to do some tailoring to make sure a secondhand dress fits you like it was made for you. Wedding dress alterations typically cost $50 to $150 for simple fixes, such as adding a bustle or bra cups to the dress, and between $150 and $300 for more involved alterations, such as adjusting hems and taking insides. Wedding dress alterations are pricier than typical tailoring due to the fabric and skill required.

Check Samples

Sample gowns are those that are tried on by brides in boutiques, so they've been gently worn. However, since wedding dress inventory has to be rotated each season, boutiques and retailers sell samples at deep discounts to make room for the latest fashions.

Boutiques often have sample sale blowouts, so keep your eyes peeled or ask your favourite boutique if they have a sale coming up. You can sometimes even buy a sample before a sale if you really fall in love with a dress – just ask the boutique owner the cost to purchase the sample specifically.

Just remember: When you purchase a sample gown, you're leaving the store with that specific gown in your hands. You're not ordering something new, and you'll be responsible for cleaning and any alterations since you purchase the gown as-is. Sample gowns might show signs of wear around the hems, closures, and neck, so check carefully and make sure that any imperfection is easily fixed through cleaning and mending (and make nice with a good wedding dress tailor in town).

Sample dresses could have embellishments that have fallen off, stains on the hem, or broken closures, which is why boutiques sell them at a discounted price. Still, it's a great way to snag a designer gown on the cheap if you happen to have champagne tastes and a watered-down budget. Another benefit is that sample dresses can be taken from the store the day they are selected, so you don't have to wait to order a gown from the designer.

Rent a Dress

Not keen on blowing your budget on something that you'll only wear once? Consider a wedding dress rental service. Obviously, if you have a local service, you can head there to peruse the inventory, or you can check online for services that will ship the dress, and you can ship back when you're happily married. If you'd rather go local, check WeddingWire for rental stores near you – prices vary depending on where you live.

If you want to see if your dream dress is available online, check sites such as Rent the Runway (rentals start at $85), Borrowing Magnolia (designer rentals start at $400), and Vow to be Chic (rentals start at $85). In most cases, you pay for the amount of time you want to keep the dress (a three-day rental, for example), and simply use the included prepaid box and postage to ship the dress back to the site when you're done.

The best part is that you don't have to worry about cleaning or storing an expensive dress. Just be sure to use a bridal dress rental service that allows you to try on the dress and send it back for free if it doesn't fit.

Go Online

We all know that online shopping is fast and easy but is it weird and risky to buy a wedding dress online? Not! In fact, it's becoming increasingly popular. Big names like Matchesfashion and Nordstrom want to be your one-stop-shop for all of your bridal outfit needs and have created online Wedding Shops dedicated to guiding you through the shopping process. Browse gowns by coveted designers like Oscar de la Renta, Rodarte and Brandon Maxwell and shop endless bridal accessories from veils to shoes to clutches, all of which can be delivered straight to your door within no time at all. Struggling to find your perfect gown? Check out our extensive list of Wedding Dress Shops in Melbourne

For brides (and bridesmaids!) who want to skip the ready-to-wear route and stick to traditional bridal retailers will love the ease of David's Bridal and BHLDN's online stores. Here you'll find carefully curated shops carrying notable styles from Amsale to Jenny Yoo to Watters in petite to plus size. Enjoy the perks of lightning speed delivery and the option to return your dress if it doesn't work out. We indeed love the experience of shopping in a bridal salon (I work in one after all!), but there's no denying the advantage of shopping for your wedding dress online. Love a trendy designer from across the globe that's not carried in your local bridal salon? You may be able to buy directly online. And what's more, online retailers like The Outnet & Net-a-Porter offer high-fashion, designer gowns off the runway for a fraction of their usual price.

All of this means: you don't need to visit stores in real life anymore to find your perfect wedding dress! With this online wedding shopping guide, you can find your ceremony dress, reception party dress, eloping dress, or anything else you've been searching for to complete your wedding looks. We've curated our top twenty favourite online shops that make wedding dress shopping easy, at every price point and for every style.

blonde girl wearing white dress

Nordstrom

Did you know that you can buy your wedding dress at Nordstrom? Well, you do now. With options starting at $162, Nordstrom has a wide array of styles and designers to appease any bride on a budget. Even just browsing through the options will make the most frugal heart beat faster.

Reformation

Reformation makes clothes with a cool-girl edge — that are also as environmentally friendly as possible. Think bodysuits and jumpsuits made of Tencel, a fabric regenerated from wood cellulose. The brand also has an array of wedding and celebratory dresses for the eco-conscious bride, with prices as low as $268. You'll find classic cap-sleeved lace dresses and modern two-pieces crafted of silk charmeuse. The Hestia wedding dress (shown above) is a gorgeous open-back, lace dress for any brides that are shopping at Reformation. It's also only $528, which is pretty good as far as wedding dresses go.

 Reformation, for low-maintenance, eco-friendly dress-seekers who still want to look gorgeous. Reformation is known for its simple, floaty dresses as well as its sustainable production practices, so it's the perfect destination for anyone who's budget-, style-, and eco-conscious. (The brand also recently launched an extended-size collaboration with Ali Tate Cutler, so while inclusive sizing isn't yet available for all their clothing, it's a step in the right direction.) If your wedding vision is within the realm of "super-hip garden party," get thee to Ref.

ASOS

While you may know ASOS as your favourite online retailer for easy-to-wear tees and tried-and-true jeans, the British e-tailer has its own in-house bridal line. The brand also offers accessories, like faux-pearl headbands and earrings, and even lingerie to go with your perfect dress. Most of the gowns (think: high-neck maxi styles or midi dresses with sheer inserts) fall in the under-$300 range, with many priced under $200.

H&M

For duchess vibes without the Alexander McQueen for Givenchy price tag, H&M has you covered. The retailer debuted its wedding shop last spring with a $300 dress inspired by Kate Middleton's wedding gown, complete with a sweetheart neckline and lace sleeves. Like that first gown, the H&M bridal assortment sticks to classic details with a high street spin. Best of all, nothing's more than $350.

Etsy

Etsy is home to some of the web's most talented creators, and the distinction extends into the bridal department. Savvy shoppers know to browse the site for dresses with prices ranging from the low hundreds to custom couture for $1,300. Just make sure to read the reviews before clicking "add to cart." The best part is that you can chat with the designer of your dress during the whole process.

Etsy has a little bit of everything: non-traditional, colourful, whimsical, vintage, and plenty of embellishments. Even more, you can find ready-to-wear gowns & custom made pieces (we fall wildly for Mywony Bridal's gowns) in just about every price range!

There are bold laces for the bohemian brides, blush tones or blue colours for the playful brides, and dainty lace details and beading for the unique bride. We love just how personalized these pieces are handmade with love.

Revolve

You may know Revolve as a source for obsession-worthy skincare or covetable fashion, but did you know the beloved retailer has a bridal section as well? For our money, the standout is the Mademoiselle Bridal Midi Dress, a blushing dream of a gown spangled with pearls, sequins, and beads to leave you positively shimmering through the "I dos". But where this midi really shines is in the transition to the reception, where the boned bodice and shin-skimming hem will keep you comfortable and unrestricted on the dance floor all night long.

Looking for sexy dresses or designer pieces with a twist? Plunging necklines and low backs adorn these pieces in true Revolve fashion – they are for the bride looking to make a statement.

Top Cities for a Bridal Shopping Getaway

New York, NY

When it comes to fashion, there's no city better than New York. Whether you're into browsing mega department stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Barney's or hitting the designer boutiques of Fifth Avenue, it's all here. And there's no shortage of fast fashion stores either (seriously, there's an H&M on practically every corner), perfect for picking up something fun and flirty for your bachelorette party. When it comes to finding "the dress," there are just as many options. If you've ever watched Say Yes to the Dress, Kleinfeld Bridal Salon is probably on your radar, especially if your sights are set on a Pnina Tornai gown. But if you're looking for a more low-key experience, there are hundreds of shops to cater to every type of bride. Of course, when you're done with retail therapy, there's a never-ending list of things to see, do and eat. On our bucket list: Central Park, a Broadway or off-Broadway show, the Metropolitan Museum and Smorgasburg, a Brooklyn, New York-based outdoor food market with dozens of local vendors. Check out our ultimate Melbourne Wedding Dress Shops to take away some of the stress of finding the perfect gown.

wedding dresses white affordable

Dallas, TX

Texas may not be the first place that comes to mind when you're searching for your dream wedding dress, but Dallas defies expectations. It's one of the most economically thriving cities in the country, meaning its shopping opportunities are pretty major. The southern metropolis is home to the upscale bridal boutique Patsy's, where you can find designer dresses from the likes of Martina Liana and Olia Zavozina. Want to browse a few more options? Dallas is home to over a hundred top bridal salons. And while you're here, you can't pass up a visit to the flagship Neiman Marcus for some tried-and-true luxury shopping. Round out your visit by checking out the rich art and culinary scene—hello BBQ and Tex-Mex.

Chicago, IL

The Midwestern city is known for its deep-dish pizza, lots of wind and the beloved Cubs. But that's not all Chicago has to offer. It's also home to one of our highest-rated bridal salons Bella Bianca Bridal Couture and many other acclaimed boutiques. The North Side area is a prime shopping spot, including the city's famous Magnificent Mile with more than 460 stores and boutiques spanning eight blocks (talk about a dream come true!). What else should you add to your sightseeing list? How about a visit to Navy Pier, the Museum of Contemporary Art or Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the country's oldest zoos.

Los Angeles, CA

Just as NYC is the shopping mecca of the East Coast, Los Angeles is that of the west. From super-ritzy Rodeo Drive to the boho Venice boutiques and chic malls like The Grove and Beverly Center, you'll have all of your bases covered. But when you're ready to try on some wedding gowns, head on to S. Robertson Boulevard or one of the city's many other local bridal salons. What else should you do in LA? Take advantage of the proximity to the coast and drive to Venice or Malibu for a relaxing beach day, then hit a trendy restaurant or nightlife spot. Keep your eyes peeled—you may even spot some celebs.

Miami, FL

Alfresco shopping is a way of life in Miami and South Beach, especially along the famous Lincoln Road Mall. And though you'll have to head away from the beach to try on wedding gowns, Chernaya Bridal House or one of the other must-visit bridal salons in the area is definitely worth a visit. Also, we think this goes without saying, but don't forget to take the time to relax on the beach and down some delicious Latin food and mojitos while you're in town.

Las Vegas, NV

We can think of a few ways to spend your money in Las Vegas, but shopping might just be your best option. First stop? Brilliant Bridal, a salon just off the strip that specializes in selling off-the-rack designer gowns below retail prices. Not what you're looking for? Sin City has plenty of other bridal boutiques to choose from. And there's no shortage of (non-wedding) designer shopping at the area's major malls, including The Shops at Crystals, where you'll find high-end retailers from Prada to Jimmy Choo. If all of that shopping hasn't burned a hole in your pocket yet, may we suggest a visit to the poker table or a Mariah Carey or Britney Spears concert?

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