Brides on a tight budget cannot afford to get anything but very cheap wedding gowns. Before you start hunting, make sure you know your highest price point and take cash. That way, you will not be tempted to purchase anything on credit that you cannot afford.
The Best Dresses in Life are Free
The absolute cheapest wedding dress is one you get for free. You can accomplish this one of two ways: wear an heirloom dress, passed down from family members, or wear one you borrow from a close friend. Either way, finding someone to lend you a gown can save you hundreds of dollars.
Before borrowing a gown, you want to have a talk with the lender. After all, many women are attached to the dress they took their vows in. Make sure you have some basic things in writing, to avoid any confusion or hurt feelings over borrowing the gown. Consider these questions with the person lending you the gown:
- Can you alter the gown for fit?
- Can you alter the style (like taking sleeves off or adding a lace inset)?
- Are you responsible for getting it cleaned and preserved after the ceremony?
- Does she want the gown back?
Having the answers to these questions in writing can help make you feel better about your borrowed gown. You do not want to risk a friendship over spilt wine or an added sash. If your friend or family member lending the gown seems hesitant, you may want to consider other very cheap wedding gowns in order to preserve your relationship.
Gently Used Gowns
Finding a nice used wedding dress can be difficult. Perusing consignment shops often results in finding dresses from decades past. However, do not be too quick to pass them over, as many can be altered for just a few dollars. Ripping off puffy sleeves circa 1986 can make a big difference for a small price tag.
Other places to find more up-to-date used gowns include:
Gowns that have previously been worn might need some alterations and cleaning. Additionally, you want to make sure the gown will fit, so get detailed photos and measurements. If you are checking out a gown in person, ask if you can try it on before you buy it.
Rent Tuxedos -- and Very Cheap Wedding Gowns
Grooms usually rent their tuxedos and the idea has expanded into wedding dress rental. The number of shops that offer gown rental services as part of their wedding attire packages is growing. One place to start is by asking the tux rental shop if they know of any wedding gown rental centers in your area. Another idea is to get a wedding dress from a costume rental shop.A third place to get a rental gown is online boutiques like Budget Bridal Gowns. This online rental service offers designer rental gowns for $100 to $400, with alterations included.
Similar to tuxedo rentals, you will often have to put a deposit down and sign forms related to charges for any damage to the gown. Some places might offer damage insurance for a small fee. Although this will add to the cost of your gown, you might want to consider it. After all, the minimal fee will be nothing compared to covering the cost of a ripped bodice or large punch stain.
Before renting a gown, read all of the details of the contract. You want to know exactly what will happen should disaster strike, and avoid fees for late returns.
Cheap Hand Sewn Gowns
A custom hand sewn gown does not have to be expensive. Ask a friend or relative to make the gown as part of their wedding gift to you. Be sure to write them a sincere thank you note for all of their hard work on your behalf. If you are good at sewing, you can even do the dress yourself. Wedding dress patterns are often cheap, running $10 to $15 each, and offer several style options in one package.
Time is the most important part of getting a cheap hand sewn gown. Materials can be expensive, so you want to start searching for gowns as soon as possible. Day after Thanksgiving and Christmas sales can be the perfect time to find material at bargain prices. Keep in mind that the more elaborate the style, the more material you will need, upping the cost.
Inexpensive New Gowns
Brides-to-be who have their heart set on a brand new gown of their own can still make that dream come true. More and more designers are finding outlets at discount and department stores. Find cheap new wedding gowns at the following stores:
- Target's wedding gowns are all currently priced below $160, making them a steal for any bride-to-be.
- J.Crew has a wide price range, but several come in under $300.
- Macys has affordable designer gowns from Calvin Klein, Maggy London, and Suzi Chin.
- Nordstrom currently has over 20 gowns for less than $200 by Mary L Couture, JS Boutique, and more.
Of course, there's no rule that a wedding dress has to be called a "wedding" dress. Plenty of very cheap wedding dresses can be found simply by searching the formal wear section of a local department store. Clearance racks after homecoming and prom season are the perfect place to find white, gold, off-white and champagne dresses for rock bottom prices. Semi-formal and formal wear women's departments also have seasonal clearance sales on outgoing styles.
Very cheap wedding gowns can be found in almost anyone's price range with a bit of effort. Whatever your budget, you will be able to get a beautiful bridal gown for the special day.