Average Wedding Dress Cost (Plus Ways to Save)

Today’s average wedding dress cost is between $1,500 - $2,500. We’ll give you a full breakdown of wedding dress costs, plus ways to save on your dream dress!

By Jane Chertoff and Georgie Darling

A woman stands smiling in the mirror of a bridal dress boutique after trying on a wedding dress, indicating she researched the average wedding dress cost.
Photo by Zola

Choosing a wedding dress can be one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning. Whether you’ve fantasized about your dream wedding gown for years or haven’t yet thought about your style, you’re likely wondering about the average wedding dress cost so you can gauge what price point aligns with your budget.

Today’s average wedding dress cost is between $1,500 - $2,500, but the truth is that wedding dress costs vary wildly based on factors like the designer, fabric, and other key elements.

If that average number seems high, don’t worry. It’s more than possible to find a dress you love on a smaller budget. Once you understand what factors impact the cost of a dress, you’ll be able to narrow down what to look for and what to avoid when you start shopping.

From the average wedding dress cost in 2023 to the average price of alterations, read on for everything you need to know about wedding dress costs.

What is the average wedding dress cost in 2023?

The average price of a wedding dress in 2023 is $1,500 to $2,500. The average American wedding dress cost from a large retailer like David's Bridal starts at $500. A boutique dress costs around $2000+, and a designer/custom dress usually starts at $5,000. Some dresses cost $100 or less. Note: those are pre-alterations prices.

How much should you spend on a wedding dress?

Your wedding dress is just one of many expenses in your wedding budget. Be sure you’re clear on how much you’ll spend in other areas like your venue, florals, and vendors. Factor in additional outfits for pre-wedding activities like your rehearsal dinner before you settle on a wedding dress budget.

Don’t let your opinions be swayed too much by the average wedding dress cost. How much you should spend on a wedding dress depends entirely on your personal tastes and priorities. You might decide to buy a dress for $200 because you’d rather spend more on elaborate floral arrangements—or maybe you’re willing to spend as much as necessary if it means achieving your dream look.

Aside from considering other wedding expenses over a dress, decide if you might regret shelling out thousands for your dream dress after the big day. Whatever the answer might be, the key is knowing your priorities and adjusting your budget accordingly.

Don’t forget to give some thought to your shoes, jewelry, and accessories, all of which help tie your final look together—head over to Zola’s online bridal boutique for inspiration!

Expert Advice: Use Zola’s free Wedding Budget Planner & Calculator to make keeping track of your wedding expenses easy.

Average cost of wedding dress alterations

Most alterations cost $75 to $300 and upward, but it depends on how labor-intensive your alterations are. Minor adjustments like taking a few inches off the hemline could cost less than $100. Major alterations like sleeves, new necklines, removing boning, or adding a bustle can cost $300+.

The more layers your dress has, or the more intricate its design (beading, lace), the more expensive your alterations will be, even for “simple” adjustments like a hem. If you’re trying on a dress that you know will need big changes, it’s worth asking for a quote before you say yes.

To ensure your dress fits perfectly, plan on alterations, no matter how pricey your dress is.

Read our Ultimate Guide to Wedding Dress Alterations for more.

How much does a custom wedding dress cost?

This is likely to be the most expensive option—the cost of a custom wedding dress can range anywhere from $6,000 to well over $10,000. Designing a custom gown can be ideal if you have a very specific vision in mind.

In general, the more couture the designer you go with, the more expensive the wedding dress price will be. However, you may be able to get a deep discount if you shop at a sample sale or trunk show. Ask your local bridal stores when they’re having these events if you’re interested in sample dresses.

Even big-name designers have started making less expensive lines of their dresses for big-box bridal stores, so you may be able to find your dream wedding gown by shopping around.

Four factors that affect the cost of a wedding dress

Wedding dress prices first and foremost depend on whether you choose a designer gown or a dress off the rack from a major retailer. Designer dress prices will always be more than manufactured dress prices, especially if you go for a handmade or custom-made gown. So, when you’re looking into the average cost of a wedding dress, keep this in mind.

Even if you don’t choose a designer dress, styles with extensive embellishments (like lots of beading or embroidery) or luxurious fabrics like charmeuse will hike up the price. How much to spend on wedding dresses depends on your style and budget, taking the below into consideration.

Fabric and materials


The fabric of your dress significantly impacts overall costs. Expect to pay more for luxury fabrics like silk, hand-embroidered lace, charmeuse, and certain types of satin.

If you’re after a lower price tag, consider synthetic or blended fabrics like polyester, chiffon, rayon, or crepe. If seeing “wedding dress” and “polyester” in the same sentence makes you cringe, hear us out—poly-blend fabrics have come a long way over the years, and you can find options that feel high-end for less.

The designer

If you’re eyeing a luxury designer gown, be prepared to spend significantly more—not only because designer dresses are typically made with higher-quality materials, but also because of the designer name itself.

Dresses by designers like Oscar de la Renta, Dolce & Gabbana, Elie Saab, and Vera Wang will all come with a higher price tag. For example, the starting price for the Vera Wang Bridal Collection is $2,900, and the Luxe Collection starts at $6,900.


Embellishments like hand-embroidered lace, intricate beading, and appliqués will all hike up the cost of your wedding dress due to the additional time and labor required to create them.

More elaborate constructions like fully boned corsets will also cost more—in general, the more detailed the fabric, silhouette, and embellishments, the higher the price will be compared to simpler wedding dresses.

If you’re aiming to keep costs down, opt for gowns with a simple silhouette or find alternative ways to add visual interest to your look—you can easily do this with your jewelry, but also consider elements like a delicate belt or sash or an eye-catching veil.

Expert Advice: Opting for a simpler silhouette won’t always ensure a lower price tag—a minimal dress design made with high-end fabric will still cost more than more affordable fabrics.



The dress itself may be the main event, but accessories like your jewelry, shoes, and a veil (if you’re wearing one) should all be factored into your overall cost. Plan to spend at least $200, but costs can easily climb to $500+ depending on the items you choose.

Don’t think you have to buy your wedding accessories from a bridal store. Shop around at your favorite non-bridal stores to find similar pieces without the typical wedding mark-up.

How to save money on your wedding dress


Don’t be fooled into thinking you can’t find your dream dress on a lower budget. There are countless retailers with affordable wedding dress options.

David’s Bridal, Azazie, and BHLDN all offer gowns for lower price points, and even big-box retailers like ASOS, Lulus, Reformation, and Revolve have dedicated bridal collections where you can find a stunning look for less.

There are plenty of other ways to save on your wedding dress cost if you’re willing to think outside the box:

Shop bridesmaid, reception, and non-bridal formalwear collections: There’s no rule that says your wedding dress has to come from a bridal collection. Look for white or ivory dresses in alternative collections—you might be surprised!

  • Opt for a rental: Find a splurge-worthy look for less by renting your dress on sites like Rent the Runway.
  • Shop sample sales: Sample designer gowns have been tried on or gently used, but never actually purchased—they’re usually marked down significantly compared to other options you’ll find in a bridal boutique.
  • Be strategic with seasons: You’ll pay more for a dress if you shop during the peak wedding seasons (spring and fall)—instead, shop during the summer and winter months to score discounted dresses from the previous season. This is one of the best ways to pay less than the average wedding dress cost.
  • Shop secondhand: Find gently used designer dresses at a fraction of the cost (we’re talking up to 90% off!) on sites like Stillwhite, Once Wed, and Nearly Newlywed.

As much as it may be tempting, don’t try on dresses that are above your budget.

While knowing the average wedding dress cost is a helpful baseline, you can find your dream dress for much less (or more) than the national average.

Ultimately, how much you spend is up to you. Start shopping early to learn what style you’re after and narrow down your priorities. Once you understand what impacts wedding dress costs, shopping becomes a whole lot easier.

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