How to Find Affordable Wedding Dresses

The wedding dress is a pivotal piece of any wedding. Zola can help you find affordable wedding dresses that will make you feel like a million bucks!

By The Zola Team

bride with wedding dress
Photo by Manuel Montenegro Photography

The First Look ✨

  • Say yes to a dress and shop online stores like the Zola boutique for affordable wedding dresses.
  • Having a hard time committing to a style? Picking casual wedding themes like boho, modern, and classic can point you in the right direction and spark your DIY skills to keep you in your budget.
  • Prioritize what elements of your dress are most important for you, whether it’s the fabric, structure, or embellishments, and then you can find the dress that fits both you and your budget.

Every spouse-to-be wants to walk down the aisle in the wedding dress of their dreams. However, not everyone has the Kardashian-level means to get married in Versaille in a fifty-trillion dollar bridal gown (citation needed for the fifty-trillion number, but you get the point).

So whether your ceremony is in Versaille or in Vernon, Florida, you still deserve to have a dress that is breathtaking, beautiful, and oh-so-special.

But when you don’t have a momager to skyrocket your career, how do you subsidize your dream dress without breaking the bank?

That’s what we’re here for—read on for our top five tips to finding a wedding dress that falls within your budget and can keep up with any Kardashian.

How to Find Affordable Wedding Dresses Photo Credit // Megan Rei Photography

#1: Shop Online

While reality TV may tell you otherwise, you don’t actually have to “say yes to the dress” in a mega-store in front of twenty cameras and a rag-tag team of charismatic store attendants.

In fact, your dream dress might just be one click away. With the power of the Internet, you can take your pick of affordable wedding dresses designers will admire, and wedding attendees will ooh and ah at.

With just a few alterations, you can make any dress you buy online just as special as one you would buy at a bridal shop (but at a fraction of the price).

Here are some of the best online stores to virtually peruse for your perfect (and affordable) dress:

  • The Outnet
  • Shop Bop
  • Fame & Partners
  • Zola
  • Shop Gossamer
  • Free People
  • Etsy
  • Loho Bride
  • Net-a-Porter
  • Torrid
  • Nearly Newlywed

All of these online stores feature gorgeous white ensembles with price tags as low as $200. These online stores feature some of the most popular wedding dress styles. Additionally, starting your search online gives you the chance to view far more options than you would at a traditional bridal shop, all while filtering for budget, style, material, and more.

#2: Make the Theme Fit

If you’re still scratching your head during your online shopping experience, wondering where in cyberspace your dress could possibly be, perhaps you’re simply approaching your search from the wrong angle.

What if you tweaked your theme so that you could pick a dress with fewer frou-frous?

The more traditional the theme, the more embellishments your dress typically requires. A more casual theme will do just the trick to get you that perfect dress while getting the price tag down.

Here are some themes that are both budget and beauty-friendly:

  • Boho – A free-spirited boho or rustic theme is the perfect vehicle for affordable yet breathtaking wedding planning. Not only will you give your ceremony a bucolic and comforting charm, but you’ll also give yourself far more options for beautiful dresses that won’t burn a hole in your wallet.

  • Modern – A modern theme, while expensive-sounding, is perfect when shopping for affordable dresses because it allows you to drop all the bells and whistles that make a more traditional bridal gown so pricey and go for a minimalist look instead. That way, you can stay chic and sophisticated and on budget.

  • Subversive – Who needs gender norms or tradition when you can have a gorgeous ceremony getup that reflects your style and identity? Go for a more subversive style by sporting a tuxedo dress or jumpsuit for that edgy umph and glamorous flair that’ll make you truly unforgettable.

  • Garden – A garden-themed ceremony is as whimsical as it is romantic, while also being casual enough that you can effectively shop anywhere for a gorgeous dress. Any white, lacy number will fit your theme perfectly, allowing you to be frugal and fabulous all at once.

  • Themed – Play around with a Roaring Twenties theme by sporting a glitzy art deco-inspired dress that, while glamorous and sparkly, is usually more affordable due to its sleeker silhouette and minimal fabric.

  • Classic – If you don’t want to give up the dream of an ultra-classic, glam wedding, you don’t have to—your search is just going to be a bit lengthier. However, you can still find stellar picks at stellar prices online, such as this breathtaking lace organza dress with sheer sleeves and romantic 3D detailing. Oh, and did we mention it’s only $599?

Having a more casual wedding theme does not make your commitment any less serious or your actual wedding day any less special—it just gives you more creative breathing room to make everything beautiful while remaining within your wedding budget. However, if you don’t want to sacrifice your fairytale dress or your all-out ceremony, you still have options.

You just have to get a little more creative.

#3: Don’t Be Afraid to DIY

If you’re running on a tight budget, you can always save money in exchange for some extra time and effort. So, prepare to whip out that sewing machine and some fabric glue—with just a few hours and some creativity, you can turn your dream dress into a reasonably priced reality!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Get out some embroidery tools and weave in delicate, elegant floral patterns with pearlescent white thread that reflects the light and gives your dress an ethereal, expensive feel.

  • Sew in some pearl or fabric buttons down the back piece to accentuate your dress’s flattering silhouette, all while amping-up your Jackie-O vibes.

  • Use fabric glue or simple hand-sewing techniques to add romantic lace detailing to your sleeves, hem, and bodice for a gorgeous dress that makes you look priceless, but isn’t pricey.

  • Go to your local fashion district and select a sheer fabric to cut and hem into a brilliant train, which can easily attach around your waist or be sewn to your dress with a few sturdy stitches.

If you don’t feel like you have the guts to take all this DIY glam into your own hands, don’t worry—you can always tszuj up your look without any glue guns, sewing needles, or embroidery thread. For a less intense upgrade strategy, read on for ideas on accessorizing your affordable wedding ensemble.

#4: Accessorize to Add Glamour

Ah, accessories. One must never underestimate their power. They can turn bland office attire into an eye-catching evening look, a boring old blazer into a power suit fit for any hot-shot CEO, and, most importantly, an affordable—yet plain—wedding dress into the jaw-dropping gown you’ve always wanted.

Here’s how just a few external additions can turn any dress from economical to exquisite:

  • A long, semi-sheer veil with lace or pearl detailing will not only add volume to your entire ensemble, but it will also give your dress that extra sprinkle of fairy dust fit for your magical night.

  • Tuck some pearlescent or sparkly ornaments into your hair so you can draw the eyes of your attendees (and your spouse-to-be) to your beautiful face. For an extra princessy vibe, try a tiara out for size.

  • Delicate necklaces and dripping pearl earrings can have a huge impact on your overall look. Go for diamond studs for a modern or classic vibe, or ornate crystal dangling earrings for an ethereal effect.

#5: Prioritize

If you find that your taste and theme still lead you to the most expensive gowns on the rack, all is not lost. While a tight budget might not allow you to get every bell and whistle you hope for, you can instead choose one or two elements that you’re most willing to invest in and allocate your dress budget accordingly.

For example, if you don’t think anything can match the luster and opulence of pure organza, then invest in a nice, plain organza dress, but leave all the ornate detailing to your DIY skills. That way, you get the best of both worlds, without busting your whole wedding budget.

Depending on your style, you might want to prioritize any of the following dress elements:

  • Fabric
  • Embroidery
  • Beading
  • Structure
  • Embellishments
  • Volume

The One Element You Should Never Neglect

Whether you’re going for a more minimalistic design or a full-out fairy tale wedding gown, what matters most when giving your affordable dress that expensive look is fit. The importance of fabric choice, accessories, and embellishments pales in comparison to that of having a dress that fits just right.

To achieve the right fit, you have to plan ahead, find an affordable tailor, or befriend a benevolent seamstress (or fairy godmother).

No matter what aspects of your dress you decide to prioritize, always leave space in your budget for the alterations and fittings that will give your dress that final je ne sais quoi of glamour and opulence—we promise you won’t regret it.

How to Find Affordable Wedding Dresses Photo Credit // Taylor and Ben Photography

Zola Gives You the Support You Need, Through Thick and Thin

Even though the wedding planning process can often feel overwhelming and overpriced, you don’t have to give up an arm and a leg to make your heart flutter on your wedding day. With the right planning, a little creativity, and some support, you’ll have everything you need to put on the wedding ceremony you’ve always wanted (and will never forget).

Whether you have twenty enthusiastic friends helping you or just a few buddies taking charge, you will always have Zola to lean on as your ceremony-planning plus-one.

With our easy-to-use registry, beautiful stationery suites, and free wedding websites, you’ll be more than ready to plan your perfect day—not to mention, you’ll have access to a ton of affordable wedding dresses, accessories, and decor to give your ceremony that expensive flair, without the scary price tag.