What’s the Average Cost of a Wedding Dress?

Wedding dresses can be a hefty investment. Check out this guide to the average cost of wedding dresses. Read on to gauge the expense.

By Jane Chertoff

Average Cost of Wedding Dresses
Photo by Bradley Images

The average cost for a wedding dress is around $1,600. But, there are wedding dresses available at every price point under the sun. Most brides end up spending between $400 and $4,000 on a wedding dress.

How much you’ll spend on your wedding dress depends on if you want a designer dress gown or if you’re buying a dress off the rack from a major retailer. It also depends on how much embellishment you’re going for and the materials used. Don’t forget to factor in costs such as customization and wedding dress alterations when budgeting for your perfect wedding dress.

Here’s a look at how much a wedding dress typically costs, plus tips on how to save money if you’re on a tight wedding budget.

What Influences the Cost of a Wedding Dress?

Wedding dress costs can vary widely, depending on a few factors.

The Designer

What’s the Average Cost of a Wedding Dress? Photo Credit // Unsplash

Bridal boutiques shops generally carry the dresses of several designers, from top designer dress couture to big names, to designers that you won’t recognize. Of course, the more couture of a designer you go with, the more expensive the wedding dress price gown will be. However, you may be able to get a deep discount if you shop at a sample sale or trunk sale. (Ask your local bridal stores when they’re having these events if you’re interested in sample dresses.)

And, 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 dress gown by shopping around. Look online for a dress, too, as online retailers often offer big-name designers for less, and they allow you to try on the bridal gown dress at home.

Some designers may offer custom wedding dresses made just for you, too. This is likely to be the most expensive option. But, designing your gown can be ideal if you have a very specific vision in mind.

The Fabric

The type(s) of wedding dress fabrics your wedding gown is made of is also going to influence the dress price. Some of the most expensive gowns are made from silk or have more tulle or lace than usual. Charmeuse is another expensive fabric and also is difficult (and more) expensive to alter. If you’re looking to save some money, look for a dress with rayon or polyester fabric.

The more fabric your dress has, the more expensive it’s going to be, too. If you’re on a tight wedding budget, go for a simple wedding gown silhouette versus a ball gown that requires layers and layers of fabric.

The Embellishments

The more embellishments your dress has, the more expensive it’s going to be. So, if you love beading, lace, or crystals, expect to pay more than if you chose a simple design.

The Alterations

What’s the Average Cost of a Wedding Dress? Photo Credit // Unsplash

Wedding dresses typically require multiple rounds of alterations. Of course, you want the dress to fit you beautifully on your wedding big day! However, this can be an additional expense that you weren’t expecting when you bought the dress. How much do wedding dress alterations cost? Custom wedding dress alterations, such as changing the silhouette or neckline of the dress, are the priciest. If you’re on a budget, plan to keep the dress you buy as-is, other than just altering the fit and length.

Be Honest About Your Budget

The easiest way to shop for a dress that’s within your budget is to avoid looking at dresses that are more than you’re hoping to spend. At your bridal appointment, be upfront and honest about your budget. Let the store’s staff know that you only want to try on dresses that are at or below your top price point. That way, they know to only show you dresses within your budget. There’s nothing worse than trying on and falling in love with a dress that you later find out that you won’t be able to afford.

Other Ways to Save Money on a Wedding Dress

Some other ways to save money include:

  • Look for white dresses that aren’t necessarily listed as bridal. (This look works especially well for an at-home, casual, or outdoor wedding.)
  • Look for a gown without a lot of embellishments. Accessorize with necklaces, earrings, or shoes, instead.
  • Shop at vintage or second-hand bridal shops, or look online for a pre-owned dress (it was likely only worn once).
  • Shop at the end of the season. You may find dresses that the store is trying to clear out on a sale or deep discount.

Ready to find your dream wedding dress? Visit Zola’s online wedding boutique.

Simplify Your Wedding Planning at Zola