How To Save Money on Your Wedding Dress

24 May 2012

I recently went shopping with a friend for her wedding dress.  She fell in love with one particular dress and she looked absolutely amazing in it (didn’t need alterations at all).  It looked like the dress was made for her.

The only thing that wasn’t made for her was the hefty price tag.  It was $900 even after it was marked down.  She liked it so much that she bought it anyway.  Her thought was “heck, you only have one wedding.”   After taxes (we have 12% taxes here in B.C.), it came to a cool $1000.

Considering that the average wedding dress does cost about $800 to $900, it comes as no surprise that many brides-to-be don’t hesitate to drop this kind of money (at minimum) on the wedding dress of their dreams.

However, there is a way to get a jaw dropping gorgeous gown without having to spend a major portion of your wedding budget (hopefully less than the average of $28,000).

Mail Order Brides Bridal Gowns

You can get a lot of things these days from the Internet, including mail order bridal gowns.  There are many eBay shops that sell designer knock off bridal gowns.  You pick the style and the material (or request that the material be similar to the designer bridal gown) and get someone to take your measurements.  You can even customize the bridal gown by adding your own designer touches to the designer’s original dress. For example, you may prefer a button up back instead of lace.

There are a few shops on eBay that do this and they are:

In addition, there are a few websites that you can order your dress directly from without having to go through eBay.

You’ll receive your dress a few weeks later and many companies allow you to return the dress for further alterations or adjustments if it doesn’t suit your taste.

Okay, How Much do Online Wedding Dresses Cost?

What’s the cost of this after shipping (from China obviously) and taxes?


Yes, you read that right! My other friend paid $200 for her dress (including shipping).  When I saw what it looked like, my jaw seriously dropped.  It looked like it was worth $1500 instead of the $200 that she paid.  She went to a “real” bridal shop in town, fell in love with a brand name gown and found a version of it on eBay.

$200 is about the same price as it would cost to RENT the dress for one day.  For $200 you can keep the dress for yourself.  I’m sure if you sell it here in a consignment shop, you’ll probably get at least $100 for it.

If/ when I ever get married, this is exactly what I’m planning to do.  I’m not planning to pay a dime more than $250 for my dress.  This will decrease the cost of the wedding budget substantially.

Pros and Cons of Online Bridal Gowns

One of the major plusses is not only the low cost of a knockout wedding dress, but also that you don’t have to deal with pushy (and snobby) salespeople at the bridal gown shops.

The major downside to having a mail order wedding dress is that you might need lots of time to ensure that the dress fits well (and you need to get yourself properly measured).  This can cause a lot of anxiety for some people.  One way to avoid this problem is to go to the snooty bridal shops to try on their designer dresses.  Once you find a style you like, then look for it online - or take a picture of you in your dress and send it to the online wedding dress company.

Another problem is that you also might need to find a tailor who specializes in wedding dresses near where you live (because you know, flying to China probably will negate the cost savings you had from buying the dress online).  Also, some people find that it’s not ethical to get knock off designer dresses.  And finally, you need to make sure the return policy is excellent before you click “pay”- the company my friend used was very good with their return policy, and they accidentally made the dress with buttons instead of ribbon- she returned it and got the wedding dress back with what she wanted.

I’m sorry, but I’m sure this post will piss a lot of bridal shops off!

Married Bargainmoosers, did you or your wife rent or buy the wedding dress?  Any other tips to save money on the dress?

(Image credits: ND Photo, atelier_nikon)


  • Steve A.
    As a happily married husband, I recommend all engaged men to make sure your fiance is happy for their wedding day. My wife was so beautiful in her gown and it was expensive but worth it. She enjoyed every minute in the gown and the photos and memories will last a lifetime.
  • Cecilia
    I bought mine dress at Goodwill for $100 and dry cleaning was $50 (or maybe it was the other way around...)
    • Kerry
      I did the same for about the same price, but it cost me around $100 for alterations. The dressmaker told me that the dress was in the $800 range. I resold the dress on eBay for $50 and the buyer was so happy that she emailed me privately with a huge thank you.
  • Kit
    I bought the first dress I tried on. It was 1/2 price, fit perfectly and I loved it. I tried a few more after, all more expensive, but I knew that dress suited me perfectly. At just under $500, the price was right for our wedding budget also.
  • Clare
    @Steve- Very true- though I think that wedding gowns can look drop dead beautiful without having to cost $1500 though! @Cecilia- I've seen lots of wedding dressings at the Salvation Army thrift store! Lol, wouldn't doubt it if it was the other way around :)
  • mini
    i know of someone that ordered a replica dress from china and when she got it in the mail it was horrid. It looked NOTHING like the dress she ordered and there was zero way to get her money back. Not saying this is always the case, but I know she is not the only one who has been ripped off.
  • Clare
    @mini- Sorry to hear about your friend's experience! My friend was absolutely thrilled with her dress and there was a return policy. I guess for things like this, you need to make sure there's a good return policy and you need to make sure you buy this dress well in advance.
  • Joline
    I ordered my weddign gown off of last summer for $80. Originally I ordered 3 or 4 different dresses. I tried them on in the comfort of my own home and just sent back the ones I didn't want. It was a gorgeous dress and didn't require any alternations. Most people don't even know that Sears has gowns.
  • Lisa
    When I was shopping fo rmy wedding dress in Ontario none of the stores would let my friend take any photos even though I honestly wanted to send pics to my mom in New Brunswick.
  • Mei
    The stores don't let you take pictures of you in the it's very hard to do so. It was harder to do so with the bad camera phones years ago too! :) They also clip the name of the dress and change the details in the stores (or the ones I went to!) I managed to take some pictures in the change room and had it made for under $250 with shipping from ebay. It didn't turn out too bad but the fabric wasn't the quality that I wanted. I couldn't return it I consigned it...luckily for sold and I got my money back basically!!! So I had to shell out over $1500 for my dress that I wanted. I did tell the saleslady I saw my dress cheaper at a competing store in Vancouver!! So that knocked off $100 for me for alterations!!!
  • Clare
    @Joline- Wow, $80 for a wedding dress at Sears? That is a fantastic deal! I'll make sure to take a look when/if I ever get married. @Lisa- That sounds really strict- I guess they have the wedding gown custom made industry in China to thank for that :( @Mei- That sucks that the dress they made didn't come up to par- I think that's the scariest part of it all. The anxiety that they would make a dress that is completely wrong. I guess that's the risk that people who buy wedding dresses custom made like that take. My friend was pretty anxious when she got the wrong design but she kicked up a fuss and they returned the dress to her fixed up in the proper design.
  • Kati
    I bought mine at Ross in Washington State for $25 + 8% tax. I was intending on sewing mine, but when I saw what I wanted for under $50 I knew I couldn't even get fabric for cheaper than that. My husband was so pleased! It was actually 2 sizes too big so I had to take it in but it took me 15 mins with a needle & thread & you couldn't even tell it was altered!
  • toomanynouns
    One really easy way to save money on a wedding dress is to pick a colour other than white! The minute a dress isn't being presented as a "wedding dress" the price often drops at least 50% and let's be honest, not everyone looks great in white or would look even more fantastic in another colour :)
  • Clare
    @Kati- LOL okay you win, hands down!! @toomanynouns- That's a good idea- though some traditionalists might find that difficult to enact. Maybe a very light yellow would be nice- and can still look "wedding-y"
  • Anna W.
    So my sister got engaged and ran to a bridal shop that very same week, to try on dresses. She saw one that she liked, found a similar one on eBay from China, and got her order in. She spent $90 and she is over the moon. I personally don't think the dress is quite as good as the one in the bridal shop, but there was no way she could afford to spend the $1400 that they were asking. She won't be using it until next year, but it's an eBay wedding dress success story, from the looks of it!
  • Clare
    Awesome to hear, Anna!!! She saved $1300! I think this is the route I'll be going for sure if I ever get married hahaha (still waiting....!)

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