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How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Dress?

How Much Does the Average Wedding Dress Cost?

For most future brides, it's all about the dress. But, what a bride-to-be wants and what they can afford are two very different things. Budgets come into play, especially as the planning for a wedding unfolds. For some, the dress can hold a higher place on the list of spending priorities, and setting a realistic budget for the wedding gown depends on several budgeting factors, like who's paying for what, for instance.

TLC's Say Yes to the Dress offers a glimpse into the stressful, sometimes bridezilla-esque nature of choosing the dress, but also is sure to capture the realistic process of balancing the bridal budget. Regardless of a financial plan, sometimes you'll see the love of the dress outweigh a promise to stick to price limitations. Dream dresses may trump strict budgets, and parents, or even fiancés, plunk down a little more cash to get the bride exactly what she wants. Still, there are other couples who stick to their budgets, no matter what.

With the slew of designer gowns, designer discount gowns, and custom and thrifted dresses, wedding gowns can run the gamut on prices, and while there are certainly extremes on both the higher and lower ends of the spectrum, what is a realistic wedding dress budget?

Wedding statistics released in 2017 by The Knot show the price brides are willing to pay for their gowns has gone up. The 2016 national average spent was $1,564, and the year before it was $1,469. Apart from venue, photographer, and planner, the wedding dress was one of the costliest items of the whole event. If the dress is a top priority for you, then it's a good idea to budget the rest of the event accordingly by cutting back costs on other aspects — maybe plan it yourself instead of hiring a planner, or choose a cheaper venue — to make up for what you're spending on the gown.

Join The Conversation
Christina14649216 Christina14649216 3 years
my dress was a custom made silk dress. I spent $400 on it.
lickety-split lickety-split 6 years
I'm probably the MOST anti-wedding person ever. I wore my MIL's dress. Said yes to her dress before I ever saw it. To me, the marriage was the big deal. The wedding: something other people expected. Spent zero on my dress.
inlove23 inlove23 7 years
I love watching say yes to the dress, but the prices can be crazy! I was looking at a very popular bridal store in my state, and the dress prices are no where close to those on say yes to the dress, which is a very good thing!!
ooashybabeoo ooashybabeoo 7 years
I've tried on cheaper gowns and couture gowns and for myself, I can tell a major difference in cut, fabric, and fit when it comes to trying on both. There is no way I can go with a non-couture gown now, after trying so many on! I just dislike how cheap some dresses look, it's ridiculous! I'm going into fashion, so I nit pick about everything. However, the few dresses I have my eyes on are both around $4,000. Yikes! I would've never thought I would even look at something with that price tag, but when I think about it... I want to look amazing in something that fits correctly and is unique and not cheap looking. My fiance and I both want to look our best; he is getting a designer suit so why can't I get a designer dress?! In order to afford the wedding of our (my) dreams, we put it off another year. Probably the best decision made!
omega2 omega2 7 years
I agree with everyone who thinks it should be around 10% of your wedding budget. I would like to keep the total for mine below $2,000 but that is PUSHING it. I'd really prefer to spend $1,500 to be honest. But I definitely have expensive tastes and specific wants for the dress which could increase the price tag.
cotedazur cotedazur 7 years
Mine was $4000, with alterations included. I NEVER thought I would spend that much, but the wedding itself cost a lot less than expected so my parents chipped in for the dress. It was a lot of money, but when I compared it to less expensive dresses, the quality was really evident - both esthetically and comfort-wise. To get more value out of it, all my married friends and I are planning on throwing a "group wedding" every few years where we rent a restaurant or club and all the girls wear their dresses and the guys wear their suits. We figure that split between 10-15 couples it won't be too expensive, and it will be a good excuse to wear all our dresses again!
starbucks2 starbucks2 7 years
Probably not more than 1000$. To each their own though. If you have that kind of money, go for it! I was actually thinking about sewing my own dress, that would not only make it a lot cheaper but alot more special, too. And that dress Kate Hudson wore in the movie could totally be the inspiration! I fell in love wirh it when I saw the movie!
acfreema acfreema 7 years
I spent $1200, including a 15% discount. The catch was that once I factored in alterations and bought a veil it was much closer to $1500. This was about 8% of my overall wedding budget so I am okay with that. I picked 3 things I really cared about (dress, food + open bar, photography) and more things that I'd be okay with going a little cheaper on (decorations, flowers, transportation, invites, etc.) In the end it evened out and I stayed within my budget!!
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 7 years
I'd love to spend under $2K. It's an important dress, but you only wear it once. Much prefer to spend that kind of money on a nice ring, which you'll be wearing every single day for the rest of your life. (An extra 10K could go a long way in ring terms!) Also, I kind of think that all wedding dresses look the same. I can't remember much that was distinctive about even my closest friend's wedding dresses.
havok636 havok636 7 years
i refused to spend over $1000 on a dress, and I found a gorgeous dress for $700. I can see why others would spend more than that, but I really don't understand women who pay more for their wedding dress than I did for my car
lawchick lawchick 7 years
I had a $300 J Crew wedding dress with about $50 worth of alterations. I loved it! The most I would have spent if that hadn't worked out would've been around $1000.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
Whatever, it's a dress, you wear it once....I got mine for $500 and it was beautiful, but I wouldn't have spent more than $800 on a dress. I don't get it when women spend $5000+ for a DRESS.
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
It depends on the budget. Personally, I wouldn't spend over $1,500 for gown + alterations. I would feel guilty even spending that much.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
And yeah, some of those people on Say Yes to the Dress spend $25,000 or more, which I think is ridiculous! But, I'm sure a lot of people think spending $10,000 would be ridiculous, too, and I'd probably be willing to spend that if I found something I loved.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I'm with skigurl on this one. I think $10,000 is the max I'd ever consider spending, but I would likely look at less expensive dresses first.
Soniabonya Soniabonya 7 years
I got my dress for $500. I didn't want to go over $800. Love my dress. Can't wait to wear it.
finzup finzup 7 years
I think roughly 5-10% of the cost of the wedding. So if you're spending $20,000 total, then the dress should cost $1000-$2000 range. For me, my budget for dress, shoes, jewelry, veil, + alterations is $2000 and I'm okay with that.. I'll be wearing it 3 times! (wedding in mexico, ttd photo shoot the next day, and an "at home" reception)..
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 7 years
Mine was around 1000. Totally worth it :)
skigurl skigurl 7 years
i think if i found a dress for $1000 or $2000 that i loved, i'd buy it...but if my dream dress was more like $4000 or $5000 i'd also buy that...and if i couldn't find anything but my dream dream dream designer dress was $8000 i'd also buy's all about what makes you feel beautiful and i wouldn't skimp on it (i think $10,000 would be pushing it though...but then again i have never shopped for a wedding gown, not for myself or anyone else, so i guess i have no idea what is out there and what is realistic...i do know i have expensive taste though)
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