Wedding Dress Prices: What is Realistic?

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What are realistic prices for wedding dresses? If you have been spending any time paging through bridal magazines for ideas, you might be in for a shock when you see the actual price tags. The gowns they show are often very expensive, but there are also cheaper alternatives. Top wedding gown designers are offering more and more options for brides on a tight budget. Just pick a style you like, then start browsing online for alternate ideas.

The cost of your wedding dress will depend on a number of factors:

  • Fabric (quality and amount used)
  • Length
  • Detail such as beading and embroidery
  • Complicated or elaborate designs (ruffles, pleating, unusual cut)
  • Designer name (a Vera Wang will cost a lot more than a J. Crew dress)

Prices for inexpensive wedding dresses can range from around $200 for a used or second hand dress, to $500 for a beautiful gown on sale. Designer dresses in fine fabrics like silk run $2,000 to $5,000 and up. You could easily pay $10,000 or more if you wanted to. However, if there is a dress you fall in love with in a store or magazine, make sure you search online for lower prices. There are many discount online wedding dress stores these days. You can always find a better price and then go back to a store to negotiate a bit. 

No matter how inexpensive or fancy the dress, and no matter where you buy it, you need to factor in tailoring and alterations. If you are buying an expensive dress from a boutique, the tailoring is often included. If you are doing your own tailoring, for example if you bought your dress online, make sure you get the name of a top seamstress to do the tailoring. It is worth spending more for someone with experience working on wedding dresses. 

Depending on how much tailoring needs to be done, it can cost you anywhere from $100 and up. This isn't like getting the hem of a simple skirt shortened. If the dress has any beading, embroidery, elaborate closures or necklines, there is a lot more work involved in making alteration. Also, if you lose or gain weight before the wedding you will need more alterations done. This is the biggest variable cost in your total wedding dress budget.

Don't forget to factor in your accessories, such as headpiece, veil, jewelry, gloves, garter, and shoes. The sky is the limit here in term of price. You could choose a pair of Jimmy Choo pumps or cowboy boots depending on your theme or personal preference. However, if you want any of your accessories to be a focal point, make sure you work the dress around the accessories. There is no point having an amazing pair of $400 Benjamin Adams shoes just to have them hidden under your gown all night.

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