Weddings Dress Bargains That Will Have Brides Skipping Down the Aisle


Every week, the production crew of TLC's Say Yes to the Dress travels to Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City, where the store's crew of highly-trained bridal consultants shepherd their customers through the emotionally-fraught minefield of wedding dress purchasing. On the show, dresses generally range from $1,000 up to $30,000 or more, and some would-be brides buy two or more, just to cover their options.

While there's certainly much to be said for spending 60% of the average American household salary on a single garment that will only be worn once, it's also worth asking if there might be other, more reasonable options out there. After all, with the average cost of a wedding topping $20,000, shaving off a few hundred (or thousand) on the dress could translate into a nicer reception, more guests or a longer honeymoon.

Part of the problem with paying thousands of dollars for a single dress lies in the fact that -- the claims of bride mags and dress designers aside -- bridal styles don't actually change all that much from year to year. In many cases, they have hardly evolved since 1950, when Walt Disney released Cinderella, and even many of the sleeker, less traditional styles on the market have barely changed since the days of Jean Harlow and Lana Turner.

With this in mind, one way to save a few hundred on your wedding dress is by buying last year's styles. Because there is such a big premium on having the latest looks from the most impressive designers, dresses that are a year old or older often end up hanging in the back of the store. Two of my closest female friends mined these slightly-out-of-date racks for massive 80% discounts, and the push for the latest looks meant that they had plenty of dresses to choose from. Another option that many brides use is buying sample dresses from the bridal shop. While these have been tried on a few times, they are often still in mint condition, and may be priced well below the suggested retail.

If you aren't too sentimental, you could even consider buying a wedding dress off of eBay or Craigslist. Many companies sell dresses directly on the online auction site, often at prices that are a fraction of what they would be in the store. Admittedly, there is some danger in buying a dress without trying it on, but many retailers have liberal return policies and will even tailor their dresses free of charge.

Ultimately, though, the biggest savings come from previously owned dresses. While some of these have already made one trip down the aisle, many have barely been worn. As Say Yes to the Dress demonstrates, many brides buy more than one dress, while others buy their dresses far in advance of the wedding, only to discover that they have gained weight and are no longer able to wear their first pick.

As with anything on eBay or Craigslist, previously owned dresses could be a big money saver...or a big disappointment. However, with their prices discounted by 80% or more, these bargains could have you saving on the cost of your wedding...and skipping down the aisle!

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Marie Brown

. I thought of Katherine Ross while watching my future sister-in-law walk down the aisle in a simple tea length white dress with a huge round hat and a simple bouquet of garden variety of flowers. That was almost thirty years ago, but the memory is still fresh in my mind.

April 19 2011 at 6:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
elaine robert

I chose a tasteful gown and a small wedding in exchange for a gorgeous engagement ring!

April 19 2011 at 6:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sonja Dunbar

Someone mentioned buying a dress from a store that sells party dresses. My daughter did that when she was engaged and then broke it off. She got the most beautiful beaded dress at a better department store for $300. It fit her perfectly and since we had not removed the tags, she was able to take it back for a full refund when the wedding was called off. That dress was far more beautiful than most wedding dresses I see in wedding shops.

April 18 2011 at 8:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Celeste Berry

I bought a fabulous brand new $600 David's Bridal dress for $175 on eBay, then sold it the week after the wedding for the same price. It was a beautiful wedding and is a wonderful marriage.

April 18 2011 at 7:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree that expensive Weddings are not the way to go. I am a Professional Photographer in Chicago. I offer a inexpensive alternative to high-priced photographers. My information can be viewed at:

April 18 2011 at 4:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've spent the last few months looking at wedding dresses, to no avail. This past weekend, I spotted nice white dresses in a high-end shop that sells cocktail dresses. After trying on multiple dresses, I chose "the one" and was thrilled when I realized it had come off the clearance rack and was priced at $69.99. I am thrilled to have gotten such a nice dress at a price that makes it easier for us to put our money into more important things, like our house!

April 18 2011 at 3:38 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Hi Tom

isn't any dress ever made worth $1000. Go to Target and pick out a dress. Spend the money you save on something that has a purpose

April 18 2011 at 2:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I can't help but wonder how many of the brides with their dresses that cost thousands end up divorced in a couple of years. A dress does not a marriage make.......

April 18 2011 at 1:04 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

i truly hope this ugly BANDEAU crap goes outta style real soon--horrendous choice for a WEDDING gown -and why would anyone WITH HALF A BRAIN even pay a thousand bucks ? There are many alternatives right down to SAMPLES DavidsBridal or even JCPenny and altering/personalizing YOUR gownfor under 400bucks and you have made your own style.

April 18 2011 at 10:12 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I agree Sonja! And funerals can really cut back. I recently went to a funeral, where the person had it at the GRAVE SITE. It skipped the funeral home and church completely. No 3 days being viewed. It was a closed casket with a tent, family had rented chairs. The family did not want to be GAUKED AT with a open casket. At the end friends visited with the family seated in the front. Then went home. I must say it took a LOT OF STRESS off everyone. I made my decision to have mine this way, too. Then everyone doesn't have to spend a fortune dressing up for 3 days, too. If someone spends $20,000.00 on a wedding they are foolish. If I had 20,000.00. I would use it as a down payment of a house and elope.

April 18 2011 at 9:57 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply