Updated: Oct 20, 2021
According to a recent survey*, the average spend by a UK bride on her wedding dress in 2019 was £1,313.
A wedding dress bought new can cost anything from a few hundred to many thousands of pounds. The price will normally depend on where you buy it, the fabric & embellishments, the designer, and whether you opt for something ‘couture’ (which is normally more expensive).
All brides will have different comfort levels of what they can afford; or are willing to pay for a dress. And let’s face it, the dress or bridal outfit is a pretty focal point of the day. Every bride wants to feel amazing in what she chooses to wear.
In this blog we answer commonly asked questions about the cost of wedding dresses and options available for all budgets.
Why do wedding dresses cost so much money?!
Many wedding dresses have lots of intricate design or detailing which take many hours of skilled craftmanship to make. They also tend to involve a lot of fabric and embellishments which can be expensive. So, the more intricate the design that the more fabric that is used – the more expensive a dress is likely to be.
The range of prices you can expect to pay when buying a dress from a traditional bridal boutique averages between around £800 to £3,000. If you are opting for a high end designer dress, you can expect to pay up to £20,000 plus!
Why do some well-known shops sell dresses so much cheaper than others?
It might be tempting to head to one of the large well known budget bridal shop national outlet chains to save some money. Many of their dresses are priced between around £600-£800 which can seem a very tempting option if you are on a tight budget.
However, do be careful about taking this option as the low price might not be quite what it seems. The sales assistants in these shops often have ‘upselling’ targets and can be very good at persuading brides to buy expensive extras that they might not need.
Also, the fabrics used and dress construction are not likely to be good quality. This can make any alterations much more expensive.
Finally dresses that are mass produced from unsustainable fabrics and shipped in from abroad are not as likely to be as eco friendly as a locally made dress.
Is it cheaper to get a dress made by a seamstress?
Having your dress made by a specialist seamstress is a great option if you have a particular idea in mind of what you want. It may also be cheaper than buying a wedding dress from a boutique but not necessarily. The work is highly skilled and likely to take a lot of time – particularly taking into account fittings.
Depending on the style you want and the fabric you choose you should budget for around £1,000 to £2,000 to get a dress made by a bridal seamstress.
So what are good budget options?
There are lots of options for buying a wedding dress on a budget. Pre-loved is a good place to start with the following options:-
Rent or borrow – Some boutiques offer a rental service which allows you to have a designer dress at a fraction of the cost. Or if you are lucky you might be able to borrow a pre-worn dress from a family member or friend.
Upcycling/repurposing – If you have found a pre-loved dress that is not quite right for you, you can have a specialist seamstress make alterations for you. This should cost less than buying a dress new.
Second hand/Charity Shops – There are many bargains to be had on sites such as Ebay, and Charity shops. It will take a bit of time to search, and you may need some alterations, but this is a great way to save money and be eco-friendly.
The great thing about many of these options is that they are also eco-friendly which is a win win!
If you don’t fancy wearing something pre-loved and would rather buy new you could:-
Choose a style of dress or outfit that you can wear again after the wedding so that you are investing in piece long term rather than just for one day.
Or stick to clean simple options with minimal fabric and bling. This is likely to be cheaper (and more eco friendly of course!) than buying a dress with lots of layers and bling.
At Frock Goddess we recognise that not all brides want to spend thousands on their wedding dress which is why we offer many options of dresses or entire outfits for under £500. Have a look at some of these gorgeous examples.
Whatever you choose to wear or how much you spend you shouldn't feel pressurised to comply with any 'norms' or expectations. It's your day and you should wear whatever you feel comfortable in.
*by Hitched.co.uk and You & Your Wedding Magazine