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10 Relatively Affordable Wedding Dresses
05.16.17

Wedding dresses are insanely expensive. I learned this four years ago when I worked at New York Magazine; one of my internal side hustles involved handling the fashion for New York Weddings, which meant styling wedding dress fashion shoots for the bi-annual magazine. Though I was already numb to the kinds of price tags that come with designer clothes, I couldn’t get over a $10k sticker on a white gown that you’d wear once. Granted, $10k was reserved for the really dramatic, big-train editorial ones, but it was such a prevalent number, $5k options started to feel reasonable. Working in fashion skewed my outlook: I didn’t love the look of a traditional, proper, formal wedding dress. My mind was focused on the runway. In the context of the actual average cost of wedding dresses in the US ($1,546, according to The Knot), you’re left with few options that feel special.

The more affordable (“affordable”) dresses ended up being the kinds of pieces that, under any other circumstance, you might scoff at. A $2,000 dress on Net-a-Porter becomes a bargain — especially when it makes you feel like yourself and not, like Ali MacGraw said, a face being worn by a gown (as opposed to you wearing it).

A recent perusal of white dresses online proved that this truth still holds. Scroll through for 10 could-be-but-technically-are-not wedding dresses with price tags that won’t make your eyes pop out of your head. The highest hit is a puff-sleeved Markarian gown for $2,250 (but you’d pay half now, half when it arrives, like my laser beams); the lowest is good old Topshop coming in hot at $170. (By the way, they actually have a whole bridal section now. Don’t forget Reformation does, too.)

And for everything else, there is quite literally Mastercard. I’ll rob a cake shop with you, though.

Photos via Topshop, Net-a-Porter, and MATCHESFASHION.com, feature collage by Edith Young with background via Getty Images.

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  • Ellie

    I don’t know if you guys have Whistles in the States but they’ve just brought out a new wedding line where most things are around the £600 mark http://www.whistles.com/look-book/whistles-wedding-2017.html

  • THIS. I can’t justify spending that much on a dress that you can only wear once! I’d much rather put that cash towards a fun honeymoon. I really like that Topshop one!

  • Hayley

    I found my dress through Anthropologie’s BHLDN and I loved it. It was very ~me~ and was *only* $600.

    • elpug

      their dresses are so elegant and pretty affordable while not being cliche!

  • KK

    I can’t say enough about buying secondhand! The money you save can be used to dry clean and alter that thing and you will STILL pay less than new!

  • Rheanonn Perez

    i went to three proms in high school: my first dress was $200 from some boutique (rolls eyes), the second was like $100 from asos, & the third was a $50 vintage find from etsy. ~if~ i ever get married, i can see myself being just as thrifty! i won’t want anything traditional anyway. maybe i’ll pull a SJP & not wear white! although i read somewhere that she had regretted her choice to wear black.

    frheak.net

    • Jessica Burdick

      FWIW, I regret NOT wearing black. I knew I wanted a non-traditional color but ended up wearing a beige gown and even that was too bridal for me. All around, I felt like my non-traditional desires got strongly pulled into the traditional realm by unseen forces, so my advice is to aim even bolder than you think so you end up closer to where you want!

  • Username

    I actually recommend reformation in this case. Their wedding dresses are poor quality but they’re far cheaper than your average dress. It’s for one day only so if tears no big. Reformation is quite sheer so wear a slip underneath.

  • Julia Schnell

    Getting married next month in a blue floral maxi dress from ModCloth that I had to take in myself with my mediocre, middle-school-home-ec sewing skills. $130 total, no regrets about not getting something white (though in retrospect I could have waited and gotten it on sale a few weeks later *shakes fist*!)

  • Fayth Lyon

    Relatively affordable?
    Relatively ugly.

  • chouette

    Why is that Anna Sui dress already sold out aughghghghghghghg I am wedding dress shopping as the pickiest person ever. Zimmermann made my dream dress but decided to make it as A BOOTY SHORTS ROMPER instead. People who buy $700 formal rompers, can you weigh in? There must be several of you since they keep making them season after season!

    • Amelia Diamond

      omg what the heckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk (to anna sui being sold out)

      i don’t understand formal rompers either but i have a friend who loves them. sigh.

      • chouette

        I think you owe it to us to interview her. For science.

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  • Kay Nguyen

    I love all of these dresses, but am I the only one think though they are beautiful but they look more like vacation dresses than wedding dresses? Just a thought.

    https://www.myblackcloset.com/

  • Meg S

    I have this weird desire to get married (if I ever decide to say I do) in a princess gown. Completely weird because I’m of the skinny jeans and maybe a modcloth sundress on a 90 degree day variety. I might look for a black one, or a two piece wedding dress. I remember seeing a two piece princess ball gown skirt and a subtle crop top somewhere in the 2018 wedding dress collections.

    Then again one of my friends got married in a $200 david’s bridal dress and looked gorgeous so she convinced me that spending a ton of money on a wedding dress isn’t necessary at all.

  • Sian

    In love with that Makarian one! Also the Zimmerman one is so pretty!

  • Lilli

    I have just been looking at that Michael Lo Sordo dress on the weekend! It’s to die for and the back is just as gorgeous.

  • I’ve definitely commented about this before, but I had a Reformation wedding dress. The problem with the dress was that it was completely see-through and ill-fitting when I bought it even though it was relatively inexpensive. The alterations cost nearly as much as the dress itself.
    I’m thinking of having it dyed and the skirt shortened so I can wear the pieces instead of them just hanging in my closet forever. Anyone have any experience with that?

  • Jaclyn Najjar

    Please do a post like this on fun/kind of affordable wedding shoes. Can wedding shoes be fun but not overpowering at the same time? I want to have my cake and eat it too

  • Crystal

    I found a white dress on Revolve for about $200 for my wedding in September. It’s very simple: spaghetti straps; a blousey bodice that will hopefully conceal any wedding catering-related food babies; and a fun asymmetrical hem. But most importantly, it was $200. My mother in law is going to hate it which is unfortunate (she prefers things to be ornate. Like I worry she will take one look at it and break out a bedazzler).

  • Daisy Tinker

    ASOS Marketplace has an amazing vintage wedding dress selection! They’re super affordable too.
    https://marketplace.asos.com/women/featured/womens-vintage-wedding-dresses

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