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How Much Is Too Much for a Wedding Dress?

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Every bride envisions herself in an exquisite bridal gown that will make her stand out on her big day.

However, one challenge most brides face is deciding how much to spend on a wedding dress, given that she may only get to wear it once. While there’s no rule on how much men should spend on a wedding ring, is there a limit to how much women should spend on their dream gown?

How much is too much for a wedding dress?

The amount you spend on a wedding dress depends on your budget and what you feel you can spend on a wedding dress. There’s no figure you need to go under or over as it’s entirely up to you. If you don’t find something within your price range, you can decide whether to budget up and get a better dress. 

Bride fitting her beautiful wedding dress

Our guide details how much is too much for a wedding dress. We also look at the average cost of a wedding dress in 2022 and some of the factors that dictate the price of a gown. 

What’s the Average Cost of a Wedding Dress?

A survey by The Knot of over 15,000 couples revealed that the average wedding dress cost was approximately $1,800 in 2021.

The Knot also carried out another survey that estimated that the average price of a wedding gown in 2018 was $1,631, including dress alterations.

The increase from $1,631 to $1,800 shows that the average wedding dress cost keeps rising. 

That’s an average and may not account for other factors like customization, dress alterations, dress style, designer, extra embellishments, and other things that could further increase the final cost. 

How Much Is Too Much to Spend on a Wedding Dress?

There’s no correct answer to this question as the amount varies from one bride to another. 

To one bride, a $2,000 dress may be too much, while to another, $800 may be beyond their budget. Too much is more of a personal decision.

The amount you spend on a wedding dress depends on your budget and what you feel you can spend on a wedding dress. There’s no figure you need to go under or over as it’s entirely up to you. 

If you come up short in your price range, you may need to increase your budget or change your style choices. 

With that in mind, wedding experts recommend spending at least 5 percent of your wedding budget on your wedding dress, and that includes all other costs and taxes.

So if your wedding budget is $20,000, you should spend at least $1,000 on your dress. 

What Factors Affect the Cost of a Wedding Dress?

While there are different wedding dress options based on your budget, you’ll find that there are some gowns that cost up to $80,000.

The cost of a wedding dress depends on different factors like the following:

The Fabric

Rows of wedding dresses on display in a specialist wedding dress shop.

Fabrics like high-end lace, silk, and tulle are more expensive compared to other options like cotton and polyester.

You should expect to pay more for dresses made from specific types of satin, hand-embroidered lace, silk, and charmeuse.

Opt for a dress made with synthetic or blended fabrics if you’re on a budget. 

Embellishments and Additional Details

A gown with beads or a lace covering will be more expensive than a plain wedding dress. Although these little details tend to add to the uniqueness of a gown, they can quickly add to the cost. That’s because it takes the designer more time to add them to the gown. Additionally, purchasing the embellishments is also expensive.


Bride with lace wedding dress and friends in wedding fashion shop

Most brides have a budget planned for their wedding gown, but only a few plan for other expenses that might arise, like dress alterations. 

The seamstress may need to adjust your preferred dress if it doesn’t fit well around your shoulders and torso. Others may require a change of straps, while some brides may want fabric added to the upper part of the dress.

The cost of alteration will depend on the part of the gown that needs to be changed.

For example, you may have to part with $100-$400 to shorten the hem depending on the labor required and layers of fabrics. 

Additionally, the material of your gown will also determine the alteration cost. Dresses with beads and lace are delicate to handle, and this increases the cost of alteration. 

You should also account for accessories and undergarments when shopping for your dress.

Furthermore, the gown may need professional cleaning before and after, and you need to factor in this cost, which will vary depending on the fabric and complexity of cleaning. 

Custom Designing

Tailor measuring bride for her wedding dresss in the fitting room

A custom gown from designers like Vera Wang and Oscar De La Renta costs much more than other bridal shop gowns.

For example, an Oscar De La Renta gown will cost you about $14,000 on average, but you can find a Vera Wang dress in their Luxe Collection, retailing at $6,900. 

That’s because these designers have built a reputation over the years for quality gowns and have custom bookings done prior, which attracts the high price tag. 

There are also bespoke designs or handmade bridal gowns where designers are paid to create an original, one-off dream dress.

Bespoke designs are expensive compared to existing designs, but there’s room for negotiation based on your budget and what you want to be created. 

To cut down on the cost, you can choose a wedding gown from licensed designers like Maggie Sottero and Stella York. Most of their dresses are under $2,000, and you’ll have various choices from these mid-range brands. 

Silhouette and Structure

The back of the bride in a wedding dress

Wedding dresses with boning and corsets will be more expensive than plain dresses with simple cups for support. 

The corset gives a gown structure and support, making the dress comfortable and improving overall quality. 

How to Save Money on a Wedding Dress

Having a limited budget doesn’t mean you should opt for a shabby-looking gown. If you’re on a tight budget but are still looking for a stunning dress, here are tips on doing that without going beyond your budget. 

Buy Your Dress Early

Happy bride chooses a dress in a wedding boutique

Shopping for your dress long before the wedding can help you compare available options and snag a good deal on your preferred gown. 

Also, be sure to check for sale deals during the off-season. 

Shop for a Gown During a Retailer’s Sample Sale

Most bridal gown shops will have a retailer’s sample sale during winter and summer. That’s the best time to go dress shopping as there’s a variety to shop from at reasonable prices.

Note that sample sales are final, and you need to know the type of dress you want to buy, as you can’t exchange it for another. 

There are also trunk shows featuring wedding gowns at a bridal salon. You might find new gown designs and get exclusive discounts. 

Rent a Wedding Gown

Bridal dresses, wedding dresses, lace

Although your budget may not allow you to buy a designer wedding gown, you can get a fantastic deal renting a designer dress. You can get a good deal at local stores.

Alternatively, you can visit sites like to find a deal on designer wedding dresses. You’ll have a variety of styles to choose from at a reasonable price. 

Final Thoughts

The question of how much is too much to spend on a wedding dress is personal. Ultimately, it all depends on your budget and the type of dress you want for your big day. 

Although the cost of wedding dresses keeps going up every year, it’s still possible to get your wedding dress at sample sales or by renting one. Weigh your options and work with your budget to find your dream gown.