How to Shop for an Affordable Bridal Gown in Bridal Stores

A Few Tips Can Help Brides be Smart when Buying a Wedding Dress in Bridals Stores


Designer wedding gowns can cost $6,000 or more, which is fine if that fits within the budget of the bride-to-be. However, according to a survey conducted for David’s Bridal stores, 55 percent of brides-to-be plan to spend no more than $800 on their dress.

Brides should consider whether they want an expensive dress that will be a family heirloom to be handed down from generation to generation, or simply an affordable but chic costume to be worn only on their wedding day.

Those who want to save time and money should carefully consider where, how and when they shop for their ideal bridal gown.

How to Shop for a Perfect Gown in Bridal Stores

When shopping at traditional bridal store, plan ahead.

  • Make appointments with bridal stores, ideally at least nine months prior to the wedding date
  • Shop during the week for better service; stores are busiest on weekends
  • Choose a reputable bridal store that won’t go out of business before the gown is delivered
  • Ask about a return policy, if there is one
  • If you shop at more than one store, take a break between them to avoid “white out” (confusion from seeing too many white dresses at a time)
  • Don’t feel pressured to buy a dress on the first visit; sleep on it
  • Bring a friend, a digital camera (if permitted), foundation garments and shoes in the heel height to be worn with the gown, and pictures or magazine clippings of favorite styles

“A bride should be aware of herself and her taste,” said Diane Pagonis, manager of Here Comes the Bride in Addison, Ill., in an interview.

While she encourages brides to bring in images of dresses they like, Pagonis said they should be open to different styles.

“A lot of bridal gowns look different on than they do on the rack,” Pagonis said, and the bride might be pleasantly surprised at the result. “That’s usually where the ‘wow factor’ comes in.”

She cautions brides against bringing more than one or two people with them when they shop.

“Any more than that and the bride get overwhelmed.”

Price Ranges



Here Comes the Bride carries sample dresses that can be altered to fit as well as gowns that can be ordered to size. Everything is 30 percent to 70 percent off suggested retail prices. Gowns range from about $199 to $2,000 with most brides buying in the $500 to $800 range, said Pagonis.

At David’s Bridal stores, which has more than 300 stores in the United States, gowns range in price from $299 to $1,250. Ready-to-wear gowns in its online collection start at $99.

Budget-conscious brides might save on accessories by wearing something borrowed, rented,  or something old and something new. “Borrow” a slip from a friend, an “old” veil that a family member wore and “new” jewelry that’s a gift from the groom, said Pagonis. “That saves you at least $300 off the bat.”

Allow Time for Ordering and Alterations

Though it is possible to walk into a bridal shop and walk out with a wedding dress the same day, most brides shop around, order their gown and arrange for fittings, all of which may take months. Some gowns can take six months to arrive after ordering, and some may require multiple fittings, which can take weeks.

  • Alterations often are not included in the price of the gown and can cost $35 for a simple bustle to $290 or more, depending on the store and type of alteration
  • Bridal gown sizes often run smaller than standard dress sizes
  • Gowns should fit tightly; some fabrics “give” after being worn for an hour
  • Strapless gowns should fit tight at the waist to hold the bodice in place
  • Floor-length gowns should skim the tops of the shoes
  • Bring the maid-of-honor to the final fitting so she can learn how to attach the bustle

Pagonis said 90 percent of the brides at her salon need only a second fitting. Their first fitting is done four to six weeks prior to the wedding and the final fitting seven to 10 days before the big day.

Money-Saving Options to Bridal Stores

Brides on a budget might consider alternatives to shopping at traditional bridal stores.

  • Department stores: Shop for a white or ivory dress in the special occasion department of stores such as Nordstrom, Von Maur and Macy’s
  • Consignment shops: Gently used gowns
  • Sample shops: Buyers’ samples and discontinued styles
  • Buy a bridesmaid’s dress: Some come in white or off-white
  • Shop online: Search department store and bridal store sites, even J.Crew and JCPenney online
  • eBay: Thousands of new and used styles


A Bride Should Be True to Herself

After all is said and done, the perfect gown is really up to the bride.

“A bride should set aside what everyone else thinks and take a moment for herself,” said Pagonis. “She should feel confident and excited to wear her gown. It’s an emotional purchase and a happy experience.”

Hope this would help you as you prepare for your wedding. And please do share with us in the comment box below how you were able to cut cost on your bridal gown shopping. Thanks.


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