Welcome to Part 1 of our big “How Much Does a Wedding Dress Cost?” special!
We know searching for your wedding dress can be one of the most important tasks in planning your wedding.
Trying on dresses is so much fun, but the choice out there is overwhelming. And often, you'll finally find the perfect dress, only to realise it's way, way, WAY out of your budget.
No matter how much money you have to spend on your dress, there can be a guilt associated with splashing out on a pricey gown, but for others they simply won't enjoy their day or love their pictures, if they feel like they compromised on what they're wearing.
But the thing about the cost of wedding dresses is, it's often guesswork until you actually go about booking an appointment and trying them on.
Even if you've found your dream designer or perfect dress, you probably haven't the foggiest what it's going to cost.
So, we've decided to put it all out there in the open, and tell you exactly how much a wedding dress costs.
We've called up the world's most exclusive designers, we've sourced prices from niche brands around the world, and we've scoured the internet and the highstreet for the best bargain wedding dresses.
There is a gorgeous dress for every budget, and we want to prove it!
So, over the next three days, we're going to bring you guys gowns at every price point, expert advice on wedding dress shopping, and lots of tips to help you make the most of your budget.
And so, today, we're starting with dresses that come in under $1000 (about £663).
Phase Eight, Hope Dress, $898/£595
Top Tips For Finding a Designer Dress for Less
Below you'll find our rundown of brands creating gorgeous dresses for less, but of course if you have you heart set on a high end designer is there are ways to nab them on a budget.
– Sample sales, second hand sites, vintage stores and charity boutiques can be treasure troves for cut price designer gowns. And of course, there's always the option to rent designer.
– Look to the bridesmaid and reception dress collections of your favourite designers, these gowns will be a little simpler, but will have the same designer quality for a fraction of the price.
– Look to guest designer collections for other brands, Zac Posen for David's Bridal for example offers high-end looks with an affordable pricetag.
– Opting for a designer dress that isn't white might save you a small fortune. Pale pink, dove grey or soft gold dresses will work beautifully for your wedding, without that added ‘bridal' price tag.
– If you have your heart set on a $8,000 dress, but have an $800 budget, please, please (pretty please!) don't opt for an Ebay designer knockoff, we've seen so many horror stories! Even if it's a fraction of the designer gown, spending a couple of hundred on a badly made knockoff (that takes weeks or even months to arrive!) is not money well spent.
Instead take a look at the gorgeous gowns below; just as chic, beautiful and show-stopping as some of their big budget counterparts…
BHLDN, Evangeline Dress, $260/£172
Expert Advice for Dress Shopping on a Budget
What are your top tips for making the most of your dress budget?
So to start off you need to research, research, research!
There are dresses out there for every budget – you just have to establish what you want to spend and then find out where to go that will work for that budget.
Try and identify your spend from the get-go: the price you'd ideally pay and the absolute maximum you'd be prepared to go to for The Dream Dress.
Lastly, try and STICK to this budget when trying dresses on. It's all very well trying an over-budget dress on for fun, or to ‘get an idea of the shape', but if you fall in love it will really taint the rest of your shopping experience.
What are the best designers for brides on a budget to look to?
There are some great options on the High Street- Phase Eight, Coast and Monsoon all do capsule bridal ranges, for example.
The clue is in the title though- if it's a designer name (Jenny Packham, Claire Pettibone etc), then it is going to come at a cost.
It's the more manufactured brands that are more affordable… and then there are always sample sales to nab a designer bargain as well.
Are there features to avoid if you're on a budget, like lace and beading?
With fabrics it always comes down to quality; plastic beads versus Swarovski crystals, and factory-produced lace versus handmade French lace.
Generally speaking heavily beaded or embellished dresses are expensive. If the beadwork or lace detailing looks amazing, expect to pay for such gorgeousness!
Many brides think they can get a designer dress made for less by a dressmaker, is this advisable?
I personally feel that if you can get a designer dress made for less by a dressmaker, then the finished product is going to be of obviously poorer quality.
A good dressmaker using good quality fabrics is likely to come in at the same price – if not more – than the original dress.
The beauty of going bespoke though is that you can put your own ‘spin' on a dress. I can't help but think ‘why' when I see a dress on a blog that has been made but is obviously a rip-off of a designer dress.
If you're getting your dress made, use this opportunity to design something with your dressmaker that is totally unique to you!
Needle & Thread via ASOS, £225/$426
20 Gorgeous Wedding Dresses Under $1000
From London to LA, we've scoured the globe, for our picks of the boutiques and brands creating gorgeous dresses for less than a grand.
Some of them we're even reluctant to share with you guys, we wanted to keep them our own little secret! But go on then, we're nice like that!
Phase Eight, Hope Dress, $898/£595
Phase Eight create the most gorgeous wedding dresses at high-street prices.
With an overall price range of $376-1130 (£250-750) this British occasionwear staple sells dresses that hang beautifully, come in a broad selection of sizes, and have unparalleled detail and embellishment for such affordable gowns.
Donna Morgan, Siena Dress, $234/£155
Donna Morgan is one of the most popular bridesmaid dress designers in the US, her gowns are tried and tested as stylish, well-made, and beautifully photographed. So at $190-240 (£125-£160) for a gown, why wouldn't you consider them for your own big day dress?
Almost all Donna Morgan dresses are available in White Lily and while simple in style, with the right accessories, could make the most gorgeous gowns for your wedding.
J Crew, Eva Gown $650/£430
J Crew is another US staple for bridal party attire, but is often overlooked for wedding dresses.
They create both simple and classic, and bold, and fashion-forward styles with a price range of $450-2000 (£300-1325), so are well worth checking out on your search for the all-important white dress.
Coast, Gemolyn Maxi, $750/£495
Coast is always a go-to for special occasions and their wedding dresses are some of the most affordable on the highstreet, with prices from $265-750 (£175-500).
Signature features include pretty belts, chic capped shoulders, romantic skirts and lace details, gorgeous designs for brides looking for a classic style.
Diane Von Furstenburg
DVF, Maio Lace Gown, $998/£858
DvF might be a coveted luxury designer, but because she specialises in workwear and cocktail attire, rather than couture, her dresses come in at a lower price point than most high-end brands.
While her look is more synonymous with printed wrap dresses, keep your eyes peeled on her new collections for the odd white gem like this one, for less that $1000.
Monsoon, Camille Bridal Dress, $750/£499
Monsoon is a must-try on every budget bride's checklist, with dresses ranging from the classic to the super stylish, along with some gorgeous selections for destination and beach weddings.
They range from $450-1050 (£300-700), while stock can differ on either side of the Atlantic, with international delivery, their dresses can be ordered from almost anywhere in the world.
Macy's, Xscape Ball Gown, $174/£115
Macy's might be more associated with shopping for prom dresses than wedding dresses, but that doesn't mean you won't find your dream gown among their Wedding Shop selection.
With most dresses coming in around (or under) the $300 (£200) mark, and a wide selection of styles and sizes available, with some clever accessorising or a little tailoring, you're sure to find something to suit.
Mod Cloth makes cool dresses that indie, boho, or vintage brides on a budget should most definitely check out. Prices range from $69-300 (£45-200).
While the flat dress images can make them difficult to picture, their customer Style Gallery shows the designs on real brides. giving a better idea on how they look on, and how they can be accessorised.
Asos Red Carpet, Princess Cluster Maxi, $284/£150
ASOS is a veritable treasure trove of gorgeous fashion-forward wedding dresses that will come in under budget. While they're not marketed as ‘bridal', their in-house and guest brands, like ASOS Red Carpet, or Needle & Thread, or Chi Chi, create the most stunning gowns that would make any bride stand out, and best of all, they generally cost between $115-520 (£75-350).
Think outside the box, and gorgeous lace work or ornate embellishment could just be within your price range.
Dahl NYC, Isobel, $1000 (£663)
Dahl NYC is one cool brand, (at an awesome price point) that style savvy brides will swoon over (big time) From long sleeved lace dresses to simple dreamy slips, their designs are just stunning.
Available on their own site, and their Etsy store, with prices ranging from $600-1500 (£400-£995) Dahl NYC are one of our favourites at this end of the index.
Notte by Marchesa via The Outnet, $442 (Original price $1,105) / £293, (£733)
Where can you get 75% off Valentino, Oscar De La Renta and Emilio Pucci (without having to wrestle other brides to the ground in the process)?
The Outnet is the sister site of online luxury fashion boutique Net-a-Porter, and is the place to find last season's designer threads at a fraction of the price. While white/cream/ivory gowns tend to sell fast, bookmark this site and check it regularly and you might just come across a high-end dress on a high-street budget.
Shop Ruche, Zoe, $385/£255
Shop Ruche create the sweetest dresses and should be a go-to for any bride looking for something simple, feminine and pretty.
With an incredible price range of $100-500 (£63-331) you'll have plenty of room left in the budget to splash out on accessories!
Polina Ivanova, Short Reception Dress, from $160 (£108)
Polina Ivanova is a dress designer on Etsy who makes the most gorgeous lace wedding dresses from her studio in Sofia, Bulgaria. While the imagery in her shop isn't quite up there with the lookbooks of big designers, her gowns certainly are, with fine lace, beautiful designs and best of all, custom fitting.
The reviews on her shop are all five star, and with a two week turn around, and plenty of communication as the dress is made, with prices from $452-1055 (£300-700), this Etsy seller could be the answer to your lace dress dreams!
Halston, Jacquard Dress, $695
Halston is one of Sarah Jessica Parker's favourite designers and who are we to argue with the style tastes of Miss Carrie Bradshaw?
The fashion house creates some seriously covetable evening gowns, and while they're not ‘bridal' they're no less stunning. Definitely ones to watch for glamorous designer style for $500-750 (£331-500)
Virgos Lounge, Grace Dress, £190/£125
Virgos Lounge are a label that have risen to popularity in recent years and have become something of a red carpet staple for their unique hues, flattering styles, and stunning embellishment.
If you want beading, sequins, chiffon and silk (without paying the big bucks) check out this growing British brand and their beautiful dresses – priced at $70-375 (£50-250).
Dreamers And Lovers
Dreamers and Lovers via Etsy, $1078/£733
Dreamers and Lovers is another Etsy bridal boutique with stunning dresses and five star customer reviews.
Specialising in boho styles, with the most fabulous crochet creations, the dresses are priced around $750-1200 (£500-800). Founded by LA-based designer, Yanique Barnes, Dreamers and Lovers is a rising star that hippy-chic brides simply must pay a visit to.
Kitty & Dulcie
Kitty & Dulchie, I Got You Babe, $490/£325
Kitty & Dulchie are a recent discovery on our part but budget savvy brides have been loving their work for years. Their prices range from $450-600 (£300-400).
Their dresses vary from the cute and retro to more timeless and classic, with a broad selection of styles and shapes and lots of ideas for accessorising them, to create a beautiful bespoke look for your wedding day.
Truly Zac Posen for David's Bridal, Tank Trumpet Gown, $950/$629
David's Bridal is perhaps one of the biggest names in wedding dresses in the US, and now they've opened boutiques on this side of the Atlantic too.
The collection differs slightly between the UK and the US, but with dresses from as little as $100 up to $1900 (£63-£1200), you should be able to find a beautiful, classic style within budget.
Carousel, Mia, $325/£220
We would talk about Carousel's super gorgeous, super reasonable dresses every day if we could, we just think every bride needs to know about them! (They were even an Etsy Pick of ours a few months back.)
Their delicate, beautiful, chic designs range from $325-1200 (£123-800). Created by young designers, Carine and Claire, pay a visit to their shop and see why Carousel is perhaps the most popular bridal boutique on Etsy.
BHLDN, Penelope Gown $970/£643
BHLDN are one of our favourite labels for putting together beautiful bridal ensembles that look so much more expensive than they really are. While some dresses might be out of your reach, ranging from $700-2200 (£500-1400) many will be within budget.
With a focus on pretty, simple and stylish designs in predominantly sheath and a-line styles, one of their classic, beautiful gowns could just be ‘The One'.
So there you have it, our very favourite designers, boutiques and wedding dresses for less than $1000. Was there something in there you'd love for your own big day?
How great were Sama of Blackburn Bridal's expert tips too? Don't forget to come back tomorrow for more of her great advice, along with more stunning dresses at every price point from $1000-$5000.
(Obviously prices may vary in different boutiques and different parts of the world, but we've double checked the ones we could in both the US and UK, and used xe.com for conversions of the rest.)