The Average Cost of a Wedding Dress—And Everything That Impacts the Final Number (2024)

After years of pinning styles and dreaming about your “I dos,” it’s finally time to pick your wedding dress! And while it’s thrilling to start the dress shopping experience, it can also be stressful, as bridal gowns tend to be a confusing choice for many. Why? Well, there are a plethora of options to choose from, at a vast range of price points.

A variety of factors affect the overall cost of a dress, "such as the brand, craftsmanship, fabric choice, dress style, construction, embellishments, time, and individual customization," says Dami Olukoya, founder of Imad Eduso, a womenswear and bridal line. "Wedding gowns take up a lot of man-hours with multiple sampling and back and forth all to create one dress that means so much to the bride." Nonetheless, there is no one-size-fits-all wedding ensemble, so costs vary—ultimately, it's best to choose the gown that suits your preferences and budget.

To ease your mind (and wallet) about these expenses, though, we called upon an expert to break down everything that goes into the cost of a wedding dress—plus, a few tips on how to save a bit of money. Read on to learn more and be sure to take notes!

Meet the Expert

Dami Olukoya is the founder and designer of the black-owned womenswear brand Imad Eduso. Recognized by its contemporary silhouettes and unique play with vibrant colors, the brand creates looks for women of all shapes, sizes, and skin tones.

The Average Cost of a Wedding Dress—And Everything That Impacts the Final Number (1)

The Average Cost of a Wedding Dress

According to a mix of data reports, the average wedding dress cost in the United States falls somewhere between $1,800 and $2,400. In the bridal fashion world, prices are based on several contributing elements, which we outline below. Based on these factors, a dress might cost anywhere from $500 to $4,000 (though they can get much more expensive).

Wedding Dress Cost Factors

The Fabric

According to Olukoya, while the cost of fabric can deviate based on various reasons (like sourcing, availability, and the production process), generally, "quality silk, satin, embroidered and beaded lace, charmeuse, and appliqués tend to be more expensive." That's because "some fabrics, such as lace, are custom-made based on the dress design, and a designer will have to order directly from fabric manufacturers or make it in-house if their atelier is capable and this is usually handcrafted," adds Olukoya. That said, there are materials that have a high-end feel but come at an affordable price, like polyester and rayon.

The Embellishments

"The entire process of embellishments, which involves hand-stitching, can take hours, spanninng into weeks or months, depending on the complexity of the pattern," says Olukoya. Thus, given the intricacy and skill needed to embellish a gown, the more embellishments your dress has, the more expensive it will likely be.

"The addition of embellishments based on the density and intricacy can also drive up the cost. Whilst some fabrics are already embellished by the manufacturer and can be really difficult to work with because the tailoring would be around the intricacy of the fabric. Embellishments could also be pearls, Swarovski crystals, and more," the designer adds.

Want a glam look on a budget? Select a simple gown and have your seamstress add embellishments, or up the “wow” factor with accessories like dangling earrings or a shoulder necklace.

The Designer

Simply put, choosing a designer dress will cost you money. "Most brides aren’t aware that the process of creating the designs itself takes time, as it goes beyond just drawing a beautiful gown. The design or sketch is created with the bride in mind, to suit her physique, preferences, and vision—and the more custom details the bride wants to be added to the dress, to make it so specific to her taste, the more the cost increases," notes Olukoya.

While designer looks are typically favored by most brides today, it's not a requirement to go this route if you're hoping to cut costs from your budget. Nowadays, online retailers such as Anthropologie Weddings, Lulus, Shopbop, Revolve, and Bridal by Eloquii offer stylish and on-trend dresses for a fraction of the price. Bonus? Some of these companies offer home try-on options, in order to give you the flexibility of trying on styles in your own time.

The Accessories

While you might think your wedding look is all about the dress, your accessories play a huge part in bringing your vision together. Make sure you budget for things like jewelry, shoes, lingerie, and a veil or headpiece, all of which can range from $250 to $400.

If you’re going with an elaborate gown, keep your accessories lowkey and let the dress be the star of the show. For brides opting for a simple ensemble, use the extra space in your budget to glam up your look with anything from belts to bold necklaces and eye-catching earrings.

The Season

If you're opting for a designer gown that was just released, expect to pay top dollar for the look. As with clothing in any market, gowns are typically more expensive when they're new and more in demand (the law of economics). However, if you're hoping to save a buck or two, shopping for styles from prior seasons, especially in the winter or summer, will help you snag a deal.

This is due to the fact that some retailers, boutiques, and designers have sales to clear out gowns from previous collections. Attending a sample sale or ordering your gown at a trunk show (which will usually save you around 20 percent) are also simple ways to save even more on your ideal dress.

The Alterations

Unless your gown is custom-made to perfection, there's a very slim chance that it will fit you flawlessly, so be sure to budget for alterations. Unfortunately, the price of alterations varies greatly (between $75-$900), and it's ultimately up to you to figure out what you need to pay once you've selected your exact dress.

"Every brand has its own policies. With Imad Eduso, size alteration cost is most times waived. However, in the case of design alterations, the extra fabric, time, intricacy of embellishments, and reconstruction of the dress will incur extra costs, and, thus, increase the overall cost of the alteration," notes Olukoya.

The Preservation

While it’s not technically part of your actual wedding day look, cleaning and preserving your dress is something to keep in mind. Whether you’re looking to donate, sell, or alter and wear again, you’ll want to get your gown professionally cleaned after you say "I do." Specifically, set aside $250 to $750 for dress preservation if you're looking to take this route.

How to Save Money on Your Wedding Dress

Looking for other ways to save while searching for your wedding dress? Try shopping for ready-to-wear looks instead of actual bridal brands. Olukoya notes that ready-to-wear bridal pieces are much cheaper, since the design patterns can be easily replicated for mass production.

Additionally, with online boutiques, seasonal sample sales, and the option to rent designer gowns, there are many ways for brides on a budget to save. Whether you choose to buy simple and add the glam, shop non-bridal, or borrow, your perfect dress is never out of reach.

Should You Rent Your Wedding Dress?

The Average Cost of a Wedding Dress—And Everything That Impacts the Final Number (2024)


The Average Cost of a Wedding Dress—And Everything That Impacts the Final Number? ›

Today's average wedding dress cost is between $1,500 - $2,500, but the truth is that wedding dress costs vary wildly based on factors like the designer, fabric, and other key elements. If that average number seems high, don't worry. It's more than possible to find a dress you love on a smaller budget.

How much does the average wedding dress cost? ›

According to a mix of data reports, the average wedding dress cost in the United States falls somewhere between $1,800 and $2,400. In the bridal fashion world, prices are based on several contributing elements, which we outline below.

What is the average amount of money for a wedding dress? ›

Generally, the average cost of a wedding gown is typically between $1,800 to $2,500. Off-the-rack gowns may be priced lower than $1,800, while more luxurious gowns can sometimes fall in the $3,000 to $8,000 range. Customized dresses can even cost up to $10,000.

What is the average markup on wedding dresses? ›

According to Business Insider, research company Edited recently released a study that shows that stores will charge customers roughly 3.9 times more for a "wedding" dress than they would a similar white dress not labeled as "wedding." That means a $500 white dress (which is still not cheap) would cost almost $2,000 if ...

Is $1000 a lot for a wedding dress? ›

One rule of thumb suggests that brides allocate ten percent of their total wedding budget to their wedding dress. So, if you're planning to spend $10,000 or less on your big day, wedding dresses under $1000 fit that budget quite nicely (and maybe even leaves you extra for the honeymoon!).

Is $4000 too much for a wedding dress? ›

The average cost of a wedding dress is $1,631 including alterations while other designs can reach up to $4,000. Brides tend to wonder why are wedding gowns so expensive when they only have to wear it once in their lifetime and why they should invest in wedding gown preservation kit.

Is $1500 too much for a wedding dress? ›

Wedding dresses come in all different prices. We offer a wide selection starting under $1000. Keep in mind that the average price of a dress in our shop is $1500. You can get all different silhouettes and wear a designer gown and still stay within your budget.

Is $500 a lot for a wedding dress? ›

The important thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to blow your bridal budget to find the perfect wedding dress. While the average cost of a wedding dress in America is somewhere between $1,000-$2,500, you can still find plenty of stunning, high-quality wedding dresses under $500.

Who usually pays for the brides dress? ›

Who traditionally pays for the wedding dress? One of the most closely stuck-to traditions is that the bride's family will pay for the wedding dress. This also includes any accessories the bride may wear, such as a veil, a bag and shoes. For modern weddings, the bride may want to pay for her own dress.

What makes a wedding dress look cheap? ›

This happens with wedding dresses too, especially when they're mass produced. Poor assembly leads to a low-quality look. It's generally the result of a machine that wasn't calibrated properly, an unskilled laborer, or using a machine for a task that requires handcrafting.

Do you normally pay for wedding dress in full? ›

While the actual amount can vary from salon to salon, you should expect to put down around 50 to 60 percent. The remainder of the balance will be due once the dress arrives from the designer.

Is it worth spending a lot of money on a wedding dress? ›

If an expensive dress is what you end up feeling the most beautiful in, it may be worth spending a little extra. Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. You deserve to feel completely comfortable and amazing when you walk down the aisle, after all.. this is a one-time thing!

Why do weddings dresses cost so much? ›

This is one of the main reasons for the very expensive cost of wedding dresses: they are often made with very luxurious and expensive materials that the bride will have to pay for. Many wedding gowns are made with luxurious silk and hand-embroidered, sometimes some crystals are even sawn on the dress.

What do brides spend the most money on? ›

Unsurprisingly, the biggest chunk of your wedding budget will go to the biggest investment, which is often the venue. Our study found that couples typically spend about 37% of their overall budget on the wedding venue for their nuptials.

Is $30,000 a lot for a wedding? ›

Nichols explains the best thing you can do when building your wedding budget is to have a realistic idea of the approximate costs. In a 2022 survey of 12,000 couples across the country, The Knot found the national average for a wedding is $30,000.

What budget is considered a luxury wedding? ›

The price points of having a luxury outdoor wedding will vary based on individual style and preferences. However, by traditional standards, a luxury wedding budget ranges between $100,000 and $500,000. Although the amount of money spent qualifies a wedding as luxurious, the quality of the experience is of more essence.

Do I have to pay for my wedding dress in full? ›

Be prepared to pay a deposit.

After you've said yes to your dream dress, taken countless photos, gotten measured by a bridal manager— its time to order and pay for your dress! In order to put your dress into production, you'll need to put down a 60% deposit on your dress and any changes you made.

Do bridesmaids pay for their own dresses? ›

While generous, that's still an exception to the norm. Generally speaking, bridesmaids are expected to pay for their own dresses and accessories; they may also be required to foot the bill for hair and makeup appointments and transportation to the wedding.

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