The Thrifty Wedding: 7 Ways to Save on Your Wedding Dress or Suit

This is a series focused on how any couple headed to the altar can find ways to cut back on spending without sacrificing their vision for the big day. Stay tuned for upcoming posts in this series. The next one will be on invitations and save the date cards. 

We all know that there’s this idea of finding “the perfect one" ... meaning the perfect dress. For some people their dress has to be the highlight of the event, while there are others who don’t have strong feelings about it. Either way, here are some ideas on how you can save on wedding dresses (and suits) that won’t make you compromise your aesthetic.

  1. Buy or sell used dresses. Buying a dress that’s already used gives you a chance to actually afford a designer dress. Plenty of women have decided that they don’t want to save their wedding dress, and since they will never wear it again, they sell them online. This New York Times article lists a few websites where you can buy or sell a used wedding dress. If you don’t have a New York Times subscription – you can access it for free with your library card. Disclaimer: The Boston Public Library has not reviewed the websites in this article, and does not endorse them in any way.
  2. Alter a relative's or a friend’s dress or suit. If your parents or other family and friends saved their wedding outfits, and don’t want them, you can alter them yourself, or take them to a tailor to be altered. Here are some books you can find in our collections that can help you with this project. Remember the more work you want done to the clothes, the more difficult and time-consuming it will be. If you’re not sure you can handle it, take it to a tailor or seamstress instead. It will still be cheaper than buying a new outfit.            
  3. Make your own dress or suit. If you have a specific vision, and/or are already well-versed in garment creation, this is a great way to save money on your wedding outfit. If you're not sure where to start, check out these books and use them to guide or inspire you when creating your outfit.           
  4. Relax your dress code. Buying a wedding suit will be cheaper than buying a tuxedo. There is no rule that the groom needs to wear a tuxedo, and wedding suits can be very fashionable. Relaxing your formality standards can help you avoid paying the cost of a tuxedo rental or purchase. If you want to be even less formal, think about getting or using a suit that you will use again. Suits can be used for interviews, attending other people’s weddings, and several other events. If you still want to jazz it up for the special day, you could get a special tie for the wedding, cufflinks, a special shirt, or a special vest. The same principle holds for wedding dresses. You don't have to get a formal wedding gown; you can opt for a dress that you could wear to a cocktail party or other appropriate events.
  5. Shop for your wedding clothes at a non-wedding store. Shopping for dresses or suits at a wedding store will be more expensive than if you purchased a similar item at a store that's not for weddings. That’s because wedding store clothing is intended for a single purpose, and tends to have a lot more embellishment, which costs more. If you and your partner are more minimalist, try shopping at a department store that will have high quality materials, but doesn't have a wedding section. They’ll likely have formal white dresses and great suits, without the extra wedding cost. Additionally, other stores will have more color variety in the dress selection, if white isn't something you want for your dress.
  6. Donate your dress or suit. If you donate your dress or suit to a non-profit organization, you can deduct the value of the dress from your taxes; just make sure to get a receipt. There are a lot of bridal and wedding charities out there, so tracking down one that you believe in shouldn’t be a problem.
  7. Go to a wedding dress sample sale. If you have a favorite designer of wedding dresses, find out when they are having their sample sales. Samples are the dresses you can try on in the fitting room of a bridal store. If you are purchasing a dress, you will order it based on the sample you tried, with some potential alterations, and later have it tailored to fit you. However, when the new styles are in, the older samples go on sale. Prices are cut significantly in sample sales, but they’re generally final sale, so you have to make your decision on the spot. Nevertheless, you can try the dress you want on in the store, to make sure it’s what you want, and then wait for the sample to go on sale (though it could be a while).
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