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Wedding Dresses on a Budget

Where to Shop for Cheap Wedding Dresses

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No one wants to put the word cheap next to the words wedding dress, but the truth is not every bride has the means or the desire to spend several hundred (or thousand) dollars on a dress she'll wear once. If you need a dress that fits your budget - but don't want to sacrifice style - look no further than this roundup of great options for finding a beautiful gown without spending a fortune.

1. ebay

Bride on Beach
Daniel Bendjy / E+ / Getty Images
Why deal with pushy salespeople and huge sticker shock when you can go online and find the dress of your dreams? From designer gowns (both used and new) to off-the-rack looks, a search for bridal gowns on ebay will turn up thousands of results. Most sellers will charge a re-stocking fee if they accept returns, so don't buy from anyone who won't! Do your homework ahead of time and know the style, size and, if possible, SKU number of the dress you want.
Pros:
  • You can get designer gowns for much lower prices than in stores.
Cons:
  • You can't see the dress before purchasing.
  • For one-of-a-kind designer looks in particular, you'll find lots of competition for dresses (know your spending limit before you bid).

2. J. Crew

Wedding dresses - that you'd actually want to wear - for under $300? No, it's not a joke. And though most of the dresses J.Crew sells are in the $700-$1200 range, there are quite a few classic styles for much less. They even have wedding consultants, along with bridesmaid dresses and accessories to complete your budget-friendly big day.

3. Department Stores

If you aren't looking for a poufy gown or something with a big train, then you might be able to find a dress at a department store. Check out Macy's, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's, where you can find heaps of reasonably priced (well under $500) white and ivory dresses that would work for cocktail receptions, beach weddings or other less formal events.

4. David's Bridal

OK, so it's not Kleinfeld's, but that doesn't mean you should immediately turn up your nose at the idea of shopping for your wedding dress at David's Bridal. The mass-retailer has hundreds of dresses - at seriously tempting prices - making this store (go in person so you can feel the fabrics) a must-stop for the bride on a budget.

5. Shop Pre-Owned

Sounds better than used, doesn't it? No matter what you call it, buying a wedding dress that someone else already purchased can be a savvy way to save serious amounts of cash, particularly if you have your heart set on a dress from a certain designer. Visit sites such as PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com and Wore It Once to search for a gown. As on ebay, sellers should offer a return policy and have clear pictures and specific details (grass stains?) about each dress. Don't forget that some dresses may have been altered, so read beyond the size listed on the selling page.
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