Hopefully you know you have to plan your wedding budget before you can establish your wedding gown or dress budget. Most people have no idea what the costs will be for all aspects of the wedding budget. The best place to start is knowing how much money you have to spend or are willing to spend on the wedding. Then prioritize! If music is very important to you and your fiance, you will probably budget more for music and entertainment than on flowers. I personally feel that the Dress should be your priority, but you will have to make that call. Knowing your budget may help you determine your theme or style, not only for the venue, but also for your dress.
Once you know the budget for your dress, you should get an idea of how much bridal gowns are, generally speaking. They can start at free (your mom’s) or cost many thousands of dollars. Try to get a feel for what your budget will buy you. If your budget is $500, you probably aren’t going to be able to buy the designer label dress you are drooling over. That doesn’t mean you can’t buy that same “look” or get close to it. I also want to say that you should never let anyone, including or especially bridal consultants, embarrass you about your budget. Sticking to your budget is smart. You may just not be shopping in the right place.
You now have to factor in the “extras”. The dress or gown may need specific foundation garments (a strapless bra, for example). The dress may hang better with a special crinoline or petticoat. What about the veil? Veils are not included in the price of the dress! Now you have to buy shoes and perhaps special jewelry! What if it’s a winter wedding? You may have to consider a wrap or cape.
All of these “extras” come out of the dress budget. It’s about now that you might consider NOT having favors for your guests and using that money on your dress!
One last thing (probably not THE last thing, but one of the last things) before you say yes to the dress you have to budget for the alterations. Let me caution you here. You may think your grandma can do the hem or your neighbor who took in your prom dress can handle it, but altering a wedding dress is not a simple or basic alteration job. Bustles (pulling the train up for the reception), heming all layers, taking in or letting out the bodice and beadwork are just some of the possible alterations. Many bridal salons offer alterations on premise or will give you names of people they recommend. It won’t hurt to check them out for yourself.
The average alteration cost on a bridal gown is about $350. Include that in your dress budget. It could be more, it could be a lot less. If it is less, you can move that money to a different part of the wedding budget. Or save it to buy a nicer wedding gift for your honey. It is far better to know you will have the $350 set aside to pay for the alteration than to get blindsided at your first fitting.
One of my favorite ways to maximize the dress budget is to have your dress designed for you. By me, of course. You can not assume that a custom designed dress will blow your budget. More often than not, you will get a far better value because you will be involved in selecting the details that are important to you. Instead of paying extra for changes to a gown you order or doing without, you can have the special touches you want incorporated into the design. Or have your mom’s wedding dress redesigned for you could create your gown with my copyrighted bustle.
It’s beautifully amazing!
It is okay to be flexible, but if you simply must have a dress above your budget, you will have to get the money from someplace else in the wedding budget. There may be advice out there on the great world wide web as to what percentage of the wedding budget you should allow for the dress. I say, who cares about percentages!
The dress is IMPORTANT!!!!! Be generous! I am biased with good reason.