Guide to Understanding the Cost of a Wedding Dress

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The years you’ve spent dreaming about your wedding have prepared you for this moment. Once the awaited proposal happens, you can start planning! Before you begin the process, it’s smart to set a budget for each asset and follow through. Setting a budget will keep you on track and stop you from getting in over your head. One of the most exciting parts of the wedding planning process is finding the dress. When setting a budget, most are left wondering, what is the typical price of a wedding dress? Well, we are here to help! 

We won’t ever tell you how much you should spend on a wedding dress because, frankly, there is no right answer–but we can help you understand why wedding dresses cost the amount they do. Various factors play a role in the overall cost of a dress. Follow this guide to get a better understanding of the cost of a wedding dress.


What is the Perfect Price Point for a Wedding Dress?


Cost of a Wedding Dress


There is no perfect answer to this question. Everyone has a different budget, and there are wedding dresses out there to satisfy each one. For example, here at Sophia’s, our dresses range anywhere from $800 to $5,000, with our average prices being $1000 to $2500, across all three locations. This leaves a big range for our brides to choose from.

After surveying 27,000 couples who got married, The Knot found that the national average for a wedding dress in 2019 was $1600. But this number isn’t the only thing to consider. Another factor that plays into the price of your dream dress is the location you are in. Each state has a different average, which can be important to understand why dresses cost what they do in your area.


Factors that may affect the Price of a Wedding Dress–


Details of a Wedding Dress


Like with any piece of clothing that you buy, many factors go into the pricing of a wedding dress. Whether this is the fabric, embellishments, silhouette, structure, designer, or details, there are dresses out there for everyone! Let’s dive a little deeper into each factor to understand further how these can affect the price of a wedding dress:


The fabric of a dress plays a major role in what the price tag is going to look like. Fabrics like charmeuse, silk, and excessive lace will be more expensive because of their quality. A way to lower the cost of your dress would be to opt for polyester fabric. Polyester is a great way to get a high-end look without exceeding your budget. This guide from Maggie Sottero can help you learn about different fabrics to be familiar with before you go shopping! Learn your preferred style and get an idea of what you are looking for before your appointment–just remember to stay open-minded!

Embellishments and Detailing

Are you someone who loves details? We do too! Intricate lace details, beading, and hand-placed appliques can add up when looking at a wedding dress design. Some different ways you can incorporate details into your wedding day look without going over budget are through a detailed veil, sparkly belt, statement jewelry, hairpieces, and even wedding hairstyles. Opt for a more simple and classic gown and have a seamstress add some beading or lacey detail. You can also have a beaded belt sewn on to give you all the sparkle and shine you need on your wedding day! 


Designer’s prices vary because of many factors—fabrics they use, quality, etc. If the designer is well known, the dress will probably be priced higher than those of the more affordable and lesser-known designers. But just because the designer is higher-end doesn’t mean they don’t have affordable options. It’s all about researching wedding dresses, and going to your appointment to learn more.

Structure & Silhouette

All dresses have their own structure within, many having cups for comfort and support, but when you start looking at dresses with corsets and boning, the price can fluctuate in the higher range. These assets add to the dress’s value because they give it extra support and structure, contributing to the dress’s overall quality and comfortability. These elements are definitely worth the extra money if you are someone who values comfort, especially on a day that is so special! You can even have a corset added on in alterations for that extra support, but again, this will increase the price.


Other things to Think About and Budget for


Wedding Dress Accessories


When budgeting for a wedding dress, you have to think big picture. You have to decide if your budget includes other elements that will pull the look together or strictly the dress. This will help you avoid exceeding your budget. Some other factors to think about are:


While these are not a part of the dress itself, it is still part of the wedding day look that will more than likely be purchased or at least thought of at the time of buying your wedding gown. Think about what you want to spend on your dress outside of the veil, jewelry, shoes, hairpieces, etc. You can even spice up your look with a showstopping wedding day hairstyle. Adding these elements to the wedding dress cost can add up, so it’s important to consider them when setting a budget for your wedding gown. After all, the accessories can help you decide if you want to go for a more simple gown with all the accessories or a glitz and glam dress with minimal accessories.


Another thing that people don’t always think about when budgeting for a wedding gown is alterations. It can be easy to get caught up in the gown itself, not thinking about the alterations that may be needed later on down the road. Alterations are typically a separate cost from the dress itself and can range anywhere from $200-$600. This depends on where you get them done and it’s important to remember when setting a budget for your dress. The reason alterations are separate is to ensure the bride isn’t paying a fixed cost for unnecessary alterations. Every brides needs are different, so we’ve found that treating alterations as a case-by-case scenario is best.

Alterations are standard for any wedding dress, even if it is specially ordered to your size. Measurements are normally based on a chart, and most of the time, measurements don’t line up perfectly into one size. Your bust may fit into a size 12 and your waist into a size 14. In this case we would recommend going with the larger size, and having the rest of the dress altered perfectly to your body. This is just one of many typical scenarios! The standard alterations of a wedding dress are: taking in around the bust and/or waist/hips, shortened straps, shortened hem, and bustle.

Steaming and Preserving

Steaming and preserving your gown is presented to you at purchase. It’s important to know of these options before going in to dress shopping because it’s another portion of the dress cost to think about. Pressing and steaming is a really amazing service that leaves very little work up to you on the big day. When your dress is pressed and steamed, it is ready to go for your wedding day! The preserving part is an afterthought that often gets overlooked during the initial shopping process. “Are you planning to have your dress preserved?” can sound like a silly question when you are buying your dress because who is thinking that far ahead?! Maybe you should be!

Preserving your gown is perfect if you have an outdoor wedding, maybe you’re a messy person, you want to pass it down one day, or increase its resell value. With gown preservation, they clean your wedding dress (they can get some pretty serious stains out), and they preserve it for you to cherish forever! This is such a sweet piece of the wedding day; taking the time to think about preserving is necessary!

The initial search for wedding gowns can cause some serious sticker shock. When you’re dreaming of your wedding, you don’t want to think about how much everything will cost. But once you start the planning process, you have to think about it! Once you do a little research and budget for the dress, you are ready to start shopping. Use this information and tips to pick a price point that feels comfortable to you. Let us help you find your dream wedding dress!


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