How to find the perfect wedding dress on a budget

For many brides the wedding dress is one of the most important aspects of their special day. The dress is what friends and family commonly ask to see, is the standout thing in wedding photos which will be cherished forever. Perhaps most importantly, the perfect dress can make you feel confident and beautiful, easing the pre-wedding jitters.

Whilst wedding dresses are famously incredibly expensive, there are plenty of ways to find the perfect dress for a fraction of the price, if you know where to look.

Know what you’re looking for

Finding a dress can be daunting with so many options to choose from, especially if you are looking online where the options can seem endless. To narrow down your choices a little bit it’s a good idea to know what wedding dress shape you are looking for before your start your search.

Different shaped dresses suit different body types, so it can be hard to tell what will suit you best based on images online. To be sure of the right shape, pop into a local wedding dress boutique to try on some dresses of each style.

There are 8 main wedding dress styles:

  • A line (tight bodice before going out at the waist)
  • Mermaid (Tight body before flaring at the knees)
  • Empire (loose and flowing)
  • Ball Gown (Bold big shape with lots of volume)
  • Sheath (Straight and simple)
  • Mini (Above the knee)
  • Trumpet (tight body before flaring below the hips)
  • Tea Length (just below knee length)

But variations on each of this also exist. You will also need to consider whether you would like straps or sleeves, and what materials you prefer.

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Discount designer outlets

If your main concern for your wedding dress is high quality designer names, then you don’t need to compromise just because of the price. The Bridal Village is an example of a designer outlet for wedding dresses which connects you to boutiques across the country who have high end dresses on sale.

The company themselves don’t stock or make dresses but boutique owners can upload pictures and details of dresses they have on sale, and the website allows you to compare them before contacting the boutique directly. The set up means that you won’t find every dress in a variety of sizes, but at least it gives you a great opportunity to scan the best deals going across the country instead of having to trek to individual shops.

Here’s some great deals we spotted:

This beautiful House of Mooshki tea length dress for £900 – reduced from £1515

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This stunning Mori Lee gown for £479 – reduced from £799

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This Flowing A line dress from Special Day Bridal with train for just £581, down from £969

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Budget wedding dress suppliers


For a smaller budget there are many online retailers who bulk produce beautiful dresses for a fraction of the price. It’s possible to find a bargain here, but always do your research on the company and read a few reviews. If the dresses are made in China where standard sizing differs a lot from the UK, you may find that the dress doesn’t fit how you expected and you need to go through a lengthy returns process.


One UK based retailer with great, budget friendly options is Mia London . They stock a huge variety of dresses starting at just £89, all of which are made to order to your specific measurements. Here’s some of the highlights we found available on their site:


A Lace train to die for on this Tulle dress - £179.99

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A boho dream of a dress with sheer overlay - £269.99

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Major fashion retailers

If you’re after something a bit more quirky and modern; major fashion retailers such as Asos and Misguided offer wedding lines for pretty reasonable prices too. The main benefits to buying from these sites are firstly that they are trustworthy, and secondly that that have speedy delivery and return systems, so you can easily chop and change if you’re not sure on a dress and want to try it before you commit.

Here’s some examples of what’s available from these retailers:


Asos Jarlo Bardot maxi dress with train - £110

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Second hand

Whilst many people choose to keep their wedding dresses for their sentimental value, a lot of people accept that they probably won’t have another occasion to wear it, and so decide to sell them on through sites such as eBay and Gumtree

eBay’s auction structure allows huge potential for bargains to be had, whereas Gumtree’s focus on local products offers you the opportunity to go and try on someone’s dress before committing to buying it.

Again, due to the scale of dresses on offer on these sites, it’s good to have an idea of the kind of dress you’re looking for before you start so that you can be more specific in your searches.



Charity shops

Many Charity shops accept wedding dress donations and will have a dedicated bridal section where you can find a selection of dresses for charity shop prices

Don’t be put off this highly underrated option because you think the dresses won’t be high quality. For a start, they are usually professionally cleaned before being displayed in a shop, so won’t appear used or dirty. What’s more, often the people who gift their dresses to charity rather than selling them are people who don’t need the money from selling the dress, and so are often wealthy individuals who have bought high quality dresses

Another huge benefit of buying a dress from a charity shop is that you still get the wedding boutique experience of physically browsing the rails and trying various dresses on in a dressing room. This is a great option if you don’t have a style of dress in mind and want to browse through various dresses.



Alter a near-perfect dress

Never underestimate the power of a perfectly fitting dress. Even the plainest of dresses can look breath-taking once it has been altered by a professional tailor. If you can’t find the perfect dress on its own, consider spending more of your dress budget on alterations and less on the dress itself.

It’s not just size adjustments that can be made, dress tailors could change the look of the dress entirely by adding or removing sleeves, adding lace layers to the skirt, embroidery or adding gems. The possibilities are really vast, and you may be surprised how far your budget can go when used this way.

The best thing about this option is that you end up with a totally unique dress that nobody else has or will ever wear (unless you choose to sell yours on). It would be perfectly fitted and personalised exactly to your taste, what better on your wedding day?

If you’re got any more tips about finding the right dress for the right price let us know on Facebook Take a look at the first part of our wedding season: The best budget wedding venues from last month, and look out for the final part of the series: catering for your wedding on a budget, next month.

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