Now that you’re finally getting married, planning and prepping, you know one of the hardest truths of getting ready for your wedding: it’s expensive. Not only is it expensive, but it’s also stressful that it’s so expensive. Suddenly, all that time you thought you’d spend flipping through magazines with your mother and best friends has turned into a budgeting meeting every night, with only a glass of wine in your hand to lessen the pain.

One of the biggest purchases, of course, is one of the most important: your wedding dress. Sure, it’s easy to cut corners when it comes to the cake (both literally and figuratively) but when it comes to something as important as what you’re wearing while you walk down the aisle, you’re going to have to be more careful about how you save.

Here’s how:

1. Get your gown online

After all, it’s the 21st Century - what’s the point of spending hours at a bridal boutique, acting like you’re having a good time with your friends as you try on the dresses, while in reality, everyone is super-stressed out, well aware of the fact that all the dresses are out of their personal price ranges? It looks like fun in the movies, sure. But the fact is, the only fun part will probably be sipping the complimentary champagne before awkwardly telling the bridal boutique owners, “Um, sure, we’ll give you a call if we’re interested.” Which you won’t be, considering the fact that the national average cost of a wedding dress is $35,329.

Instead, you should consider getting your gown online. It’s not the days of old anymore when you order something and you have no idea what it’s going to look like and end up with a complete trainwreck of a dress upon delivery. Things have changed. For example, the Azazie online store can design you a custom bridal gown that you work on with the team and if you want to change it, it’s super easy to do so.

2. Buy a “used” dress

If you really want to make a killing when it comes to saving money on your wedding dress, you can definitely save some money buying a used dress. Sure, it may not be the most romantic thing in the world, if it’s already been worn to another wedding that wasn’t yours, but think about it: wedding dresses are worn 6-8 hours, max, which means that they’ll barely be worn when you buy them at half the cost of a new one.

Another way you can buy a “used” dress is by buying one that a bride-to-be bought, got delivered, and then decided: “You know what? This isn’t for me.” These haven’t been worn at all, only bought and shipped, so you may not save as much money, but you’ll still save quite a lot of it, and you won’t have to lose the romantic mystique of being the first person to get married in it.

Make sure you check out sites such as OnceWed, Still White, Tradesy, and Nearly Newlywed for more.

3. Save on specializations

One of the easiest ways to save money on your dress is by making sure you don’t have too many embellishments such as fancy beadwork or lace. These are pretty pricey if you get them on the dress you buy, therefore, something to consider doing is buying a plain dress, and then putting these changes on it yourself at a reduced price. If the alterations are small, then it shouldn’t cost too much. Another option is to use accessories to create the same effect.

On the other side of the coin, however, another way you can easily spend way more money than planned is by getting a lot of custom alterations such as changing the neckline shape or altering a complicated part of the dress. Custom alterations, if you can believe it, can cost up to $300 per adjustment! So instead of getting a bunch of changes made to a dress that you’re not entirely sure about, it’s better to spend a little extra time finding one that fits you right and making sure the alterations you get are only minor ones.

As you can see, it’s easier than it may seem at first to save money on your dream wedding dress for your dream wedding. Now that the new year is just around the corner, it’s a good idea to remind yourself of how to savemoney even if it’s a big event such as a wedding. After all, before you know it, you’re going to be happily married and wondering about other big life changes, such as housewarmings and making up a list of special baby shower gifts.

And this wedding dress? It’s going to be beautiful, but so are all the other things you’ve got coming in your future.

What strategies are you using to save money on your wedding? Which ones would you recommend most?

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