Every year, virtual wedding planning platform The Knot surveys 15,000+ soon-to-be-married couples about their weddings — and every year, it finds the average bride spends some astronomically high number on her wedding dress. In 2021, that number was $1,800 — up from $1,600 in 2020.
No matter what your budget, $1,800 is an awful lot to spend on a dress you’ll likely wear once and then never again. Especially if you’re already shelling out hundreds, or thousands, on venue rentals, vendors and your honeymoon, you may feel reluctant to take another huge bite out of your budget for your wedding dress.
The good news is you don’t have to. The market abounds with breathtaking wedding dresses from top designers for well under $1,000. On a mission to help you look beautiful and stick to a budget, we’ve rounded up some truly dazzling cheap wedding dresses. Our picks range from boho to beach to plus-size wedding styles, but they all share one thing in common: they’re low in price but never lacking in style.
Cheap Boho Wedding Dresses
The bohemian aesthetic is a time-honored bridal look for a good reason: Not only is boho laid back, flirty and effortlessly chic — it should be, by definition, low cost.
To get the bohemian look, think of intricate lace, flowy silhouettes, delicate ribbon and dramatic fluttery sleeves. Because these types of dresses typically feature minimal wires or boning, so are breezy and easy to move in. Boho dresses pair well with nontraditional accessories like tiaras, colorful jewelry and cowboy boots. They’re perfect for a retro, beach, garden or another type of outdoorsy wedding.
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Cheap Beach Wedding Dresses
For such an easy-breezy theme, beach wedding dresses can be a little tricky to choose. Certain styles can seem overly formal, while certain fabrics trap sweat, heat and sand.
When hunting down the perfect dress, look for lightweight materials and loose-fitting silhouettes (to catch the ocean breeze!). Shorter trains, flowery lace and tiers are all smart elements to look for. As a general rule of thumb, try to stay away from long trains and heavy fabrics like silk.
You can accessorize your dress with flower or shell crowns and a tropical bouquet. As for shoes, a beach wedding is probably among the only major life occasions where you can go barefoot. If you prefer to wear shoes, think of flat sandals, block heels or wedges.
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Cheap Short Wedding Dresses
We’ve already peppered in a few in the previous two paragraphs, but short wedding dresses are having a moment — so they deserve their own section.
The thought of wedding dresses often conjures majestic ball gowns with Princess Diana trains, but short dresses can be just as splendid as traditional gowns. They also come with a few advantages: They’re more practical and easy to move around in, they show off your shoes and they flatter a shorter torso. In addition, while a gown might suit a cathedral or manor, shorter dresses do better on beaches, in gardens and other outdoor locations.
Since your legs are bare with a shorter dress, you have plenty of room for top embellishments and accessories. Play with elaborate veils and stylish shoes.
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Cheap Plus Size Wedding Dresses
A lot of designers are offering more inclusive sizing — finally! — so you don’t have to limit your search to plus-size labels. That said, it can be tricky determining what a dress will look like on your unique body since even plus-size models are on the smaller size.
That’s why — particularly if you’re shopping for cheap wedding dresses online — it’s a good idea to know your current measurements. It’s very important to focus on actual fit and not dress size, as bridal sizes rarely matches up with the dress size you wear day-to-day. As Kat Eves, a professional stylist, tells Brides, “It’s very common for people of all sizes (not just plus sizes) to need a size or two bigger than what they’re used to wearing.”
In terms of styles that go well with curves, some of the most flattering include A-line, empire waist, mermaid hem and ball gown. Corset wedding dresses can give up your shape while giving your bust a boost, while shorter ones show off your legs. V-neck lines are effective for elongating the figure, while halter and off-the-shoulder necklines are perfect for highlighting your shoulders and back. With all that said, really the only hard-and-fast rules are to trust your instincts and choose a dress and accessories you feel comfortable and beautiful in.
As for accessories, we suggest going for personality-packed pops of color, like bright red lipstick, pearl crowns and statement jewelry.
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