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Pay less for your dream wedding dress Add to ...

If you are a bride-to-be, I am sure you’ve noticed that wedding dresses are getting more expensive.

This year’s bride will spend an average of $1,798 on her wedding day dress, up from $1,093 in 2010, according to Weddingbells’ Annual Reader survey.

If you watch a show like TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress, you’ll see brides who are spending far more than that. One family recently purchased a $24,000 dress (U.S.) for their daughter. For some people, that amounts to a good chunk of their annual salary.

It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of shopping for your dream dress, but there are a number of options to consider that will help you snag a beautiful dress at a discounted price.

Order online Lisa Kotsopoulos celebrates her second wedding anniversary this month. She didn’t want to spend more than $500 (Canadian) on her dress. Her off-white silk dress came from J.Crew's bridal section. It cost $365 with alterations. She was able to get the dress sent to family in the U.S., otherwise shipping would be an extra $9.95 (U.S.). When ordering online, you can order two sizes and send the less flattering one back. There are also wedding specialists available to discuss sizes and shapes. Lisa’s girlfriend also ordered her gown online - actually, her six gowns - through eBay. She liked pieces from each so decided to order them all and construct the perfect dress with parts from each gown.

Do it yourself Denise Wild, founder of The Sewing Studio says brides-to-be who want to save money and create something significant for their big day can come into her studio to sew their own dress. You don’t need to worry about not having any experience. At The Sewing Studio brides start with a free consultation to discuss what is involved, what fabrics to use (members of the team will even shop with you to find right stuff), and how long it will take. You begin with a private lesson and then start sewing. “If you’re committed to the process, it always works out,” says Ms. Wild. It certainly worked out for her. She made her wedding dress for $65.

Creating a custom gown is a good solution if your body type is hard to fit, or you have a dress in mind but require a less expensive option or a different shade. If you love the idea of a custom dress but are not up for the work, then a seamstress is the way to go. Recommendations from other brides is your best bet for finding someone good in your area. You can also try bridal boards at Weddingbells.ca or CanadianBride.com.

Rent your dress If there is a rental store in your area, call them to check on styles and pricing. The cost of renting a dress in a bridal shop close to my home is between $550 (Canadian) to $750. Alterations are included in this price. If you can get a dress for close to the rental cost it makes sense to just buy the dress, however if you have a style in mind that sells for significantly more than a rental then renting might be the best way to inexpensively get you into your dream dress.

Sell your dress Robyn Gunn got married last summer in Mexico. Her dress budget was $5,000. After shopping for only two hours, she fell in love with a dress that was $8,000. She decided to go with the $8,000 dress and then sell it immediately after the wedding. She looked into resale prices on dresses made by her designer and figured she could make back at least half of the original cost. After her wedding, she listed and sold her gown for $4,000 with smartbrideboutique.com, a site that lets you sell or buy gently used dresses. Even with alterations and cost of dry cleaning, she came in under her intended budget.

Wearing a dress you love that feels and looks good is important, and there are ways to find that dress without spending a significant portion of your salary. Keep the purchase in perspective, though, because you’ll likely never wear this dress again. So consider what you’ll do with your dress after your day is over. Hopefully the new trend of trashing the dress doesn’t come to mind. I’ve seen photos of brides who ruin their dress by getting them wet or dirty. In one photo, I saw a bride set her dress on fire. A better option would be to sell it and do something great with the cash, or donate it a cause like The Brides’ Project so someone else has the opportunity to wear a beautiful dress on their wedding day, a dress they might not otherwise be able to afford.

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