Hidden costs of a Wedding Gown
These days, a wedding doesn't come cheap. From the flowers and rehearsal dinner to the reception and, of course, the wedding gown, the laundry list of costs can add up. What's more, when it comes to wedding attire, there's a lot more to the price than what's listed on the tag of your wedding dress.
While the national average price of a wedding gown is $1,250, brides should budget at least $1,000 to $3,000 for their perfect dress, says Emmy Gorman, owner of Blush Bridal Boutique in Lincoln, Nebraska. That doesn't even count accessories and alterations -- some of the hidden costs associated with your wedding attire. They don't write songs about those things, but without them you don't have a dress you can depend on. Kim Smith, the director of alterations for David's Bridal, says you have to factor all of them into your budget.
Building the Foundation
Every great wedding dress starts with a fabulous foundation, including the proper undergarments and shapewear. Unfortunately, these are the first things many women forget to slip into their wedding budget.
“If you have the correct foundation, it can minimize your alterations (cost),” Smith said. “If you’re wearing the bra that puts everything in the right place, you zip up correctly, your waistline is sitting in the correct spot, (and) your bustline is in the appropriate portion of the dress. It can literally change the look of the garment.”
Mark Kingsdorf, master bridal consultant with The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants in Philadelphia, says everything from the fit and fabric to the construction of a gown can determine the best undergarments for a bride-to-be.
“Gowns with lighter, more opaque fabric may need more support and coverage,” he said. “Bigger-busted brides may need more support and choose to have the undergarments incorporated into the construction during alterations.”
While brides can always wear undergarments they already own, Smith says it’s essential to make sure you’re wearing the appropriate bra to fit the dress design.
Gorman says no bride should sacrifice shapewear -- whether it’s a full-body slip or thigh shaper. Unfortunately, effective, quality shapewear can be costly, and Gorman says it hardly ever goes on sale. Though the quality and type of undergarments you purchase will determine the price range, women can expect to pay as much as $50 or more for a bra and each piece of shapewear.
While not all gowns require a petticoat, brides with dresses that need a little extra volume on the skirt will likely need to purchase one. Price varies depending on the style -- like mermaid, A-line or ball gown -- and an average petticoat comes in around $40, with many costing upward of $60.
While it's critical for brides to find the perfect dress, Gorman said bridal style is really defined by the accessories, be it a veil, hairpiece, jewelry or shoes.
Dan Rentillo, design director for David’s Bridal, says veils are a must. “A lot of women go in thinking they don’t want the veil, but once you put it on, it really transforms you,” he said. Depending on the length and detail of your veil, the cost can range from less than $100 to more than $400, with an average veil coming in around $120 in 2012.
Other brides go with a tiara or headband. “Tiaras, headbands and fascinators are not a must, but (they) finish off the look and come in all materials and embellishments,” Kingsdorf said. These can cost anywhere from a few dollars to $100 or more.
Gorman says a bride’s jewelry can make or break a look, but that doesn’t mean it has to break the bank or be over the top. Instead, it should be “chosen carefully to match the bride’s style of dress and wedding theme.” In fact, a bride can shine that day for fraction of the price if she rents jewelry for the wedding. Pricing varies significantly based on where you rent, but you can price shop on a site like Adorn.com.
When it comes to shoes, Rentillo suggests going for a new pair comfortable enough to wear all day long. Bridal shoe prices range from about $50 to $200 or more.
“In the past, it was very traditional for (brides) to wear white or ivory to go with the gown,” he said. “But now we’re finding that they kind of like to accessorize with a little bit of color.”
Garters are another item many women like to purchase for their special day, and depending on the material and quality the bride chooses, she can pay anywhere from $10 to $75.
In total, Gorman thinks women should budget an estimated $500 to $1,000 for extras such as headpieces, handbags, shoes and jewelry. A 2011 study by "Brides" magazine found that the average bride spends almost $600 on wedding-day accessories.
For women looking to cut this cost, Rentillo suggests sacrificing a purse or clutch.
“That’s where (brides) may opt for borrowing something,” he said.