5 On Your Side

Borrowed, rented gowns can cut wedding dress costs

Posted May 19, 2016

Many women dream of their wedding dress long before they think about the price tag attached to it. 

Brides spend more than $1,200 on average for their dresses, but it's possible to get what you want for a lot less than you think.

Jaci Fletcher found the dress-buying process can be disappointing if the dress you want and the price you want to pay don’t match up.

"I found the dress of my dreams, and it was $4,000," Fletcher said. "(I'm) not going to spend $4,000 on a dress I’m going to wear once.”

Can your guests even tell if you spent a little or a lot?

Consumer Reports recently asked its staffers if they could tell the difference between dresses that ranged from $500 to $10,000. 

“Most people were able to pick out the least expensive gown," said Consumer Reports' Tobie Stanger. "But it was much harder for them to price the others.”

In fact, 85 percent thought an $1,100 gown—with the most embellishment—cost $3,200 or more.

“Many of the features that set apart expensive gowns may not be that obvious on the outside, like hand finishing, encased seams, also called French seams,” Stanger said.

Consumer Reports’ textile expert says even the least expensive dress she checked would at least last for a day and a night of wedding fun.

Still, how can you get a dream dress without spending a fortune? Experts say buying or renting a used gown is an option to seriously consider, which is what Fletcher ultimately did.

“I went on a website called Once Wed, and I bought it used from a young woman who wore it for four hours," Fletcher said. "We did a financial exchange, and I had a brand new wedding dress for a fraction of the cost.”

Other ways to find discounted prices on both used and new gowns is to shop goodwill.com, Tradesy and eBay. Brides can also rent dresses on websites such as Borrowing Magnolia. 

Consumer Reports says the most crucial part of buying a gown from somewhere other than a regular bridal shop is finding a skilled seamstress.

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  • Trisha Davis May 19, 2016
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    My daughter bought a brand new $1000+ Vera Wang mermaid style wedding dress on Ebay for $300.