Weddings are amazing. There is nothing quite like watching two people vow + celebrate their love for one another. If you’re lucky, your wedding day is a beautiful presentation of your new official status into the world as a single unit. While weddings are wonderful things, they are also VERY expensive. The average cost of a wedding in the US is currently $35k – though it varies by region. That’s a lot of money spent on one day.
While weddings can certainly be done for much less, one corner that is hard to cut is the wedding dress. Many women have been dreaming of that dress their whole life + have a vision of what they want to wear. Shows, like Say Yes to the Dress, make buying a dress – even with a budget – seem like a breeze, but there are a lot of hidden costs of your wedding dress they don’t show on-screen.
Wedding Wire puts the average costs of a wedding dress at $1,050. To research this post, I had just under 100 people give me the costs of their wedding day attire (thanks, Skimmbassadors). The average cost of their wedding dresses was $1,466.90. However, the average cost of their wedding day looks was $2,305.70. That’s about an $850 discrepancy from the cost of the dress. My research shows that the dress itself only accounts for 71% of the wedding day look. So what exactly are the hidden costs of your wedding dress?
The Hidden Costs of Your Wedding Dress
Alterations are one of the biggest hidden costs of your wedding dress. This is the cost that shocked most of the brides I talked to. Almost every wedding dress needs alterations. If you’re lucky, alterations will be included. The low for alterations costs (done by friends/family) was $30. The highest cost I was given was $900. In some cases, alterations cost half of what the dress cost! I know that is an expense I wouldn’t be expecting. While the cost of alterations surprised me, the next set of expenses made more sense.
One of the hidden costs of wedding dresses that aren’t so hidden: accessories. Whether you’re a glammed up princess or have more of a boho-chic vibe you’re likely going to need some additions to your wedding dress. Potentially the priciest + most traditional accessory is the veil. More + more, brides are opting for flower crowns + headpieces in lieu of a veil, but those can still cost some major change. Aside from, the veil you have to think about shrugs/furs, shoes, earrings, necklaces, and even right-hand rings. It’s unlikely you won’t have *any* jewelry on besides your engagement ring. Wedding jewelry is something great to check off your something borrowed.
You’ve got your altered dress; you’ve got your accessories. And now you think that’s all the hidden costs of your wedding dress. Wrong. There are still a few items you probably haven’t considered. One item is anything different you plan to wear at the reception like a second skirt, new shoes, or even a whole new dress (repeat paragraphs 4 + 5). Even without those things, there are more hidden costs of your wedding dress + wedding day look that you’re forgetting. One biggie is hair + makeup. Another was the most forgotten of all my research respondents, underthings! You’ve got to wear something under your dress (you most likely will anyway – you know who you are 👀). Whether it’s a strapless bra, corset, cute lingerie, or regular old Spanx, these items are a cost to consider. The leaves us with the last most often forgotten about cost: taxes.
Depending on what state you’re in, some or all of your wedding day attire may be taxable. 37 states have no tax exemption for clothing + four others exempt it up to a certain amount (but the max is less than the average dress). Even in some states without traditional sales tax, a wedding dress is considered a luxury item + therefore taxable. That is one of the huge hidden costs of your wedding dress that you may not be accounting for. While some shops include it in the price, you could be looking to pay another 5-10% on your dress (and every other item you purchase) depending on your state + local taxes. If you’re brave enough to do a little wedding-related bargaining, start with asking the bridal shop to pay the tax!
Ways to save money
As I stated earlier, weddings are amazing! Don’t let the hidden costs of your wedding dress scare you away. While dresses can be expensive, there are ways to keep the costs in check. Some of the brides I talked to spent under $500 on their wedding day looks – one even spent $0. While that’s probably a near impossible feat, you can keep some of the hidden costs of your wedding dress at bay by following the tips below.