How to find cheap wedding dresses

By Charlotte Yau

A list of every place you can search to find your wedding dress, including bridal boutiques, outlets and charity shops.

When it comes to buying a wedding dress, you may have dreams of a designer gown but a high-street budget. Or perhaps you just can’t bear the thought of spending several months’ rent on a dress that you’ll probably only ever wear once in your life.

Whatever the reason for wanting to find cheap wedding dresses, your options aren’t as limited as you might think. It is totally possible to be a thrifty bride and still look fabulous on your special day. You just need to know where to look.

From visiting bridal boutiques and high-street stores in person to browsing sites like eBay from the comfort of your own sofa, we’ll run down all of your options so you can find the perfect dress without breaking the bank.

High street wedding dresses

Increasingly, high street stores are getting in on the action, having recognised a gap in the market. More and more brides are realising that spending thousands on one dress might not be the wisest option, so these stores are swooping in with more affordable options.

Check out British high-street staples such as Monsoon, M&S, Debenhams, and John Lewis for your wedding dress. You’ve also got larger specialist outlets like WED2BE who offer a huge selection of dresses, which range in price from £40-£599.

You don’t have to book a viewing or fitting and sales are held throughout the year as stock and fashion changes. However, do be aware that because they are not specialist bridal shops, their collections are likely to be smaller, and someone you know may have worn your dress before. Bear this in mind if that’s something that bothers you.

If you have enough time to spare, hit the high street shops for the January sales, when prices will probably be the lowest you’ll see all year round.

Outlet wedding dresses

There is another alternative that some brides don’t even know exists.

In many pockets of the UK wedding dress outlets house ‘unwanted’ dresses. These are not second-hand dresses, but rather items from bridal boutiques and stores. It could be that they have excess stock, are changing over their range for a new season, or in some cases, have shut down or gone into liquidation.

These outlets collect up the no-longer-wanted dresses and sell them for a heavy discount in their outlets.

The wedding dresses here have never been owned and usually have nothing wrong with them! You can find a dress at up to 90% below the value of a fancy boutique. You might even find the exact same dress you looked at elsewhere for a huge discount.

eBay wedding dresses

Another answer to the question “where can I buy cheap wedding dresses?” is eBay. Some brides swear by ordering from Chinese dressmakers on eBay, which cost a fraction of what British retailers charge.

There are, however, quite a few pitfalls; you have to factor in shipping time as some parcels can take up to three months to arrive from China. This isn’t good for brides who are getting married soon. Not only that, but you won’t get to try the dress on before it arrives, so you’ll need to be totally confident that not only will it fit, but it will also look nice.

If are tempted by this option, make sure you buy from a trusted seller with lots of authentic, positive reviews. You don’t want to have to worry about finding a replacement dress and fighting to get your refund back.

Charity shop wedding dresses

An alternative that may serve you well is to try your thrifty luck at a charity shop. Certain well-known shops like OXFAM even have their own wedding dress departments.

Be aware that because these dresses are second-hand, it can be a bit of a lottery whether or not you find one in your size, as most will have been tailored to the exact measurements of the previous owner. If you do hunt out one you love, check carefully for marks, including stains and scuffs. However, if you find none, you could also have found yourself an absolute bargain.

Second-hand wedding dresses online

There are a variety of other second-hand options to explore besides charity shops. These include online shops like OnceWed, Bride2Bride and StillWhite. More often than not, these dresses have only been worn once and come at a massive discount.


Make your own wedding dress

If you happen to be a competent enough seamstress, then the DIY route could be for you. You might find this more fun than dress shopping and when someone inevitably asks where you got your dress from, you can proudly tell them that you did it yourself.

There are plenty of patterns to choose from online, a lot of them are under £10. However, be sure to factor in more than enough time to make the dress and know exactly which fabric you are going to buy before you get started. Otherwise, the cost of the fabric may prove to be a nasty surprise.

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