Average Cost of a Wedding Dress


Average Price of a Wedding Dress - What to Budget? 

As a bride-to-be, you have a vision of an idyllic wedding day. This encompasses a gorgeous venue, possibly an open bar, and a lovely — and delicious — cake. The cherry on top? A stunning gown that transforms you into a picture-perfect bride.

At some point, unfortunately, your ideas will need to square off with the difficult realities of scheduling and budgeting. Even if you're willing to splurge, you'll need to make a few compromises to ensure that you're able to say "I do" without blowing your budget.

It's up to you to decide where and how you make these concessions — but you certainly don't need to sacrifice on the look or quality of your wedding dress.

To help you find the perfect dress for your wedding and your budget, we've compiled a detailed guide that reveals the potential cost of your bridal gown. 

Average Wedding Dress Cost

Before you get into the specifics of your wedding gown budget, it helps to know what, on average, a 'typical' bride pays for this all-important dress. The average price might not be as straightforward as you'd expect, as different surveys produce dramatically different results. This number can also change drastically based on the type of dress or event you’re wanting.

For example: data compiled by the Wedding Report, Inc. suggests an average dress price of $1,251 as of 2020. Meanwhile, the 2020 Brides American Wedding Study reveals nearly double for the average cost: $2,439. A 2019 study from The Knot places the average somewhere in between at $1,600.

Keep in mind that expected costs will vary by region and between designers. Often, collections are designed to accommodate specific price points. For example, while our Moonlight Tango collection retails for between $885 and $1,200, our Moonlight Couture dresses typically cost at least $1,750 and can exceed $2,500. Our Moonlight Collection price point lands right in the middle of those two. 

Regardless of a particular collection's price points or the stated cost for a specific designer gown, it's important to make all purchases from verified retailers. Before diving into dress price comparisons, determine whether a given website is verified. Shopping in-store is the best option to avoid any issues with non-verified retailers. This small step will protect your investment and produce much-needed peace of mind. 

What Makes Up the Cost?

A variety of factors contribute to the cost of your wedding dress. We've highlighted a few of the main components worth considering, as well as potential trade-offs that can be made to keep your gown under-budget without negatively impacting its appearance.

Keep in mind that every bride will find different compromises acceptable; it's important to determine in advance what you're willing to go without to save money — or where you might be able to splurge a bit.


Fabric forms the basis of your dress, allowing you to instantly achieve a preferred aesthetic and an excellent fit. Even without embellishments or accessories, the right fabric can give your gown a luxurious look. If you settle for lower-quality fabrics, however, you run the risk of donning a dress that fits poorly or looks more casual than you desire.

Silk tends to be the most expensive option, but it's also among the most beautiful and comfortable. Lace can cover a range of price points, depending on how it's constructed. Satin can often be quite affordable, particularly when it incorporates polyester.

Another consideration: fabrics that initially seem affordable may ultimately cost more if several layers are required. Chiffon provides the perfect example of this phenomenon; while it seems low-cost at first glance, its sheer appearance means that multiple layers are required. Add several layers of lining, and the overall cost of the dress can go beyond initial expectations. Meanwhile, fabrics that initially seem more expensive may actually be more cost-effective if fewer layers are needed.

Ultimately, how fabric is used can be just as influential as the initial cost per yard. Dresses with smaller trains and fewer layers will nearly always cost less, regardless of which fabrics are used. On the other hand, a ball gown with many layers of tulle could cost more due to the amount of fabric required. 


Embellishments add extra glitz to your dress while allowing you to achieve a specific aesthetic. Preferred options depend largely on your intended style. Chantilly lace, for example, is ideal for a traditional wedding dress. A luxurious look is possible with embroidered lace appliques, while modern style is more easily achieved with 3D lace.

The cost of these embellishments often depends on the effort required to create and integrate them. Returning to the Chantilly lace example, hand-stitched varieties are likely to cost far more. Many types of intricate beading will also add to the cost. Meanwhile, certain appliques add interest to gowns without significantly increasing the final price.


When calculating the final cost of the dress, don't forget the potential for added accessories. Sophisticated add-ons such as jewelry or veils may not be necessary for an intricate dress, but they can add visual interest to a minimalist gown. Data compiled by the aforementioned Wedding Report, Inc. suggests that the average bride spends $227 on accessories.

Alteration Timelines

No matter how gorgeous a wedding gown looks on the hanger, it will always disappoint if it lacks a quality fit. Conversely, a basic dress with few embellishments or accessories can still look stunning with the right silhouette and tailoring. Hence, the importance of detail-oriented alterations, which ensure that each dress is a perfect match for the bride.

The cost of wedding dress alterations can increase quickly when short turnaround times are required. As such, it's crucial that you build plenty of time into the selection process. Multiple fittings are typically required, with The Knot recommending that at least two or three months are set aside to ensure that dresses are altered properly and affordably.

Experts at Brides Magazine explain that some alterations can cost as little as $50, while other cases may call for spending up to $1,000. Basic adjustments such as hemming tend to be quite affordable, but customizations such as the addition of a bustle may prove costly.

Best Way to Approach Dress Budget When Shopping

Still struggling to set the right wedding dress budget? How you approach the shopping and selection process can ultimately determine how much you pay. Due diligence is essential — as is a strategic approach as you determine where to examine dresses and which designers to check out.

Do Your Research

Before you start observing dresses in person, do your homework and determine which aesthetics you prefer — and whether these styles tend to be affordable or expensive. From there, you can get a sense of the typical price range for certain types of dresses. This will help you rule out looks that are beyond your budget. Your research may also reveal that dresses you assumed were out of reach are actually quite affordable.

Consider Trunk Shows

Brides who hate the idea of compromising on designer dress fabrics or accessories often find savings or incentives at trunk shows. During these special events, specific designers or representatives visit boutiques to show off their latest collections. While these events are better thought of as showcases than sales, they still offer impressive opportunities to save as compared to purchasing outside of a trunk show. Some examples of incentives include waived expedited order times or discounts on accessories, but offerings will vary based on the store. It’s best to call ahead to ask about any discounts available during the event when booking an appointment. 

Trunk show discounts and incentives typically require the bride to be ready to buy on the spot — but not everybody is comfortable with this approach. Again, research helps, as brides who have looked extensively at dress options should have a better idea as to whether a discounted option from a trunk show is safe to purchase right away.

Final Takeaways

At Moonlight Bridal, we're determined to help you find a wedding dress you adore — with a price tag you can handle. No matter the average costs, there are options at many different price points. There are designer options for $1,000 and less, along with high-end options that can go up to almost any price! 

Our authorized retailers will work closely with you to find the ideal gown for your big day. Contact us to learn more.

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