Average Wedding Dress Cost: How much in 2021

The average cost of the wedding dress is $1,251 and $227 for accessories.

Anja Winikka
July 21, 2021
Couples

Buying a wedding dress and going wedding dress shopping is arguably one of the most exciting parts of the wedding planning process. But there’s also a lot to consider: What style will work best with your body type? What wedding dresses go well with your venue style? Where will you find your dress? And exactly how much should you be budgeting for your bridal look?

When it comes to your wedding budget, the truth is that the amount you spend on your dress should be entirely based on your priorities, overall budget, and dress vision. Our best tip: before you start shopping for dresses understand how much wedding dresses cost and what impacts the price. That way, you’ll have a good sense as to how much you’re going to spend. Read on for the full scoop on wedding dress costs.

Average cost of wedding attire & accessories per year

Year Average Spending per Wedding
2008 $247
2009 $225
2010 $232
2011 $219
2012 $221
2013 $225
2014 $229
2015 $226
2016 $224
2017 $224
2018 $223
2019 $222
2020 $189
2021 $197
2022 $208
2023 $218
2024 $218

Source: wedding.report

Wedding spending attribution on attire and accessories

Spending Range Percent of Weddings
<$50 22.6%
$50-$100 30.40%
$101-$250 26.30%
$251-$500 13.40%
$500+ 7.30%

Source: wedding.report

Average Wedding Dress Cost

Let’s start with the average wedding dress cost. According to data from our partners at The Wedding Report, the average wedding dress spend in 2019 was $1,217 and $222 for accessories. The average was slightly higher in 2020, at $1,251 for the dress and $227 for accessories. But let’s stop right there. Just because that’s the average doesn’t mean that that’s what your budget should be. In reality, wedding dresses run anywhere between $500 to $25,000 and up. So that said, your budget should be based on what you’re looking to achieve with your wedding dress.

Wedding dress prices vary and depend on these main elements: what the dress is made with, how it’s made, where the dress is made, added embellishments and customizations needed. Now, let’s break that down further…

The Fabric

Wedding dress fabrics like dupioni silk, charmeuse, and Chantilly lace are going to be much more expensive than, say, chiffon, organza and polyester. Also, theamount of fabric involved in making your dress will affect the price. So if you’re going for a ball gown made of layers upon layers of tulle and silk, it’s more than likely going to be more expensive than an otherwise pared-down silhouette.

The Embellishments

In the same way that fabric impacts the price of the dress, so do embellishments. Allover beading, embroidered appliques, sequins, pearls and crystals are all beautiful wedding dress add-ons that will also impact your wedding dress price. Tip: If you have your heart set on something sparkly, consider a simple dress with fewer embellishments and then add on a crystal-beaded belt or capelet.

The Designer

Gowns that are part of a couture collection or designed by a well-known fashion house like Vera Wang will definitely be priced higher than something off the rack or under-the-radar. On the other hand, designer dresses oftentimes come with serious benefits like a great fit, beautiful fabrics, and unparalleled design. And, given that this is probably going to be the most photographed dress you’ll ever wear, it may be well worth the splurge! One way to save on a designer gown: choose one from a past season or check out sample sales at local bridal salons.

The Accessories

The shoes, the veil, the hair accessory, the earrings––all of those accessories that are going to complete your look will also add to your overall cost. And, even if you are going for a super simple style, you’ll still need to set aside money for your undergarments.

The Alterations

Of course, you want your dream wedding dress to fit like a glove, and working with a tailor or seamstress might be important to you. Wedding dress alterations can range from $50-$300 depending on how much your gown needs to be tailored. To save on alterations, buying a dress as close to your size as possible will reduce the amount you will need to pay for alterations. Buying a dress from a store that offers alterations either included or at a reduced rate in-house will also be cheaper than finding a tailor on your own. You can get a quote upfront so you can account for this cost but always be prepared for the possibility of needing more alterations if you are planning on purchasing your dress more than six months from your wedding date.

The Preservation

Most couples don’t factor this into their overall budget but gown preservation is definitely a cost consideration. Even if you don’t plan to wear your dress again after the wedding, you’ll still want to factor in cleaning and preserving. So getting the dress cleaned and the local dry cleaner may not be the best option. Instead, you’ll want to seek out an experienced gown preservationist and you can expect to spend somewhere around $200 or more.

Additional Money-Saving Tips

Fortunately, if your budget is a bit tighter, there are many ways you can find your dream dress without breaking the bank.

Many brides find their perfect gown at a sample sale or an online retailer. This is a great way to save while still opting for your perfect dress. If there is a particular designer you are obsessed with, but whose collection is out of budget, sign up for their email newsletter and search for sample sales in your area or online. This is a great way to purchase from a designer you love without going over budget.

Some brides also shop on the second-hand market to purchase gorgeous gowns in good condition that have been worn only once. This is a great way to be sustainable, find a designer gown at a reduced cost, and focus on alterations to make your dress fit seamlessly. Finding your accessories through a resale site is also a great way to save money, especially when buying a veil. Many brides prefer not to spend a ton on a veil, an accessory with only one purpose, so borrowing or purchasing lightly used is a great way to save money.

There are plenty of options at any price point, whether you were planning on spending more for a designer gown or spending less on a more accessible style, just remember that only YOU will know how much you spent on your dress, and that special feeling of wearing your dress will always outshine the price tag.

What tips do YOU have for saving on your bridal look? Follow us on Instagram @MarooWedding to share your best advice with other brides!

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Anja Winikka has spent more than 15 years marketing to and engaging with both engaged couples and the small businesses that power the weddi