Why My Wedding Dress Was $350 (sort of)

I just tripped over the article “Why Did My Wedding Dress Cost So Much?” on NPR and thought I’d share my wedding dress story, although it happened 13 years ago.

My general recommendation to people when they want to save money on a wedding dress, is to either get a white special occasion dress and embellish or have a seamstress make a dress. Definitely avoid bridal boutiques and take advantage of larger retailers, like David’s Bridal, who have sales every year.

There are pros and cons for every situation. Obviously a dress from David’s Bridal won’t be unique. And it’s hard to know exactly what a seamstress will create, especially if you haven’t seen another wedding dress she’s made in person. But neither option will break the bank. If you want something exclusive, you’re going to pay a lot for it.

I made my dress, not a surprise to anyone who knows me. My dress cost about 20 hours of labor (there was a lot of hemming) and about $350 for materials, because I had a huge skirt with a 12ft train. I made the dress out of a cotton damask (no polyester) fabric which means it was machine washable (ha!), which is great, because I’ve worn pieces of the dress repeatedly since. I have never seen anything else like it. Probably because you never see plain gowns with huge trains made out of cotton. I had enough left over material to make my daughter’s christening gown because when you buy your own fabric, you can get as much as you want.

I’m really happy I made my own gown. I never think “what was I thinking” when I look at the pictures because I kept things on the traditional side. However, sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t have pushed the envelope and done something really out of the box (tartan a la Vivienne Westwood, maybe?) because you really only get one day to wear an over-the-top dress, sort of. Well, maybe not. After all, I do wear 18th century gowns out and about and then the Ren Faire, Halloween…


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