Let's be honest, discussing budget is probably your least favorite part of wedding planning, and we don't blame you. While there are many areas you can save (think guest list and DIY invitations), the last thing you want to do is sacrifice style and quality when it comes to your wedding dress. The good news is you don't have to!
With a stunning assortment of affordable wedding dresses flooding the market, many coming in under $1,000, you'll be sure to find a dress that fits your style and venue. Hoping for intricate beading? No problem. Aiming for a delicate lace overlay? Yes, it’s possible. Prefer a pared-back slip dress? Gorgeous options abound. Inexpensive bridal gowns do exist, and they’re just as stunning as their more costly designer counterparts.
"When shopping for affordable wedding dresses, the key features to look for include fabric, silhouette, fit and ease of movement," says Catherine Seaton, the Vice President of Marketing at Windsor. Opt for styles that make you feel confident and beautiful, match the aesthetic of your wedding theme and venue, and are comfortable enough to strut your way down the aisle with ease.
Meet the Expert
To help narrow down your options, we've researched the best affordable wedding dresses with these features in mind. Having a laidback summer wedding? We love the Anna October Asymmetrical Dress and the Mumu Rome Twist Gown. For something elegant and chic, our top picks are the Rat & Boa Ophelia Dress and the David's Bridal Off-the-Shoulder Ballgown.
Read on for the best wedding dresses under $1,000 to suit every stylish, price-conscious bride.
For the Summer Bride: Anna October Snowdrop Asymmetric Maxi Dress
Size Range: XS-XL | Material: Polyester, cotton | Shipping: Standard delivery | Return policy: Within 28 days
A fitted bustier bodice meets a flowy, asymmetrical skirt for a design that's as captivatingly simple as it is sexy. We love how the weighted hem allows the dress to hang impeccably without sacrificing movement.
Most Glam: BHLDN Lisle Gown
Size Range: 0-18 | Material: Viscose, nylon, lurex | Shipping: Standard delivery | Return policy: Within 30 days
We couldn't do a wedding dress roundup without throwing a little sparkle into the mix. Or, in this case, a lot. Beautiful beading and all-over sequins on a simple silhouette are always a winner in our books.
For the Modern Bride: ZHIVAGO It's No Game One-Shoulder Asymmetric Midi Dress
Size Range: 2-12 | Material: Polyester/Elastane | Shipping: Standard delivery | Return policy: Within 30 days
Oh, the power of a chic one-shoulder moment! Ruching at the waist creates a strong and beautiful silhouette, while subtle striped detailing adds a sumptuously soft texture.
Best Mini: Amsale Bow Back Dress
Size Range: 00-28 | Material: Silk | Shipping: Six weeks | Return policy: Within 14 days
Go on, show off those legs! This strapless, short wedding dress is fun, flattering, and all wrapped up in a big bow in the back.
For a Beach Wedding: Reformation Butterfly Dress
Size Range: 0-12 | Material: Viscose | Shipping: Standard delivery | Return policy: Within 30 days
Minimalist with a hint of romance, this breezy dress is begging to be worn to a casual backyard wedding or seaside nuptials. Pair it with a perfectly undone hairstyle for an effortlessly gorgeous finish.
For the Minimalist Bride: Galvan Malibu Satin Maxi Bridal Dress
Size Range: 2-12 | Material: Triacetate, polyester, silk, elastane | Shipping: Standard delivery | Return policy: Within 30 days
Sophisticated, silky, and slinky, this exquisite slip dress was crafted with the unfussy bride in mind. Keep accessories simple for the ultimate pared-back aesthetic.
For a Backyard Wedding: Show Me Your Mumu Empire Waist Twist Dress
Size Range: XXS-3X | Material: Polyester | Shipping: Standard delivery | Return policy: Within 30 days
This universally flattering silhouette is one of our favorites because it looks amazing on just about everyone. Both laidback and glamorous, this silky style features a twist at the bodice and flutter sleeves for a little extra oomph to the relaxed vibe. Bonus: It comes in eight stunning hues.
Best Slip Dress: Rat & Boa Ophelia Dress
Size Range: XXS-XXL | Material: Satin | Shipping: Standard delivery | Return policy: Within 30 days
You may have already guessed that there's more to this slinky slip dress than meets the eye. This slip is anything but ordinary, featuring a sexy cowl neck and divine scoop back with a detachable chain.
Best Sparkle: Bronx and Banco Mademoiselle Bridal Midi Dress
Size Range: XS-XL | Material: Polyester | Shipping: Standard delivery | Return policy: Within 30 days
Nothing sparkles in wedding photos quite like an all-over sequin dress. Whether you choose to wear this stunner as a ceremony dress, reception dress, or after-party dress, you'll be sure to make an entrance.
For a Black-Tie Wedding: David's Bridal Collection Off-the-Shoulder Ball Gown
Size Range: 0-14 | Material: Polyester | Shipping: Standard delivery | Return policy: Within seven days
A classic ball gown will never go out of style—meaning those wedding portraits will stand the test of time. Pair with a cathedral-length veil for enough drama to deliver that princess moment you've been dreaming of.
Most Customizable: Fame and Partners The Nancy Dress
Size Range: 0-22 | Material: Polyester | Shipping: 12-14 weeks | Return policy: Within 30 days
For the bride who wants a say in their dress design, this option puts the power in your hands. With options to line the bodice, remove ruffles, and change the neckline, you have the ability to create a dress that is uniquely you.
Most Flattering Neckline: Whistles Mia Square Neck Wedding Dress
Size Range: 0-14 | Material: Polyester | Shipping: Standard delivery | Return policy: Within 28 days
We love the way a square neckline frames the figure, and this gorgeous design does it with elegance. Crafted from body-hugging fabric and boasting a delicate lace back with covered buttons, the gown is simultaneously modern and romantic.
For the Vintage Bride: BHLDN Belize Dress
Size Range: 0-18 | Material: Polyester | Shipping: Standard delivery | Return policy: Within 30 days
For the bride with a vintage style, this dreamy embroidered dress is a sentimental no-brainer. With subtle beading, an empire waist, and a deep-V neckline, the look will surely transport you to a bygone era.
Best Two-in-One: Nookie Adore 2Way Strapless Dress with Detachable Bow
Size Range: XS-XL | Material: Nylon, polyester, spandex | Shipping: Standard delivery | Return policy: Within 30 days
Fashion-forward and unique, this mini features a bold detachable train that takes you from the aisle to the dance floor in one fell swoop. Now that's a design we can get behind.
Best Column Dress: BHLDN Ludlow Gown
Size Range: 00-26W | Material: Polyester | Shipping: Standard delivery | Return policy: Within 30 days
The modern—and usually quite minimal—column dress gets a very romantic upgrade with this design. Soft, all-over lace and sweet cap sleeves finish in a sweeping train for maximum flourish.
Best High Neckline: Jenny by Jenny Yoo Dawson Dress
Size Range: 00-32 | Material: Crepe | Shipping: 20 weeks | Return policy: Final sale
This gloriously timeless halter dress—with its clean lines, impeccable princess seams, and plunging back—definitely has our attention. Plus, it's a dead ringer for the reception gown of a certain duchess.
Best Reception Dress: Windsor Timelessly Chic High Low Lace Dress
Size Range: XS-XL | Material: Polyester | Shipping: 3-14 business days | Return policy: Within 30 days
This party-ready number is perfect for your reception outfit change, rehearsal dinner, or bridal shower. The embroidered floral lace design and the body-hugging fit are timelessly chic for any special occasion.
What to Look for in a Budget-friendly Dress
Fabrics and Silhouette
Familiarizing yourself with different types of wedding dress fabrics can help you get a better sense of what a gown will look and feel like. Plus, it can help narrow down your options within your budget. "Classic lace and sequin are among the more affordable options," says Seaton. Certain luxe fabrics like silk or those made from natural fibers will typically run up the cost. Also, keep in mind, simple silhouettes like slip dresses or shorter lengths are less expensive as they require less fabric.
It's also a good idea to consider what silhouettes will work best for your body type and personal style. "Whether looking for a traditional ball gown or a sleek fitted silhouette, each style will fit every body type differently, so it’s important to always try on a lot of styles."
Design Elements and Details
No two cost-conscious wedding dresses are alike, so it's important to understand what's contributing to the price. Some design elements might increase the overall cost of a gown. Hand beading and embroidery also can drive up the price of a wedding dress, as can any additional details or accents.
"Some additional details to look for include a waist seam that accentuates the waist and adds an hourglass silhouette, adjustable straps to ensure you get the perfect fit, lined bra cups are great, especially for strapless dresses, plunging necklines so that you don’t have to worry about finding a bra that won’t show, and pockets for tucking away tissues, lipstick or more," says Seaton.
Fit and Comfort
"When you try on your dress, make sure you sit down, dance around, practice throwing your bouquet, etc. to help you find the perfect fit," Seaton recommends. "A dress with fabric that has a bit of stretch is always nice to ensure flexibility and comfort throughout the day."
Retailers and Sales
If you've got expensive tastes and aren't willing to compromise, be on the lookout for sample sales or end-of-season clearances to find the one. Vintage stores or rental websites can also be gold mines of reasonably priced designer finds. You can also shop higher-end retailers for evening wear or cocktail attire that can pass as bridal wear. When setting your budget, remember to include the potential cost of shipping and alternations.
What is the most expensive wedding dress fabric?
Silk is one of the most expensive and most popular fabrics in bridal fashion. If you’re looking for a more affordable option that mimics silk, synthetic satins (like polyester) are a great choice.
Are there any budget-friendly, made-to-measure wedding dress options?
How can I elevate an affordable wedding dress?
"There are several additional ways a bride can make her wedding dress look more expensive than it is," says Seaton. "Some tips to help achieve this goal include using a long veil to achieve the similar look of a train, layering in belts and necklaces for a more affordable sparkle, accessorizing with faux fur shawls to add coverage during a ceremony for strapless dresses, and more. Accessories are a bride’s best friend!"
About the Author
Sophie Moore has worked in the fashion industry for over seven years. Her access to bridal designers and experience in the market brings readers the latest wedding dress trends and a view of the ready-to-wear and accessories market from the lens of what a bride is looking for.