So… How Much Does a Wedding Dress Really Cost?

Calculating how much your wedding dress will cost and working it into your big day budget is easier said than done. Like with many wedding-related purchases, there are often costs that are easy to overlook… Hello, shipping and sales tax!

While the price tag can vary greatly, we added up some of the hidden expenses and came up with an average of $1,970 for a wedding dress. Here’s how we crunched the numbers.

how much does a wedding dress cost?
Photo by Josh Elliott Studios 

1. The Dress
The biggest line item on the bill for your dress will, of course, be the dress itself! According to Fox Business, the average cost of a dress is $1,100. And The Knot’s 2015 Real Wedding Survey showed that the average was $1,469. Meanwhile, Cost of Weddings estimates the cost is averages between $912 and $1,520.

Averaging all those numbers together, we’re looking at an average of $1,250. But don’t write that down on your budget sheet! There’s more to add into the equation.

2. Alterations.
Adjustments to your wedding dress can be hard to estimate, because the style of your dress and the types of alterations needed will greatly effect the price tag. Generally, you’ll need to take the dress to your seamstress for a quote — they’ll need to see what they’re working with to give you n estimate. According to the experts at Wedding Seamstress in Colorado, most brides wind up spending $250 to $450 on alterations.

That said, if your alterations are very simple (like hemming one layer of fabric), you could spend only $50. But even simple alterations can be pricey if your dress has lots of intricate beading or lace. The more complex the dress, the more expensive the alterations.

For today, let’s estimate that you’ll spending $350 on alterations. That bumps the average budget up to $1,600.

3. Extras
It’s probably a good idea to add a separate item in your budget for bridal accessories — like your veil, belt, shoes and jewelry. However, there are some extras you might want to consider part of the dress, like a petticoat (which you might need for a particularly poofy dress) or shapewear or a special bra. You may not need any of these items, but to play it safe, budget an extra $100 to $200 for these extras. That increases the average budget to $1,800.

4. Taxes
Taxes sure have the ability to totally throw off your entire budget. Luckily, you can prepare! Look up the state and local sales taxes in your area. One of the highest possible sales tax rates is 9.46% (hellooo, Tennessee!), but in most states, you’ll pay much less. But if you’re paying that much, it would add about $170 to the average budget.

That brings the average cost of a wedding dress to about $1,970.

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