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What's Typically Included in Attire & Accessories > Wedding Dress

  • The Dress
  • Train if Detachable
  • Alterations, flat-fee or per alteration session. Some alterations are included in certain department stores' policies

Additional Cost Items to Look Out For

  • Customizing, such as additional beading or appliques as desired
  • Additional alterations needed, such as letting out or taking in
  • Perhaps alterations in general if your store does not include them
  • Cost of custom dress creation
  • Steaming and pressing
  • Cost of purchased hand-held steamer to use on the wedding day
  • Undergarments required by the dress, such as an open back or halter top
  • Travel to shopping sessions and fitting appointments
  • Entertaining/feeding loved ones who attend the dress shopping excursions
  • Social media roaming fees if you will Instagram your dress shopping sprees, a common situation now
  • Shipping and insurance
  • Taxes
  • 2nd Look Dress
  • Replacement dress for the first
  • Rush charges for delivering the second dress
  • Engagement party, rehearsal dinner and bridal shower dresses, plus any alterations needed to those
  • Gown preservation
  • Trash-the-dress dress

Why Does It Cost This Much?

The high price of wedding dresses can be jaw-dropping to many brides. You're paying for the quality of the fabric, for imported lace (especially rare or antique laces available in a range of styles and intricacies, hand-accenting such as it taking a team of 20 people 8 weeks to make your dress. The brand name of your dress designer also plays a big part in the cost of a dress, even with big designers offering budget-friendly gown lines.

The quality of construction in a top-tier gown also drives up the price, and any customizations such as changing out a narrow strap for a wider one will add to the cost of the dress.

It's also undeniable that your wedding gown is a monumental, emotional purchase, one of your biggest wedding dreams, and that importance also leads to a higher price point, even for a simpler dress.

Alterations included in the cost of the dress surely drives up the price of the dress, and when you buy your gown at a dazzling bridal salon or designer's atelier, you're also absorbing some of the setting's overhead. In pricier cities and pricier towns, that overhead including expenses for the shop, their employees' salaries and insurance, marketing, insurance and more comes from the shop's sales, so you can expect higher prices for gowns when the location has some marquee value.

The area where you shop, in general, plays a part in your wedding expenses, as does your choice between a brick-and-mortar store or an online site that ships the dress to you. If you do order your dress online, you may assume high shipping and insurance costs, and if your dress has to be returned for a different style or due to damage, that will cost you a bundle, especially if you have to then buy a different dress in a rush.

So, it's quality, design and designer name of the dress that makes the biggest impact on your budget, and then it's smart planning for any potential problems allowing you to get a second dress in plenty of time to avoid rush fees.

It's been written in the past that if you borrow a mother's dress, it will cost less, but it often turns out that alterations and cleaning, plus matching antique beading or other rare elements to new accenting adds up to so much more than expected.

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