Five Tips for Finding the Perfect Last-Minute Wedding Dress on a Budget

cheap formal dresses

No bride wants to think about pinching pennies on her wedding dress, but something has to give when planning a last-minute wedding. If you find yourself planning for your big day without much time to pad the budget, there are five things you can do to make the day perfect regardless of the time and money crunch.

1) Invest more time and physical labor so that you don’t have to pay others to work for you. This might include making your own bouquets with fake flowers rather than buying them fresh from the florist. This also saves you from paying for expedited services from a florist when ordering last minute. You an also make table centerpieces, place cards and other decorations for your reception.

2) Allow members of your bridal party to recycle dresses and shoes. If they already own something that fits your color scheme, there is no need for them to buy something new. As long as you don’t require every member of the party to wear matching outfits, you may adjust your color scheme to fit items they already own.

3) For the items you absolutely want to purchase new, shop sale items and try to add coupons and other discounts. Find websites for your favorite bridal companies and sign up for their email programs. You will often receive discounts and coupon codes through those emails. You may also find exclusive online sales and amazing clearance prices through online bridal shops.

4) Differentiate your needs from your wants. Before making a purchase, ask yourself if that expense is necessary. Is it something you truly need? Or is it something you would like to have but could sacrifice in order to free up money for other necessities?

5) Make use of your connections. If you let it slip that you need an affordable venue, DJ or photographer, you are likely to find someone in your social circle willing and able to help you out. Your friends and family members may volunteer to connect you with professionals they know will offer a discount, but you have to make your needs known.

This is not about looking for handouts. You can provide exposure and marketing for those willing to help you out.

Some of these tips may help you more than others, but give all of them serious consideration. Your last-minute wedding doesn’t have to look last minute if you plan appropriately and make smart buying decisions.


  1. My tastes have changed so much since I married 11 years ago that I want to get married again in a different dress…to the same guy. 😉

  2. These are all great tips for what could is usually a very expensive day. My wedding dress cost $62 and I got a lot of compliments on it. I love the idea of letting bridesmaids recycle. If I had a wedding again I wouldn’t have “colors” I think I would let them where what they wanted!

  3. Great tips. I also got a bunch of my decorations from JoAnn’s using coupons. If you plan in advance you can use several coupons to purchase all of your stuff. Also, look for items on clearance too. We found DIY wedding invitations and printed our own. They turned out great and looked very professional.

  4. I’m not the type to do anything last minute, but I always prefer to shop on a budget.

  5. My daughter followed so many of these tips and I think she’s just built to save money because she thought of it on her own. 🙂

  6. We found my dress on a clearance rack for under $100. I couldn’t believe my luck.

  7. Planning a wedding can be so chaotic – these are great tips to save money and to keep calm!

  8. Being older now, I think the connections that I have would be so much better for a fantastic wedding.

  9. These tips will help out many. I know years ago, I found mine at a budget shop bridal shop and it worked and about all I could afford

  10. Those are great tips. My wedding gown was rented and my aunt who’s a florist did my bridal bouquet, the corsages and boutonnieres.

  11. Add straps and that would be a perfect dress for me.

  12. I will have in mind when I get married! Thank you, great tips!!!

  13. Great tips. I just did a simple backyard wedding, but know many who really over extend themselves with a wedding

  14. thrift stores are a great place to shop for wedding articles it saves money.

  15. I bought a $400 ABS Allen Schwartz wedding dress at a thrift store, and it was just like new!

  16. I’ll be sure to save it up!

  17. These are great tips! My bridesmaids didn’t have anything that would work already, but I made sure to pick a dress for them that they could wear over & over to whatever they wanted that way the {already inexpensive} dresses wouldn’t just be worn once.

  18. My actual wedding dress was picked 6 days prior to the wedding! My dress couldn’t be taken in like originally planned so I had to repick!

  19. There is a wedding in my future soon and I have been looking at wedding dresses. They are expensive. This will be a great place for me to look for one. Thanks for sharing. It has been very stressful and I hope some of that will be relieved with the prices at this site.

  20. One of our biggest “savings” was hiring a wedding planner. We got to use all her connections and she snagged us discounts with just about every vendor. Totally made up the cost of using her and then some, and I was WAY less stressed.

  21. My wedding dress was the one thing I splurged on. When else would I be able to wear such a beautiful gown like that?

  22. These are great tips. I bought my dress at a second hand shop, I couldn’t see spending a fortune on something I would wear once.

  23. I loved my wedding dress, but it was rented because it seemed cheaper at the time since I would probably only wear it once. Plus, I didn’t want to have to lug it on the plane or have it shipped (I moved from Canada to the US on our honeymoon!). I love the idea of allowing the bridal party to recycle or wear what they want.

  24. Thanks for the tips, I’m getting married next year so I’m sure they’ll come in handy

  25. Great tips here. I know when I was shopping for my dress it made me a little over the edge cause it was so hard to choose, then I tried on the perfect dress and I just knew!!

  26. Good tips. Hope I don’t ever have to get another one!

  27. I am getting married in June, and these tips will certainly come in handy. Thanks!

  28. great tips the wedding dress is so beautiful

  29. Great tips, I need to share these with my sister in law who is getting married next year.

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