The big headline lately, when it comes to wedding dresses, is H&M’s new $99 wedding dress. Not only brides-to-be or the soon-t0-be-engaged are of interest in this news, however; economists are concerned by the dress’s release, including Caitlin Dewey who says that “H&M is kind of undermining a core cultural and psychological tenet of consumerism: that our worth is determined, in large part, by the things we buy.” This is not a bad thing! After binge-watching Say Yes to the Dress numerous times, I started to realize that I was judging the bride based on how much she spent on her dress. Those that walked into Kleinfeld’s with a low budget should look somewhere else, I thought. Or those that spent $20,000 on a dress (some even bought two dresses, each costing that much) were outrageous and probably gold diggers. My happy medium was around $4,000-5,000 for a dress. But does it really matter how much you spend? Are those invited to your wedding going to judge you based on how much your dress cost? Should you even care what they think?
Short answer: no, unless of course you have the income to do so. I, myself, would be more impressed by a bride that looks absolutely gorgeous in her dress (mostly because she herself feels gorgeous) who managed to spend only $99 on said dress. Then I would know that she is cost-conscious and responsible, and honestly is really more concerned about spending the rest of her life with her chosen groom than blowing thousands of dollars on a dress she will wear once.
The problem is that brides also want a dress that looks well-made, which is what tends to drive up the price. It’s the work that goes into making it, the fabrics used, the embellishments–this is what makes an expensive dress, well, more expensive. This is the never-ending search for the expensive-looking, low-cost dress. Luckily for brides-to-be, more designers are realizing that this is what brides want. We now have the $99 H&M dress, which will probably cause other department stores and clothing brands to offer low-cost options for weddings. It is also becoming socially acceptable to buy any long (or short) white dress to wear in a wedding, no matter if it comes from a bridal shop or not.
Another option, for those who want the designer labels but cannot afford to actually purchase the dress, is renting a wedding dress from sites like Rent the Runway. Their bridal selection is relatively small, and seems to contain more short dresses than long, but the most a dress will run you is $275, with most closer to $150. I personally like this option, as it means free dry-cleaning (they take care of it), the knowledge that you’re wearing a designer brand while spending so little, and you won’t have a dress sitting in the back of your closet for the rest of your life. Men have been renting tuxedos and suits for weddings for decades, so why can’t brides too?
From left to right: Nicole Miller Monroe Twist Gown, Rent the Runway, $150; Badgley Mischka Ivory Dream Gown, Rent the Runway, $150
Perhaps you are a bride that does not care about the dress so much, but more about the overall look. Consider purchasing a low-cost wedding dress (or just any white dress) and dressing it up with some more expensive shoes or pieces of jewelry. These will most likely still cost you less than an expensive wedding dress, and you will have a keepsake for life–if shoes, you don’t have to wear them again yet they take up little space, if jewelry, you can wear it again and every time you wear it, you’ll remember your wedding day. This way, you can go to David’s Bridal or some similar wedding shop and still have something in your outfit from a major designer (think Kate Spade heels) or a wedding shop you’ve been lusting after (BHLDN, Anthropologie’s wedding shop, for me!). While saving you money, these options also bring a little ‘you’ to the wedding. Originality is always a good thing when it comes to weddings!
With all of these new options for brides, perhaps Caitlin Dewey is right. It seems to me that brides are becoming more and more cost-conscious and less interested in the expensive weddings we’ve seen for years on TLC shows. One place where you can cut costs is with the dress/bridal outfit. Many choose to spend more on the dress than other parts of the wedding, which is fine, but it is starting to become more socially acceptable (finally!) not to put so much emphasis on the cost of a dress. Our worth is not dependent on the things we buy, and neither are our weddings. The point of a wedding is to celebrate your relationship with your friends and family and agree that you will spend the rest of your life with this person–that person cares about you, not how much your dress or outfit cost!Sources: 2DaysLook via Pinterest, RTR Nicole Miller, RTR Badgley Mischka, Kate Spade Izzie Heels, BHLDN Sash, J.Crew pearls.