When I first went dress shopping, I was shocked to find that many people spend on a dress more than I just sold a working, good condition car for! It’s hard to justify spending that much for just one dress worn one day! Here’s some ways to keep costs down:
Order online. I would highly recommend Amazon.com due to their A-to-Z guarantee (which really is simple- I’ve used it for quick refunds when sellers were slow to respond) and the availability of actual customer reviews. Make sure you have enough time for the dress to be made to your size and shipped if this is your option. See the other posts on this site for examples of these dresses, like MILANO BRIDE Lace Bridal Wedding Dress Modest Ball Gown Short Sleeves Beadings
Borrow: If you know someone of a similar size with similar tastes who was recently married, you may be able to borrow her dress. Be sure to discuss whether or not they are OK with you making alterations or hemming and where they would like you to take (and pay for) cleaning of the dress at. Note that alternations and cleaning can sometimes cost more than an online dress.
Consignment: I tried this option, and even in Mormon filled Mesa, AZ, shops only had a few modest dresses, most of which looked like something from 15 years ago. I wasn’t comfortable with getting something strapless and altering, as how the dress hangs and flows can be drastically different, and I’ve seen some pretty bad workups and alterations on friends.
Renting: Was more expensive than the dress I bought, and I wouldn’t have as much flexibility to keep the dress for a separate open house in my parents’ hometown a week later.
Craigslist: tried this, too- ended up driving all over to people trying to sell dresses that may or may not fit, looked different from the picture, were not reduced enough in price (just because you paid $3,000 new doesn’t mean I’ll pay $2,000 used) and didn’t have as much selection as the other options. Maybe if you’re in Provo this works, though?
Dress shops: good for trying on different styles so you know what fits and flatters, bad for actually getting a dress. Try a few one, get an idea of what you’re looking for (a-line, ballgown, tea length, empire waist), and then go find your actual dress elsewhere.