30 Super Creative Ideas for Buying Your Wedding Dress

There are more ways than one to buy a wedding dress. In fact, you can get a bit creative with your search. We’ve already rounded up the best places you can buy a wedding dress online. We’ve even found some of the best designers and budget-friendly finds. But what about alternative ways to get the best ensemble for your walk down the aisle? We’ve got you covered there too.

In fact, we’ve pulled together 30 truly creative and scrappy ways for finding the (unique) wedding dress of your dreams. We’re warning you though, some of these may seem a bit too far outside-the-box. Trust us, we know people who’ve actually gone these routes and ended up with an amazing gown. So here it is, 30 crazy, creative, and downright fun ideas for buying your wedding dress:

  1. Etsy
    This one goes out to the brides who are looking for a sweet, casual, and vintage-inspired dresses at seriously epic prices. All of the options at Etsy.com are made by somebody with passion and creativity. But you can also find some true vintage pieces as well!
  2. White Prom Dress, Anybody?
    Yes, this is a totally crazy idea. This idea came to us after one of our readers found her dress in the prom dress section at a major department store. And honestly, prom dresses are getting more and more on-trend and fashion-forward. Take some time to take a peek, you’ll still get quality designs but at fractions of the cost!
  3. Flea Markets & Second-Hand Stores.
    If you live in NY, SF or some other artsy areas like Nashville, you can totally find the dress that wows you. This will take some digging but you’ll also be more apt to find something completely unique!
  4. Online Marketplace (aka Tradesy).
    Online marketplaces like Tradesy have thousands of pre-loved wedding dresses for sale. Easy filters like style, size, and price range will help you narrow down your choice.
  5. A Muted Bridesmaid’s Dress Could Work.
    Sites like Dessy Group sell beautiful bridesmaid dresses in every color. Look for a white, ivory or cream-coloured dress for a fraction of what you’d pay elsewhere.
  6. Big Box Stores Have Dresses Too.
    Yes, stores like Costco now have their own bridal departments full of shockingly well-priced wedding dresses. We have heard from brides that the choice is limited but the price is so right that it is worth the trip.
  7. Fast-fashion (Cheap & Stylish.)
    Topshop, Zara, and H&M are known for having the latest styles in vast quantities. What most people don’t know is that they are growing their selection and if you wanted something more casual or for a destination wedding, they may have a dress for you.
  8. Sample Sales Online Now.
    Sites like BridePower is a bridal outlet that offers high-end designer wedding gown samples and overstocks from famous designers like Vera Wang, Reem Acra, Amsale, Monique Lhuillier, Jenny Packham, Oscar de la Renta, Lazaro, Marchesa, Badgley Mischka Paloma Blanca, and many more.
  9. Give To A Good Cause AND Get Your Wedding Dress.
    This is our favorite creative idea. Basically, you could buy a used dress for a good cause. Not-for-profit companies like Brides Against Breast Cancer sell used wedding dresses and donate the proceeds to those in need.
  10. Buy A Gently Used Dress.
    Companies like Once Wed and PreOwned Wedding Dresses offer second hand wedding dresses. Given wedding dresses are worn once this is a great way to save a lot of money on a wedding dress.
  11. Find An Up & Coming Designer.
    Don’t just look to the big names when picking out a wedding dress, plenty of rising star designers are creating gorgeous bridal gowns too. We name some of them in our list above so make sure to check them out.
  12. Borrow From Family or Friends.
    We personally have used this one before. It may be a little weird to ask, but once you summon the courage to ask your family and friends you may be surprised by how many would love for you to use their wedding dress. It never hurts to ask.
  13. Attend Large Bridal Shows
    Often times bridal salons will be at these big wedding shows with a few racks of dresses that are steeply discounted if you buy it then and there.
  14.  Find Your Dress On The Freecycle Network, a site that is made up of over 7 million members around the world who are giving things away for free—sustainable and convenient!
  15.  Barter For Your Wedding Dress. Take a look at bartering sites such as TradeAway.com, SwapRight.com, or BarterOnly.com to see if you can barter your way into the wedding dress of your dreams.
  16.  Apply For a Wedding Sweepstakes.
    Are you lucky in love and just plain lucky? Try your hand at a wedding sweepstakes for a chance to win your dream dress for free. David’s Bridal often has fun things going on, so keep an eye on the retailer’s Twitter feed.
  17. Buy A White Little Dress.
    A classic in formal wear, BCBG is a one-stop-shop for everything evening! Not only do they have a designated bridal department, but any of their evening gowns could be the one.
  18.  HouseOfBrides, The Wedding Mecca.
    House of Brides calls itself “The World’s Largest Online Wedding Store”. Pretty sure you will be able to find the help you need and enough options to find the perfect dress. Sometimes it makes sense to go straight to the best.
  19. eBay Wedding Dresses.
    From beach casual dresses to black tie ball gowns, eBay boasts an impressive collection of bridal wear for unbelievable prices and it isn’t just second hand stuff either with over 50% of eBay items being new.
  20. Buy A Sample Dress.
    Wedding dress websites like NearlyNewlyWed make is easy to find pre-owned and sample dresses (they also have new dresses too). We love using this website, it is friendly and easy to navigate.
  21. Wear A Wedding Suit.
    Who needs a wedding dress anyway? Forget the wedding dress and wear a suit instead. It is actually a growing trend, especially amongst older brides.
  22. Rent A Wedding Dress.
    We LOVE Rent The Runway and have used it for years. The great news is that now they have a wedding dress section so you can find the perfect wedding dress quickly and easily.
  23. Department Stores & Traditional Fashion Retailers.
    Some of the best catalogs of wedding dress options below to mass-market retailers. These guys have huge selections and amazing buying power so you can find some real gems.
  24.  ASOS Marketplace.
    ASOS isn’t what you think it is. They also have a recently launched a new section in ASOS that has a collection of new, pre-owned, and vintage wedding dresses.
  25. Designer Consignment Shops & Trunk Shows.
    Designer consignment shops are worth a visit if you have them locally.  They house such beautiful items, many of which are hard to imagine someone actually wanting to part with. Also try designer trunk shows. The beauty of the trunk show is that the designer will likely be there.
  26.  Wait for Wedding Sample Sales.
    The wedding industry is known for sample sales. Be patient and you will definitely see them come up. Be prepared for all-out war however because samples sales can be rough and tumble affairs. Have a plan.
  27.  Wear A Family Wedding Dress.
    Maybe your mom’s dress can be worn. Sure, you may need to make some alterations and alter the style a little but if you’re looking for something special and vintage, this could work well.
  28.  Ask Your Dry Cleaner.
    Many dry cleaners sell items that were never picked up or that were left (similar to consignment). Wedding dress cleaning is popular but often the brides asks the cleaner to find a nice home for it. This is a stretch but you never know.
  29.  Scour Craigslist.
    There is really everything and anything on Craigslist so spend some time checking in once a week to see if something pops up.
  30. Get A Dress Straight From The Runway.
    Tinker Tailor allows you to pre-order designer fashions while customizing the look, including choosing fabric and color. It’s the perfect place to pick out a truly one-of-a-kind wedding dress.