Every bride-to-be has done it; turned the page of a glossy bridal magazine and found ‘the one’.  You research the designer, find a local stockist and step into the most exquisite gown, and fall in love.  You casually ask the assistant for the price before exclaiming, HOW MUCH?!!

It’s a question I get asked all the time, and besides reeling of the standard “it’s all about the skill, quality and attention to detail” speech, I realised I didn’t really have all the answers.  So today, for the next instalment in our ‘Luxe for Less‘ series I asked one of our favourite bridal boutique owners, Rachel from Luella’s Bridal to answer that all important question…

Why do wedding dresses cost so much?

Often, wedding dresses are made by small independent designers.  They use high quality fabrics, often bought in small quantities to retain their uniqueness and they are usually made by hand either by the designer themselves or by a small team of expert seamstresses. These designers have to cover the cost of designing and making their collection which can take a long time – our collection took over 8 months to produce and was extremely costly and time consuming to do. Next the collection needs to be marketed – either directly to their customers or via their stockists which can also be extremely costly – those glossy full page ads can run into thousands of pounds! Finally there is a huge cost to make each individual gown by hand… skilled seamstresses are worth their weight in gold, especially when short lead times are factored in.

But can’t I just buy a dress direct from the designer or a cheap copy from China?

You can! But for all the positive stories about happy brides who have managed to purchase amazing dresses for a fraction of the price I can guarantee that there are considerably more who have had terrible experiences which have almost ruined their weddings.

For example take my friend Tamsin…Even though I warned her of the pitfalls of buying a dress on-line she was determined to cut costs where ever possible and so she decided that this was the route she wanted to go down. The dress arrived on time and in theory it appeared to be exactly what she wanted so everything seemed fine…that was until her actual wedding day. On the day I received a panicked phone call from my friends mum who said that Tamsin was crying because her dress had come away from the zip and she effectively had no way of doing up the dress! We obviously did everything to make sure Tamsin could wear the dress and we ended up sewing her into it but it was obviously a very stressful experience for the bride on her wedding day.

The other thing that often gets missed is that buying a dress from overseas often incurs large additional costs which customers may not be aware of at the time of purchasing. You can expect to pay a further 12% import duty, plus 20% VAT on top of the delivery fees, which can quickly mount up.

So what are the benefits of buying from a boutique?

In a boutique you get to choose your dress in a lovely environment, with the guidance of someone that has seen countless brides in wedding dresses.  You will also have the security of having someone there in the awful event should something go wrong.

Often stores will have an in-house alterations service which can also take away some of the stress of having to find someone to alter your dress, once again giving you the reassurance that they will have chosen someone reliable that can do a good job.  After all, what bride needs more stress in the lead-up to their big day?

How do I get the best value from my dress?

Our top tip for getting value out of your dress is to choose something you can wear again – when you’re spending this much money it’s such a shame for your dress to only get one outing!

We love the wedding jumpsuit, after your wedding you could either dye it a different colour, or if it’s a two piece then team either the top or bottoms with a different coloured top or bottom.  We love the selection from cool bridal-brand House of Ollichon.

Beaded gowns are also perfect for wearing again, especially if they are worn over a slip like these beautiful dresses by Vicky Rowe. Just swap the colour of the slip and you have a ready made party dress for another occasion.

We also love plain dresses that can be ‘bridalised’ with clever accessories, such as capes, boleros and beaded cover-ups. Wear the accessories again with jeans and a top for a glam-casual evening look, or dress-down a simple white dress with summer accessories and sandals for an on-trend LWD look.

If none of that appeals, choose a dress that can be shortened. You can do this with a  number of different styles to achieve a great effect but we have chosen our own Luella’s lIliiana dress because it comes in a gorgeous blush colour which means that it could easily be worn again.

What about after the wedding?

Well you can always re-sell it to recoup some of your cash!  At Luella’s we are launching a new bridal recycling service this Autumn which allows our customers to sell their wedding dress. A percentage of the sale will go to charity so not only do you get to make a bit of cash, but you get to feel good about it too.

If you are going to go down this route we suggest getting your dress dry cleaned as soon as possible. If you are being whisked off on your honeymoon immediately after the wedding then we recommend leaving your dress with your mum or a trusted friend that can drop it off at the dry cleaners – that way your freshly laundered dress will be ready and waiting for you when you return.

For more bridalwear advice, make an appointment to see Rachel and her expert team at!



After a decade-long career in corporate interior design, I took a giant leap of faith, left the security of an office job, and founded B.LOVED in 2011 as a platform for romantic and beautiful wedding inspiration. Thanks to a whole lot of creativity, hard work and passion, my gamble paid off and B.LOVED became one of the leading wedding blogs in the UK.

I'm also a co-founder at The Brand Studio, where I design and curate beautiful photoshoots for wedding and lifestyle brands, as well as running wedding industry community the B.LOVED Hive where I support and nurture wedding pros building industry leading businesses. Yep, I definitely have the best job in the world.


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