One of the most important features of a wedding is the wedding dress.
For brides who have been dreaming or planning their weddings long before getting engaged, the wedding dress is one of the most important decisions they make.
According to The Knot, the average price of a wedding dress is $1,800.
Considering the other expenses related to a wedding, you may wonder why a wedding dress costs so much.
Here are 10 reasons why wedding dresses are expensive.
Why Are Wedding Dresses So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Once In A Lifetime Purchase
One of the reasons why wedding dresses are expensive is because most brides will only buy them once.
You can only wear a wedding dress at your own wedding.
You can’t wear it to a formal event, nor can you wear it at someone else’s wedding.
While you could get away with wearing it at Halloween or a vow renewal ceremony, chances are, you’re going to wear it once and that’s it.
That makes wedding dresses expensive for a few reasons.
The first is that it makes the price seem large.
Buying something that costs $1,800 on average for one time doesn’t seem worth it for a lot of people.
Secondly, wedding dress makers also know that you’re likely only going to buy one in your lifetime.
Since they can’t rely on you to buy repeat dresses, they need to make as much profit as they can on one dress.
That means they put an expensive price tag on it to generate as much profit as possible on the sale.
Finally, some people also see the fact that they’re only going to wear a wedding dress once as the perfect reason to indulge.
Since it only happens once, in most cases, there’s no harm in indulging to make it special.
Wedding dress makers know that some people are more willing than others to pay a higher price to make their wedding extra special.
Because you’ll only be buying a wedding dress once, the price for them is usually high.
2. Selective Market
Unlike other clothes, not just anyone is going to be buying a wedding dress.
It has a very selective market and target audience.
Not even all brides want wedding dresses either.
Some may opt for suits, for example.
Others may have a cultural type of dress that they wear instead.
Because there are other options for brides, it makes the wedding dress market quite small.
In 2020, there were an estimated 1.3 million weddings.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that there were also 1.3 million wedding dresses sold, but it gives an idea as to the kind of numbers that wedding dress makers work with.
Considering that there are several dressmakers out there who specialize in making wedding dresses, they have to split that number among them.
While this might make some lower their prices, the opposite usually holds true.
That’s because dressmakers need to make as much profit as possible on the small market that’s available to them.
There’s been a downward trend in weddings in the United States, too.
In 2018, there were an estimated 2.1 million weddings. 2.1 million tends to be the average number of weddings each year.
While 2020 made getting married a little difficult with lockdowns, which is why that number went down to 1.3 million, the wedding rate will likely return to around 2.1 million in the future.
That said, that’s the only number of people that dressmakers can wedding dresses for.
There aren’t people who aren’t getting married looking for a wedding dress.
Because they have a very niche market, they have to put high prices on their products to make as much profit as possible.
Wedding dresses are expensive because the market is relatively small.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that wedding dresses can be expensive is if you choose to customize them or not.
A custom-made dress is more expensive than a standard wedding dress because it requires more time to make.
In some cases, it also requires more materials.
There are a lot of steps involved with making a custom dress.
For one, you need to find a dressmaker who specializes in making wedding dresses.
You also need to enjoy the dressmaker’s style.
After all, if their style doesn’t quite match the style you want for your wedding dress, then it isn’t going to be a good fit.
Once you’ve chosen your designer, they need to take measurements.
An excellent designer will take tons of measurements to ensure that your wedding dress fits you like a glove.
That takes time out of their schedule which they could be using to sell or make other products.
When you’re buying a custom-made dress, you’re usually also paying for all of the workshop visits.
Once they have the measurements, they can start to work on your dress.
Depending on the design in question, it may have a ton of fabric.
It may use expensive fabric.
It may use precious gems or diamonds that increase its value.
Aside from those materials, you’re also paying for the dressmaker’s time.
Since they’re making this dress for you, usually by hand, it means they’re unable to work on anything else.
To make it worth their time, they have to charge you a high amount.
While a custom dress is usually the most special wedding dress you can get, it’s also the most costly.
While you may not be looking at getting a completely custom-made dress, you may have an interest in altering an existing wedding dress.
Alterations are an important part of buying a wedding dress.
They help size down or size up a dress to better fit you.
In most cases, a bride wants to look her best at her wedding.
Wearing a dress that’s too big or too small for her can ruin that image.
Alterations are helpful since the specialist essentially reworks the dress until it better fits your frame.
It’s also ideal for those who put on or lose weight just before the wedding.
However, alterations make a wedding dress more expensive.
That’s because it requires time and skilled labor.
A store will charge you for their time and labor, so it often costs extra to have alterations done to a dress.
However, some stores build the charge of alterations into the wedding dress already.
These stores may say that alterations are free, but in reality, you’re paying for them by buying a more expensive wedding dress.
Alterations can take a while since you may need a dress changed significantly to fit you.
The longer your alteration takes, the more expensive your wedding dress is going to be.
The number of alterations you receive also makes the dress more expensive.
For example, if you have to keep coming in to alter the dress again, that’s only adding to the final price of your dress.
While receiving alterations is a great thing to make a dress fit your form perfectly, it does make wedding dresses cost more.
5. Designer-Label Wedding Dresses
When shopping for wedding dresses, you have a few places to go.
For those on a budget, you can shop at stores that sell evening dresses.
They often carry wedding dresses, too.
Others go to a boutique shop that specializes in wedding dresses.
Those with a high budget for their wedding dress may choose to see a wedding dress designer instead.
There are a few fashion designers who specialize in making wedding dresses.
They often have a line that you can find in a wedding dress store.
While some designers may make a custom wedding dress for a bride, albeit, at a very expensive price, you can also choose the slightly more affordable option of buying one of their dresses from one of their lines.
Some wedding dress designers include:
- Galia Lahav
- Eva Lendel
- Lihi Hod
- Pallas Couture
- Julie Vino
- Pnina Tornai
- Reem Acra
- Vera Wang
The dresses from these designers tend to be very expensive.
That’s because they’re usually not mass-produced to the same scale as more affordable dresses.
Sometimes the designers rely on seamstresses to handcraft each one.
Others may not produce a dress until after a bride has submitted their measurements.
Designers also feature unique looks that make their wedding dresses stand apart from others.
This can make a bride feel special and unique on her wedding day since they know that few, if any, other brides will be wearing the same dress as them.
The name, alone, also adds to the expense of the dress.
If you’re wearing a designer label, it gives you a certain status.
Some designers associate with celebrities which can give you the same sort of status as them.
Designers are also more likely to use high-quality fabrics to create a masterpiece.
All these things make their wedding dresses expensive.
6. Silk Costs
Wedding dresses use tons of different materials.
One of the most popular is silk.
The problem with using silk in a wedding dress is that it’s very expensive.
If a wedding dress is pure silk, for example, then it’s going to cost a lot of money.
Even if a wedding dress uses just a little bit of silk, it still adds a good amount of value to the dress.
That’s because silk, in itself, is an expensive material.
There are also various types of silk with mulberry silk being the most expensive.
Mulberry silk is expensive because it requires a lot of labor to get.
Silk comes from silkworms.
They create the material when forming their cocoons.
When they leave the cocoons to become moths, the harvesters collect them and spin them into silk.
It takes a lot of silkworms to make even a single kilogram of silk.
Mulberry silk, in particular, comes from silkworms who eat nothing but mulberry leaves.
The strict diet enables them to produce silk that is at its softest and finest.
Considering that silk manufacturers need at least 5,000 silkworms to make 1 kilogram of silk, they’re also going to need a lot of mulberry leaves to keep their silkworms fed.
The worms also require careful supervision.
They can’t eat anything but mulberry leaves; otherwise, the quality of their silk comes into question.
They also need to maintain the worms’ health.
Losing even one can be a blow to their production levels.
Because of the high costs involved with raising silkworms and getting their silk, manufacturers sell their products at a high price.
When dressmakers buy silk to make their dresses, they also need to cover their expenses.
As such, a dress that uses a lot of silk, especially mulberry silk, is going to be quite expensive.
7. Lace Costs
Another type of material that’s common in wedding dresses is lace.
Lace is a very fine and delicate material that’s often made by hand.
While seamstresses can also use a machine to make it, the best lace often comes from those who handcraft it.
The problem with handcrafting something is that it makes the product very expensive.
Lace, itself, is a labor-intensive material.
It takes a long time to make lace, and then even more time to incorporate the lace into the dress.
Some wedding dresses use a substantial amount of lace.
Some dresses are even made entirely out of lace.
Others use it in certain places to highlight or accentuate something.
Since most dresses use lace to some degree, it adds a lot of value, and hence expense, to that dress.
The real cost of lace comes from the cost of handcrafting it.
Since workers make it by hand, they need payment for all that time and hard work.
Lace is also finicky and easy to tear or damage.
It takes a skilled worker to make it and incorporate it into a dress.
Because it’s a skill that not everyone has, lacemakers are usually able to ask for higher wages.
Dressmakers that want the best lace possible for their dresses tend to pay them their dues.
Otherwise, they risk losing the lacemaker to someone else.
Since all these costs add up for the dressmaker, they have to cover them by selling the dress at a high price.
Wedding dresses are expensive because many of them use lace in some way.
8. Length Of Time Before Wedding
Another factor that makes wedding dresses expensive is how long you wait before the wedding to buy one.
In most cases, you’re going to need your wedding dress altered.
Because of how busy wedding dress shops can be, it may be difficult to schedule a time before your wedding.
The worker will also need time in which to make the alterations.
If you have to put a rush on your order, you can expect your wedding gown to be a lot more expensive.
That’s because the shop has to set aside other brides, and thus other sources of profit, to focus solely on your dress.
Since they’re ignoring other orders, they have to ensure that it is worth it.
After all, they run the risk of making other brides angry and having them leave for another shop.
They mitigate that risk by putting a hefty fee on your wedding dress.
Another reason that waiting too long can make your dress more expensive is if you’re getting married during the wedding season.
The wedding season tends to be late spring and summer.
Waiting too long might mean the store runs out of dresses.
Since there’s still a lot of demand but a low supply of dresses, the store will raise the price of the dresses that they do have.
You’re left choosing from a small selection with expensive prices.
9. Hand-Stitched Embellishments
If you choose to have hand-stitched embellishments on your dress, you can also expect to have an expensive price tag on it.
Things like hand-stitched corsets, lace, diamonds, or any other type of embellishment add more time and labor to a dress.
It also adds more materials.
Since it’s costing the dressmaker more money to make your dress, you can expect to cover those costs and extra.
Sometimes hand-stitched embellishments are extremely intricate.
It could take a sewer several days just to finish that part alone.
The longer it takes, the more the shop has to pay that worker.
Hand-stiched embellishments can make your wedding dress look incredible and unique.
However, they also make wedding dresses very expensive.
10. Limited Editions
Like other products, some wedding dresses are also limited editions.
They may be part of a limited collection that is only available for a short amount of time.
The dressmaker may have only made a few dresses in the collection.
Once those dresses get bought up, there are no more left.
Since there’s a limited number available, it means demand for those dresses is going to be far above the actual supply that exists for them.
Since demand is high and supply is low, the price is going to favor the seller.
They can raise the price high enough that it deters some people from buying the dress.
Only those who can afford the expensive price can get their hands on it.
If you want to buy a limited edition dress, you can expect to pay a lot of money for it.
While the average price of a wedding dress is around $1,800, they can become far more expensive than that.
Everything from the materials used in the dress to the time in which you buy it can impact the price.
Some of the most expensive dresses come from famous designers in a limited edition collection.