Looking for affordable wedding dresses online but totally unsure where to start looking? I feel your pain.
After 11 years and four of those engaged, Steve and I decided to finally get married. With just a month of planning before we said “I do”, I stressed hard about trying to find the perfect wedding dress in such a short amount of time for our small elopement wedding.
So, I’m going to share everything I learnt about how how to find a cheap wedding dress online that don’t look cheap. I ordered six wedding dresses online, tried a couple in store and even found a wedding dress hire store and bought a dress from Facebook Marketplace.
I even bought a wedding dress and sold it for nearly double the price, so I technically made money on buying my wedding dress in the end!
My main worry was finding a wedding dress that would go with my mum’s veil from the 1960s. This was really important to me, so I had a mission to find something.
Here’s the lowdown on the best cheap wedding dresses I found within a month of planning our elopement wedding.
Table of Contents
I looked at hiring a wedding dress
As soon as we set a date to get married, I wondered if there are wedding dress hire stores in Australia. If men can hire a suit, surely a woman can hire a wedding dress? Turns out there are loads of wedding dress rentals around. I went to Bessette in Brisbane which is a gorgeous little boutique selling and pre worn luxury designer wedding dresses as well as hire options too.
This was the first place I went to and I found it very overwhelming. I did see one that I liked but to be honest, I didn’t really know what I was going to wear, so I held off. I really loved this place and the service is fantastic, put it on your list to visit if you’re in the Brisbane area. When I visited, the owner told me she was getting a Jenny Packman wedding dress in the following week which was really cool.
I tried on wedding dresses at a wedding dress shop
I then decided to go to a local wedding dress shop to try on proper wedding gowns. I never really saw myself wearing a big wedding gown to be honest, but I went there just as a backup option. Here I tried on a massive wedding dress which is when I truly felt like a bride.
This is when I realised that if you buy a wedding dress, you’ll need to get it altered to fit your body. I had no idea this would be the case which is why it’s said to find a wedding dress six months before you get married. I realised that a big wedding dress wasn’t going to be right for our small elopement wedding. If we had a big wedding then I would have gone all out, but that’s just not something we would have done anyway.
Ordering 6 wedding dresses online
In the end, I ordered six wedding dresses online ranging from $200 – $2000. This is what they looked like.
1. The $200 linen wedding dress
Back in April when we decided to go on holiday to Greece and Italy, it popped into our head to get married in Italy. We thought it would be super memorable to get married in the Amalfi Coast and so I popped to the local shopping mall and found this dress at a shop called Diish.
It literally cost me $240 with a discount and I thought it would be fine for a quick wedding in Italy. Unfortunately we were too late to organise our Amalfi wedding, and if you’re wondering, we would have totally done it in either Capri or Ravello.
So when we decided to get married recently, I thought all we needed to do was get a celebrant and I would wear that cheap wedding dress. But yeah, unfortunately when organising a wedding, it’s easy to get carried away with the wedding budget.
Steve and I decided I would show him every dress to get his opinion and when he saw this one, it was a firm no. So then the panic set in.
2. Ordering the $2000 dress
As I started to panic about what I was going to wear, especially having bloating issues, I then found out that my favourite designer wedding dresses in Australia had a massive sale on. I couldn’t believe it!
I had originally saved some wedding dresses I found on Pinterest, and the first dress I found was on sale down from $8000 to $2000. I panicked, not knowing if it was a wise decision to order a $2000 I hadn’t even tried on or could return, but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t order my dream wedding dress from Chosen By Kyha. If you are looking for luxury wedding dresses, check out Kyha, they sell beautiful wedding gowns.
I always wanted to wear a sequin 1970s number and thought this one would be perfect as the sequins fall so beautifully on this designer wedding gown. I checked YouTube and Pinterest to try and find other people wearing the dress to see what it would really look like on and didn’t find a huge amount of content.
So I clicked and ordered the dress. I had to go on a big diet to fit into it as the size I ordered was the only one in stock and luckily I lost 5kg due to intermittent fasting. But when it arrived, it just didn’t suit me or fit me properly.
I was gutted but one of the reasons I bought it is because I knew I could sell it on Off White which is a pre-wedding dress site, or even sell it to Bessette in Brisbane to sell on for me. So I knew there were options. And as it turns out, three weeks after posting the dress online at Still White, I sold it for nearly double the price for $3700!
It’s worth mentioning that Still White is a fantastic online wedding dresses store to check out as you can buy second hand or un-worn wedding dresses like mine on there
I ordered three dresses from UK
While I scoured the Australian shops, I simply couldn’t find anything at all. The only place that sells affordable wedding dresses is Shona Joy online, but even that shop didn’t have much variety. I even checked out Zimmermann (my favourite Australian designer) and there was nothing appropriate there either.
I thought outside of the box, and decided to start looking at UK shops instead because the majority of clothes I order are always from UK shops anyway.
I knew UK was going to have the best quality cheap wedding dresses, but I knew I would have to order fast for them to arrive in time. Ghost in UK have a beautiful bridal collection at affordable prices and I was tempted to order from there. If I had more money to spend, I would have opted for a Temperley wedding dress or one from Vampires Wife if I didn’t have bloating issues all the time.
I ended up ordering three wedding dresses from Needle & Thread which were super easy to return at a flat rate of something like $20.
I have been a long time follower of Needle & Thread and looked at their wedding dresses a while back, wondering if I would end up wearing one. Truth be told, I always wanted a more glamorous dress.
If you’ve not heard of Needle & Thread, they sell ready to wear bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses. When I went into the local wedding dress shop in Sunshine Coast, I remember the shop assistant saying how ordering a wedding dress online never turns out well because they always need to be altered. I panicked yet again as I anxiously waited for the dresses to arrive in the post.
Luckily for me, I ordered two dresses from Needle & Thread which took just one week to arrive to my house in Sunshine Coast (free postage). I then ordered another dress which arrived again in a week, and just a week before the wedding which is the one I went for.
These are the wedding dresses I ordered from Needle & Thread.
3. Shimmer Ditsy Long Sleeve Gown
I loved the Shimmer Ditsy Long Sleeve Gown from Needle & Thread. The boho garden wedding dress vibes just looked perfect for our elopement wedding. As I was trying to lose weight for the wedding, I thought I was a size 14 but it was actually too big on. I also wasn’t a massive fan of the sparkles on the dress for me either. I think if I had ordered the right size, I may have looked at it differently.
4. Genevieve Ruffle Gown
I also ordered the beautiful Genevieve Ruffle Gown from Needle & Thread as well. Again, it was slightly too big but I loved this dress. The ruffled shoulders and full length gown made me feel like a bride. I would have totally worn this if I wasn’t bothered about wearing my mum’s veil. Unfortunately the veil with this dress was too much together.
5. Camellia Ditsy Ankle Gown
And so, at the last minute I ordered the Camellia Ditsy Ankle Gown from Needle and Thread which arrived a week before the wedding. I ordered this one in a size 12 and as soon as I tried it on, I just knew it was the dress for me. It made me feel confident, and looked perfect with the veil so I was pleased I found a dress like this given the time frame. The embroidery went perfectly with the veil and it felt like the dress for me.
I also found Rock My Wedding site which showcases real weddings so you can check out other brides wedding dresses which I found quite inspiring. On this site, there were quite a few brides wearing Needle & Thread wedding dresses and it definitely gave me confidence that while the dress wasn’t a bridal gown, it felt very me.
6. I found my evening dress on Facebook Marketplace
While I love Needle & Thread, I looked everywhere to find the cheapest wedding dresses and I found one of their dresses on Facebook Marketplace which I instantly fell in love with. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to buy it regardless of it being for the wedding. It turns out the woman selling it wore it for her elopement too which I really loved. The dress just cost me $300 which I’m super happy with. I wore this in the evening for dinner.
Finding wedding shoes
Once I decided on wearing the Camellia Ditsy Ankle Gown, it is advertised at being ankle length but it’s not as short as on the model and I’m 5’5. But I knew I would need to find some shoes as the dress isn’t floor length. I literally scoured all of Brisbane to try and find some cream coloured barely there strappy shoes. Honestly, no one sold them!
If you’re looking for affordable wedding shoes, I ordered from Next in UK. They had some beautiful ivory shoes that would have cost an arm and a leg if they were sold in an Australian shop. Funny that – I just don’t understand why shoes are so expensive in Australia!
I ended up wearing some old shoes in the end which were fine as I didn’t want to draw attention away from the dress anyway.
I didn’t find my dream wedding dress
And you know what? Even though I’m pleased that I found a dress to go with my mum’s veil from the 1960s which was the most important thing to me, it wasn’t my dream wedding dress. I think it would have taken me at least six months, if not longer to find my dream gown in the end. But I’m OK with that.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over these last few weeks, it’s that the pressure to find the perfect wedding dress isn’t as a big deal as we’re told it is. Having grown up to dream about that moment of trying on wedding dresses, and finding a dress that everyone will love, shouldn’t hold as much pressure as it actually does.
And it turns out the most stressful part of organising the wedding in a month was finding a wedding dress.
And while I’ll look back and feel like I wish I had more time to try on bridal dresses, I’ll probably always wonder what it would have been like to wear one of these incredible dream dresses from Vera Wang!
At the end of the day, I’m pleased with our elopement and glad that after 11 years we are finally husband and wife. I hope this post has helped anyone else struggling to find beautiful wedding dresses at affordable prices for the perfect wedding day.