How much should I spend on my dress?

What should I spend on my mother of the bride or groom dress?  That's a great question.  We all know weddings can be expensive.  According to the "The Knot", the average wedding cost $28,000 in 2021 (read more).  We also know moms are practical and do not like spending money on themselves.  Budgets are very personal and there is no right answer to how much to spend on dresses for the moms. 

Mother of the bride and groom dresses have a wide range of prices.  On-line stores can range from $100 to $600 and department stores (e.g. Dillards, Neiman Marcus) can charge from $200 to $2,000.  Bridal salons and boutique stores can range from $300-$2,000.  Designer dresses and custom dresses are typically over $1,500 and can be as high as $5,000.

Consider these 4 questions and you will be on your way to finding the perfect dress for the big day that fits your budget.

beautiful mother of the bride with her husband and newly weds

Does the dress make you feel beautiful and happy?   While it's true you will likely wear your dress just once, the memory of you wearing it will last forever in wedding albums, pictures around your home and even social media. How you feel will show!  This doesn’t mean the dress needs to be expensive.  It does mean you should absolutely love it.  The perfect dress will make you feel beautiful and happy and that will ultimately show up in how you carry yourself on the wedding day. 

Can the wedding budget be adjusted so you can spend more on a dress? If you find a dress that is perfect and makes you feel amazing, but it's over your initial budget, consider what other things could be reduced or eliminated. Back to point #1, if it makes you feel amazing, its worth considering other choices.

Can you adjust what you spend on "accessories" (alterations, shoes, jewelry) to afford the perfect dress?

  • Alterations: Sometimes a less expensive dress will need more alterations  than a more expensive one.  Make sure you understand the degree of alteration that is needed to make you look your best.  It may turn out the more expensive dress has a lower total cost when alterations are considered.
  • Shoes:  Short or tea length dresses require incredible shoes which can be uncomfortable and expensive.  A long dress could be worn with existing shoes or perhaps more comfortable, less expensive new ones.
  • Jewelry: Dresses with unique necklines may not require a necklace.  You might also consider a dress that goes great with a special piece of jewelry you already own making the day even more sentimental.

Could you get more use out of the dress and invest in something a little more expensive?  Some dresses can look amazing when shortened.  This could come in handy for other special occasions such as when you are a wedding guest or a special night out.  You could also consign your dress and get some of your investment back.  There are local consignment shops in most cities and websites on-line that cater to this need.

As the mother of the bride or groom, you deserve to look and feel beautiful on the big day.  While the wedding should be about the bride and groom, you should also celebrate a job well done.  How you look and feel is an important part of a very special day.

mother of the bride with her family in an outdoor setting