Yes, you want that perfect wedding dress that fits like a glove on the big day — but blowing half your budget on one isn’t exactly what you had in mind. Try these five tips for scoring a gorgeous plus-sized bridal gown at a bargain.
Look to bridesmaids’ dresses
Anyone planning her big day knows that the moment you call it a “wedding” and identify yourself as a “bride,” you can expect prices on virtually everything to magically double. Instead of just searching for bridal gowns, expand your hunt to include what are billed as more affordably priced "bridesmaids’ dresses" as well, many of which are available in various lengths and shades of white — and might be just right for a bride. Alfredo Angelo’s bridesmaid dresses, for instance, come in sizes to 30; we love this satin and chiffon sweetheart floor-length pick.
Shop non-bridal retailers
Working under a similar theory, why even search for an official “wedding gown” at all? You’ll find amazing budget-friendlier options at retailers not known specifically as wedding gown sellers. Nordstrom, for instance, has a ton of formal dressing options available in sizes to 24, like this ruched sweetheart chiffon option that comes in 14 colors including — you guessed it! — white.
Try something second hand
Buying a wedding gown that was previously worn (just one time, after all!) appeals on so many levels: You’ll score a bargain off the retail price, of course, but you’re also making an environmentally friendlier and all-around sensible choice. Listings and available sizes rotate constantly, of course, but a recent search of online gown reseller Once Wed turned up this ivory lace and satin chemise gown by Allure in size 24. (Consider selling your dress after the big day, too!)
Select a budget-minded retailer
Many mass retailers known for low prices have abundant options in the plus-sized category, including that long-time go-to David’s Bridal, which at latest look had around 200 gowns on offer in its “David’s Bridal Woman” line, in sizes through 26. This popular crinkle chiffon gown with super flattering asymmetrical draping comes in at just over $349 on sale.
Hit the sample sales
Dreaming of a heavenly gown that’s way out of your league? You might be able to score it at a deep discount by keeping up with news of sample sales in your area. Contrary to popular belief, sample dresses come in every shape and size. New York’s famous Kleinfeld (of Say Yes to the Dress fame), for instance, has an upcoming fall sample sale with gowns in sizes up to 28 — and accessories to boot.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.