How Much Should A Wedding Dress Cost, Anyway?

And so it begins. I promised myself I wouldn’t fall into the usual trappings of being engaged, such as posting pictures of my ring on Facebook and devoting hours each day to The Dress Search. And so far, I’ve kept my cool, for the most part anyway. Still, that hasn’t stopped me from Googling “design your own wedding dress” and clicking on the bridal section at Net-a-Porter every now and then. (I was there to look at some sandals, I swear!) The latter departure led me to this little Lanvin number, which retails for a cool $10,860. Wait, I’m sorry, what was that? Correct — over 10K for a dress you wear once. Not that I’m shocked or anything. It’s Lanvin, not Forever 21. (Do they do bridal? Must check.) But it did get me wondering about how much women are actually willing to spend on these things. For example, in a fit of indecision, one engaged friend of mine has purchased not one, but two wedding dresses, although I’ve tried to be polite enough not to ask how much this has set her back. At one point, she was so obsessed with her search that I truly think if she had found THE ONE and it happened to have an ultra expensive price tag, I think she would have found a way to buy it. (Or maybe to just have it made; I don’t know.) I do know that many brides-to-be take this hunt very, very seriously, and as the search intensifies, cost, for the girl who can afford it, becomes a non-issue. And that seems a little crazy and understandable at the same time.

On the other end of the spectrum, how much does one feel pressured to spend because it’s such an important item of clothing? What amount of money elevates it from weekend trip to the mall splurge to worthy of wearing down an aisle? Obviously, this is ultra subjective. But if you find an amazing dress and it only costs $40, is it “special” enough?

Personally, I’m pretty sure my search was over before it began. A few years ago, I was in Milan covering fashion week and made a trip to the rather amazing Marni outlet, where I purchased two identical, exquisite, floor-length gowns in white and green for the low (for Marni runway) price of about $300 each. (I went a little crazy, what can I say?) Sadly, they emerge from my closet very rarely, but I still think of them as treasures and souvenirs of a time in my life when I could traipse over to Milan to buy gowns at the Marni outlet. I mean, come on. I think the white one would make a perfectly gorgeous wedding dress, although I am tempted to get it remade in a different fabric and with a lower back, just to make it feel fresh. That utterly depends on if there’s any money in the budget left after the far more important booze and food are accounted for. For now, it’s the occasional web search, and wondering what bridal-gown obsessed ladies in their right or wrong minds would drop 10 grand on a dress.