Know what you can afford before you shop! And figure into that price your tax, shipping, foundation garments, jewelry, veil/headpiece and alteration costs.
You can get wedding dresses for $250 on modcloth, white BM dresses from Azazie, or gently used dresses online and at local consignment stores for under $500. You can spend $22,000 on a custom or designer piece. And anywhere in between. The most popular designers (Maggie Sottero, Stella York, Justin Alexander, etc) tend to be priced between $1300-2500 for a new, ordered-to-your-measurements gown.
My dress MSRP was $1360 and I bought the sample so they gave it to me for $680. With tax and storage it was $738 total.
Alterations cost $406.38 (would have been $486.38 with bustle)
Front hem: $150
Bra cups added: $25
Custom Straps: $55
Sides taken in $50
She ended up doing the bustle, but since I had specifically requested it not be done, she didn't charge me for it.
I wanted my end total for my dress to be about $500-$600, however, it was more important to me to have my mom with me when I picked the dress, than saving money. So the actual dress being over price wasn't too bad. The Alterations, I could have gone someplace closer to me and gotten a better deal, but it was the shop my Bridal Shop recommended.
Eh. I originally budgeted for a $600 dress. The one I'm getting is a little over $900 but they're allowing me to make payments on it. Also, it was a sale price because I'm buying from the rack instead of ordering. If I ordered the dress, it would be over 2,000. I discussed it with FH, explained that I'm going to be clocking in overtime for the next three months, and he said if I really love the dress to get it.
My dress is very similar to that one (style, beading, lace) and I paid $1350. My original budget was $1200 but I upped it to $1500 right before I went shopping.
Alterations depend entirely on how much work the dress needs. I know mine will be a lot because I need a significant hem, it needs to be taken in by quite a bit especially at the top where the beads are, and the bustle I want is pretty elaborate.
Everyone has a different budget. My dress cost me $750, and my beaded belt for it cost $200. So $950 total. I won't need any alterations. It fits like a glove and is the perfect length
My first wedding, I spent $2k, but it a choice we made as a couple. It had a lot of beading and a bit of a train. This time around, I am going low key and fairly simplistic... I've found one I am IN LOVE with, and it's under $200.00 out the door. It's all up to you, your budget, and what you can slide around to afford other things on your budget
My budget was $1500 and literally my total with veil was $1498!! I may or may not need alterations. I only tried on dresses that were in my budget and since I loved the dress I was ok going over a little bit- but ended up $2 under