Your wedding dress is traditionally one of the most expensive elements of your wedding, but how much is too much? We did some research and it seems the limit doesn’t really exist – it’s totally up to you (or whoever is paying the dressmaker).
8 women share how much their special dress set them back
1 R30 000: ‘It was by an Italian designer’
‘I know I spent a lot of money on my dress, but I don’t have any regrets – it was so beautiful! My husband is British and because of the exchange rate, his family were happy to foot the bill for our South African wedding. I had been saving for our wedding for a couple of years, and because they were paying for pretty much everything I was free to blow most of my budget on the dress of my dreams.
‘I got married in my mid-30s, when I was financially stable’
It was designed by an Italian designer. We had a Skype consultation, I sent them my measurements, they made the dress and posted it to me. Luckily it fitted perfectly and didn’t need any tweaking. I got married in my mid-30s when I was financially stable. If I had my wedding even five years earlier I would have had a much, much cheaper dress.’ – Hannah, 35
2 R25 000: ‘My mother-in-law offered to pay for my dress’
‘I was so lucky because my mother-in-law offered to pay for my dress, with an extremely generous budget. My wedding is only later this year, but I wanted to sort out the most important part (my dress, duh) ASAP. My mother-in-law chose the designer (a Cape Town-based dressmaker) and so far we’ve had two fittings, both of which have involved bubbly. It’s simple but involves beautiful handmade lace, which is really expensive.’ – Lucy, 27
3 R15 000: ‘I had three different looks throughout the day’
‘I purchased my dress from Leandra Meyer in Cape Town, who was a dream to work with. I was looking for something unique that flattered my figure but also not too pricey, as I had a budget to consider. What I wanted was a dress with a detachable skirt that I could remove later in the evening so that I could dance easily. It had three layers, so essentially I had three different looks throughout the day. The cost included the hiring of the veil too. I really loved my wedding dress and tell all my friends to use the same dressmaker I did!’ – Jade, 27
4 R12 750: ‘It was kind of a steal’
‘I have always loved Jenny Packham’s wedding dresses so when they launched a “budget” range the year I was getting married, I saw it as fate. It was still a lot of money, but their dresses can go for R75 000 (I KNOW, RIGHT?!) so it was kind of a steal. Kind of .’ – Khiyara, 32
5 R6 000: ‘I wanted something lacy and elegant that made me feel like a princess’
‘I had my dress made by a local dressmaker. I found two images on Pinterest and she helped me combine them to make up my own dress. I wanted something lacy and elegant that made me feel like a princess. The dress cost just over R6 000: R2 000 for material and R4 000 for labour. That was, and probably always will be, the most expensive dress of my life, but it was 100% worth it!’ —Michelle, 23
6 R900: ‘I was six months pregnant at the time’
‘My wedding was 10 years ago when my now-husband and I were really, really broke. I was also six months pregnant at the time, so I couldn’t spend tons on dresses and decor when there were nappies to be bought.
‘You really don’t need to break the bank for a wedding’
I bought my dress from a shop for R900 (which I thought was expensive at the time, LOL). My bridesmaids bought their dresses from Pep (spoiler: they were ugly). We also asked guests to bring a dish each and got married on the beach (without permission, so it was free).
It was one of the best days of my life, which goes to show you really don’t need to break the bank for a wedding.’ –Rashieda, 36
7 R0 : ‘It was my wedding present’
‘My best friend used to be a dressmaker and I asked her to come out of her “retirement” especially to make mine. She agreed because it was simple, and because she loves me. I had to keep reminding her to send the invoice to my dad and she would say, “Oh, yes, I’ll do it later.” Then at the last fitting she just handed the dress to me and told me it was her wedding present. Best present ever.’ – Kirsty, 28
8 R0: ‘One psychic reading for one wedding dress’
‘We organised our wedding in a rush because we had just found out I was pregnant and I didn’t want to be showing in the photos. We also didn’t have a lot of money to spend so I called in as many favours as we could. My mom is a spiritual healer and she has clients all over the world. One works for a wedding magazine in London and they did a trade: one psychic reading for one wedding dress.
‘I looked amazing’
She sent some photos of the dresses they had in their sample room at the office and I chose a loose-fitting and flowing one (because I didn’t want to have to pay someone to alter it). She shipped it down just in time for the wedding, and I looked amazing.’ – Ayesha, 32
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