Get a Gorgeous Gown on a Budget With These Tips from “Say Yes to the Dress”

I’m not gonna lie: I’ve binge-watched TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” on more than a few hungover occasions.

It features happy people wearing pretty dresses — what’s not to love?

So when I found out we were going to Kleinfeld Bridal as part of our Purple Friday surprise tour, I geeked out a little bit.

And when I found out that Debbie — the Debbie — would be our consultant, I fanned out even more.

3 Affordable Wedding Dress Shopping Tips

Debbie with bride, Samantha at Kleinfeld. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder
Debbie with bride, Samantha at Kleinfeld. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

Debbie’s not only a veteran bridal gown consultant who’s worked at Kleinfeld for 23 years — she’s been involved in the industry since she was a little girl.

“My first job was actually working at a dress factory with my dad,” she said. “It just became part of who I am.”

Combine that with the influence of her mother, who was “an amazing fashionista,” and it’s clear becoming a bridal consultant was a natural fit.

Her ability and insight doesn’t go unnoticed: During our Live broadcast, many viewers commented that she was their favorite consultant. (I totally agree!)

“It’s fun, it’s exciting, you meet people from all over,” she said about being on the TV show. “And I kind of love doing it.”

Well, we love YOU, Debbie — and are so excited to share your tips for finding a gorgeous and affordable wedding dress.  

1. Know Your Designers

Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder
Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

Some designers, of course, are more affordable than others.

During our broadcast, Debbie pulled gowns from Watters and Mikaella, two designers she recommended as beautiful and budget-friendly.

Other affordable brands include MZ2 by Mark Zunino, Beside Couture by GEMY and Henry Roth, according to the Kleinfeld website.

Want more designer and dress inspiration? Check these lists from Bridal Guide and Racked.

2. Choose Your Fabric Carefully  

Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder
Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

Silks can really drive up the price of your dress, Debbie explained — but, luckily, you don’t need ‘em.

“Today they make the most amazing synthetic fabrics,” she said. “I, after 20 years of being here, can’t tell the difference sometimes.”

Translation? You definitely won’t be able to.

For example, if you want a silk satin dress, she suggested synthetic satin instead, since it “will drastically reduce the price of the dress.”

3. Accessorize a Plain Dress

Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder
Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

Think bling is out of your budget? Not if you use it to embellish a simple dress.

Debbie recommended purchasing a plain dress that suits your figure (and your budget!), and then accessorizing to make it pop.

In our broadcast, she used a sparkly belt as an example: “It’s so simple, but it totally ups the look of the dress,” she said.

She also noted once you add earrings, flowers and your veil, it’ll look completely different.

“When we put it all together, it’s totally fab,” she said.

One last tip from Debbie: Attend one of Kleinfeld’s thrice-yearly sample sales, where you can find dresses starting at $899. Of course, you need to live in the New York City area to make this worth your while, but I wanted to include it just in case.

A huge thanks to Debbie and the entire Kleinfeld team for offering their time and advice — and, of course, to bride Samantha and her mom Susan for entering our Purple Friday giveaway and letting us be a part of their special day!

Your Turn: Do you have any advice for finding affordable wedding dresses?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.