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Cheap Indie Wedding Dresses: 7 Tips for Casual Brides

by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

Not every woman can afford a $20,000 beaded gown and not every woman has the time to wait for her simple wedding dress to be fitted. (I know all about that. I got my cute frock from David’s Bridal. It didn’t take too long to alter my gown, but it wasn’t ready yesterday.) So, if you are a cheap, practical, indie type of gal, here are some ideas for a casual wedding dress... Hey, this article is for those of us who live in the real world on a real-world budget.

cheap wedding dresses

Wild or traditional wedding dresses. photos Asos prshots.com

Don’t get me wrong… if Daddy offers to buy you a fabulous wedding gown, don’t say, “No.” However, if you’re on your third wedding and your mortgage is underwater, why should you pay a lot of moola for something you’re only going to wear once?  The dresses above are super cheap.

Main Photo at Top of Page – From left to right:

  • La Redoute white cotton dress with long petticoat skirt [to size US $24 / $84.49]
  • Asos floral print maxi dress [to size 14 / $103.50]
  • Asos Truly You swing dress T-shirt dress [to size 24 / $56.46]
  • Asos mint cami dress [to size 14 / $52.69]
  • Asos Elise Ryan caftan dress with embellished waist in cream [to size 12 / $97.86].

Some dresses in this article are a bit more money than the examples in the main photo, but none of the dresses are crazy expensive. If you are having a beach wedding or a backyard family-and-friends celebration, any of the dresses in the main photo will work quite well as cheap indie wedding gowns.

Think of these dresses as background pieces.  Each dress is just a canvas to which you can add a floral head wreath, an armful of tribal bangles, a pearl choker from your grandmother, a hippie peace-sign necklace, a blue pillbox hat, a colorful Hawaiian lei, a short wedding veil, a pair of white vintage shoes from the 50s, a big floppy hat, a straw cowboy hat, a pair of flat beach sandals… or whatever expresses your own personal style. (No, I don't mean you should wear all of these things at once... haha... I'm just giving you some ideas.)

Now think about all the other fun stuff you can spend your extra money on, like a bigger diamond, a honeymoon in Venice or Cabo, or next month’s rent. (It's not that I didn't love my wedding gown from David's... it's just that I had to starve myself for weeks to make sure I fit into it... Just something to consider.)

Here are some ideas to help you find a cute, casual wedding dress:

cheap indie wedding dresses

Beach wedding dress. photos Asos, Monsoon prshots.com

1. Beach Dress or Coverup: Try on some cute, but inexpensive, beach cover-ups as a lark. Just make sure to wear a slip if you choose a dress that is semi-transparent. Seeing the outline of your frame may not be too bad if you are a tight-bodied thirty-something, but if you are an older boomer with a bit of extra poundage, like me, you won’t want people to see your silhouette when the sun is setting across the ocean behind you.


2. Slip Dress: If you have a reasonably lean body, a simple slip dress may be the answer for you. Slip dresses with spaghetti straps are easy to fit and they're back in style. The mint dress in the main photo is a good example. It comes in white, but I think it looks less like a slip in mint green than in white. Or, you might be able to wear a real slip. I remember reading about a woman (in a big fashion magazine like Vogue) who wore her fancy nightgown to a cocktail party when she discovered she didn’t have anything to wear. Or, you could look for a hand-embellished vintage slip or nightgown from a consignment store. Get something with cool smocking or embroidery. No one will guess your secret.

3. Peasant Dress or Peasant Blouse and Skirt: Look for a white off-shoulder blouse at a Renaissance clothing site, a New Age store like Pyramid Collection, or a crafty site like etsy.com. Wear the top with a long flowing gypsy skirt. Then, put a single flower behind your ear and play "Dancing Days are Here Again" by Led Zep... and gently sway to the music until the sun comes up. Oh, throw in a little Eric Clapton, too.

4. Floral Dress: Most flowered dresses seem to have a wedding “feel” about them... but I don't mean that all floral dresses are the same... because each style is different. Some florals are soft and prarie chic in an earthy, hippie way. And, other flowered dresses have a Mad Men, Mod vibe. Then, there are florals that are wild and loud and digital, and they shout, "Look at me! I'm the queen of this freaking party!" So, I guess it all depends on the print and the cut. You need to try on different styles to find the dress that fits your mood.

cheap wedding dress gray purple blue

Bridesmaid dress as wedding gown. photo Asos prshots.com

5. Bridesmaid Dress: Some of the best “wedding” dresses for indie brides are actually bridesmaid dresses. Always check to see what’s on sale in the bridal department. Many bridesmaid dresses come in flattering pastels and neutrals like gray or taupe.

6. Swing Dress: If you are slightly chunky, or you just like the trapeze-dress look of the Mod 60s, buy a swing dress. (See the blue dress in the main photo. It's a plus-sized example.) These floaty silhouettes are great for last minute weddings because this type of dress seldom needs any alterations. Swing dresses are designed to be worn loose… and they are comfortable… which is always good when you are trying to figure out why you are standing in front of an altar for the fifth time.

your favorite color wedding dresses

Colorful wedding dresses. photos Asos prshots.com

7. Wedding Dress in Your Favorite Color: One of the hippest trends is wearing a wedding dress in a vibrant color you love. Then, if anyone just happens to take your picture, you will look radiant in the photo, because the color of the dress will make your skin glow long after your foundation has melted away. And, shopping for a colored dress gives you way more options than limiting your search to white, cream, and pastels only.

hippie wedding dresses

Boho wedding dresses. photos Asos prshots.com

8. Boho Wedding Dress: And, of course, I can’t leave out my favorite fashion trend, so I’ve added boho wedding dresses to the list. Most long, printed maxi dresses will give the right indie feel to your wedding celebration, and maxi dresses look great on plus size chickadees.


If you are paying for your own shindig, there are so many ways to cut costs, and one of the easiest ways is to wear an inexpensive dress. No, your dress won’t look as spectacular as a long gown made of beautiful Italian silk, but you’re only going to be wearing the dress for a few hours. And, as long as you keep on smiling, no one will actually notice that your beautiful gown is made of “cheap” polyester. (I put that word in quotes because it seems that nothing is cheap anymore.)

More Articles for Fashionably Chic Baby Boomer Women:

Hippie Hair Accessories for Weddings: Headbands, Flowers, Feathers & More

Homemade Wedding Favours: Budget-Friendly Ideas for Second Time Brides

Cruise Wedding Dresses & Casual Destination Gowns

Should a Bride Wear a Purple Wedding Dress?

Photo Credits: Asos.com and Prshots.com.

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Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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  1. Tina-Boomerina

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaccccccccccccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am having a terrible time with the new WordPress update. Captions aren't working properly. Spacing is all off. I need to update to a new site....

    Thanks for listening.

  2. kay kerns

    Another helpful article -- thanks!