How much to spend on your wedding dress is a question that every bride will have to face and, unfortunately, there is no formulaic answer.
You certainly don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a wedding gown. Trunk shows, off-the-rack gowns, and select dress stores carry unsuspecting lower-priced wedding gowns.
Although there certainly are brides who wear two different gowns during the course of the evening, there are others who wear their mother’s gown, which is free in price and rich in sentimentality. I had a friend who desired to wear her mother’s wedding dress and so did her sister. That dress became an heirloom over the course of a generation.
There is also a growing number of used wedding dress or discount wedding dress websites, as well as a rising trend to have an un-traditional wedding gown, which wouldn’t have the mark-up of anything with the word bridal associated with it.
So how do you know whether God wants an expensive or inexpensive dress for you? He may let you choose, in which case you can look for good deals for the style you want and then make a wise decision based on your budget. He might, however, give you a very strong conviction one way or another. If so, you need to heed His directing.
I wrestle with the idea of lavishing oneself, even on one’s wedding day, when other people are literally unable to afford food and shelter. I saw through a different lens, however, when it was my wedding versus when I was peering in from the outside of someone else’s wedding. I had to evaluate whether that lens was selfish or not. It will be a different lens for you too because God knows that each of our hearts holds different intentions.
One of the best ways to know how much money to spend on your own attire is to prayerfully evaluate your heart. You should always pray before you spend any money, regardless of what you are purchasing, but it is important to understand that how much you spend doesn’t necessarily correlate to making a right or wrong purchase. The motive for the purchase, however, does.
One of the questions to ask yourself and to pray to God is if you feel strongly about not spending a lot of money on a wedding dress, are you closing the door on a lavish blessing that God desires for you to have. Conversely, if you feel drawn towards a very expensive dress, are you acting out of selfishness and pride?
Are you buying an expensive dress for your own sake or for God’s sake? It sounds silly to think, “Oh yes, I am definitely wanting a great wedding gown so that God will be glorified by how beautiful I look,” but there can be some truth to that.
I came across this stunning passage in Isaiah 61:10-11:
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.”
Of course this context isn’t meant to tell a bride how lavish her dress can be, but the fact that Isaiah draws a comparison between how lavishly God blesses us with salvation and righteousness and how lavishly a bride adorns herself with jewels makes me believe that there is a place for dressing up for the sake of the Lord.
Just like the Levite priests were to sanctify themselves before coming to the Lord, there is something utterly beautiful about a bride who adorns herself with all things precious, both internally and externally, because she knows that on her wedding day, she is presenting herself before her groom and before her God to make a covenant vow.
Give the decision to God. Pray for His guidance and ask for Godly counsel from people you trust. God is the source of all things good and beautiful, so His direction will bless you.
If you are like me and struggle to identify and accept a lavish gift from God because of caution against your own greedy heart, pray this prayer:
Lord, I want to honor You with my whole heart and with every aspect of my wedding, but I’m having some trouble hearing what would please You. I confess pride that makes me want to look stunning for my sake and that makes me feel entitled to my dream wedding gown, even if it’s too expensive.
I trust that because I delight in You, You will give me the desires of my heart, but I also confess that often the desires of my heart are displeasing to you. I don’t want my selfishness to win; I do, however, desperately want to be able to receive good and lavish gifts from You without guilt. Please help me to discern the difference.
Whatever I wear at my wedding, I want to adorn myself for Your glory as lavishly as Your righteousness and salvation have been poured out on me. I love You, Lord, and I want to please You.
Thank You that You are a God who speaks. Help me to listen patiently and faithfully, and settle Your Word in my heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Photo © Todd Kuhns, Studio 12 Photography
Article was originally published on April 1, 2011.
1Data from Brides.com’s American Wedding Study 2009