The Shocking Truth About 1950s Wedding Dress Prices You Need to Know

Wedding dress prices have always been a significant part of the wedding planning process. While today’s wedding dresses come with a hefty price tag, have you ever wondered how much a wedding dress cost in the 1950s? We did some digging, and what we found may shock you.

In the 1950s, a bride’s wedding dress was one of the most expensive items on the wedding budget. But why were wedding dresses so expensive back then? In this blog post, we’ll explore the surprising truth about 1950s wedding dress prices and how they’ve evolved over time.

From the most popular styles to the materials used, we’ll delve into the world of 1950s wedding dresses and uncover some fascinating facts along the way. Get ready to take a trip down memory lane and discover the hidden history of wedding dress prices.

Ready to learn more? Keep reading to find out how much a wedding dress cost in 1950, what made them so expensive, and how wedding dress prices have changed over time.

How much did a wedding cost in the 1950s?

The 1950s were a time of prosperity, and people were spending more money on their weddings than ever before. However, weddings were still primarily a family affair, and the guest list was usually limited to close family and friends.

So how much did a wedding cost in the 1950s? On average, a wedding in the 1950s cost around $3,400, which is equivalent to over $35,000 in today’s money. This was a significant amount of money back then and was often financed by the bride’s family.

Wedding Dress Prices

Wedding dresses were one of the most significant expenses for a wedding in the 1950s, and they could cost anywhere from $100 to $400, which is equivalent to around $1,000 to $4,000 today. The most popular styles were ball gowns, which were typically made from silk or satin and had long trains.

Food and Drink Costs

  • The average cost of catering for a wedding in the 1950s was around $1.50 per person, which is equivalent to around $15 today.
  • Most weddings in the 1950s were held in the morning, and the reception usually consisted of a brunch or lunch buffet.
  • Alcohol was not as prevalent at weddings in the 1950s as it is today, and many couples opted for a dry reception to save money.

Other Wedding Expenses

Other wedding expenses in the 1950s included photography, music, and transportation. Wedding photography was typically done in black and white and could cost up to $100, which is equivalent to around $1,000 today. Music was provided by a live band or a DJ, and transportation was usually a simple car rental or a family member’s car.

Overall, weddings in the 1950s were simpler than they are today, but they were still a significant expense for most families. The focus was on family and tradition rather than extravagance, and weddings were a time to come together and celebrate the couple’s love.

Why were wedding dresses so expensive back then?

Weddings in the 1950s were extravagant affairs, with many couples eager to showcase their love and commitment to each other with a grand celebration. The wedding dress was no exception and was considered to be the centerpiece of the ceremony. However, the cost of a wedding dress in the 1950s was exorbitant, leaving many brides-to-be feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. So, why were wedding dresses so expensive back then?

There were a few reasons for the high price tags of 1950s wedding dresses. Firstly, the materials used to make the dresses were often of high quality, such as silk, satin, and lace. Secondly, the dresses were often custom-made by skilled dressmakers, adding to the overall cost. Lastly, the wedding industry was not as competitive as it is today, meaning that there were fewer options for brides, and therefore less pressure on designers to lower their prices.

Materials used in 1950s wedding dresses

The materials used in 1950s wedding dresses were often of the highest quality, with silk, satin, and lace being popular choices. These materials were expensive and difficult to work with, which added to the cost of the dresses. Additionally, many dresses featured intricate beading and embroidery, which required a significant amount of time and skill to create, further driving up the price.

Custom-made dresses

In the 1950s, wedding dresses were often custom-made by skilled dressmakers. This added to the overall cost of the dress, as the bride-to-be would have to pay for the time and expertise of the dressmaker, as well as the cost of the materials. Additionally, custom-made dresses were often made to measure, ensuring a perfect fit, but also adding to the expense.

Lack of competition

The wedding industry was not as competitive in the 1950s as it is today, with fewer options available to brides. This meant that designers and dressmakers were not under as much pressure to lower their prices, and could charge more for their services. Additionally, weddings were seen as a status symbol, and couples were willing to spend more money to create a lavish and memorable event.

While wedding dresses may still be expensive today, there are now more options available to brides, including off-the-rack dresses and online retailers. However, the tradition of the wedding dress as the centerpiece of the ceremony remains, and many brides are still willing to spend a significant amount of money to find their perfect dress.

The average salary in the 1950s: How did it affect wedding dress prices?

Wedding dress prices have always been a topic of discussion, and many wonder why wedding dresses were so expensive back in the day. One of the primary factors that influenced the cost of wedding dresses in the 1950s was the average salary. During this time, the average American earned around $3,000 to $4,000 per year, which was a significant amount of money at the time. However, it is important to note that the cost of living was much lower than it is today, and the purchasing power of this income was relatively higher.

When it comes to wedding dress prices, the average salary had a significant impact. A wedding dress would typically cost a woman around $100 to $200, which may seem inexpensive by today’s standards but was a considerable expense at the time. A wedding dress was often the most expensive clothing item that a woman would purchase in her lifetime, and many women would save for months or even years to afford one.

Factors that influenced the cost of wedding dresses in the 1950s

Several factors influenced the cost of wedding dresses in the 1950s. Here are some of the key factors that determined the price of wedding dresses at that time:

  • Material and craftsmanship: The quality of the materials used to make the wedding dress, as well as the craftsmanship, were crucial factors that determined the price of the dress. More expensive dresses were often made from high-quality materials and crafted with precision.
  • Designer: Like today, designer wedding dresses were more expensive in the 1950s. A dress designed by a famous designer would cost significantly more than a dress made by a lesser-known designer or a local seamstress.
  • Style: The style of the wedding dress also played a significant role in determining the price. More elaborate and ornate dresses, with features such as lace, beading, and embroidery, were more expensive than simpler dresses.

The evolution of wedding dress prices over time

Wedding dress prices have changed significantly since the 1950s. Today, the average cost of a wedding dress in the United States is around $1,500, which is several times more expensive than it was in the 1950s. However, it is essential to note that the average salary has also increased dramatically over the past several decades. Today, the average American earns around $60,000 per year, which is significantly higher than the average salary in the 1950s.

While wedding dress prices have increased over time, so has the quality of the materials and craftsmanship that goes into making them. Wedding dresses today are often made from high-quality fabrics and adorned with intricate details, making them well worth the investment for many brides.

What was the most popular style of wedding dress in the 1950s?

The 1950s were an iconic era for fashion, and wedding dresses were no exception. With World War II over and a booming economy, the bridal industry experienced a surge in demand for luxurious wedding gowns. The most popular style of wedding dress during this time was the ballgown. Lace, tulle, and satin were the preferred materials, and the dresses featured full skirts, cinched waists, and sweetheart or bateau necklines.

The ballgown style was popularized by royal weddings, such as the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip in 1947, and it continued to be a sought-after style throughout the decade. Brides wanted to feel like princesses on their special day, and the ballgown allowed them to do just that.

Lace Wedding Dresses

  • Lace was a popular material for wedding dresses in the 1950s, and it continues to be a popular choice today.
  • Many lace wedding dresses featured delicate embroidery or beading, adding to the overall luxurious look.
  • The lace was often layered over satin or tulle to create a stunning effect.

Satin Wedding Dresses

  • Satin was another popular material for wedding dresses in the 1950s, prized for its luxurious look and feel.
  • Satin wedding dresses were often adorned with lace or other embellishments to add interest.
  • The fabric draped beautifully, creating an elegant silhouette.

Tulle Wedding Dresses

  • Tulle was a lightweight material that was perfect for creating the full, voluminous skirts that were popular in the 1950s.
  • Tulle wedding dresses often featured layers upon layers of tulle, creating a dreamy, ethereal look.
  • The material was also perfect for creating delicate details, such as floral appliques or ruffles.

The ballgown style of wedding dress dominated the 1950s, but there were certainly other styles available. Some brides opted for simpler, more understated dresses, while others chose more daring, fashion-forward styles. However, the ballgown remains the most iconic style of wedding dress from the 1950s and continues to be a beloved choice for brides today.

What were the materials commonly used in 1950s wedding dresses?

The 1950s was an era of elegance and glamour in the world of fashion, and wedding dresses were no exception. With the end of World War II and the subsequent economic boom, brides had more options than ever before when it came to choosing their wedding dress. The fabrics used in wedding dresses during this time were luxurious and designed to enhance the bride’s beauty on her special day.

Some of the most common materials used in 1950s wedding dresses were silk, satin, tulle, and lace. Silk was the most popular choice for wedding dresses due to its soft and smooth texture, which created a beautiful flow when the bride moved. Satin was also popular for its luxurious feel and subtle sheen, while tulle was used to create a delicate and ethereal effect.


  • Silk was the most commonly used material for wedding dresses in the 1950s
  • It has a soft, smooth texture that creates a beautiful flow when the bride moves
  • Silk can be quite expensive, but its luxurious feel makes it worth the investment


  • Satin was another popular choice for 1950s wedding dresses
  • It has a subtle sheen that gives the dress a luxurious look
  • Satin is durable and can withstand wear and tear


  • Lace was commonly used as an accent material on wedding dresses
  • It added a delicate and feminine touch to the dress
  • Lace can be expensive, but its intricate design and beautiful texture make it worth the cost

Other materials that were occasionally used in 1950s wedding dresses include organza, chiffon, and brocade. Overall, the materials used in 1950s wedding dresses were carefully selected to create a look of luxury and sophistication. The materials were of the highest quality and designed to last a lifetime, making them a cherished and sentimental part of many family heirlooms today.

How have wedding dress prices changed over the years?

Wedding dresses are an essential part of a bride’s special day, and it’s no secret that they can be pricey. However, the cost of wedding dresses has fluctuated over the years due to various factors.

One of the most significant factors that affect wedding dress prices is the economy. During times of economic downturn, people tend to spend less on weddings, including wedding dresses. Conversely, during times of economic prosperity, people tend to spend more on weddings, resulting in higher-priced dresses.

Changes in Manufacturing

  • Material costs: Wedding dress prices are heavily influenced by the cost of materials used to make them. In recent years, the cost of silk, lace, and other high-quality materials has increased significantly, resulting in higher-priced dresses.
  • Location: The location of where a wedding dress is manufactured can also affect the price. Dresses made in countries with lower manufacturing costs, such as China, may have lower prices than those made in countries with higher manufacturing costs, such as the United States.

Influence of Fashion Trends

  • Designer influence: Designer dresses tend to have a higher price tag due to the name recognition and prestige associated with the brand. This is particularly true for high-end designers such as Vera Wang and Oscar de la Renta.
  • Trend influence: Fashion trends also play a significant role in wedding dress prices. Dresses that are on-trend and popular at the moment may be more expensive than dresses that are not in fashion.

Technology Advances

Advances in technology have also impacted wedding dress prices. Computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printing have made it easier for designers to create intricate and unique designs, but these technologies come at a cost. Dresses that feature these advanced designs and manufacturing techniques can be significantly more expensive than traditional dresses.

Overall, wedding dress prices have fluctuated over the years due to a variety of factors, including the economy, changes in manufacturing, fashion trends, and advances in technology. However, one thing remains constant: a bride’s desire to feel beautiful on her special day.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much did a wedding dress cost in 1950?

A typical wedding dress in 1950 cost around $75, which is equivalent to about $800 today when adjusted for inflation.

Was $75 considered expensive for a wedding dress in 1950?

While $75 may not seem like a lot of money today, it was considered quite expensive for a wedding dress in 1950, as the average monthly salary was around $200 at the time.

Did most brides buy their wedding dresses or make them in 1950?

In 1950, it was more common for brides to make their own wedding dresses rather than buy them from a store. This was due to the high cost of ready-made dresses and the fact that many women had sewing skills.

Were wedding dresses in 1950 typically white?

Yes, white was the most popular color for wedding dresses in 1950, as it symbolized purity and innocence.

What were some common styles of wedding dresses in 1950?

Common styles of wedding dresses in 1950 included ballgowns with full skirts and fitted bodices, as well as A-line dresses with lace or beaded accents.

Did wedding dress styles change much from the 1940s to the 1950s?

While there were some changes in wedding dress styles from the 1940s to the 1950s, such as the introduction of ballgowns with fuller skirts, many of the styles remained relatively similar. However, the use of more luxurious materials like silk and lace became more common in the 1950s.

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