Yes, it is widely known that any dress labeled a wedding dress is going to have an astronomical price!
That being said - who said you need to let labels control your life?!
As I see it there are 2 ways of getting a great dress for a fraction of the price:
1. Getting a formal, white dress that isn't labeled a 'wedding dress'.
Yeah...it can be as easy as that. I've seen numerous wedding dresses that aren't even in the same league as their non labeled as such white gowns - the gowns have better stitching, better beading, better quality material...and yet they're cheaper than their worse quality counterpart that carries that famous label of a formal wedding dress.
It's insanity, but that's the way the fashion industry works.
Whatever you do, don't get a wedding dress that doesn't fit you well - try it on, mull it over, sit down, squat, be as comfortable as you possibly can be in it. If comfort isn't your main worry, but you're looking for aesthetic first - the fit is still essential, because if the dress doesn't fit you well, if it's a size too small or a size too big - it will look off, and you don't want to compromise on that. In the more desperate cases you can get a bigger size and get it taken in, but it won't look as good as if you'd have bought your right size...that has to be accentuated here.
Go into a good quality store, check out their formal wear section and you just might find that wedding dress that'll be within your budget, but also make your heart flutter when you see it!
2. Buying the material yourself and having it sown for you.
Now this option may be the best option for you if you're the type of a person who has a vision, who knows what they like, who values quality materials and is smart enough to procure them for yourself and then find a well established tailor who will give you exactly what you're asking for - at a reasonable price.
Be specific when giving the tailor details of what you're after - have photos and sketches of what you want your dress to look like. Don't rely on words alone because that's a sure fire way of getting the exact opposite of what you're asking for. How come? What you say may materialize in the head of the tailor in another way - and you can't take that risk.
Be organized, detail-oriented and clear in your wishes and the tailor will do all they can to accommodate your wishes.
You are welcomed to be friendly with the tailor, but at the end of they day they're providing you with a service, so don't be afraid to speak up if there's something amiss in the process, if the stitching isn't the way you wanted it, if the dress seems too low cut, too tight, too loose... Speak up on time and you won't have problems later on in the sowing process!
If you're more of a spur of the moment, not that bothered type - then the 1st option is for you!
If you're more of a planner, detail oriented and organized, the 2nd option is made for you!