Every woman wants the wedding of her dreams, but more importantly, every woman wants to wear the dress of their dreams on her big day. Sometimes that dress costs more money than three months rent on a NYC apartment. Sometimes that dress costs more than everything in your closet combined. Sometimes that dress costs more money than you ever planned on spending.

So, what the heck are you supposed to do when you fall in love with a dress that brings you to tears, but then makes you even more hysterical when you see the price tag?

Young bride smiles outdoors while wearing wedding dress

Source: summer wedding dresses

Well, you should pull yourself together and walk away. Spending thousands of dollars on a dress you’ll only wear for eight hours is insane. If I was wearing something that cost me two month’s paychecks, I’d be scared to walk in it, eat in it or even dance in it. I’d want it to sit pretty in a glass case. Which is why, when I get married, I want to wear a dress that costs me under one thousand bucks.

Before you laugh in my face or roll your eyes at what feels like an incredibly low number, finding a dress that doesn’t rob your wallet isn’t that hard to do. If you’re looking to put yourself on a $1,000 dollar or less budget, here are five ways to still find the dress of your dreams:

1. Don’t shop at a bridal boutique/store.

That’s mistake number one. The second you walk into a boutique, the price goes up. Vendors and stores charge more for weddings than any other kind of party because they know you’re more willing to drop the big bucks. They know you need a wedding dress, so they’ll put a hefty price tag on their items because they know you have to buy something.

Skip shopping at traditional wedding boutiques/stores. Places like H&M, Forever21 and even TJ Maxx have started carrying wedding dresses that are less expensive and still pretty awesome.

2. Buy it used.

Why do you have to wear a brand new dress? Nobody will ever know the difference. Plus, one’s trash is another’s treasure.

Look online for used wedding dresses. You may even find some from brides who never walked down the aisle in the dress because they called the whole thing off, and now they need to get rid of it. Wondering if that’s bad luck? You’ll forget about that when you’re counting all the dollars you saved buying a dress for a third of the price.

3. Search online.

Price check like crazy when you’re dress shopping. If you find a dress you love, don’t buy it. Go home and do a deep dive on Google, or pick up the phone and call other stores to see how much they’re selling the dress for. You can find the same dress for thousands of dollars cheaper, if you search hard enough.

4. Find a sample sale.

Those dresses on the racks have to go somewhere when the store is done with them. You can find a dress off the rack for as much as 50 percent off the original price. It’s a killer way to score the dress of your dreams without breaking the bank.

5. Find a rental option.

Do you have grand plans to wear your dress again after your wedding? I hate to break it to you, but you won’t. You’ll never put it on again. That’s just reality. So, what’s the point of keeping it? It’ll take up prime real estate in your closet.

Instead, consider the rental option, where you can borrow it and mail it back after. There are lots of websites that let you rent and return wedding dresses, so check them out before putting all your eggs in one basket.

Ready to commit to finding the dress of your dreams for a price that won’t haunt your dreams? The best way to get that job done is to start looking early. The more time you have, the less you’ll feel pressured to buy a dress that’s more than you can afford. Start the search long before it’s time to walk down the aisle, or even before you’re engaged. There’s nothing terribly wrong with that, and if it saves you thousands of dollars, who could tell you that you were wrong?

Also see: unusual wedding dresses