Budget Bride Tip for June 27: Wear a bridesmaid dress instead of a wedding gown

Bride and groom with pink piggy bank

We’re celebrating the month of June with a daily tip from savvy brides who saved big bucks on the wedding of their dreams.

Michele Leopold was less than enthused when she tried on traditional wedding gowns.

She felt like they didn’t match her personality and weren’t appropriate for an outdoor wedding in the Wisconsin Dells.

“Even though the dresses weren’t big ball gowns, they were still too much dress for me and didn’t seem to fit the vibe we were going for,” says Michele, 33, a senior production coordinator for a custom publishing company.

She also wasn’t excited about the hefty price tags. The average cost of a wedding gown was $1,166 in 2011, according to The Wedding Report, a wedding industry research company.

Still, Michele wanted to feel “bridal.” A friend suggested she try on bridesmaid dresses that could be ordered in ivory instead.

“I was surprised at the selection of bridesmaids dresses that looked like bridal gowns at a fraction of the cost,” Michele says.

The floor-length gown she chose came to only $311.35, with tax, which helped the couple spend just $7,500 on their big day — less than a third of the average cost of a wedding these days.

The majority of the 25 family members and friends at the Leopolds’ May 12 wedding at the White Rose Inns assumed Michele was in a wedding dress.

Those in the know were amazed — as was her groom, Kristof, 36, a theater lighting supervisor, who had expected to see her in a short, strapless style typical of bridesmaid dresses.

“Everyone thinks my dress was a bridal gown,” Michele says. “No one I’ve told believes that it was a bridesmaid dress.”

Here's Michele walking down the aisle with her father, Steven Laurion ...

This is Michele and Kristof after the ceremony ...

Here are the other "Budget Bride" tips we've published so far:

Budget Bride Tip for June 1: Throw a potluck dinner

Budget Bride Tip for June 2: Say 'yes' to an affordable dress

Budget Bride Tip for June 3: Bake your own wedding cake

Budget Bride Tip for June 4: Put dad to work

Budget Bride Tip for June 5: Turn your reception into a barbecue

Budget Bride Tip for June 6: Take the ceremony to the beach

Budget Bride Tip for June 7: Cupcakes make tasty wedding favors

Budget Bride Tip for June 8: Hold down the guest list

Budget Bride Tip for June 9: Feed your guests wedding cake from Costco

Budget Bride Tip for June 10: Decorate your reception with Craigslist

Budget Bride Tip for June 11: Buy dishes for the wedding dinner

Budget Bride Tip for June 12: Go with a lunch instead of a wedding dinner

Budget Bride Tip for June 13: Buy your wedding veil online

Budget Bride Tip for June 14: Rent a summer camp for your reception

Budget Bride Tip for June 15: Hire a friend to make your wedding gown

Budget Bride Tip for June 16: Tie the knot on a Sunday

Budget Bride Tip for June 17: Take a pass on gift bags

Budget Bride Tip for June 18: Ask guests to RSVP online

Budget Bride Tip for June 19: Hire a one-man band to provide the music

Budget Bride Tip for June 20: Build, stock and staff your open bar

Budget Bride Tip for June 21: Decorate with locally grown flowers

Budget Bride Tip for June 22: Skip the champagne toast

Budget Bride Tip for June 23: Let guests pour their own drinks

Budget Bride Tip for June 24: Create a homemade photo booth

Budget Bride Tip for June 25: Make the invitations a family project

Budget Bride Tip for June 26: Schedule your wedding on a Friday

Thanks to Michele and Kristof for sharing personal photos from their wedding album with us.