You’ve heard the saying, “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue,” right? While most brides turn to an heirloom like a handkerchief or jewelry to qualify as something old, more and more brides are following through with a commitment to fashion sustainability and budget friendliness by turning to used wedding dresses. It’s not only eco-friendly and economical (you can often find a dress for 25%-60% off retail), but it also counts as your something old. It’s pretty much a win-win.
Whether you’re looking for a dress with vintage glam, or a more modern, trendy silhouette – there are literally hundreds of thousands of used wedding gowns out there for you to shop from. You just need to know what to look for, to trust the process, and to find the right source.
What to Know About Buying Used Wedding Dresses
Finding a wedding dress is such a personal process, and it can take time. The same goes for buying a second hand or “used” dress, too. Go into the process knowing that it may take some time and patience before you find “the one” is important. Rest assured knowing the perfect dress for you is out there – it just may take a little digging.
WGM Says: Before you start shopping, create a Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheet that allows you to keep track of dresses you like. Include the designer, style number or name, price, size, and link as well as any shipping costs.
Where to Look for Used Wedding Dresses
The beauty of purchasing a second hand wedding dress is that the world is your oyster. You can find a plethora of online shops and services (we’ll include our favorites below!) but most areas also may have local second-hand wedding shops so you can see, feel and try on the dress in person.
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Also, it may sound strange at first but hear us out – social media is your friend! Facebook Marketplace has a plethora of options being resold by the bride themselves, and they’ll often show photos of them on their wedding day to help you envision how it could work for you, and if you’d like the dress overall. Also – if you’ve seen a friend or acquaintance who recently got married and you just can’t stop thinking about their gown – don’t be shy! Why not ask them if they’d be open to selling it to you second hand? They’ll feel flattered, and just might appreciate being able to make a few bucks back (plus freeing up some storage space!)
Before you buy a used wedding dress, make sure you’re doing it safely with these tips:
- If you’re meeting in person to see the dress, do it in a public place. Meeting somebody at home? Make sure you bring a friend.
- Avoid giving your personal information, such as your full name, address, and even phone number.
- Reputable websites typically offer payment options that have buyer protection. However, if you’re purchasing a dress independently you won’t necessarily have that. If that’s the case make sure you inspect the dress thoroughly in person before purchasing it.
Now that we’ve covered those basics, here are some of our favorite online shops for used wedding dresses:
Serving new brides and brides-to-be for over 17 years, Pre Owned Wedding Dresses makes both buying and selling wedding dresses safe, and simple. Their site has an easy to navigate search feature that offers ample filters to let you pick the perfect criteria, and listing dresses for resale is super easy, too. Their website states, “If you loved it, chances are someone else will too!” but that also gives you the opportunity to re-resell your dress, should you choose to. On each listing look for information such as size and what alterations were done. You’ll also want to note the shipping cost and location.
Nearly Newlywed offers a white-glove concierge service to all brides-to-be, and offer a comforting risk-free 5 day return policy on all items including new and used wedding dresses, for just a $50 return fee. And, to be sure the gown you receive looks how it says it will, each gown has to pass their inspection team’s review prior to shipping it out.
WGM Says: I would give dresses with pictures of the seller actually wearing it more clout than listings with photos taken from other sites. It’s not to say that listings with photos of a model wearing the dress aren’t real, I just have to question why a bride wouldn’t include a real-life photo of the wedding dress. If it’s because the seller doesn’t want to share a personal wedding photo online for everybody to see, ask if she has one she can e-mail you. Better yet, see if the seller will FaceTime with you and show you the dress.
Still White has over 18,400 positive reviews and has sold over $48 million in wedding gowns. They enable you to chat with the seller directly through a secure messaging platform that keeps personal details private. Currently, there are over 52,000 dresses to browse, so the odds of finding the perfect gently-used wedding gown for you are certainly in your favor. Purchases are done via PayPal, so you’ll have Buyer Protection up to $20,000 if your dress arrives damaged or significantly different than the description provided by the seller.
One of the most popular sites for reselling, Poshmark can be a great jumping off point to begin your dress search. You can negotiate with the sellers, ask for more photos, and Poshmark also offers buyer protection.
What to Look For in a Used Wedding Dress
If you’ve fallen in love with a pre-owned gown, there are still a few things to check (and double check!) for prior to purchasing. First, you’ll want to know the alterations history and make sure that it can still be modified to fit your body during fittings. Check to see if extra fabric, beading, rhinestones, etc. will be provided. Also, inspect for any damage, rips, holes, stains, or other flaws (including smells – yuck!) you want to avoid.
As far as sizing goes, try to shop for dresses within your size range, or above. It’s relatively easy to make a dress smaller and to conform it to your body. However, making a dress larger, adding fabric or taking out seams can be a bit more complicated – so try to avoid that.
It’s always a good idea to take photos of the dress to your preferred seamstress or tailor as well. That way you can make sure they are confident working with it. You’ll also want to try and get an estimate of how much alterations will cost. While you may be saving on the price of the dress, having to do $700 worth of alterations may end up costing you more.
Regardless of where you choose to shop for your pre-owned or second hand wedding gown, rest assured that if you shop smart and take your time, you can definitely still end up with the dress of your dreams.