Odds are, you'll probably wear your wedding dress just once, which means many brides think of it in one of two ways: 1. Go all out for this once-in-a-lifetime occasion or 2. Spend how much for this dress you'll wear for one night?!
If you fall into the latter group, buying a pre-owned wedding dress might be a smart option. To help you navigate the ins and outs of this non-traditional shopping experience, we asked Jacqueline Courtney, founder and CEO of Nearly Newlywed and Emily Newman, founder and editor of Once Wed, for their best advice on shopping pre-owned dresses.
1. Know your measurements and then buy up in size and length.
Because trying on a specific dress is more challenging when shopping pre-owned, make sure you know your key measurements. This includes: bust, waist, hip, and height with and without shoes. Getting the right fit can be tricker since the previous bride already tailored it to her body, so Courtney recommends buying up in size and then having a seamstress take in the gown at the right places for a custom fit.
2. Look for defects.
"The most common areas to look for wear and tear are at the hemline and near the top area of the bust line and underarm area," says Courtney. "Often brides can hem off any remaining dirt on the hemline, or the dirt is concealed under the dress and not visible when worn. But if you are looking at a gown that is close to your height or doesn't allow for additional hemming, make sure the questionable area isn't substantial. If a gown has any major rips, tears or staining outside of these areas, we would recommend rethinking purchasing it."
3. Protect yourself when buying.
Unlike the traditional dress shopping experience, buying a pre-owned dress can be a lot riskier. For example, not all sellers offer return policies and no one likes to be surprised when the actual product doesn't quite match up to the description. If the dress you want doesn't come from a site or seller that guarantees authenticity and lets you have a risk-free return, Newman recommends paying for the transaction through a service such as Escrow.com. "The site protects buyers by allowing them to examine the dress first and make sure what they purchased was what was listed before the money is distributed to the seller."
Would you ever buy a pre-owned wedding dress? Let us know your thoughts by tweeting us @BRIDES.