If you’re considering selling or donating your wedding dress after the big day or looking to purchase a pre-owned gown to cut down on overall nuptial costs, you’re not alone. There’s a vast marketplace for second-hand wedding ensembles, and brides everywhere are adopting this practice for many reasons.
With the expert advice of Erin Richardson, general manager of weddings at A07 Online Media, we break down the best tips and insights on how to best part ways, or purchase, a wedding dress. Read on below.
Meet the Expert
Erin Richardson is the General Manager of Weddings at A07 Online Media (NearlyNewlywed.com, PreownedWeddingDresses.com, and OnceWed.com).
Tips for Selling or Donating Your Wedding Dress
While it can sometimes be hard to part with the gown you've waited your whole life to wear, if you've made the decision to sell or donate your look, there are a few factors to keep in mind when embarking on this journey.
Make sure to include photos.
“The most important thing you can do to market your dress is to include quality photos,” advises Richardson. You can do this by including pictures from your wedding so brides can see how it photographs and, therefore, envision how it might look on their own big day. If you don’t feel comfortable showcasing your wedding photos, though, try and capture a few shots of the dress on your body so other brides can get an idea of how the fabric lays.
Selling a wedding dress is more than just adding photos online for potential buyers to see. It's an involved process and you should be willing to help the purchaser with any questions they may have. Remember, this is a big investment for buyers, both emotionally and mentally, so take the time to answer questions, provide additional information, and ease any concerns in a timely fashion.
Cover your bases.
Before embarking on this selling journey, it's advantageous to find a reputable resale website that specializes in wedding dresses or luxury garments. This will help guarantee that your sale is safe and protected against any fraud. What's more, when it comes to the transaction, only accept payment from trusted methods and document your conversations with the buyer for added protection in case of a dispute.
Finally, be honest and try to remember what it was like when you were making the decision about your dress. Be upfront about alterations, staining, and imperfections, and be kind when dealing with anxious brides—you were in their shoes not too long ago.
Tips for Buying a Used Wedding Dress
Many brides today are opting to buy pre-loved gowns to save money, and also as a way to embrace more sustainability practices in the bridal space. If you're considering going this route, keep reading for a few helpful tips before buying "the one."
Determine your style beforehand.
The first step in selecting any wedding dress, whether second-hand or not, is to try on various gowns. Head to your local boutique to narrow down styles, designers, and sizes, so you get a first-hand experience with what you can expect. Once you know what you’re looking for, begin to search for similar looks, and sign up for alerts to be notified as soon as someone puts up your dream dress.
Be smart and steadfast.
Act fast when you find what you’re looking for, but don’t be shy when it comes to asking questions. While coveted designers and styles tend to get snatched up quickly, be smart when it comes to shopping and negotiating one of these sought-after gowns. “Request even more photos of the dress's condition (zippers, alterations, stains), and consider asking the seller to allow for a return should the dress not fit or be as described," advises Richardson.
Protect your purchase.
Finally, when it comes time to make your purchase, only use trusted payment methods such as Paypal, which protects both the buyer and seller.
How Much Do Pre-Owned Wedding Dresses Cost?
Whether you’re buying or selling a pre-owned gown, you need to be realistic about the cost. “While 10% of designer dresses resale for above $2,500, 70% of used dresses are priced at $1,000 or below, which is something to consider when pricing your gown,” says Richardson. Do research to calculate what other similar used dresses are going for, and consider factors like age, wear, and designer when listing or shopping for a look.
If you’re hesitant about purchasing a pre-owned ensemble, know that used dresses don’t necessarily mean old. According to Richardson, of all dresses sold across A07 Online Media’s marketplaces, 25% are from the past year or two, and 37% of all the dresses sold are new. Oftentimes, the dresses are listed by brides who have decided to purchase a different gown, or by a boutique with a canceled order. Meaning, you have many chances to save hundreds of dollars on an ensemble that's never been worn.
Where to Sell or Buy a Used Wedding Dress
Now that you know the best tips to buy or sell your wedding dress, your next step is to begin the process. Consider utilizing multiple sites, especially if you need to sell or buy a gown quickly. It's also important to be mindful that certain platforms typically take a commission from the sale, which ranges depending on how hands-on you want to be during the process. A few reputable websites include:
- Nearly Newlywed: $25 listing fee and 40% commission for hassle-free selling
- Tradesy: 19.8% commission fee on sales over $50
- Still White: one-time $20 fee; $30 for a premium listing
- PreOwned Wedding Dresses: $25 listing fee
- Poshmark: 20% flat commission fee
- Wedding Bee: no fee
- Sell My Wedding Dress: $19.97 for a basic listing; $29.97 for a premium listing
- Once Wed: $19.95 listing fee
Another great option is utilizing Facebook Marketplace. “There’s always someone looking for a wedding gown,” says Bridals by Madison owner Madison Blackburn. “If you sell on Facebook, you won’t have to pay any consigning fees or transaction fees.”
Lastly, you can opt to buy or sell in person at a consignment shop. Reach out to a local shop in your area, but note that commission fees tend to be higher when going this route.
Where to Donate Your Wedding Dress
Donating your dress is another great way to pay it forward, so if you'd like to gift a bride with a gown, consider the following organizations.