Not everyone's wedding dress shopping experience looks something like a scene from Say Yes to the Dress. Some brides are incredibly low-key—so low-key, in fact, that they found their wedding gowns at thrift stores and even garage sales. We get it: You may not be able to picture buying your big day dress secondhand, so we asked them to tell their stories (spoiler: it's not as 'crazy' as it seems!).
The Dress That Was a Dream Come True
"I bought my wedding dress for $165.00 at a consignment shop in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was a foreign missionary returning from years of work in the Peruvian Amazon jungle, and I did not have a lot of money. Besides that, I had gotten used to such a simplistic lifestyle in a hut in the rainforest that spending tons of money on a dress, however special, seemed utterly outrageous. Before we went shopping, a friend of mine who sewed and who was willing to remake any dress we found, suggested I first draw my dream wedding gown. She explained it was sometimes possible to find an elegant dress on consignment for less money that it would cost to make the dress from start to finish. So, with my amateurish, erasure-laden sketch clutched in hand, we went to the consignment store, and within a minute and a half, I instinctively walked right over to a glorious mound of tulle and poof and pearls, which when grabbed at the shoulders and unwrapped, cascaded into the very image of the dress I had sketched on my paper!" —Sherry
The Dress That Was Bought Before the Proposal
"I always thought of having an antique dress. My now-husband and I are really into the 1950's and so, it just made sense for me to look for a dress that could have come from another era. But when I found my dress, I wasn't really looking. In fact, I wasn't even engaged yet. I was out shopping at a thrift store for antiques with my brother and his children, and I spotted my dress. At $25, I couldn't pass it up! The dress was tea length and classic. I was not able to try it on, but at the price brought it with me, home to my boyfriend. I didn't want him to think I was pressuring him into anything. I said, worst case scenario, it could be a Halloween costume. He had me try it on and it was perfect. I don't remember how many years later he proposed and I was able to wear it, but I did! Oh, and we also bought vintage suits for all the groomsmen." —Michelle
The Dress That Was 15 Years Old
"I was 22 and in my senior year of college, plus I was already applying to grad schools. Basically, I was on a budget, and shopping for a wedding dress secondhand was the budget-conscious thing to do. Beyond that though, I simply didn't buy into the bride myth that everything needs to be expensive and pristine to be special. I like vintage looks and trendy bridal dresses look so samey, and some even look silly after a few years. Anyway, my mom was a college librarian and one of her coworkers had a daughter who was getting divorced and had plans to unload her 15-year-old wedding dress at a garage sale. The people selling the dress were really rather snobby about it, even though they were the ones grubbing for $150. They made a point of telling me it originally cost thousands of dollars and that the original groom was a wealthy doctor. Whatever. Here I was in a community college library bathroom trying on a musty dress delivered to me in a paper-handled Trader Joe's bag. Other than being a teeny bit long, it was a perfect fit. Thankfully, the style was simple and classic, so despite already being 15 years old, it didn't appear terribly dated. I did end up having the length altered and the seamstress also removed some gratuitous sleeve puff." —Carolyn