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  • Writer's pictureWedding Day Diamonds

Top 5 Reasons to Consider a Secondhand Wedding Dress

For soon-to-be-brides, secondhand wedding dresses might just be the pandemic’s silver lining.

When COVID caused weddings to be cancelled, venues to close, eloping to be impossible, and micro weddings to become the luxe big-wedding alternative, the market became flooded with never-worn wedding gowns that were bought for events that didn’t quite come to fruition as planned. If you are a post-pandemic bride, this means there has never been a better time to shop for your wedding dress secondhand. Here’s the top 5 reasons we are all about secondhand gowns.

1. Budget

A brand-new designer wedding dress costs thousands of dollars. Take Vera Wang, for example. Her Luxe Collection dresses begin at $7000. That’s a huge monetary commitment for a gown you’ll only wear once. However, sites such as OnceWed, Stillwhite, PreOwnedWeddingDresses, and Nearly Newlywed, make it possible for brides to find designer gowns for $1000 or less. Some of these sites have never-worn or lightly worn gowns for under $100. Just think of what those extra thousands of dollars saved can do for you. A home improvement? Check. A more lavish honeymoon? Why not. In terms of price, there really is no comparison between new and previously loved gowns...

2. Sustainability

By some estimates, the textile industry accounts for 10 percent of all global climate emissions.

Producing the raw materials, processing those materials into fabrics, bleaching and treating those fibers to achieve our desired colors and textures—all this causes massive amounts of air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

Wedding dresses, which utilize an abundance of highly refined materials, are in no way sustainable, especially when you consider that all that labor and production is going into an item that will only be worn once.

Choosing a pre-loved dress and letting it shine a second time is the earth-friendly way to have a traditional wedding-day look.

3. Selection

The biggest bridal boutiques might carry slightly more than 100 different wedding dress styles at any given time. Online resellers often have 60-100k different dresses.

This is because they aren’t restricted to carrying dresses by only certain designers or carrying dresses that have only come out in the last few seasons. Online retailers and brick-and-mortar consignment shops can carry dresses by any fashion house, from any year, which means their selection can be exponentially large compared to bridal boutiques.

However, every used wedding dress will only come in one size—the size of the previous bride.

This means that if you go the resale route, you might need to do a little more searching before you find your dream dress in your size. It’s also important to ask questions—if the dress was never worn, it may not have been altered, but that depends on how far along the wedding planning was for the bride who owned the dress previously. If the dress was altered, the dimensions are likely not going to match exactly to the size on the tag. Make sure you ask for detailed measurements of the altered dress, rather than assuming that you and the prior bride were both the same shape of size eights.

4. Ease of Shopping Experience

Going to a bridal boutique to try on wedding dresses can be exciting; it can also be intimidating. Like any shopping experience, you might find fantastically helpful salespeople, or you may find less-sensitive types who make you feel pressured to stretch your budget or to try on styles that suit your body, but not your taste. When you shop for secondhand dresses, you can very often do so online, from the comfort of your own sofa.

If you like the in-person, try-on experience, you’ll often find consignment shops and vintage stores to have a more laid-back atmosphere than bridal boutiques. Sure, they may not pour you champagne when you enter, but you also won’t need an appointment to browse their stock, and if you don’t see anything you love, no one will judge your for leaving without trying on a single gown.

Many online resellers have return policies, so if the dress you think you’re going to love doesn’t quite live up to your expectations, you may well be able to return it with ease.

However, don’t leave this to chance. If you are buying your dress from a resale site, ask for detailed pictures (including pictures of the buttons, zippers, and seams!) and detailed measurements. Ask your seller to declare any damage up front and read the site’s return policy before you make your purchase.

5. Low-Pressure Alterations

If you buy a used wedding dress, it may well have been altered once already. If you buy a resale dress that wasn’t worn—one from a bride who’s scheduled wedding was cancelled by the pandemic, for example—it may or may not have been altered depending on how near to their wedding day the cancellation was. In either case, saving thousands of dollars on the dress can help make the alteration stage feel a little less daunting.

You may find you want to alter more than just the length of the skirt or the circumference of the waistline. Maybe you want to replace the ivory silk buttons with pale aquamarine buttons instead.

Altering a new designer gown can feel sacrilegious given what you paid for it, but there’s something about a gown being used once already that can make the alteration process feel less strict and starched.

A used gown might open customization opportunities that you wouldn’t consider on something brand new, and that means your wedding day look can feel completely one-of-a-kind and personal, which is something you really can’t get from off-the-rack brand-new dresses.


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