Truly Engaged: New vs. Pre-Owned Wedding Dress

Categories Dresses + Resources

I’m getting married! Now what? Truly Engaged is a new blog series written by Rachel, our *newly engaged* staff writer. As she wades her way through the wedding planning process, she’ll be sharing some of the emotions, inspiration, and insight she uncovers along the way.

A bride may have found her true love, but she is still out there in the world searching, dreaming, and waiting for “the one”….or, in other words: the perfect wedding dress.

Well, at least that is how we all see it in movies, right?

In truth, I’ve always secretly feared wedding dress shopping. To me, it feels a little bit like speed dating–if, of course, your date was a dress and was being carefully watched/judged by 3-5 close friends or family members.

Lately I’ve been looking into a modern, untraditional idea: buying a pre-owned wedding dress online.

There are a few reasons I’m intrigued by this idea:

  • I like the “history/story” behind vintage or used clothing
  • I love finding great deals on good designers (just snagged a neon floral Rachel Roy party dress for $25 at a consignment shop!)
  • I’m trying to be more eco-friendly with my clothing choices
  • I want to save money to use toward adding some cultural, DIY flair to my dress

Fortunately, there are a handful of websites out there that allow past and future brides to sell and buy pre-owned wedding dresses–perhaps because of the tough economy and the rising trend of vintage/antique fashion.

To help me narrow my shopping focus, I’ve created a list of dress priorities:

  • Flattering fit/size (I’m barely five feet tall, but I’m also curvy)
  • Simple silhouette that can be easily altered/adjusted (to add some DIY flair)
  • Good quality fabric, beadwork, etc.(can’t look “cheap” up close)

However, since this is such a big wedding decision, I’ve been asking myself: Should I buy a pre-owned wedding dress? Is it the right choice for me?

To help me decide, I crafted my own list of pros and cons to buying a pre-owned wedding dress:

Pre-Owned Wedding Dress: Pros

Good Condition: Although not “brand new”, pre-owned dresses are typically only worn a few times, and by only one bride (unlike sample dresses, which could have been worn by many different brides).

High Quality, Low Cost: There are a few designers whose style/quality I really like, but unfortunately, their prices are outside my budget. However, pre-owned designer dresses are often sold at 40, 50, even 75% off the original price.

Ability to Splurge on Other Details: By spending less money on the dress itself, I can transfer those savings toward other details that are important to me–such as incorporating aspects of an Indian saree into my gown (my fiance is Indian Jamaican).

Promoting “Green” While Wearing White: I’m trying to be more eco-conscious with my clothing, and buying a pre-owned dress would allow me to reduce my own waste by reusing someone else’s dress. Plus, after my wedding, I can recycle the dress further by donating it or re-purposing it into a summer or cocktail dress. The dress gets to enjoy a long life filled with lots of love (now that’s a fashion trend I can definitely follow!).

Pre-Owned Wedding Dress: Cons

Blind Shopping/Buying: It’s definitely a risk to invest in a dress that I haven’t even seen or tried on–not only because of the fit, but also because of the quality/condition. However, some sellers do accept returns (knowing that brides are more likely to buy if they have the option to return), and I could narrow my purchase choices to returnable dresses only.

Pre-altered: Chances are that the bride had it altered to fit her individual body, which makes it hard to know the true size/fit, despite the dress and street size listed. However, many brides post pictures of them wearing the gown, which helps me see if her body type is similar to mine.

No “Brand New” Sparkle: The simple truth is this: the dress isn’t new. It’s already been purchased and worn. For something so personal and intimate as a wedding dress, buying it “used” might not feel as special and unique. And like many brides, I do want to feel special and unique on my wedding day.

So, there they are: my pros and cons to buying a pre-owned wedding dress. I’m still making my final decision, but this list has really helped me see the bigger picture to make an informed decision. Maybe you can use this list as a starting point to create your own pro/con wedding dress list.

 

Are you a bride who bought or sold a pre-owned wedding dress? I’d love to hear your thoughts about the experience!

 

Rachel for MagnetStreet Weddings

 

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Truly Engaged: Avoiding Wedding Budget Blindness

Categories Budget + Resources

I’m getting married! Now what? Truly Engaged is a new blog series written by Rachel, our *newly engaged* staff writer. As she wades her way through the wedding planning process, she’ll be sharing some of the emotions, inspiration, and insight she uncovers along the way.

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Pretty soon after getting engaged (and actually, even before I was engaged, since I write for MagnetStreet Weddings), I found myself being slowly submerged in a beautiful sea of all things “wedding”: wedding blogs, glossy magazines, and TV shows like “Say Yes to the Dress” and “My Fair Wedding”.

Of course, I can’t forget the newest (and most addictive) species in the wedding sea: Pinterest! Don’t get me wrong: I love Pinterest and find it incredibly helpful for capturing inspiration and ideas. However, while pinning pretty pictures of custom cake toppers and sparkling Jimmy Choo wedding heels, I often forget to picture the actual price tag behind all these glittery items.

I’ve realized how easy it could be to go temporarily “budget blind” while planning a wedding. I knew that I needed to get a firm grasp on values–not only monetary values, but personal values, too. I knew I needed to clearly define what was most important to me and my fiance on my wedding day.

After sitting down with my fiance, we nailed down our top priorities. Now, just because an item is a top priority doesn’t mean we have to spend “X amount” of dollars on it. If I can snag a great deal on a top priority item, then wonderful! (I’m a bride who loves a bargain.) However, these items are important enough that we are willing to spend more money on—if need be.

That said, we do have money set aside for the top items, and any surplus will go toward the items farther down on the list. (After all, I’d hate to get distracted by a couture gown, only to realize I ran out of money to hire, or pay, my talented and reputable photographer—something that is much more valuable to me when I don’t have my “wedding budget blinders” on.)

 

 

 

Our Top Wedding Values : 

The Big Three (Must Have)

1. Venue: Booking a venue that matches our personalities, passions, and life as a couple. The overall vibe is very important to us, and that begins with the location and venue.

2. Officiant: Hiring an officiant that is open-minded, OK with interfaith weddings, and allows us to create a highly personalized ceremony. We come from different backgrounds and want to have a ceremony that is meaningful, unique, and honors our beliefs and backgrounds.

3. Photographer: Hiring a photographer that can produce beautiful, vibrant photography—especially candid shots that capture emotion. I don’t want to stress about whether the photos come out great or not–I want to enjoy my wedding day with the full confidence and comfort in my choice of photographer.

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by: Romantic Mason Jar Wedding Stationery

 

The Middle Three (Prefer to Have)

1. Attire: We don’t need our wedding apparel to be couture or trendy, but we do value quality clothing that captures our creativity and culture.

2. Food: As Indo-Caribbeans, Tim’s family loves spicy, flavorful dishes. We hope to find a caterer that specializes in these dishes.

3. Stationery: As a writer for MagnetStreet, I’ve come to really value high quality, personalized stationery that I can infuse with my own creativity and personality.

 

The Final Two (Good to Have)

1. Music: I love music, and come from a musical family. Since I already know some good musicians for the ceremony and/or reception, I put this farther down on my list. But, if I didn’t know any, then I would’ve put this item higher up.

2. Decor: My fiance and I want vibrant colors and a cozy, yet eclectic ambiance. But, we’re willing to accomplish this through DIY and browsing thrift stores and wedding consignment shops. For us, the general mood/tone is more important than the types of materials used to achieve it.

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I’d love to hear from my fellow brides and grooms out there: What are your top priorities? Or what methods have you used to help prioritize your wedding budget?

 

 

Rachel for MagnetStreet Weddings

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Truly Engaged: Spinning the Wedding Color Wheel

Categories Resources + Wedding Planning

I’m getting married! Now what? Truly Engaged is a new blog series written by Rachel, our *newly engaged* staff writer. As she wades her way through the wedding planning process, she’ll be sharing some of the emotions, inspiration, and insight she uncovers along the way.

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Hi everyone! Newly engaged Rachel here. (My love popped the question a little over a month ago. ::swoon::)

Since my fiance and I are planning to get married this fall–I’ve always dreamt of a fall wedding–we’ve had to really “hop on it” with the wedding planning. And while I’ve been writing about weddings for quite awhile now, I’m still adjusting to being on the “bride’s side” of the wedding fence!

Today I’m talking about one of the most fun–and influential–decisions of the wedding planning process: picking out your wedding colors. Although I have pledged not to become a “bridezilla” (and my mom has also sworn to not morph into a “momzilla”), I have to admit that I am a little picky when it comes to color. I believe that color is powerful, purposeful, and can deeply affect the mood and tone of your wedding. In other words: no pressure, right? :)

As I’ve begun to spin the wheel of wedding colors, I’ve been noticing how easy it could be to spin out of control. How many colors do I want? Do I want monochromatic or complementary colors? Which blue do I prefer: navy, cornflower, sapphire, or royal? Whew…such a dizzying array of decisions to make!

 

 

To help me narrow down my options and prioritize my palette, I have created a list of my Top Five Factors to Wedding Colors. It’s been really helpful so far–and I hope it helps you, too!

 

Factor 1: Mood/Emotion

Since color can affect our mood and emotions, I realized that it’s a good idea to factor in how different colors make us feel. And since the same color can evoke different emotions, depending on which color(s) it is paired with, I’ve been picking and pairing different colors together to see how the different combinations ” feel”.

For example, blue could be very classy/royal, or it could also be exotic/vibrant:

I’ve been asking myself a few questions, too:

1. How do I want to feel on my wedding day? And how do I want my guests to feel?

2. Which combinations of colors set the tone/mood that I want?

After thinking it over, I decided that I want to feel (and want my guests to feel): comfortable, beautiful, happy, and relaxed. To help learn what colors make me feel “confident and calm”, I turned to my closet. I browsed through shirts, jewelry, makeup, etc. to find colors that I enjoy wearing and feel both pretty and relaxed in. The color trend I found in my closet? Blue, turquoise, and purple.

 

Factor 2: Culture/Tradition

I know that certain colors are tied to different cultural groups, religions, and traditions. Like many couples, my fiance and I want to personalize our wedding with colors that pay homage to our cultural backgrounds. For example, my fiance is Indo-Caribbean.  This eclectic mix lends itself to a variety of colorful palettes, including vibrant jewel-tones that conjure images of  savory tropical fruits and stunning Indian saris.

Maybe using cultural colors is something that you want to do, too: You could be very specific, like kelly green for an Irish-themed wedding, or you could be more general, such as choosing vivid colors reminiscent of your Mexican heritage.

Photo: Heidi Merrick

 

Factor 3: Memories (As a Couple)

To help find colors to walk down the aisle, I’ve been taking a stroll down memory lane!  My fiance gave me a beautiful sapphire blue engagement ring. I absolutely love the ring, and will never forget that day. Therefore, I’d love to incorporate sapphire blue into my wedding color palette.

What are your favorite, happiest memories as a couple? Do you have a favorite vacation spot? How about your favorite or first date? Maybe you can find “happy hues” that remind you of these warm, fuzzy memories.

 

Factor 4: Season

Each season nature gives us a kaleidoscope of beautiful, organic colors. I’ve been thinking: Why not incorporate these seasonal shades into my wedding color scheme? You could do this, too, if you are getting married somewhere that has seasons. You don’t have to use every color of that season, but for me, I’m realizing that picking one or two colors might make it easier–and more affordable–to decorate my wedding day.

 

Factor 5: Venue

Last (but certainly not least) is the ceremony and reception venue(s). I realized that it’s a good idea to wait on a color palette until after we’ve booked a venue(s). You might find it helpful to scope out the colors of your venue, too–perhaps check out the colors already present in the decor and furniture. You don’t have to limit yourself to these colors, but if you’re like me, you might consider factoring in the venue colors when selecting your own palette. That way, all the colors will complement–not clash!

So there they are, my Top Five Factors to Wedding Colors. So what ARE my final wedding colors? Well, some things are best left a secret…at least for awhile. Stay tuned! :)

I’d love to hear from other brides and grooms: How did you choose your colors? Do you have any advice for selecting wedding colors?

 

Rachel for MagnetStreet Weddings

 

 

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