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

 

Comments
  • HeidiMarkgraf on April 5, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

    You’ve done a great job listing the pros & cons. Whether new or pre-owned, it’s the bride that makes the dress. Good luck with your decision! :)

  • Stephaniejevents on April 5, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

    I actually found mine on Craigslist of all places, and it still had the tags on it but I paid half of retail because the bride who bought it, chose another dress afterwards and couldn’t return the first one. I would say buying somewhere other than a store depends on your confidence and knowledge of the dress you want. I knew what type would be flattering for me. Trying on dresses in a store will help you narrow down what to look for online. Make sure you have a reliable seamstress since you are petite. I was in the same boat. My dress turned out inexpensively, and I got loads of compliments on it :)

  • John on April 5, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

    My wife asked me to pick out her wedding dress for her because I’m a pretty good shopper. She gave me the specs, and I bought a used dress -$60 on eBay – one size too big, and then we had it altered to fit. I can’t conceive of how our wedding (or the past four years of marriage) would have been better if the dress had been new.

  • Amanda Oleson on April 5, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

    You inspired me to ask our Facebook brides about their opinions (you can see the full discussion here: http://www.facebook.com/magnetstreetweddings).

    One of the gals had REALLY great luck buying a dress from http://www.oncewed.com, and got it inexpensively enough that she could work in personal, custom elements into it. Seems like a perfect deal for you, Rach!

  • Rachel on April 9, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

    Thanks for the great tips, Stephanie! I like your idea of going in-store to find out what types of dresses work best for my figure/body type. That would help me feel more confident with buying online.

  • Rachel on April 9, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

    Thanks for sharing, John! That’s wonderful that you helped pick out the dress–you must have good shopping instincts. I hadn’t considered eBay yet, but you’ve inspired me to add it to my online dress shopping list.

  • Matt Hamilton on April 9, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

    Why not just rent the dress? Rent the Runway now does weddings 
    http://dresssafari.com/dress/rent-the-runway-launches-new-weddings-boutique/

  • [...] of the Blogs – Our Favorite Posts! Posted on April 10, 2012 by Adrienne Truly Engaged: New vs. Pre-Owned Wedding Dress Buying a gently used wedding dress is certainly not ordinary but it’s becoming more and more [...]

  • Rachel on April 10, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

    That’s a unique concept — I like it. I do anticipate needing to do some alterations, though…so it might not work for the wedding dress. However, sounds like a great option for wedding guests, cocktail parties, etc.!

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