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Sell your dress before the wedding

Some brides are making deals for pre-ceremony resales, hoping to recoup part of the cost of designer gowns.

By Teresa Mears Jul 15, 2010 2:07PM

We all can see the economic benefit of buying a used wedding dress or selling your wedding dress after the big day.


But Jennifer Saranow Schultz of The New York Times' Bucks blog informs us of another frugal trend: selling the dress BEFORE the ceremony.


She explained the trend this way:

As more and more brides are trying to sell their used wedding dresses online, some brides-to-be who spent more than they had originally planned on their gowns have come up with the idea of so-called presales. They are betting that their unused gowns -- in styles still in the stores -- will stand out from the used competition and help them recoup some of their costs, assuaging their guilt about overspending.

Not only are brides pre-selling their gowns online, they are pre-selling bridesmaids' dresses and other wedding paraphernalia. Jennifer links to several reseller websites.

Josie Daga at explained why she sees the wedding dress pre-sale as a good idea:

A pre-sell wedding dress can be altered with "pre-sale in mind." This means that the seamstress leaves some fabric in the dress/hem for it to be resized later. She also can save any extra fabric, which might also be useful when the gown is altered again.
Pre-sell brides will also wear the dress with resale in mind. Just a little extra care everywhere so the gown will be in its best used condition.

Shopping for a wedding dress has become a much bigger production since I was of traditional wedding age. One of my sisters bought her dress at the Montgomery Ward outlet store; it looked great. Another friend bought a dress she could wear again, and instructed her sisters, who lived in another town, to choose bridesmaid dresses they could wear again, which she didn't even see until the day before the wedding. Can you see today's Bridezilla doing that?


Finding a wedding dress has become such a momentous event that it has spawned at least one reality show, which I caught a bit of while flying on JetBlue. One bride and her mother had traveled from Kentucky to New York to find a dress, and another bride brought a dozen female relatives and friends shopping with her. No prices were mentioned, but I think "expensive" would be accurate.

We do suspect that many savvy and frugal young couples are finding their own creative ways to cut costs and get married within their means. They just don't get their own reality shows.


One commenter at the Bucks blog, "PW" of Portland, Ore., found the idea of pre-selling a wedding dress "horrific":

How opportunistic, not to mention self-absorbed. I donated my wedding dress to a charity that makes dresses available for those who would not be able to afford a nice wedding dress otherwise. My dress was custom-made by a master seamstress from a design I put together .... I did not spend a ridiculous amount of money on a dress. I gave work to a local woman who is very good at what she does. Then my dress went on to help another bride.

Reader "Encore Bridal" of Los Angeles (who apparently runs a used wedding dress website at thinks selling the dress is a good idea but suggests buyers be cautious.

I don't think you can fault a fashion-savvy bride for realizing they don't want $5,000 sitting under their bed for 30 years. By selling their gown they not only recoup some of their costs, but they also give another bride the opportunity to purchase their dream gown at a more affordable price.

What concerns me is the buyer who purchases a dress before it has even been worn. There are so many unknown variables between purchase at the salon and the morning after the wedding -- damage to the gown, stains/marks that can't be removed, seller loses weight due to stress and it is altered smaller than expected, etc.

Susan Alexander Shapiro of BravoBride, another online reseller of wedding gear, offers five things to know before buying a used wedding gown.


If you're interested in a frugal wedding, you can find a number of good blogs on the topic. The Wedding Channel from The Knot is actually holding a wedding blog contest and picked these in the Best Budget Wedding Blog category:

We see nothing wrong with selling your wedding dress before or after the wedding, but we agree with Bucks blog commenter "Alison of NJ" on an alternative to buying a too-expensive dress with the hope of recouping part of your investment later.

The first time I got married in 1982 I probably paid $125 for my dress. I have no idea what happened to it. The second time I got married I picked up something on sale in Talbots and probably paid about $100 in 1992. A wedding dress does not have to cost thousands of dollars. No matter how much you spend, you will still be married, and will be happy, or unhappy, as the fates allow. Brides are spending insane amounts of money on weddings -- better to use that hard-earned money on a place to live or put it away for when you have a baby and would rather not hand it over to a stranger. We have tough times ahead. A wedding is one day out of your life and believe me, money can be very hard to come by in this economy.

What do you think? Would you sell your wedding dress before the wedding? What's your best advice to would-be brides who want to find a nice dress without breaking the bank?


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