Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wedding Q&A Thursday - Pre-Owned Wedding Gowns and Secondhand Advice

Just when you thought you knew what to expect from Q&A Thursday, we shake things up! Call us edgy if you like; just don't call us late for the cutting of the cake...HA! [Oooookay...I couldn't resist the cheesy joke...back to our normally scheduled post] We are flipping the scenario this week and having another wedding professional answer one of our questions.

Q: I was wedding dress shopping with a September bride this week. As she was cringing at what she was discovering to be her expensive taste, I joked, "eh, what the heck, you can sell it after your wedding." We got into a discussion with the saleswoman helping us about whether or not that's a really reliable method to staying within your budget (original cost - resale profit = dress budget). We were all quickly distracted by a more modestly-priced dress, but the interaction left me thinking about how little I know about the actual details of wedding gown re-sale and how little help I would be in counseling a bride about the option. So my question is - What is the inside scoop on buying and selling pre-owned gowns?

Josie, from, was kind enough to answer my question...and her answer just may help you too!

A: Buying a pre-owned wedding dress, when done wisely, is a great way to save money in your wedding budget. After all, it can be a huge expense for something you will wear just once. A $3000 dress, worn for 5 hours, equates to $10 a minute! Seems crazy when you could buy the same $3000 gown, pre-owned, and save up to 75% off the retail price. Just think of how far that money would go towards other wedding expenses or honeymoon costs. has over 2,100 new, sample and used wedding gowns for sale. And you can browse the gowns by criteria such as designer, keyword, price, location, neckline or silhouette. You can even save a list of your favorite gowns in your own private dressing room and share that list with your mom and friends for their opinion.

These are some of my favorite wedding dresses currently available on

If you do decide to buy or sell a wedding gown online, here are some tips and suggestions to make the process go smoothly.

Tips for Buyers:
• Research the gown’s retail price online and in bridal boutiques ahead of time. Knowing a dress’ market value will help you in your negotiations.

• Whenever possible, try on the gown at a local store (many pre-owned gowns are still available at retail) so can see how it fits/flatters your figure

• Ask detailed questions: when and where the gown was purchased, the fabric, detailing, alterations, flaws, cleaning and storage. If the gown is over 2 years old, ask about yellowing of the lace or other fine fabric. Ask to see photographs of the gown from all angles, including details.

• If applicable, confirm whether or not the gown is authentic to the designer and not a copy. A certificate of authenticity, a photo of the label, or a copy of the original store receipt are good ways to confirm this.

Tips for Sellers:
• Provide as much detail as possible about the fabric, the detailing, the fit/alterations, etc; and offer a copy of your original receipt.

• Provide photographs from different angles, including full length shots of the dress - front and back. Include photos of any detailing like beading or trim, and how the train looks down and bustled. Photos taken in natural light are best.

• Be honest, accurate and complete about any flaws in the gown. If the gown is new and unworn, flaws are typically not an issue. But if the gown was a sample or used in a wedding, provide details about the amount of wear and any marks, pulls, tears or stains.

• Have a reasonable price expectation. We offer pricing suggestions here:

For Both:
• Protect yourself in any online transaction. Get the buyer’s/seller’s full name, address and phone number. Use which offers great protection for both the buyer and the seller.

Readers - What do you think about Josie's advice? Do you have anything to add based on your personal experience buying or selling a pre-owned dress?

Do you have any questions for us? We feature a new question each Thursday, send yours in to and we might feature your question next!

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