Planning to save your wedding dress in a box under the bed? Think your daughter might want to wear it someday? Think again. Just like you probably wouldn't want to wear YOUR mom's wedding dress (complete with poofy sleeves and elbow gloves), your daughter will probably be more interested in a modern style by the time she's ready to say "I do". So what can you do with your once-worn gown after the Big Day?
Sell it! By letting another bride buy your wedding dress, you'll earn extra money for a honeymoon, nursery, or shopping spree, and clear out lots of space in your closet. You'll also make another woman's wedding dreams come true by giving her access to the dress she wants at a price she can afford.
While selling your wedding dress was unheard of a decade ago, the trend is now taking off. In fact, since 2008, twice as many brides are selling their wedding dresses, and the taboo has officially been lifted. In 2011, more than 20 percent of brides either sold or shopped for a gently used wedding dress online. With so many other things to pay for on the Big Day, most brides cite savings and sustainability as their primary reasons for reselling the dress. But is the resale trend right for you?
Deciding whether to sell your dress can be tough. I know, because I went through it myself. I had always prided myself on being practical and environmentally conscious. But when I got engaged, I found myself obsessing over expensive designer dresses and lavish accessories. How could I justify spending so much money? Why would I contribute to our throwaway culture by buying something to wear just once? The only way I could be at peace with these choices was if I could find a way to recycle my gown. And while a part of me felt sad to part with such a beloved garment, that feeling was outweighed by all of the great benefits of selling it.
But when I went online to find a place to sell my dress, I didn't love the existing options. I didn't want to pay a listing fee or go through a complicated, time-consuming sales process. That's how I got the idea for RecycledBride.com, the simple and free website I started for buying and selling gently used wedding items. Today, Recycled Bride is the world's largest wedding marketplace. More than 2 million brides have shopped and sold on the site, and we've even been touted by actress Alicia Silverstone for our environmentally friendly twist on wedding tradition.
"I knew exactly what dress I wanted, and I knew it was way out of my price range. So I decided to splurge and then sell it. I spent over $6,000, but earned back more than half" says Laura Prado of Los Angeles, CA, who sold her dress on Recycled Bride.
Wedding dress resale is part of the growing trend of collaborative consumption. From renting out people's guest rooms for vacations on Airbnb, to sharing cars with Zipcar, more and more people are finding ways to extend the lifecycle of products and save money by splitting their expenses and belongings. So why not share the only garment that you are pretty much guaranteed to wear just once? Trust me, if you think someday you might re-design your dress into something else (a satiny embellished cocktail dress maybe?) you most likely won't. In fact, it will probably sit in your closet for years, and then end up at Goodwill. By re-selling your dress you can share not only your dress, but your story with a fellow bride, and make sure that it goes to someone who will appreciate the gorgeous gown as much as you did.
"I had found the dress of my dreams in a store. I said "Yes" to the dress, but my budget said "No!" to its $4,000 pricetag. After searching online I found a woman on Recycled Bride who had actually bought two dresses for her wedding, but went with the other one. So I bought the dress from her for half of what it cost in the store, had it tailored to fit me perfectly, and even sent her pictures from the big day," said Carrie Neese of Bakersfield, CA.
So is wedding dress resale right for you? It might be, if you're:
- On a tight budget, but have expensive taste
- Concerned about the environment (Over half of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from consumer products, i.e. wedding dresses.)
- Planning a honeymoon or baby shortly after you wed (Most brides use the extra cash for these things!)
- Wearing a designer gown that other brides want a discount on
Most wedding dresses can be sold for about 50 percent of their retail value, and it takes an average of 2.5 months to find a buyer. It's best to sell your dress right after the nuptials (okay, you can wait a few days) to ensure that the dress will still be in style for that season. Make sure to have it cleaned right after the wedding, since invisible stains from champagne and sweat can eventually turn yellow on delicate silks and satins. But don't spend extra money to "preserve" the gown -- if someone else is going to wear it, the preservation process isn't necessary at all. There are a number of websites where you can post your dress for sale (of course, I'm partial to RecycledBride.com!), and you should make sure to include lots of clear pictures of the gown from every angle, and as much information as possible. This will ensure lots of buyer inquiries and a quick and easy sale.
Still not 100 percent sold on selling your dress? You can still sell other items from your wedding such as decorations, accessories, and bridesmaids dresses. What would you sell from your wedding? And on the flip side, would you consider buying a gently used dress to wear yourself? Tell us why in the comments below!
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