Shopping Online for a Pre-Owned Wedding Dress? You Need These Seven Tips First

Once upon a time, several decades ago, I spent more for my wedding dress than I’d ever paid for a single article of clothing in my entire life. Including tax, it came to a whopping $200.34! Back then, it seemed extravagant for a dress I knew I would only wear for a few hours. Today, according to the Conde Nast Bridal Group, the average price for a wedding gown is $887.00, with designer wedding dresses reaching into several thousands of dollars.

No wonder the cost of getting married continues to spiral upwards. And no wonder many smart brides are opting to buy a pre-owned wedding dress. If you think about it for a minute, it really makes good sense. Why do women feel the need to own their wedding dress when it’s not only acceptable, but downright expected that men will only rent their wedding day garments?

Perhaps this made sense ‘back in the day’ when a wedding dress was passed down from mother to daughter, over and over again. But in today’s society, how often do you see a woman wearing her mother’s wedding dress? Even three decades ago, when we still chiseled on stone tablets, I didn’t want to wear my mother’s wedding dress. It just looked ‘old’ and I wanted something new to wear as I started my new role as a wife.

Today’s bride to be has many options not available to brides of yesteryear. Today’s bride can choose to rent her wedding gown, or buy one gently worn by a previous bride. And thanks to the internet, even brides in remote areas have access to a multitude of gorgeous pre-owned wedding gowns, or in some cases, new gowns that were never worn at all. Sadly, not all weddings actually take place.

I even heard a story of one bride who ended up with four wedding dresses because she couldn’t make up her mind and didn’t want any of them to get away from her before she had time enough to decide. She knew she could turn around and sell the ones she didn’t want! There are a number of online wedding sites that will post your wedding dress for sale at no charge, taking a small fee only if and when your dress sells.

Shopping for your wedding dress online, while very convenient, does have a few guidelines you need to remember.

1. Not all pre-owned wedding dresses are ‘used’. As I mentioned earlier, some dresses were bought, but for whatever reason, were never worn. You may find the biggest savings on those dresses that were actually worn for a few hours.

2. Unfortunately, not every pre-owned wedding dress advertisement online is 100% completely honest. Have an idea about the retail value of the dress you’re considering to determine if you’re getting a true bargain.

3. When shopping for a pre-owned wedding dress, be sure there are numerous pictures of the dress from several different angles. You’ll want to at least see the dress from the front and back and if there are close-ups of intricate lace patterns or beadwork, even better!

4. Be careful about size. Wedding dresses, for reasons I cannot fathom, tend to run small. If you’re in between sizes, the safer option is to get the larger size. Remember to ask the seller if the dress has already been altered, and how much, to better gauge whether the dress is suitable for your body type.

5. Be sure to ask the seller if the dress has been cleaned and about any stains that may be left on the dress. Brides tend to be a little careless at times, knowing they’ll never wear the dress again, and you don’t want to be surprised with dirt or grass stains around the hem…or anywhere else. Tip: Don’t forget to ask about underarm perspiration stains!

6. If alterations or cleaning will have to be done on your part, consider those costs when determining if the dress you’re considering will still be a great deal. Depending on how much altering needs to be done, it can become pricey and cleaning can run as much as $100.

7. Finally, be smart with online shopping. Make sure it’s a secured site before entering any credit card information. You can tell by looking for ‘https’ in the address bar, instead of the usual ‘http’. Another advantage of using your credit card is in the event you never receive your dress or it looks nothing like the pictures, you can dispute the charges. If you’re dealing with an individual seller, consider paying with PayPal; they have a dispute resolution center to help resolve any issues you may encounter.

Buying your pre-owned wedding dress online has many advantages and can save time and money, precious commodities when you’re busy planning a wedding. Keeping these guidelines in mind as you shop can help make purchasing your wedding dress online a pleasurable event.