Tips for Buying a Used Wedding Dress

March 8, 2024 | riley

Buying a used wedding dress can be a savvy way to save money without compromising on style for your big day. Not to mention it’s one of the easiest ways to incorporate sustainability into your celebration. However, it’s crucial to approach this process with some caution, armed with the right knowledge to ensure you’re making a wise and informed decision. The last thing you want to do is spend money

 on what you think is your dream wedding dress only to find that there are issues you weren’t aware of. That’s why we’re breaking down seven tips for buying a used wedding dress so you can walk away feeling confident in your choice.

Tips for Buying a Used Wedding Dress

Do Your Research

Before you start your used wedding dress shopping, take some time to research different styles, designers, and prices. This will give you a better idea of what you’re looking for and how much you should expect to pay. Of course, the prices are going to vary depending on what condition the dress is in and the designer. For example, if the dress has never been worn or altered before, you can expect to pay more. Additionally, it’s important to familiarize yourself with reputable websites and bridal shops that specialize in selling pre-owned dresses.

Some great ones to start looking at include:

Know Your Measurements

Unlike buying a new dress off the rack, chances are you won’t have the luxury of making brand-new alterations when purchasing a used wedding dress. Be sure to know your exact measurements and compare them to the seller’s sizing chart before purchasing. Keep in mind that wedding dress sizes can vary widely between designers, so don’t be surprised if you end up ordering a size larger or smaller than your usual size. Wedding dress sizing is drastically different than street clothes, so focus less on the number and more on the measurements and how it’s going to make you feel.

Inspect the Dress

When considering a used wedding dress, careful inspection is crucial.  An in-depth examination should check for any signs of wear and tear, such as stains, loose threads, or missing beads. These details might be overlooked in the excitement of finding a dress you love, but could potentially lead to costly repairs and disappointments.

If you’re buying online–which is becoming increasingly common–ask the seller for detailed pictures from different angles. It’s also worth asking for close-up photos of any imperfections. Remember, minor issues can often be fixed relatively easily, but significant damage might not be worth the cost of repair. Strike a balance between your love for the dress and its condition.

Ask Questions

Don’t hesitate to reach out to the seller with any questions or concerns you may have about the dress. Inquire about its history, including how many times it has been worn and whether any alterations have been made. You may also want to ask if the dress has been professionally cleaned and preserved.

Image by Daniela Ortiz

Check the Fit

Fit is another critical factor to consider when buying a used wedding dress. As we mentioned earlier, most wedding dresses have been custom-altered to fit the original bride. That’s why precise measurements from you and the seller are vital.

Remember, it’s usually easier and less costly to alter a dress that’s too big than one that’s too small. You can only let out a dress so much (and we don’t recommend shredding for the wedding just to fit into a dress). Also, think about the potential cost of alterations in your budget. It’s not uncommon to overlook this aspect, but it can significantly impact your overall wedding dress budget.

Recommended Reading: Your Guide to Body Positivity in Wedding Dress Shopping and Prep

Authenticity and Price

Ensuring the dress’s authenticity is especially important if you’re considering a designer piece. Don’t be shy about asking for proof of purchase or an authenticity certificate if available. Research is your friend here–knowing the original price of the dress will help you ensure that the used dress is priced significantly lower, considering its condition and age. Beware of deals that seem too good to be true, because they often are. 

Budget for Alterations

Even if you find a used wedding dress in excellent condition, chances are you’ll still need some alterations to achieve the perfect fit. Be sure to budget for these additional costs when calculating the total price of the dress. Depending on the extent of alterations needed, you may also want to factor in the cost of hiring a professional seamstress.

Recommended Reading: Free Wedding Budget Tool

Buying a used wedding dress can be a smart, budget-friendly choice. Although it requires a fair bit of research, time, and patience, the result can be a stunning dress that makes you feel beautiful without breaking the bank. If you’re searching for even more ways to save more money while planning your big day, check out these 25 simple ways to save more. Want a new wedding dress that won’t hurt the wallet instead? Here are some affordable options under $1,000.

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