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5 Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Pre-Owned Wedding Dress

There are a couple of reasons why you might resort to buying a pre-owned wedding gown. For many brides, the major consideration is cost. Beautiful wedding dresses can set you back hundreds of dollars at the very least, and more likely thousands if you’re leaning toward a designer label. And some brides look to recoup that cost by selling their dress after the wedding. This can be to your advantage, as well as theirs. And if you’re looking for a dress you loved that’s no longer being manufactured, this is one way to find it when it’s no longer available in bridal boutiques or by order. However, there are several factors to take into consideration before you purchase, especially if you’re relatively unfamiliar with buying used garments.

  1. Seller. There are two ways to shop for used wedding gowns. The easiest in most cases is to shop on eBay, where you can search for dresses by size, style, designer, and so on. Of course, the major drawback is that you can’t try before you buy. Another option is to look for local consignment shops, but you could be set back by pretty slim pickings. All in all, online shopping is probably the better choice so long as you pay attention to details and make sure to buy from a seller that is well rated and has a solid return policy.
  2. Fit. One of the biggest issues with buying a pre-worn wedding dress is that it has likely been altered to fit the previous owner. This means that the size on the tag could be virtually useless for the purposes of determining whether or not a gown will fit you. For this reason, it’s important to shop not so much by size, but by measurements. This will include standards like bust, waist, and hips, as well as length and possibly other dimensions. If these specs aren’t listed, make sure to contact the seller to get the data you need to make an informed decision. You might also ask about seam allowance in case you need to let it out.
  3. Damage. Even though most pre-owned wedding gowns have only been worn once, there’s a chance they’ve seen some rough treatment. With trailing trains, you can bet on some staining or damage at the hemline, but this can be easily addressed if the skirt is long enough to take up a bit. The bigger issue might be staining in the underarm area or food stains, especially with delicate fabrics like silk, satin, chiffon (and variants) that are difficult to clean.
  4. Time frame. Traditionally, you need to order a new gown six months in advance for the purposes of creation, shipping, and alterations before your big day. This is not necessarily true when you purchase a pre-owned dress. Yes, you’ll have to allow for shipping time and alterations, but since the dress is already complete and not on back order, you can pretty much get it immediately.
  5. Convenience. This is a toss-up. Some brides don’t want the pressure of the dress shopping experience. Online shopping can be done from the relative comfort and convenience of home. On the other hand, shopping in a traditional bridal boutique means you’ll get the right size, you won’t have to deal with damage, and you can have your alterations done on-site instead of rolling the dice on a third party. The good news is that you can have the best of both worlds. Sites like Allure Bridals let you peruse their collections online and then check out trunk shows or retail locations in your area. But if what you really want is a fantastic dress at a fraction of the cost, and you’re willing to deal with defects, pre-owned may be the way to go.

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