Pre-owned Wedding Dresses: An Eco-Chic Mountain Bride’s Buying Guide

Truvelle Wedding Gowns Bridal Eden 1

When I was in college I would not buy anything made in China.

This was difficult (to say the least.)

Everything, it seems, is made in China. Especially when it comes to clothes–wedding dresses included.

To deal with this conundrum as a college student, I created a loop hole for myself.

I only bought clothes from thrift stores. That way, if my jeans were made in China, a local business got my cash, not Chinese businesses.

The added bonus? I reduced my carbon footprint by reusing something already made and buying locally.

This same can be said for pre-owned wedding gowns. Buying a once-worn dress is not only thrifty, it's green. You are not using new resources. You are using what is already made. And often times, you are buying locally.

Well that's super easy when one lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Furthermore, how many used wedding gowns are hanging around in thrift stores anyway? If you're buying a wedding gown in the mountains, the selection can be limiting in most thrift stores.

Here are some resources for buying a wedding gown in small cities and in the mountains.

Truvelle Bridal Eden 2

Local Resources

Thrift stores, consignment shops and gently worn stores: Give yourself plenty of time for this. You may find something immediately, or you may search for months. Visit the same store again and again and let the proprietor know what you are looking for. Leave your contact information and ask that if a gown comes in, you be notified.

Classifieds:  Don't Just look for a wedding gown, ask for one! Lot's of brides, this one included, plan to sell their gown but just haven't gotten around to it. If you put up a small ad requesting a wedding gown, you may find the dress of your dreams! This goes for online classifieds like Craigslist as well as local print circulars.

If that doesn't work, go online of course! I don't mean just eBay. There are numerous other wedding dress specific resources!

Online resources

Once wed Oh how I absolutely HEART once wed. I mean for everything, DIY stuff, inspiration, vendor guides. But Once Wed originally started as a resource for Brides to buy and sell their gowns. For me personally, the gowns were still pricey (though certainly not as pricey as a new designer gown!) Still, if you are an Uber-budget bride (like I was) search by price, or do a keyword search for discount lines like Davids Bridal.

Couture Boutique offers a full service consignment marketplace for women. As one of the largest designer pre-owned luxury boutiques in the world, Couture offers top dollar for designer clothing, handbags, jewelry, and accessories.. Couture also sells items on their website and in the retail store.  I thought this would be a helpful resource to your visitors, as many may be interested in an up-to-date resource for purchasing a gently used bridal gown.

Pre-Owned Wedding Dresses The name says it all: pre-owned wedding gowns

Bravo Bride Bravo This is a hodgepodge of “new and pre-owned wedding items.” You may have to dig around.

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Some tips for buying online

Measurements: Talk in terms measurements rather than dress sizes. I saw a seller selling a Davids Bridal Gown in a “size 10, street size 8.” This means nothing! I wore a Davids Bridal gown at my wedding and I found the sizes to run large not small. At the very least ask for hips, waist and bust measurements.

Alterations Ask if the dress has been altered to fit the Bride? Then ask what the measurements are.

Big Sizes or Little SizesIt is easier to take in a dress than let it out. You may have to get your used dress cleaned and fitted. If you're going to get alterations anyway, go for a dress slightly bigger rather than smaller.

Bustles: Bonus Buy: Ask if the dress has been bustled and if the bustling is still intact. If the dress is once worn and has a train, it is likely bustled. If it was never worn, you are looking at paying a seamstress to bustle it Buying a bustled dress could easily save you $100 or more.

Dry Cleaning Has the dress been cleaned already? If not, how long since the wedding? Champagne and clear liquids may not show up immediately, but can stain a wedding gown over time if not properly cleaned. If the dress was worn recently but not cleaned and you will be taking it to a cleaners, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!! Talk to other bride or get recommendations from other vendors about who can handle wedding dresses properly. You do not want your dress ruined by a dry cleaner who doesn't typically handle wedding gowns.

Returns? Find out how the network, or auction site you are using handles complaints, and damaged goods. You may be able to return a damaged dress and get your money back if the buyer did not disclose the damage up front. Look these policies up before you buy.