In March 2016, newly engaged, I walked into David’s Bridal and recited to myself, “I will not spend more than $500 on a wedding dress. I will not spend more than $500 on a wedding dress.”
I spent $900 on my wedding dress. Before alterations. Whoops.
At first, I cried because I was so emotional over seeing myself in the dress of my dreams. Then I cried because of the price tag.
It’s no secret that there are plenty of ways to find discounts on wedding dresses. Brides can rent their dresses or shop at places with affordable lines, such as TJ Maxx.
But what about those of us who have already bought our dresses and had our weddings? The great deals we hear about now either didn’t exist at the time of our engagement, or we didn’t know about them.
Or what about brides who find their perfect dress, but at a price that makes them cringe?
There is an option for all of us.
Sell Your Wedding Dress
Any time I mention to someone that I want to sell my wedding dress, their jaw drops. Especially if they’ve been a bride before.
“Why?” they ask. “Don’t you want to pass it down to your daughter? Don’t you want to hang it on your wall?”
Nah. That’s just not my style.
I know myself. And I know that wedding dress will stay in my closet until I die. Why not do something with it? Why not let another bride enjoy it? Most importantly… Why not earn some of that money back?
If you’re reading this and nodding your head, selling your dress might be for you! Here are some tips to make your selling experience as easy and successful as possible.
1. Preserve It
Honestly, I didn’t understand what preserving a wedding dress entailed until that fateful March day. The salespeople at David’s Bridal explained the process to me, and I’m grateful they did. I don’t regret paying $100 to have my dress preserved.
When you have a dress preserved, professionals determine exactly what kind of cleaning needs to be done. For example, preservers are trained to spot nearly-invisible stains that will yellow over time, as well as in the techniques to remove them. Keep in mind that most standard dry cleaners are not trained in wedding dress preservation!
When I bought my dress, I registered with the preservation company David’s Bridal recommended that same day. The day after my wedding, my mom stuffed the dress into the big box David’s Bridal had given us, drove to UPS and mailed it to the address the retail chain gave us.
The shipping fees were already included in the price, so all my mom had to do was drop the dress off and wait for it to be sent back to us, shiny and clean.
If your dress is preserved, you can charge a little more for it, knowing that it’s practically new!
2. Keep Track of the Expenses
For those at the beginning stages of planning a wedding, I urge you to keep track of how much money you spend on your dress.
This may seem simple. “$1,000 price tag? Boom, my dress costs $1,000!”
Not so fast.
Take alterations into account. Remember how I said my dress cost $900? Well, it actually cost over $1,200 after alterations! (Don’t judge me, I beg you.)
You also might need special undergarments. Most people do. I didn’t need a special bra or corset, but I paid around $80 for an underskirt to make the dress more flattering and full.
Track these costs so you know how much you really paid for your dress. Then you’ll have a better idea of how much to charge. Especially if you’re selling those underskirts and corsets along with it!
3. Talk to Your Photographer
When you discuss the pictures you want on your wedding day, mention to the photographer that you specifically want shots of your dress. These should include close-ups of the dress’ details, portraits of you in your dress and pictures of your dress hanging.
Sharing these photos with people will give them a good idea of what the dress looks like, and they’ll probably be more inclined to buy it.
I know having your photographer take pictures for the sake of selling your dress later doesn’t sound very creative or exotic. But who says brides can’t be practical, too?
You should also ask your photographer ahead of time if you can use their photos on wedding dress websites. Legally, you need their permission to do so. In writing.
I recommend making this request prior to your wedding day. I’m just now getting around to selling my dress. I emailed my photographer for her permission, but she still hasn’t gotten back to me! Honestly, I’m not even sure I have her current email address.
I wish I had known to take care of this earlier and thus avoided the hassle.
4. Use Social Media First
Before listing your dress on a site for strangers to peruse, try creating a Facebook or Instagram post with lots of pictures to see if anyone you know is interested.
If you can find someone through social media, that will save you the trouble of dealing with a third-party website. Not to mention, most websites charge a listing fee or commission once your dress sells.
Both you and the buyer might feel more comfortable doing business with a friend or acquaintance than with someone on the Internet.
5. Find the Right Website
If no one bites after you post on social media, it’s time to look for other sources!
There are plenty of websites where you can sell your dress. I recommend PreOwned Wedding Dresses. I’ve sold bridesmaid dresses on this site and had a positive experience. It’s relatively easy to use, and they even provide a handy-dandy Wedding Dress Value Calculator so you can figure out how much to charge.
On PreOwned Wedding Dresses, brides selling David’s Bridal dresses that have been worn once (like mine!) usually list their dresses for around 40% to 60% of the original retail cost. Taking those numbers into account, I could make between $360 and $540 when I sell my dress!
6. Sell Quickly
Keep in mind, you should do as I say, not as I do! It’s been almost two years since I bought my dress.
However, it’s best to sell your dress relatively soon after your wedding. Try listing it within two years of the date you bought it.
Selling quickly makes it more likely that your dress’ style is still in fashion. When a style is current, more people are interested in buying it.
If you’ve already passed the two-year mark, don’t despair! It can’t hurt to list your dress anyway. And if you follow the other steps on this list, your chances of selling it will improve.
If it’s been way more than two years, your dress may have already gone out of style and is on its way back in. Vintage always works for wedding dresses!
Once I decided to sell my dress, the financial stress of that huge purchase faded into the background. I don’t regret buying it, because I wore it on the most amazing day of my life. And now someone else will get to wear it on their big day, too.
Laura Grace Tarpley is a nomad and freelance writer who runs the blog “Let’s Go Tarpley!,” where she shares tips about budget travel and moving abroad. Follow her on Twitter @lgtarpley.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
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