Wedding dresses are some of the most unusual items to purchase: most women wear them only once, (even if it is a long day of wear) and then never wear them again—even while saving them, preserved, for the rest of their lives. For some women, it’s very important to save their wedding dress to show or give to a beloved daughter someday, but many women these days just don’t see the value in saving a material object for that long. Instead of focusing on saving the dress forever, they are finding a place to sell that gown while it is still…well, practically brand new! Finding a cheap wedding dress, whether you prefer one brand new or nearly-new, is easier now than ever. Try the following spots as you comparison shop and discover the perfect gown for you.
1. Consignment or Thrift Shops
The next step is to find bridal consignment shops or local thrift stores. Bridal consignment will have a much better selection, but thrift stores often have bargain-basement deals on the one or two bridal gowns they have in stock at a given time. These can be especially great if you are handy or crafty and want to do some custom changes to a dress; you aren’t going to have as much choice as with a major bridal store or when you look online, but finding an inexpensive dress at a consignment or thrift store can be your “canvas” for creating the world’s most unique bridal gown.
2. Sample Sales or Bridal Shop Clearance
If you want to get a good deal on a brand new dress, get on the email mailing lists of all the bridal boutiques in your area. When they announce a sale or mention that they are switching seasons and moving some dresses to their clearance racks, plan a trip to try some things on. Another option is to go to bridal boutiques and look for a cheaper “off the rack” dress rather than getting one that is more customized and tailored. Even just trying on various styles and comparing the price tags will start to give you an idea which designers, styles, and fabrics are going to cost you a little more, meaning that you can aim for the most economical beautiful dress you can find.
3. Poshmark or Tradesy
These two fashion resale sites have become popular for wedding dresses, too. They have a good reputation for making communication between buyers and sellers easy and since they are focused specifically on clothes, their interface makes it easy to see the details of the dress and get more information if you want it.
4. Pre-Owned Bridal Dress Websites
Online, there are a variety of sites that trade in nothing but bridal dresses. You can filter by size, designer, style, and color, and really understand what you want most. Before you set your sights on one of these dresses, read the return policy carefully; make sure that you have the option to return the dress if it doesn’t fit or look good, even if you have to pay shipping. In most cases, even if you have to buy and return two or three dresses before you find the right one, you’ll most likely end up saving a lot of money.
5. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay
While they may seem like a surprising place to find a wedding dress, many wedding dresses are available from around the world on eBay and from your local community on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace are great if you want the opportunity to try the dress on. For safety reasons, make sure you and the seller meet somewhere in public since they will most likely be a stranger, but you can definitely find a place where you can easily try the dress on without too much fuss, like a coffee shop. On eBay, you have the option to place a low bid and wait to see if anyone else will outbid you on the dress. Starting early in your wedding planning process can let you shop casually on eBay and maybe score a real deal.
Another way that women tend to get cheap bridal dresses is by talking to their networks: chat with your married friends about the specific local spots they found a great trunk sale or hole-in-the-wall bridal consignment store. Whether you find a great deal on a new dress or give more love to a preowned dress, remember: you can recoup more of the cost of the dress if you keep it in great condition, get it professionally cleaned, and sell it yourself after the wedding through one of the above options!