What You Need To Know About Pre-Owned Wedding Dresses

buying wedding dress

Your wedding dress is undeniably one of the most important parts of your wedding day. You’ve probably been dreaming about it and all of its little details since you were a little girl. Unfortunately with the perfect wedding gown often comes a not-so-perfect price tag. Your wedding dress is something that you will most likely only wear once, and it can be tough to justify spending 10% of your entire budget on just the gown. Renting wedding dresses is a popular trend that can help reduce the cost, but you’ll have to return your dream dress eventually. Buying a pre-owned wedding dress is a great way to get that A-list designer label without the A-list cost.

What Is A Pre-Owned Wedding Dress?

A pre-owned wedding dress is a bridal gown that has already been worn by another bride for her wedding day, but is in pristine condition so another bride can wear it for her wedding. These used wedding gowns are often listed at deep discounts, enabling brides to live out their fairytale dreams at a much more affordable cost. Secondhand bridal gowns are a great option for brides who are seeking their ultimate dream dress at a discount and who don’t mind that it’s been worn once before. You can also find pre-owned wedding dresses that have never been worn and still have the tags on them. These dresses are usually the result of brides who found another dress they loved more and were not able to return the gown to the store.

preowned wedding dresses

Photo Credit: Junebug Weddings

How Much Does A Pre-Owned Bridal Gown Cost?

Although sellers are able to set their own prices for their wedding dresses, pre-owned gowns in gently worn condition typically can be found for 50% off the retail price. However, highly sought-after designers such as Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta and Monique Lhuillier are typically only 20% to 40% off. Older gowns and those that are slightly damaged or stained can be found for as much as 90% off. Sellers are also able to include any accessories that they wore on their big days, and those may cost extra. Be sure to clarify with your seller what exactly you are getting.

buying used wedding dress

Photo Credit: Rins Bridal

What Do I Need To Know About Secondhand Wedding Dresses?

Before you purchase a secondhand wedding dress, there are a few questions that you should ask yourself and the seller to make sure that this is the right gown for you. Remember that many brides have their dresses altered to fit them well, and so the listed size and style may not actually fit you the way it did when you tried it on in the store. Clarify with the seller the exact size and measurements of the gown and ask her to send you specifics of the alterations she had done. Remember that wedding dress sizes are much different than regular clothing sizes, so knowing the measurements of the dress will help you determine whether or not this gown will fit you. It is a good idea to buy a dress that is larger than you expect to need so that you can tailor it to fit you.

You’ll also want to make sure that the dress is in the condition that she has promised. Ask her how she had it cleaned, whether she used a professional who specializes in wedding dresses or just her neighborhood dry cleaner. You may also want to ask her whether her wedding was indoors or outdoors so that you know whether to look for grass stains and dirt. It will also be helpful to know if the dress was kept in a smoke-free environment or if it was kept in the same house as pets – both of which can cause mysterious odors and stains.

save money on wedding dress

Photo Credit: Whovian Rules

You should also make sure that the dress you’re buying is legitimate. Ask your seller if she can show proof of purchase so you know it’s not a knockoff and ask her to send pictures and videos of the gown so you can see what you’re buying.

Finally, ask your seller what her return policy is. Although many women list their gowns as refundable with a restocking fee, most used wedding dresses are nonrefundable.

Where Can I Buy A Pre-Owned Wedding Dress?

It’s important to remember that although there are tons of websites out there that claim to sell secondhand wedding dresses, you want to choose one that will help protect you from scams and fraud. There are specific websites that are dedicated to buying and selling used bridal gowns, and they also often have policies that are designed to help protect both buyers and sellers. These are our favorite pre-owned wedding dress websites.


OnceWed started as a place for brides to list their wedding dresses for free, and has expanded into a beautiful wedding blog that features real weddings and offers tips and DIY ideas for brides-to-be. Browse through hundreds of pre-owned gowns in an easy to use interface that allows you to easily find dresses in your size and style.

buying secondhand wedding dress

Photo Credit: NY Bride

Preowned Wedding Dresses

Preowned Wedding Dresses offers exactly what their name says. They were the first website to pioneer the wedding dress resale space and pride themselves in connecting tens of thousands of brides worldwide.

Nearly Newlywed

Nearly Newlywed is a bridal boutique that lists designer gowns at a fraction of the price. Listings include pre-worn dresses, sample dresses and even gowns that were made exclusively for them.

buying wedding dress

Photo Credit: Editorialite

Is A Pre-Owned Wedding Dress Right For Me?

Buying a secondhand wedding dress is a great option that more and more brides are turning to. You are able to wear your dream gown at a much lower price than retail. It’s a great way to incorporate your something old and your something borrowed in one fell swoop. Remember to exercise caution when shopping for used bridal gowns. Always shop and make transactions through secure and trusted sites. Purchase a gown that you know is slightly too big so that you can have your tailor alter it to fit your body. It is wise to do a good amount of research before buying, so take the time to ask the seller detailed questions and request recent photos and videos. You can even ask to set up a video call with the seller so you can see what the dress looks like now versus what it did on her wedding day. If you’re still not 100% certain, make sure you choose a vendor that has a flexible return policy. Happy shopping!

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