They say it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. But when it comes to wedding dresses, changing your mind can be costly.
What few brides realize until it’s too late is that the moment you say “yes” to a particular dress, a wedding consultant will whip out a purchase contract. Once signed, you are contractually obligated to buy that dress – and whatever accessories you picked to go with it, including alterations – even if you never take it out of the store.
That — and the fact that some newlyweds would rather have cash than a $5,000 gown yellowing in a closet — has spawned a whole industry focused on selling previously owned (and, sometimes, never used) wedding gowns and accessories. SideHusl.com found nine different sites able to sell wedding gowns, including four sites that do almost nothing else.
“In your mother’s day, you were supposed to keep your wedding dress forever. It was a sentimental thing,” says Josie Daga, founder of PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com. “But there’s been a mindset shift.”
Brides are selling their dresses — sometimes even before the wedding — for both money and personal satisfaction, she says.
In a December survey, PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com found two main reasons why consumers re-sell wedding gowns: They want another bride to share a dress that they loved and considered special, and because they need the money.
How much money can you expect to get for a pre-owned wedding dress? The answer depends on a variety of factors, including the dress size and style, as well as the year you originally bought it. Older dresses — particularly those with classic styles — can still sell. However, they may sell for a larger discount than, say, a popular designer gown that was purchased this year.
Practical issues also play a role. If you’re a perfect size 2, for instance, you are going to have a much smaller potential set of buyers than someone who wears a more common size like an 8 or 10. That’s not just because most people are bigger than you. That’s also because you can alter a dress down, but can’t make it much bigger.
Even in the best of circumstances, you probably will not get close to what you paid, however. The “dress value calculator” on PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com can estimate a price range, given the condition of your dress, whether it’s been worn, cleaned or altered.
That price will typically amount to 60% or less of the amount that you paid at the store. Notably, when the price estimate comes back, you’ll see a listing of similar dresses that sold on the site and the prices that they sold for. In some cases, the selling price amounts to just 25% to 35% of the original purchase price — or even less. That can be because the dress was damaged, missing beading, or simply was a style that wasn’t that popular, says Daga.
Or it can simply mean that the seller was anxious to sell quickly. Selling a wedding dress is usually not an overnight affair. It can take a year or more to find a buyer for a wedding gown. Still, since wedding gowns often retail for thousands of dollars, selling for even a fraction of the original purchase price is likely to be worth the time and effort.
Where should you market your dress? In addition toPreOwnedWeddingDresses.com, there are three other sites that do nothing but sell wedding dresses and accessories — StillWhite, OnceWed and Nearly Newlywed. All four appear to do a good job marketing and selling a dress and most do so for a modest — $20 to $25 listing fee. However, Nearly Newlywed is a little more hands-on and considerably more expensive.
Nearly Newlywed serves as a go-between, receiving the gown that’s for sale, inspecting it, and sending it on to the potential buyer. It then gives the buyer the opportunity to try the dress on before committing. If the buyer rejects the dress, but sends it back damaged, the site will charge the buyer for the dress anyway, as a way of protecting the seller. But, for that service, you pay a 40% commission, in addition to the listing fee.
Buyers who use this site maintain that such an important purchase can’t be made 100% online. And it may be that your dress will sell faster at Nearly Newlywed for this very reason. But 40% of the sales proceeds is a big price to pay for speed.
Sellers may want to consider listing on both the bridal gown retail sites, which are worthwhile because all of their visitors are looking for what you have to sell, as well as a free local advertising site, such as Craig’s List or Letgo to expand the list of local buyers able to see, touch and try on your gown.