How to Sell Your Gently Used Wedding Dress

6 Tips for Brides and Newlyweds

With wedding season in full swing, we’re receiving more and more emails from this summer’s brides about selling their gently used wedding dresses. So this Monday’s OneWed post is all about educating just-marrieds on everything they need to know to sell that gown! Here are my 6 top tips for recycling your wedding dress: <!–more–>

Jenny Lee Wedding Dress, 40% off on

Jenny Lee Wedding Dress, 40% off on

1. Have it cleaned, not preserved. Your dress should be dry cleaned by a shop that specializes in wedding dresses, as soon as possible after the wedding. Even if you don’t see any stains, clear liquids like sweat or white wine can yellow over time if they’re not removed promptly. Expect to pay between $75-$200 for dry cleaning. You do *not* need to have your dress preserved, which is a more expensive and labor intensive process that is designed to keep your dress stored for many years.

2. When it comes to pricing, how low can you go? Brides who are shopping for gently used wedding dresses are looking for serious bargains. The bigger the discount, the easier it will be for you to sell. Most once-worn dresses from recent seasons sell for 50% of their original retail value. If your dress is older or has any damage, take off at least 70%. If it was barely worn or is an extremely sought after style by a well-known designer, you may be able to sell it at only 30% off.

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  1. @LYNND – Thank you so much for taking the time to give us your constructive and thoughtful feedback!

    You are absolutely right about the dress measurements. Unfortunately, we can’t make measurements or height into required fields for sellers because so many of them have unworn or unaltered dresses and don’t know the exact measurements. But we do advise all seller’s to fill in every single bit of information they can, and that this will make it easier to sell their item quickly.

    As for the “Style” categories, many of them are open to interpretation. There’s “Vintage” and “Romantic” and several others that could mean different things to different brides. We’ll try to add some clarification for sellers when they’re creating their listing about what each style means. But I suspect that we’ll still get lots of different opinions anyway!

    Thank you again for sharing your thoughts, and please let us know if there are any other ways we can improve the site to serve you better!

  2. This is the first time at this site, glad I found it. This may sound a bit like a rant but stay with me. I’m really trying to be constructive here to make this an easier shopping and selling experience, so for what it is worth my 2¢:

    Compared to a competing site for pre-owned gowns, too many of the blanks on the dress specifications are left empty here. So my feedback in this comment is threefold: part for the site administrators, part for the sellers & part for the shoppers. I think a lot more would be selling and a lot faster if the fit info. on these dress listings were more complete.

    Bust, Waist, Height w/ Shoes, Hips — most of that info. is missing here. To the site administrators: PLEASE set up the seller form to require at least two of those values. Why? Because a dress could look fantastic but the street size vs. dress size doesn’t really mean anything anymore after the original dress is tailored.

    Example: Without the seller filling in the HEIGHT value, a dress, for all we shoppers know, could have been tailored to fit a short stature individual whereas the potential buyer could be 6 ft. tall. It’s just too risky to buy a dress that probably ran small even BEFORE it was altered to fit the original owner and RISK after making the purchase that because the dress has been previously altered it can’t be let out any further. A tailor told me that they can always fix a dress too big, but even on an unaltered dress whether or not can be let out or not depends on the designer. None of this is easy to figure out while shopping online, which gets back to why it isn’t enough to shop by the size on the tag. Buyer beware if you don’t have the original owner’s measurements (and most of the listings I’ve seen thus far don’t).

    For the sellers: Remember the predicament of most brides. Wedding planning is hectic enough without having to play email tag trying to get the person who has posted the dress here to fill in the gaps. If you want a happy buyer, the fewer surprises the better. If you’ve never altered your dress or it still has the tags, that’s one thing. But if you’re advertising the size of a dress that you had tailored before you wore it, that dress sizing info. could be next to useless. Please fill in your measurements to the best of your ability to recall them.

    For shoppers: Make a mistake and buy without the needed measurements and that dress could be a very expensive one after all the tailoring is complete IF it can be done at all. If you’re buying a pre-owned gown to save money, you won’t save much at all if you have to pay hundreds in alterations or you find out that the dress is way too short or anything else that might force you to buy a second dress. Don’t take risks you don’t have to, especially if the dress was altered once already. Insist that the seller give you her fit as best as she recalls those stats.

    Website admin: As for tagging the dress, a clarification is in order for what categories such as “traditional” means. In my view, traditional is not what most brides would consider a modern style. Modern dresses are mostly sleeveless and strapless, whereas if you look to some of the wedding guide books, especially those that help brides plan a traditional church or temple wedding, they indicate that a dress with no sleeves or straps whatsoever — a tube top or a sun dress type bodice — is actually a variant on the semi- or informal category. A truly formal or traditional dress will not have 100 percent bare shoulders. Example: Those of you who have watched some of the bridal shows on TV, like “Say Yes to the Dress” have probably seen the ones where the oldest person at the salon — usually the grandma — will make some comment that the dress their granddaughter is trying on isn’t formal enough because 99.9 percent of them don’t have sleeves. Grandma may be dated but technically she’s right. (Think of the late Princess Di, except today she wouldn’t have the big poof in the shoulders, but there would still be A sleeve in a royal wedding.)

    Okay, so I hear the protests. Most weddings these days, even celebrity weddings, not THIS formal. True. The dresses may have changed with the times but the word hasn’t: Traditional still means Traditional. The site admin needs to make a pop-up of some kind that defines the terms so that dresses that are modern style don’t end up tagged wrong. Incorrect seller tagging makes it hard to sell a dress because the choices that a bride really wants to see may not appear due to miscategorization. Site admin needs to fix this point of confusion.

    Personally: Speaking as a busy bride in search of a dress, I know that my business, if I don’t want to spend a ton of money tailoring the dress, should go to someone who has similar measurements, whereas the dresses where I don’t even know if it was taken up 10 inches to fit a 4’10 gal I’m going to skip. I’ve written this comment, in part, to warn other ladies that if you are average height and you buy a gown without knowing how tall the person wearing it was, you could end up with a dress that is way too short and there will be nothing any tailor can do to make it work. Sellers, please list your measurements.

    Depending on the style of dress you want to sell, a minimum amount of measurements need to be included:

    — On a trumpet or mermaid style you really NEED to put your HIP, BUST and HEIGHT (minimum info).

    — On an A-line or Ball Gown style the hip size isn’t quite as important but you shouldn’t list a dress without your HEIGHT, WAIST & BUST.

    — On an EMPIRE waist style the BUST is vital along with the HEIGHT.

    — On ANY DRESS if you are taller or shorter than the average 5’4 woman, fill in the HEIGHT info. before you list your dress. Taking up a hem on a super long dress is the most costly bit of alteration, whereas buyers are shopping here to save time & money. At minimum all the ladies selling dresses should mention height.

    No disrespect intended, just some FYIs from a busy shopper’s perspective. I know you all know what I mean because if you’ve been there, too.

    Thanks for reading.

    Also, some clarification is in order when labeling the dress “Traditional” vs. some other description.

  3. takes about 6 six to eight months for a new wedding dress to be made, and even longer if you’ve got a lot of customized requests. Add a month for alterations and to add the bustle. That means you need make ordering your dress one of the first things on your To Do list.

  4. Great advice! Re-using wedding dresses could really catch on. Wearing something just once — especially something so special — is a bit of a shame. Thanks for the post!
    -Deb for Ecover

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