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How To Sell A Wedding Dress

Or in this case, how not to

Finding my wedding dress was stressful and not fun. I was on a budget and fighting an emotional battle with my mom who believed that $200 was an appropriate amount to spend. Ever the pragmatist, she was convinced that I was dashing around to fancy New York wedding dress shops, a la Lady St. Petsois JuJu, and would hear none of my explanations that under $2,000 was considered so budget that many places didn’t carry anything in that price range. Even the Bridal Garden—a nonprofit that sells used wedding dresses and donates proceeds to charity—rolled their eyes and shooed me to the corner where “I guess there are a few over there,” when I gave them the under $200 line.

Let me say that $2,000 was completely out of my price range. Even $1,500 was out of my price range. If I didn’t want to go into credit card debt over a wedding dress, I could spend $1,000 altogether with alterations.

What I ended up with a dress that was “good enough.” I rationalized that it would be fine, because I wasn’t attached to it, and I could sell it afterwards. However, had I known more about the selling process, I would have bought a different dress.

The Problems:

1. It’s Better to Be Able to Try it On. 

I knew this from my search, but for some reason I didn’t apply this thought-process when I thought about selling my own dress. When searching, I would try stuff on in expensive boutiques, or even J.Crew, find out my size and what I liked in the store—and then look for the used version online. I tried on some beautiful, way-too-expensive dresses, but unfortunately I never found that version online. I would have bought directly online and experimented with other designers and dresses, but what looks good in a photo doesn’t matter. You need to be able to try stuff on. If I had thought about this when purchasing, I might have picked a more popular designer who is everywhere—even if it were more expensive. BHLDN always seems to sell. My dress is a good designer, but a relatively unknown one. I’ve gotten one response in the past year.

2. There are A LOT of people trying to sell dresses online. SO. MANY. I would guess over a hundred thousand. Even though it’s possibly the worst place to sell them. There’s a huge risk in throwing down $800+ for a dress, from an unknown buyer, for something you have no idea will fit. My used dress is only $300 online. Even then, I’m not shocked that I’ve had one response. I wouldn’t have risked $300 for something that I had no idea was going to fit. Even though I say on my ad that I accept returns, I don’t want to. I want to sell that thing.

The Solution:

There should be a Buffalo Exchange for Wedding Dresses. Despite my earlier complaints, my dress is beautiful and lovely. But it’s served its purpose. Now, I want cash. Not a dress. I’ve been taking my old clothes to Beacon’s Closet or Buffalo Exchange since I was a teenager, and I love it. Even if I’m just getting twenty or thirty dollars, or ten percent for what I originally paid for a pile of clothing, that’s real money. I don’t have to wait for someone to buy it. I walk out of there with that money, and it feels good. There should be this kind of store for wedding dresses. There is practically nothing in stores from $400–$800 that’s not David’s Bridal. But there are tons of lovely dresses online for that price. They need to get in a store—a big lovely Buffalo Exchange wedding store.

I have no idea what to do next with the dress. Every month or so I tweak my multiple online posts to make them sound more charming, or add a new photo with more details or flattering angles. Still no responses—though I do have seven “likes” on one site. I have a feeling the longer it sits in my closet, the less value it will have. Should I just donate it? Should I keep waiting? Do I spend twenty-five dollars for the website that will “promote” the dress? More importantly, is anyone out there in the market for a wedding dress?

let’s crack this one open and see what’s inside. Who else has tried (successfully or otherwise) to sell their wedding dress? What did you learn? What would you tell people who are thinking of selling dresses? What would you tell people thinking of buying them?

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