July 27, 2010, 4:06 p.m. by SMARTBRIDE

Expert Budget Tip: What to Look for When Buying a Used Wedding Dress


Many brides-to-be ask us to give them advice about how they can find the wedding dress of their dreams for less.

If you want to pay less than retail cost for your wedding dress, but don’t want to sacrifice style on your wedding day, you'll benefit from our Top 5 Tips to Buying a Used Wedding Dress.

garden bride wearing pre-owned wedding dress

Keep reading to find out how you can find you dream (used) wedding dress, so you can have your cake and eat it too!

Tip #1: A Clean Dress is Best

  • Look for dresses that have already been cleaned, so that you know if there are any permanent stains and whether or not they will be visible on your wedding day. This way you won’t have to pay a potentially costly dry cleaning bill.

Tip#2: Shop Local

  • By shopping locally you can inspect the dress closely for stains and damage from insects or improper care. Be sure to treat going to an individual seller’s home the way you would if you were visiting a bridal boutique.

  • Bring a friend or your mom with you so you can get an honest opinion from someone who wants to make sure you feel fabulous on your wedding day.

Tip#3: Ask About Alterations

  • Keep in mind that alterations can completely change the fit of a gown and some alterations are reversible while others are not.

  • Be sure to get the name and number of the seamstress who did the initial alterations because she will know the dress inside and out. You may wish to call her with questions before you buy the dress.

Tip#4: Do Your Research

  • If you’re buying a designer or brand name gown, ask the seller to provide you with a style number so you can reference the manufacturer’s website.

  • Visit bridal boutiques to find out the average cost of the designer dresses you’re searching for online. Generally, if you’re buying a dress that is one year old or newer, has not been damaged, and has only been worn once, then you should pay no more than 50% of the original retail cost for the dress.

Tip#5: Be Ready to Negotiate

  • Are you willing to pay the seller’s original asking price if the dress is exactly as the seller described and it’s the perfect dress for you? Or do you have a lower price in mind based on your research and budget? Be prepared to negotiate, but remain fair with the seller so both of you can be happy with the sale.