Weddings are expensive.
I remember finding my dream wedding dress and not being able to stomach the $3000 price tag. It may not seem like a lot of money to some people, but as a newly engaged and broke university grad, $3000 was almost the price of my last tuition bill.
With a wedding to pay for, honeymoon costs looming and the possibility of buying our first home – I just couldn’t do it. So I decided to get a little creative and find a good compromise. Because once you have your heart set on a dress and a style, it’s hard to get that idea out of your head.
So what did I do?
I checked eBay. I knew the exact style, size and my measurements. I had chosen a popular designer and a classic style, so there were already two online – but not in my size. I was able to set up a keyword alert on my eBay account. So if anyone posted that particular dress for sale, I would be notified. I did the same thing on classified websites like Craigslist and Kijiji. I was even open to going one size up, knowing I could alter the dress if I really needed to.
After about a month or so, a dress popped up online via eBay and I was able to score a gently used dress in my exact size and style. I was lucky to have started looking at the end of August, when wedding season tapers down and secondhand dresses start popping up online. My dress came from a bride in Florida and the whole thing cost me around $750 with taxes and shipping. Remember to factor in alterations into your final purchase price. I only had to pay $75 to shorten the length and to have it steamed up for the big day.
When purchasing a wedding dress online be sure to get measured by a tailor ahead of time so you know your exact size. One size too small and you’re stuck with a dud. Ask the seller if there are any stains, rips or imperfections that you need to know about. Sometimes the bottom hemline can get really dirty after a night of dancing, or from wine or water spills.
Get the sellers measurements and height to get an idea if the dress could work for you. Ask if the hemline can be let down if they are shorter than you. See if the dress has been dry-cleaned after the wedding – it’s a bonus if it is. If you have to do-it-yourself, budget up to $250 for a dry cleaning service. Yes, it’s ridiculously expensive – so better if it’s already been done for you.
I was really lucky to be able to get the dress I wanted at a fraction of the price. Don’t get freaked out about buying your wedding dress online, just make sure you read reviews on the seller and email lots of questions ahead of time. I saved a ton of money buying my wedding dress on eBay.
Once my wedding was over, I was able to sell my dress on Craigslist to a local bride-to-be for $450. In the end, my wedding dress cost me $300 and the time I had to invest into research. After my wedding, I wasn’t really into paying for dress preservation and figured someone else could enjoy the dress instead of it sitting in a box for 20 years. It did take me about three to four months to find the right buyer though and timing is everything. Most couples get engaged between Christmas and New Years, so February/March is a good time for bites.
If you’re not comfortable with eBay, stick with local sellers on Craigslist, Kijiji and on local bridal boards. This way, you can show up with your fiancée and try the dress on first to make sure it’s a fit. Please always bring a buddy, just to be on the safe side.
In the end, I saved $2000 and my wedding dress cost me a net $300. Not too shabby and totally worth it. I was able to use the savings to put towards my dream honeymoon later that year to Hawaii.
Pssst! For all my Toronto peeps out there. The Brides’ Project is a great place to find a secondhand dress and the portion of the proceeds from this non-profit is given to cancer charities. You can score a gently-used wedding dress here for under $500! So do check it out.
Did you find a creative way to save money on your wedding? Would you consider buying a secondhand wedding dress online?
My wedding photos above are by Liz Rubincam.