Two Australian Brides Start a Budget-friendly Second-hand Wedding Gown Trend

Liz Marie – StandingFree Photography 

Jacci D’Mellow, 30 years old, stumbled upon her dream wedding dress online, in her size, on Christmas Eve, before seeking out any Boxing Day sales. “I thought, ‘that’s a sign, I’m getting it’,” Jacci says.

When she lifted the white French lace gown from the box, she knew she had found the one. “It fit me really well. I did have to get the sleeves taken up and the length of it … but otherwise, I loved it.”

Jacci’s appreciation for the gown was important to Liz Marie, another bride who had worn it at her wedding just two months prior.
Liz, also 30, bought the dress brand new online from the Australian designer Grace Loves Lace, but after her wedding, she decided the dress had served its purpose. “I really just thought it would be a waste,” says Liz. “We got so many gorgeous photos, we even got video footage.” Liz also has her mother’s wedding dress in her closet, so having two would just take up space.

Liz listed the gown for sale on an Australian-run website (Stillwhite) for second-hand wedding dresses. She kept all the original packaging, even the box it was shipped in, and sent it off to Jacci. “I wanted the person that was buying it to have the same excitement of having a beautifully wrapped dress on their doorstep, not just something that was put in a postbag. I hope that she felt as lovely in it as I did and comfortable because that was the best thing about it for me.”

Jacci D’Mellow – Forest & Smoke Photography

Australian brides have been spending more and more money on wedding dresses over the past five years, IBISWorld reports that couples tying the knot now have greater financial stability as people are marrying later. Pinterest and Instagram are not helping the situation, as they’re influencing women to spend more on their dresses.

When you think about it, a wedding dress is really only worn for six to ten hours; when you imagine everything else you have in your wardrobe, if you think about the cost per wear, nothing ever compares. Unless of course, you’re famous.

Rather than going out of your way just to find a gown that’s worth more than your first car, you should be aiming to make yourself feel absolutely fabulous.

Australian brides have been starting the trend for used (or “pre-loved”) wedding dresses. About 8% of the wedding dresses worn in Australia were listed for sale last year on Stillwhite, the Australian-run website Liz and Jacci used. Australians bought 42% of the dresses sold on the site in March, compared with 28% in the US and 16% in the UK.

After seeing the results of the site, it’s obvious that modern brides are less sentimental, more budget-savvy and environmentally-conscious. They are also quite content with making large purchases online, something that was not very common 10 years ago when the site launched.

Currently, second-hand dresses are quite popular in the Facebook communities, with brides-to-be seeking out an ethical fashion choice or looking at other options after suffering “sticker shock” (seeing how much a wedding dress costs).

Unless you’re planning on putting labels on things, no one will ever know if you got your decor and dress at a discount.

Jacci D’Mellow – Forest & Smoke Photography

Like Liz, Jacci had no desire to keep the gown after her wedding. She has now sold it to a third mystery bride, also through Stillwhite.

“I don’t see the point in keeping it — all it would have done is gone in the back of the wardrobe and I would have never worn it again. I don’t think when you put it on for your day you think ‘oh, someone else wore this dress or this was special to someone else’. I didn’t really think like that — it was just special to me at the time.”

Advice on selling your dress:

  • Store your dress carefully until you sell it. The cleaner may be able to hermetically seal it for you, or you could use an heirloom box which will keep it dust free. Avoid plastic bags which may trap humidity.
  • Sell within two years of purchase.
  • Dry clean the dress (Tell the cleaner if you know of any specific stains or marks.)
  • Make any alterations reversible if possible.
  • When you are writing the description of your dress, provide as much information as possible. Give the original price, the designer, the size, the colour, the type of waistline, neckline and skirt, the style of fastening, and a detailed description of any decorative detail such as embroidery.
  • To really appeal to brides-to-be, try to include a short description of how the dress feels, and how it moves when you are walking or dancing in it.
  • To sell your wedding gown effectively online, you will need to use good quality photos. Try to take four or five good photos; shots of you in the dress will be more effective than pictures of the dress hanging up. Here are some photos you might want to include:
    • A full-length picture of the front
    • A picture with the veil and any included accessories
    • A full-length picture of the
    • A close-up picture of any decorative detail
    • A close-up picture of the bodice, clearly showing the straps or neckline
    • A close-up picture of the skirt

If your gown is still in perfect condition after the wedding, you could get around half of the original value (as a minimum) by selling it.

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