The Business of Buying a Gown

It might be the best part of planning a wedding – or maybe the worst.

An overly happy salesgirl greets you with statements like: “Congrats! Are you soooo excited?!”

“Ummm… yeah.  I’m totally excited…” When your internal thoughts are more like; “I shouldn’t have eaten pasta last night. I don’t know what my dress budget should be. I don’t know what shape will be best for my body. What if I gain weight? What if I lose weight?  How do I know what my signature style is?”

It’s a big decision. I’m not going to lie… I was shaking as I stood in the bridal salon.

Most brides-to-be might start the search on the internet, then, armed with ideas, attempt to describe these ideas to the bridal shop sales girl/guy and hope that they translate.  At least, that’s what I did. A few minutes later, all of those “ideas” went out the window as a mocha-colored fluffy thing caught my eye and I gravitated over to the rack. “Just try it” said my friend and Maid of Honor. “Ok, I’ll try it.”

I ended up buying this one.  I think I tried 5 dresses total, and ended up with the second one I tried on during my first visit to a bridal shop.

I’m not recommending that all brides-to-be should take this approach. At all.  I had a very loosely-defined budget for the dress, and this one fit. I felt uneasy deciding on one of the first dresses that I tried on, but the family and friends who were there to support me, encouraged me.  It really was a stunning dress, so it will be fine, right?

Prior to this visit, I had begun looking at gowns on various websites, not really knowing where to start.  As I browsed designers, I found that I was turned off by these models in the gowns.  “This isn’t real” I thought.  Looking at models posing in a dress that didn’t belong to them wasn’t appealing to me.  That’s when I began searching for the key words ‘real brides.’  This is also what inspired the creation of Wedding Cat! I had found a few Sophia Tolli dresses that I liked, so that led me to the The Real Sophia Tolli Brides Facebook Page.  I enjoyed seeing actual brides (that are not all model sized) at their actual weddings (which aren’t all big-budget fantasy weddings), and probably spent too much time looking at pictures.  Actually, I still like looking at those pictures.

MY Marlene
MY Marlene

“Is there any way to get rid of some of the volume?” I asked the shop salesgirl.  “Yes, of course. We can remove a few layers of tulle” she responded, then proceeded to climb under my dress and pull back some layers.  It gave the dress more of an A-line look, as opposed to a full princessy-look.  I knew the alterations would add to the already large budget, but it was necessary.

As months passed, and fittings occurred, I lost some weight (woo hooo!) and changes were made to accommodate. The month leading up to the wedding, I started to have second-thoughts.  “Is this really my style?” I tried not to agonize, since it was way too late in the game. At each fitting, I started to feel more uncomfortable with the fullness, and how the dress fit my body.  I had opted not to add a removable sleeve to the dress as first discussed at the initial try-on.  I was afraid it would add more money to the growing cost of purchasing this dress.  A decision that I slightly regret now.  I say ‘slightly’ because I don’t know that it would have made a difference at all.  Advice: Spend it.  Ask for it.  Just do it.

In the end, the dress got so many compliments, and the photos look amazing. My discomfort was outweighed by the beauty of the gown. The dress looked and felt like the over $2,000.00 I spent for it.

Where do wedding gowns go to die?

I had stated from the beginning of the wedding dress hunt that I would splurge a little bit on the dress, and then sell it afterwards to recoup some of the money.  My dress is currently hanging in a closet at my in-law’s house, and to be honest, it’s out of sight and out of mind. I have to deal with it, but I’m not motivated to do so.  I really don’t want to pay for preservation and have it sit in a box.  I’d rather have someone else enjoy it at a reduced price on their special day. There’s no way I’m going to wear it again, and I cannot bear the thought of having some kind of ‘destroy the dress’ event.  I like to think of myself of a fashion girl.  And a fashion girl would never do that to a designer gown.

I’ve begun the hunt on the internet for ideas on reselling the dress.  I’m surprised to find out that it is not as easy to sell a used wedding gown as I would have thought. I’ve read various forums where former brides are trying to sell gowns, and not getting much of a response. I’m also not certain on what the price point should be for a worn dress. Half of what I paid?  A quick ebay search is showing me that this is not a reality. It will likely be much, much less.

I’ve found a number of websites dedicated to reselling wedding gowns:


Once Wed

Nearly Newlywed

Still White

Of course Ebay and Amazon are always options if you are a seller.

I’ve also began joining various local groups on Facebook dedicated to bridal resale.

Another option is a local consignment shop. This means putting the dress in a shop, and I’ll be paid the money fi/when it sells.


I’m not sure what will happen to ‘Marlene’, stay tuned.


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Lisa Written by:


  1. Vicki
    September 8, 2016

    I meant lovely!!!!!!!!! No question about it.

  2. Vicki
    September 8, 2016

    Lovely? What size? I’d take it off your hands…..

    • Lisa
      September 8, 2016

      Hey Vicki,
      I’ll email you!

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