While a few years ago, second-hand wedding dresses weren’t so popular (vintage, yes; second-hand, not so much), there’s been a surge in popularity in recent times. Anecdotally, this has to do with a shift in how much people want to spend on their weddings and a lack of space in houses (no room to store them), but it's ultimately because we’re all being much more conscious about our consumption habits and just how much the fashion industry impacts the environment. It's the second-most polluting of all. The move to embracing greener ways of throwing a wedding means that brides are looking to alternative places to get their gowns—places that give back to charities and also places they’re able to get designer wedding dresses at a fraction of the price, which is a welcome concept considering this is something you typically only wear once.
What’s great is that there isn’t just one place that offers pre-loved wedding dresses. These days, there is a range of different boutiques and shops to find a perfectly fitting second-hand bridal gown, whatever your budget. If you’re currently planning your wedding or even want to donate your wedding dress, keep reading for a full guide on buying and selling second-hand wedding dresses.
Before that, though, there were three pieces of advice that nearly everyone I spoke to told me when I asked them about shopping for a second-hand dress.
1. Have an idea of what you're after.
2. Don't be closed off from different styles.
3. Try on as many as possible.
Keep scrolling for the best places to shop and sell second-hand wedding dresses.
How to Buy: There are now 14 stores of Bridal Reloved all over the UK that stock second-hand wedding dresses. Set up five years ago, it has a range of different designers and prices. No dress is older than five years, with the majority of them being a maximum of three years old. Bridal Reloved offers one-on-one appointments to ensure you find the right dress for your shape, and they can tailor it to your body.
Watters wedding dress (£700)
Price range: From£500 to £700, usually half the original price. But it has sold a £14,000 dress for £7000.
How to Sell: Bridal Reloved works as a dress agency. It will sell the dress for 50% of the original price. The store gets 25%, and the previous owner gets the rest.
How to Buy: While you can make an appointment at their pop-up at Bicester Village, you can also shop the Brides do Good website all year round. All they ask is you provide a little info in advance of the appointment (size, style, neckline, budget, location, time of year), and from this, they carefully prepare a shortlist. The bride then tries on a few dresses, sees how she feels in them, then they choose more based on her feedback.
Brides do Good
Sareh Nouri The Sawyer 2 (£3500)
Price range: From under £1000 to £6000
How to Sell: You can either donate or sell your wedding dress through the Brides Do Good website. Simply enter in the details of your dress, including a picture, and they will get in touch whether or not it's the right fit for them. Once they approve the dress, they will organise a collection. They also advise on how to ship outside the UK or EU. Up to two-thirds of proceeds from Brides Do Good fund international programmes supporting young girls, promoting a safe education and protecting against early marriage.
How to Buy: One of the best places to shop pre-owned designer clothing, Vestiaire Collective also has some wedding dresses that are worth shopping. While you don't get the kind of in-store experience as you might at the places listed above, it's a fantastic place to shop designer bargains, from Lanvin and Valentino to Jenny Packham and Elie Saab.
How to Sell: Create a login and upload your item with the best-quality pictures you can take. You can also use its consignment service, which means Vestiaire Collective will take care of everything. Earn up to 80% of the original price.
How to Buy: This online-only shop doesn't mean you can't try it on in person, but the site allows you to get in touch with sellers, so if you want to try before you buy, you can, or you can buy immediately too. Expect to find Jenny Packham, Grace Loves Lace, Rime Arodaky, Watters and Berta.
Grace Loves Lace dress (£720)
Price range: From under £100 to £6000
How to Sell: It's simple to use—choose from two options, one standard (£17) and one premium (£27)—that will allow you to sell your dress. The former option allows you four photos with zero commission; the latter allows you eight photos, a larger photo in the search, and a place on the homepage gallery. It's also worth noting that if you buy a dress that doesn't suit you, you can re-sell it.
How to Buy: You can shop many different bridal gowns on the specially dedicated Oxfam wedding section online. However, there are 12 bridal Oxfams in the UK. The store also tries to stick to a "true" bridal experience. For example, in the Chippenham boutique, there are three bridal specialists on hand to help brides find the right dress. You can choose from various styles, but there is a real range in prices.
Alfred Angelo dress (£475)
Price range: From under £100 to less than £1000
How to Sell: There is no selling here but rather a donation of the dress. However, the money will go straight to helping those in need.