One and done: More brides are choosing practicality over sentiment by selling their dresses

Space, burden of care also factor into decision
One and done: More brides are choosing practicality over sentiment by selling their dresses
Posted at 8:00 AM, Jul 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-29 08:00:53-04

CINCINNATI -- Fewer wedding dresses are going to become vintage family traditions as a growing number of brides list their once- (over never-) used gowns on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and LetGo, among others.

More and more brides don't want to save dresses that might not ever be worn again by a family member. Today's daughters are passing on their mothers' gowns for designer and up-to-date styles.

And some are just trying to recoup costs from ever-expensive weddings.

"I've heard of people making things out of their wedding dresses or trading them in for a dress they can wear again," said Tiffany Scribner of Alexandria, who is selling on Facebook Marketplace. "I have some sentimental attachment but then again, it's just a dress. So not the end of the world."

It's doesn't seem that unusual. Millennials no longer want their parents' or grandparents' hand-me-downs, once considered family keepsakes. Wedding dresses are likely the next step in more modern living.

Sarah Williams of Colerain is selling her 2011 wedding dress that she "wore for 10 minutes."

Scribner said that in addition to her needing the money, the dress takes up too much space in her condo.

Dresses come in all sizes and styles, and new dresses are listed frequently. Challenges for the buyer and seller are finding a neutral location to try on the dress. Buyers may also have to contend with a dress that needs cleaning, which can cost another $100, and alterations.

Some dresses have never been worn, and it's not because the wedding has been canceled. That was the case for Ashley Kleier, who got married on March 17 in Covington.

"I got this one and then when I went to pick it up … I saw my dream dress in the window … and I just had to have my dream dress," she said.

She thought about using one for the ceremony and another for the reception, but stayed in her dream dress for the entire event.

Sarah Williams of Colerain wore her dress at her October 2011 wedding when she and her fiancé eloped to Tennessee. "I wore it for 10 minutes."

Williams has since divorced and remarried, and although she thought about saving it, she's just not that attached.

"I have pictures of me in it," she said, knowing that's all she needs.

Williams has the size 3 dress listed at $100 on Facebook Market. "It looks like an $800 dress."

Selling it, however, is a bit more complicated. Williams' dress has been on the market for nine months. She's had several potential buyers, but no follow-throughs.

Tiffany Scribner is selling her dress on Facebook Marketplace.

Several dress owners said they would likely lower the price, but intended to keep their ads posted.

Of course, some women lose their sentimentality when the marriage doesn't work out.

"If I were to stay married or if I had a daughter, I might reconsider," said Katie Payne of Erlanger.

Payne has had several callers checking out the listing for her size 6 David's Bridal dress listed at $70 on Facebook Marketplace. It's been listed for several months.

"One girl said she could offer me $30, but I said no. Now I wish I'd just given it to her now. She had her own budget issues."

There's also the occasional weird call. Payne said one potential buyer wanted it to wear for the Pride Parade. "They didn't even want it for a wedding." Ultimately, the offer was too low.

Secondhand dresses can be found at consignment stores, but that's a challenge in Greater Cincinnati. Boutiques buy a very small percentage of used dresses, and the gowns need to be clean, current-designer gowns.

Brides-to-be can also find dresses on larger national sites like Nearly Newlywed, Preowned Wedding Dresses or Tradesy that usually only advertise higher-end designer dresses. Sellers may pay a posting fee plus a commission for their services.

According the The Knot wedding magazine, it's risky but can save a bride a lot of cash. Secondhand dresses can save the buyer hundreds of dollars that can go to alterations or the wedding in general. Buyers should buy bigger sizes -- it's easier to take in a dress than let it out -- and keep in mind that wedding dress sizes run very small.

What's interesting is the lack of third- or fourth-hand dresses for sale.

"I knew right away I was going to sell it, but I did not try to look at secondhand," said Margaret Lawhorn of Anderson Township, who got married in 2015. "I should have done it for sure. Not much happens in a wedding to hurt the dress."