I (cough cough) several used wedding dresses. (cause I was a mess at knowing what I wanted) I bought them through stillwhite.com which is in Australia, but lots of dresses in the states and other places listed. The quality in general is really good there (lots of brand names if you know what you want) and the really important part: the sellers almost always answered my messages (preownedwedingdress sellers NEVER did)
Lessons I learned:
-Try on wedding dresses before you buy second hand. See what fits your body type, what embellishes and colors you love or want to avoid. Maybe you find a dress you love, but it can be purchased second hand, which is great, you tried it on, you know what it looks like and you know what size (generally) you are aiming for. But in general, trying on dresses just helps you pick out a good style for you and it may surprise you what you thought you wanted for yourself vs. what you really love. It’s best to do that before you buy a dress second hand you can not return.
-ALWAYS ask for measurements of the bride and don’t rely on the size charts of the manufacturers. I found that often (especially with higher end brands) the dress were ordered in a certain size but additionally roughly tailored to the brides measurments. This means the bride thinks she is buying a size 6 (because it was the closest to her measurements) but with an altered bustline (which may still have to be taken in, but not as radically if her measurments were not standard) Not in all cases though, so just save yourself some heartbreak and try to get the brides measurements.
-ALWAYS take super duper good measurements of your own body or get a seamstress to take them.
-ALWAYS ask specifially which alterations where done (lot’s of people forget to mention it, or even don’t remember it and it makes a huge difference)
-Ask for more pics if the only have stock pictures of a model in the dress. You’ll want to see pics of the person wearing the dress if possible, esp. if it is a big ticket item.
-Have realistic expectations. Seriously. These dresses will most likely have wear and tear. They may have small stains (even when the seller says “excellent condition” ) Because the dress has been worn and quite possibly more stains than mentioned and often little pulls and wear here and there, it will not be perfect. Know that you will not be getting a prisitine dress unless it is truly “unworn” (which would say in the listing) You have to accept you are taking a risk and go with the flow on that.Realize the dress may look different than you thought, or different on you then you expected. That is the reality of buying a dress you haen’t seen in person or tried on. And it’s usually not the sellers fault (if she had good pics and excellent descriptions) so don’t let our disappointment be the sellers problem. If you are very very picky or a perfectionist, buying second hand may not be for you.
Other than that
-be aware of scammers. Always pay with paypal or credit card and if you do this, do not agree to a pick-up arrangment, the seller must send you the package (never paypal and then hand delivery! Bad idea!)
-Insist on tracking (or you will go out of your mind waiting for the dress esp. if overseas)
-Be aware of additional costs like customs charges if the sellers is overseas and expensive shipping.
So have fun, but be aware there are lots of challenges. I loved shopping second hand for my dress (er dresses) but it was definitely not as easy as going to a bridal salon and ordering.