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While it would be nice to drop several thousand dollars on a designer wedding gown, in this tough economy it's an impossibility for most brides. Preowned wedding dresses are a great solution for brides who want couture quality for bargain prices. The key to finding the perfect dress lies in knowing the right places to look.
All in the Family
Make a list of all of your family members who have gotten married over the past five years. Scan through pictures to refresh your memory of the dresses you've admired. If you come up with any that you liked enough to consider wearing on your own wedding day, send an email to the dress's owner. Chances are she will be flattered that you liked her personal style and will have no problem allowing you to replicate her look for your upcoming nuptials. Keep in mind that this plan does not work well with jealous cousins and petty sister-in-laws, so be prepared for a few negative responses.
Get Social to Find Preowned Wedding Dresses
Social networks are for more than telling everyone what you ate for breakfast. Jump on Facebook and Twitter and straight up advertise your desire for the perfect gown. The more specific you are about what style and size you're looking for, the more likely you'll get responses containing photos of great preowned wedding dresses. Make sure to let everyone know you plan on paying for the dress, or if borrowed, that you will not alter the fabric in any way and will return it dry-cleaned.
Jump Online to Find Preowned Wedding Dresses
Not surprisingly, there are several websites dedicated to pre-owned wedding dresses. http://www.bravobride.com offers links to everything from dresses to jewelry while http://www.preownedweddingdresses.com concentrates solely on gowns. These sites basically act as brokers between former and future brides, often drawing a commission on the final selling price. Make sure you read each dress's description carefully and know your correct size and favorite styles before you break out your plastic.
Be the Highest Bidder
eBay is another good place to find preowned wedding dresses. Again, carefully read all dress descriptions to completely understand the shipping and buying terms for potential sellers. If you can, try on a new, "live" version of the dress you're hoping to buy so that you know the exact size and coloring that you'll be receiving.
Find the Sample Sales
Your best bet in finding couture preowned wedding dresses is to scour sample sales. If you find a particular designer and dress style, start your hunt on the Internet by entering the information into a Google search box along with the word "sample". Chances are you'll be linked to bridal salons across the country that are offering sample sales that include your dream dress. In trying to find the perfect Carolina Herrera dress, I entered the details online to discover that Sach's was closing its bridal shop, giving me the perfect opportunity to pick up my dream dress for eighty percent of the original cost. Sure, other brides had tried it on before me, but in the end, I'm the one who got to take it home.