I’m not saying this is the right way to buy a wedding dress. I’m just telling you how I did it. Long story short, I wired $1,300 to a person 3,590 miles away and didn’t end up regretting it. Here’s the story of how I bought my wedding dress from a stranger on Instagram.
I honestly think that working for a wedding company has made me approach my own wedding completely differently than I would have if I didn’t spend hours each workday flipping through photos and articles of other weddings. Maybe I’m overexposed? Maybe I’m all too aware of just how expensive weddings can be? Maybe I’m savvy to all of the cost cutting tricks and consider myself super resourceful (i.e. cheap)? After I got engaged, I, like other excited brides-to-be, made appointments at bridal shops to try on beautiful wedding gowns. Except I never had any intention of buying one from these shops.
My fiancé and I had a trip planned to Vietnam in February, two months after we got engaged. My plan was to try on gowns here in Raleigh, see what I liked and what looked best on me, then take my inspiration to the amazing seamstresses in Vietnam and have one custom made on my trip. Just my luck, the only dress that I loved is covered in one-of-a-kind lace that I knew I’d never be able to find (yes, I emailed the gown designer and no, they wouldn’t disclose the manufacturer) and that they’d never be able to recreate. At a price tag of almost $3,000, I knew that I could do better.
Familiar with the cost-per-wear ratio to buying clothes? It’s the total cost of the item/estimated number of days you’ll wear it. Well, you wear a wedding dress for about 8 hours, if you’re lucky. If you are willing to pay x amount for your dream dress, more power to you. But I’m far too practical (i.e. cheap) for that. Here’s the thing about wedding dresses... There are a million different beautiful options at a million difference price points. If anyone is aware of how many beautiful options there are, it’s me (seriously… I look at HUNDREDS of weddings each week). I saw every dollar spent on an exorbitantly priced gown as a dollar taken away from some other fun aspect of my wedding. And god knows no one will forgive me if the booze runs out early.
So, I searched Ebay, Preowned Wedding Dresses, and Once Wed (great resources for sample & used gowns!) but came up empty handed. That’s when I thought to use social media to my advantage. Enter Instagram. I searched the dress designer’s hashtag to find real brides who’d worn “my” dress and messaged a handful to see if they were interested in selling theirs.
A few brides were planning on saving their gown for their daughter to wear one day (which I get, but let’s be honest… we’ve all seen our mothers’ gowns – no way I’d walk down the aisle in that polyester nightmare. Plus how do you even know that you’re going to have a daughter?!). A few brides told me their dresses were past the point of repair. A few never responded. But one bride entertained the idea (bless you, Katherine in Ireland!).
The dress was the size I needed, had undergone minimal alterations, and had already been dry cleaned. The seller assured me that it was in excellent condition, save a small and unnoticeable tear in the train. And she also seemed – based on her Insta profile – like a normal, well-adjusted woman who wasn’t out to scam me. We exchanged messages for about a month (she got a little sentimental and almost backed out once), and then prepared for payment and shipping. I wired her $1,300 and she sent me a shipping confirmation. Cue a week and a half of very nervous waiting, and one very happy bride-to-be when the dress came in perfectly as described and a nearly perfect fit!
I ended up saving over $1,500 on my dream (designer) dress, and couldn’t be happier. I knew that purchasing a wedding dress this way was either going to be a very good idea or a VERY bad idea. Brian only admitted afterwards how terrified he was that I would be disappointed with the gown. And I do think that I was pretty lucky. If you decide to go this route, I’d suggest a payment option like Paypal or Ebay that includes some protection for both parties. I also wouldn’t consider purchasing a dress that had undergone extensive alterations, and definitely make sure to get measurements of the person as well as the gown. There was also an additional $90 customs tax fee that I hadn’t anticipated since the package was being shipped from overseas, and I had to physically sign for the package (meaning I worked from home the day I knew it was going to be delivered… wasn’t taking any chances!). But most importantly, if you think that your dream dress is out of your budget, you may be wrong!
My dress is currently at the tailor for some minor alterations before my wedding day in exactly one month. I’m not going to spoil the surprise by sharing any photos of the dress just yet, but I can’t wait to share my wedding day with you all! And if anyone is interested in purchasing my dress after October 28th, don’t be afraid to slide up in my DMs @xtinachild!