Whether it’s the invitations, seating plans, speeches, or flower arrangements, brides-to-be are forced to make a number of decisions when planning their big day. But for many, saying yes to the dress is the most important thing of all.
Choosing your outfit often involves months of planning. Aside from colour, cut, and whether or not to wear a veil, today’s brides find themselves confronted with another gown-related dilemma: sustainability.
A wedding dress is arguably one of the most unsustainable purchases you can make as, the majority of the time, it’s worn just once before being relegated to the back of your wardrobe. So, if you’re an environmentally-conscious bride, it can be tricky to find “the one” while ensuring you’re being as kind to the planet as possible.
The bridal fashion industry has changed at a rapid rate, largely owing to the global pandemic forcing couples to alter their plans and outfits. So there are plenty of solutions out there if you’re not wanting to buy brand new. There’s been a rise in wedding dress rentals, as well as buying second-hand.
Interest in pre-loved wedding dresses has gained serious momentum, with global fashion search engine Lyst reporting that searches for sustainability-related keywords, including “upcycled” and “recycled” outfits were up by 193 per cent. While “pre-owned” dresses saw a 103 per cent increase.
Plus, while most brides would be thankful to cut down on waste, it’s not just the eco credentials that make pre-loved options so appealing to contemporary brides – there’s the cost too. A second-hand dress will set you back a lot less than its new counterpart and, with the average British wedding costing a whopping £30,355, any kind of saving is not to be sniffed at.
Whether you’re looking to lessen your environmental impact, want a specific style that’s been discontinued, or are searching for a purse-friendly option, we’ve rounded up the places to find second-hand wedding dresses online - from marketplaces to vintage stores and even eBay, so you can say yes to the dress with ease.
While you might associate eBay with late-night bidding wars on pieces of retro furniture you don’t really need, it’s also a great place to look for a wedding dress.
The website has a huge array of options to choose from, including high street and designer styles from well-known bridal brands such as Monsoon, Maggie Sottero, Jenny Packham, and Vera Wang. There are currently more than 14,000 listings up for grabs and you can filter the selection by price, designer, size, colour, and silhouette to make scouring for “the one” that little bit easier.
As always when shopping on eBay, make sure that what you're buying is genuine, check the seller ratings, and make sure you read a wide range of buyer reviews.
Vestiaire Collective is a well-known shopping destination for second-hand designer clothes, bags and accessories, but it also has a number of wedding dresses.
There are more than 4,000 styles currently available from brands like Roksanda, Suzanne Neville and Needle and Thread, all of which have impressive savings. If purchasing a fake is putting you off buying pre-loved, this could be the site for you as every item listed is independently verified by professional authenticators, so you can shop with peace of mind.
Brides Do Good
For a dress that goes the extra mile, consider shopping at Brides Do Good, which stocks a collection of sustainable wedding dresses that have been donated by brides and brands.
The website’s collections are all up to 65 per cent off the RRP, to ensure that every woman can afford their dream dress, and each sale also helps to make a difference. For every £3 Brides Do Good makes, it invests £1 back into charity projects that empower women and work to end child marriage.
If you’d like to try a dress on, the brand also has a showroom in London which is by appointment only.
Small business supporters are likely to know all about Asos Marketplace, the fashion giant's platform for independent brands. Aside from stocking an abundance of trend-led garments, accessories and shoes, the site is also a great place to find authentic vintage wedding dresses.
Mostly sold by small boutiques across the country, the dresses span some of the most stylish decades, from form-fitting 1950s gowns to free-flowing designs from the 1970s and puff-sleeved styles that hark back to the 1980s.
If you’re worried about missing out on the experience of visiting a boutique in person, consider Bridal Reloved, which has a chain of stores all over the UK where you can try on pre-owned dresses.
There are also a number of gowns available on its website, with ex-sample and second-hand gems on offer from brands like Morilee, Jenny Packham and Stewart Parvin, many of which have more than 50 per cent off.
Oxfam might not have been on your radar but it actually has 12 dedicated bridal stores across the UK as well as an extensive range you can order online with a 28-day returns policy.
As well as pre-owned dresses, Oxfam’s bridal departments stock gowns that have been donated directly by bridal stores. In fact, 95 per cent of the dresses end up on the rails this way and customers are charged a third of the original price.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of pre-loved dresses on offer, check out The Loop, where you’ll find a curated collection of designer gowns that have been carefully chosen by founders Grace Richmond and Abi Gadsby.
The site has dresses from a number of well-known designers including Valentino, Jenny Packham and Brandon Maxwell, to name a few, and all pieces are stocked with the view that you can wear them on your big day and beyond.
With a stellar selection of vintage and pre-loved wedding dresses, you can expect everything from a 1930s number, to even haute couture designs on 1stDibs.
If buying directly from a seller as opposed to a retailer, 1stDibs offers peace of mind. For example, its sellers are vetted, and the site also offers buyer protection, which means 1stDibs will help you if the item is not as you expected.
If you want to browse a marketplace full of pre-loved gowns, Bride2Bride is the destination to look. The website is user-friendly, thanks to the fact you can filter the results by designer, size, condition, length and so much more.
Those looking to sell their dress can upload images of the design, and you can message the seller with all of your enquiries. Expect brand new or like-new designs that you’ll absolutely love.
One of the best-known platforms for bridal resale, Still White has more than 51,000 pre-loved wedding dresses on its website from individual sellers around the world.
It's a particularly good place to look if you've fallen in love with a gown that's been discontinued, as you can search by designer, while many of the listings are also ex-samples or display items, so you can even pick one up that’s still brand new.
The website also allows you to filter your search by country, condition, size, silhouette, sleeve length, and price.
Bristol Bridal Boutique
While not strictly a destination for pre-loved wedding dresses, Bristol Bridal Boutique sells designer sample dresses, making it a great one to know if you’ve fallen in love with a discontinued gown. You can expect the likes of Charlie Brear, Willowby by Watters, and Pronovias.
And the best thing of all, owing to the fact the dresses are samples, there’s up to 50 per cent off the original retail price, making them a little more affordable. Should you feel uncomfortable about ordering online without trying it on beforehand, you can visit its Bristol boutique.
For the latest fashion discounts, try the links below:
Looking for more bridal inspiration? Read our guide to the high street wedding dress brands to know now