How to shop for a pre-loved wedding dress

07 May 2019

Tips and tricks to help you find the perfect pre-loved bridal gown

Image gallery

Image gallery

With the trend for sustainable weddings on the rise, it’s little surprise that brides are thinking about the environmental impact of buying a new wedding dress. Online searches for pre-loved wedding dresses are on the rise as revealed by global shopping platform Lyst’s 2019 Wedding Report, but finding the one can be time-consuming when it comes to shopping to second-hand. 

Here’s a quick tip list when shopping for the perfect pre-loved wedding dress.

Leave plenty of time 

Finding the perfect pre-loved wedding dress will take a considerable amount of time and research – and with a long list of #wedmin to work through already, you don’t want to leave this decision until the last minute. Start shopping at least a year in advance, leaving plenty of time for any alterations or repairs that may need to be made.

Be open minded

Many of the brides who feature on our website and in our magazines say that the dress they chose was completely different to what they had pictured when they started wedding dress shopping so try to stay open minded. Before you spend hours hunting down a specific style or designer, visit a few bridal boutiques to get a feel for the shapes and silhouettes that suit you. Then, the search can really start.

Ask around

Once you’ve narrowed down the search, ask boutiques and brides if they can recommend somewhere locally to source a pre-loved dress. It may be that a friend’s cousin has a dress they are looking to part with – or a wedding supplier might be able to suggest a contact to get in touch with. Don’t be afraid to put a call out on social media and see what kind of responses you get in the first instance.


Go online

You can spend hours visiting vintage and second-hand shops in person – to save time, start your research online. Sites like Sell My Wedding are online marketplaces where brides and suppliers can buy and sell wedding items – from décor to dresses, you might be surprised by the range of high quality items you can source second-hand. 

Second-hand fairs

If you are planning well in advance, look out for pre-loved wedding fairs and bridal boot sales. Look for events on Facebook and take a friend along with you for a fun day out – even if you don’t find what you are after, you are sure to find lots of inspiration and DIY ideas.

Tailor made

If you find something that’s close to but isn’t quite the one, fear not. From delicate embroidery work to structural alterations dressmakers, seamstresses and tailors are experts at turning visions into reality. Take a moodboard along with you to consultations and take the expert’s suggestions on board. They may even be able to transform two pre-loved items into one unique dress. Schedule in further progress check-ins and fittings in case you want to make any changes during the alteration process.


Did you find a pre-loved wedding dress? Send us your story. Email

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