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How to Say Yes to Selling the Dress

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Michele Leopold has two wedding dresses taking up valuable closet space in her Chicago apartment: the one she wore at her May 2012 wedding, and the one she bought then decided wasn’t her after all.

When her first anniversary approached, she decided it was time for the dresses to go. “While a wedding dress is a sentimental thing, I don’t need it to have the memories,” Leopold says.

More and more newlyweds are finding little logic in hanging onto their wedding gowns. And with the average cost of wedding dress coming in at $1,187, according to The Wedding Report, a research company that tracks wedding-related expenses, women also are looking to recoup some of that cost.

“It’s kind of a ridiculous thing to hold onto,” says Leah Ingram, author of “Toss, Keep, Sell!: The Suddenly Frugal Guide to Cleaning Out the Clutter and Cashing In” (Adams, 2010).

Previously altered dresses still are eligible for resale since, Ingram points out, gown alterations are in every wedding budget. Plus, a bride-to-be who buys a once-worn gown may be willing to pay more for more alterations, knowing she’s saving money overall.

Ingram recommends having the dress dry-cleaned soon after the wedding day. A gown that appears clean may actually be stained — and those stains will brown over time, she says.

She then suggests finding a consignment shop specializing in special occasion attire. “They may not have any wedding dresses, but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be open to consigning with you,” she says.

Selling a dress online is also an option, at websites like Nearly Newlywed, Once Wed and Tradesy.

Regardless of the method for selling a wedding gown, “understand that you’re not going to get 100 percent back of what you paid,” Ingram says, although 50 percent is reasonable. PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com, another site for selling gowns, features a “wedding dress value calculator,” which uses factors like designer, style and condition to estimate worth.

Another option is to donate the gown and take a tax deduction. Theater departments at high schools and universities often accept dresses for future productions, as do nonprofits like Brides Against Breast Cancer.

“We need all gowns,” says Ashley Ritter, BABC’s community relations director, noting that the organization asks for a donation for dry cleaning, and then sells gowns for $99 to $3,500 or more.

Unable to sell her dresses, Leopold has opted to donate both. “My wedding brought me so much joy, I want pass that on,” she says.

Tags: used dresses, sell your wedding dress, consignment, brides against breast cancer