One bride-to-be shared the “wedding dress of my dreams” on Reddit, which she salvaged for a mere $40 from Goodwill.
According to Brides, the average cost of a wedding dress is between $1,800 and $2,400 — meaning this Redditor gained herself at least a 97% discount.
But she didn’t sacrifice quality for this bargain. Her photo showed a fairytale ballgown, with masses of white tulle falling to the floor.
Wedding dresses can eat up a significant amount of a wedding’s total spend, with industry experts citing the 10% rule — wherein a tenth of the budget pays for bridal attire.
But according to Lyst, shoppers are increasingly buying cheaper secondhand options. In 2021, searches on the site for pre-owned wedding dresses rose by 103%.
The report shows shoppers using secondhand stores to uncover rare designer labels — as demonstrated by thrifty Redditors and others on social media, who have dug up pieces by Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace, and even a wedding dress by Vera Wang.
This trend is also motivated by concern for the environment. Sustainability-related searches, which included keywords such as “organic,” “upcycled,” “recycled,” “conscious,” “eco-friendly,” and “sustainability” increased by 193% on Lyst.
The bridalwear market was estimated to be worth $11.1 billion in 2022. That adds up to a huge number of wedding dresses, which are usually intended to be worn only once.
Unless they are reused or recycled, many of those dresses will join the masses of textile waste sent to landfill — which reached 11.3 million tons in 2018, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Even those that don’t get trashed tend to hang in the newlywed’s wardrobe, necessitating the production of new wedding dresses with consequences for the environment.
Silk, for instance, has the worst environmental impact of any textile, according to the Higg Index. It uses more water even than cotton, according to the Ethicalist, and silk is exceedingly energy-intensive, meaning it is associated with more air pollution, per the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Embracing secondhand bridalwear can help couples throw a more sustainable wedding while sidestepping overwhelming costs.
“That’s such a steal I think it qualifies as a felony,” one Redditor wrote.
“It is RIDICULOUSLY expensive to construct a dress with that much volume. You scored!” another said.
Another advised the original poster to keep spreading her good luck to more thrifty brides.
“Once you have gotten married, dry-clean and re-donate it to pass it on,” they wrote. “Please dry-clean soon after marriage as stains become increasingly difficult to remove with age. So many wedding dresses [are wasted] because of this.”
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