Wedding gownThis happens every day: a bride-to-be finds the perfect Vera Wang gown, but at $15,000 it's just too expensive. All too often, in the passion of the moment, she flings caution to the wind and spends the money anyway, only to end up with thousands of dollars worth of silk and lace in a size she'll never see again stashed in the attic. How could she stand at the altar in that perfect gown yet have money left over to set up a household? How about pre-selling it?

Josie Daga of Preownedweddingdresses.com tells me that this trend has begun to gain traction with the betrothed. When two women of similar proportions have fallen in love with the same gown, it makes perfect sense to share the cost by arranging a resale at the time of initial purchase. Alterations can be done with this reuse in mind. For example, the material within the alterations can be left in place rather than trimmed away, and hidden sweat guards can be added.

The savings can be huge for both parties. Daga says that the second user should expect to pay around half of the original price (slightly more for red-hot designers such as Monique Lhuillier), which means that the initial user also cuts her cost in half. While Daga's site serves primarily as a marketplace for preused gowns, more brides are advertising there for partners to buy new gowns and share the expense.

The reasons are not always strictly economic, either. Daga recently attended a wedding of a couple who bought a resort to host the event, hired Wayne Newton to entertain, decorated the event with 30,000 roses and left for the honeymoon in a hot air balloon. The bride told Daga she chose to sell her $28,500 Gil Baracci gown not because she needed the money, but because it was too beautiful to sit in a closet forever.

Preownedweddingdresses.com charges a flat $25 fee to list a gown or run an offer for a partner in a pre-sale deal. Daga says that since she started her business in 2004, the concept has become extremely popular. She will list 4,800 gowns this year, of which 40% will sell. 30% of those visiting the site know exactly what gown they are looking for, while 30% are browsing. Many are looking to see what the gowns look like on real people, rather than the pencil people favored by advertisers.

Contrary to the television cliche of daughters getting married in their mother's gown, Daga says that most mothers don't want to rob their daughters of the joy of finding their own wedding dress. But with the cost of a $5,000 wedding dress at a typical service calculating out to $16.67 a minute, a preowned or presold dress could provide all the joy while helping to protect the nest egg.


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