How I Bought My Wedding Outfits from eBay and Saved 70% Off

How I Saved 70% Off on My Wedding Outfits

If you’re looking for a wedding dress, you’ll probably check the usual suspects: bridal boutiques, pre-owned websites, and maybe some sample sales in your area.

But there’s one place worth checking you might not have thought of.

eBay.

Yes, that online marketplace where you can buy things like Magic the Gathering cards and silver moon boots.

I know what you’re thinking:
But wait, isn’t eBay sketchy?
But wait, don’t I have to try the dress on to check the size?
But wait, am I going to miss out on the bridal boutique “experience”?

No, you won’t be greeted with a glass of champagne like you would in a bridal boutique, but if you expand your horizons, eBay is where you can find tons of hidden gems and some sweet, sweet deals. I know, because eBay is exactly where I got all my wedding outfit stuffs. No, that’s not a typo. I bought STUFFS.

First, here were my dress requirements:

  • It had to be unaltered. Buying a dress that was altered seemed to be way too complicated to deal with. I had more important things to deal with, like figuring out the correct font for the wedding invitations. Because the font has to match your personality perfectly, am I right???
  • It had to be a designer I liked. I like designer stuff in my everyday life so anything non-designer would be super off-brand. And who wants to be off-brand on their wedding day? I wanted to be exactly me, but just a touch more glam.
  • It had to be $300 or less. Every purchase you make is an opportunity cost, and I wanted to spend my money on other things.

So, let’s see what I bought!

Wedding Dress: Self-Portrait V-Neck Dress with Fluted Pleats

Retail: $500
Price Paid: $300
My wedding dress was an off-the-rack non-bridal dress from Self-Portrait. I was familiar with this brand already and knew they made a lot of white, lacey dresses, so perfect for the modern bride. I wanted something simple I could move in, and I thought the skirt part was so pretty! Plus, it was midi-length, so no hemming required (remember I didn’t want to deal with alterations?), AND you could see my shoes underneath. I don’t know about you, but I’d be bummed to spend hundreds of dollars on weddings shoes when no one could see them underneath my dress. OK, so after zeroing in on the design I wanted, I created an eBay search alert for ‘Self Portrait Fluted Dress 4’. They had a few dresses in that style already on eBay, but none in my size. Yet. About a month before the wedding one in my size popped up brand-new, for $300. A month before the wedding would stress a lot of people out, but I knew I’d find something that would work.

Self-Portrait V-Neck Dress with Fluted Pleats
Image: Self-Portrait

Wedding Shoes: Charlotte Olympia Daisy Shoes

Retail: $895
Price Paid: $150
Obviously, since the dress had a shorter hem the shoes could not disappoint. I was trolling around on the Bergdorf Goodman website for any shoes that were white, silver or beige. Every time I saw a shoe I liked, I’d check to see if it was on eBay. One day I was on the Bergdorf site again and came across these Charlotte Olympia shoes. They were adorned with daisies with Swarovski crystals. Fun, fashion forward, and unexpected. I checked eBay and there they were! Brand-new in box with the receipt and all. They were half a size too big, but you know what? I’d make it work. It turns out, they actually run half a size too small, so they fit me perfectly.

Charlotte Olympia Daisy Shoes
Image: Shoespost.com

Random Party Dress: 3.1 Phillip Lim Kite Dress

Retail: $895
Price Paid: $228
Ever since this 3.1 Phillip Lim dress sauntered down the runway in 2012, it’s been on my lust list. A dress that looks like a high-end potato sack? Sign me the hell up. I’ve actually had this dress on eBay follow alert forever now, and a brand-new one finally showed up last June. Before I was even engaged. I knew I would use it for my “future wedding” so I bought it. I’d wear it to the bachelorette or other wedding events that eventually popped up (we had a post-wedding dinner that friends insisted on).

3.1 Phillip Lim Kite Dress in White
Image: Vogue

Random Party Shoes: Joshua Sanders Macrame Eyelet Bow Slip-on Sneakers

Retail: $475, currently selling for $285
Price Paid: $78
These were yet another discovery from the Saks website. I wear sneakers almost all the time in my everyday life, so I thought: why shouldn’t I wear sneakers on my wedding day?! With the oversized bows, these were so crazy-looking I had to have them. You can see now how I’ve prioritized amazing shoes over everything else! Again, I created an eBay search to follow so I’d be alerted in case they ever popped up. Two pairs popped up: one store model that had some slight, but unnoticeable flaws, and one perfect pair for $20 more. I went with the “flawed” pair and have no regrets. I bought them to swap in in case the wedding heels got too annoying to wear. And they were really fun to wear to the bachelorette and post-wedding dinner. Even guys commented on them, and guys never say anything about my shoes.

Joshua Sanders Macrame Eyelet Bow Slip-On Sneakers
Image: @joshuasandersjs

And that’s how I got all my wedding outfits without really having to settle on my “vision”. Summary:

Total Retail: $2,765
Total Price Paid: $756
Total Savings: 73% Off

My Top Ten Tips for Buying Your Wedding Dress from eBay

1. Think Outside of the Box

I know, such a cliché phrase, but it’s true.  Not one of the items I bought was marketed as “bridal”. If you search for items that are “bridal”, you’re going to face a bit more competition, which inevitably drives up demand, and then prices. When you search for wedding clothes online, instead of limiting yourself to the site’s merchandised bridal shop, filter by colors instead: whites, creams, beiges, and silvers.

2. Know What You Want Before Browsing

Randomly browsing ‘wedding dress’ on eBay is not effective or efficient. You’ll be overwhelmed by results, and I’m not going to lie, there is a ton of crap to wade through on there. So before you even hop on eBay take a day or two to figure out the brands and styles you’re interested in. I personally went onto all the high-end department stores websites because I wanted something designer. You could go look on the BHLDN website or even go to a few local bridal boutiques to get a feel for what you like. The key is to have some sort of focused ideas.

3. Set It and Forget It

Once you narrow your search down to specific brands and styles, create an eBay search alert so that you get notified if the item pops up. Then move on with your life. This is one of the same strategies I talked about in this post, and exactly how I scored both of my dresses and the sneakers.

4. Start Early

I can’t recommend this enough. Especially if you’re looking for something from many past seasons ago. The second you are engaged or even had a feeling you’re going to be engaged, I’d be looking. Remember, when you wait until the last minute, usually your options decrease. Do your future bridal self a favor and get cracking ASAP. Some may call me overly aggressive, but I say I’m smart. For reference, it took me about 6 months full months to get everything I wanted. That 3.1 Phillip Lim dress was a rare find!

5. Double Check the Sizing

It’s a legit concern to think buying a dress online is risky in terms of sizing. I never tried on dresses from Self-Portrait before but I had done some research by Googling ‘self portrait sizing’. Then I found the dress 2 sizes too big on The Real Real. I knew I could return it, so I bought it, just to get an estimation on sizing, and to make sure the cut looked good on me. I did end up paying about $20 to ship the dress both ways, but it was worth it for peace of mind. If you can’t find a returnable dress from online, go to a local bridal store to see if you can try on a similar style from the same brand.

6. Avoid Sellers from Outside of the US

Many of the horror stories I see are because people bought custom dresses from Asia. I think buying anything on eBay outside of the US is risky. First, you can almost never get insurance or tracking on a non-US-based package, which increases the chances of the package getting “lost” in the mail. Second, many times people complain that the item they receive looks nothing like the pictures in the listing. If you’re gung ho about getting the item from a non-US-based seller, at least make sure they send you pictures of the actual item you’ll receive.

7. Check the Seller’s Feedback

I’ve been burned a couple times buying thing on eBay because I didn’t check the seller’s feedback. But later, I found out if I had taken the time to look at their reviews, I would have seen the red flags. I had no one to blame but myself for not doing my due diligence.

8. Ask Questions

I always ask the seller questions because A. most of the time the listings don’t have enough information and B. It helps to gauge what the seller will be like if there’s a problem down the line. If the seller takes a long time to respond, doesn’t thoroughly answer your questions, then be wary.

9. Make Sure You Can Return It

Check the seller’s return policy and make sure you understand the terms. My wedding dress actually wasn’t returnable, but I felt that since I had tried the dress on in a different size and cross-referenced exact measurements, I could handle the risk. The dress ended up fitting perfectly.

10. Best Brands to Check

OK, so now you’re ready to look for your wedding dress on eBay. Here are some brands that have lovely wedding dress options and crop up pretty frequently on eBay:

What about you? Would you buy your wedding dress on eBay?

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  • Love everything in your budget wedding series! You seriously know how to find a good deal!
    I think shopping early is key, by the time you’re desperate to find what you’re looking for, it’s way too late.

    Ebay is still a great place to shop for really nice and gently used goods. I think a lot of people associate Ebay now with cheap wholesale products from Asia, which is really unfortunate, but I guess more good deals for the rest of us who still look there 😀

    • Hey Jing,

      Oh, thanks! Means a lot to me, especially as not everybody cares about weddings! Yeah, I’ve discovered that when you don’t have a lot of money, or don’t want to spend it, the way to get around it is to plan ahead. Works most of the time!

      I get what ppl mean when they say eBay sucks. It is really saturated, but you have to know how to look. And usually the listing with the worst pictures yield the best deals, haha. Sure you could go onto Tradesy or whatever, but you’ll probably end up paying more. I’m all about the hidden gems!

  • Adventure Rich

    Woohoo, this is awesome! Congrats on the huge savings! I did not get a cheap dress (I wish I had…) but I was amazed at the savings I did find in other areas… especially by searching for non-bridal or non-wedding related things. I think adding “bridal” or “wedding” automatically adds about 40-60% to the cost! Our venue, food, and bridesmaid dresses were all non-wedding and saved us a ton.

    • Thanks! I wish I could have applied the savings mentality on other categories, too, but nope, totally splurged on some stuff. We’ll see when I get to the recap post. Glad you found savings in other areas! It’s when you go hog-wild on everything that costs get out of control.

  • Gorgeous!

    Omg online dress nightmare stories from China or other countries — there’s a reason they’re charging $100 for a knockoff of a $5000 dress. I mean, material alone for a dress like that should run more than $100. O.o

    • Thank you!

      Oh yeah, when I was doing research for this post I had to laugh a little at some of these little scams. The brides would show the dress in the listing and then the one they got, and the one they got was a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DRESS. I see the temptation, though. It sounds pretty nice to get a knockoff of a dress that you really want. So many ways for that to go wrong…If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!

  • Omg, I loved this post! I actually have one in the works about how I saved hundreds on my own wedding attire! I wore gold, metallic Jimmy Choos that I bought for around $100 [retailed for $900 I think]. They were used, but they’re SHOES and I knew the bottoms were going to get dirty anyways.

    • Thanks, Ying! I thought there weren’t enough wedding posts on my blog, so I thought, WHY NOT ADD ONE MORE? Let me see how much my readers can stand this.

      I did look at Jimmy Choos, but the ones that were available were not in awesome shape, like, wear around the heel area. $100 is a great deal!!! I guess some people get snobby they won’t get those ‘shoe closeup’ pics unless they buy new. But is that worth paying an extra $800???

      Excited to see how you saved on yours!

  • Katherine

    Great post! The dress (like the ring) is something so many people over pay for. It’s amazing what a great deal you can get on ebay!

    • Thanks, and I agree with you! I always knew there were so many dress options I could feel good in that didn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Many people also tell you to check pre-owned dress sites first, but I always felt like the prices there were still way too high.

  • I would totally buy my wedding dress from eBay if opportunity strikes. It’s just most of the sellers are from the US and it’s gonna cost me a shit ton of money just to pay for customs. And then the return process might be a hassle. So that’s why I never really consider doing that.

    But I think I’m just going to get my wedding ‘dress’ (not really a dress, it’s a two piece kind of thing) tailor made in Indonesia. My budget is about €150 but I think that’s already a lot for what I’m going to do. By the way that Self Portrait dress is so pretty!! I’ve seen so many nice wedding worthy dress from Self Portrait too but yeah since I will be dressing traditionally, I have to move away from that haha 😀

    • We Americans are so spoiled when it comes to online shopping! I count my lucky stars all the time that it’s so much easier and convenient for us.

      Thanks, I think Self Portrait has a lot of reasonably priced options!

  • Oh wow! Great idea! I got my wedding dress from a sample shop and got it for 60% off. I do prefer to buy outfits in person since I have a figure that’s hard to dress, but eBay is a great choice if you know your body and the clothes!

    • Glad you got a good deal on yours! Yeah, I can definitely understand wanting to try things on person. Online is always a risk, and it was easier for me, because like you said, I have a pretty solid understanding of brands that fit, etc.

      Thanks for stopping by, Mrs. PP!

  • Melanie at Mindfully Spent

    I looked so hard for my wedding dress on Ebay! The original dress I loved with $3,500 and WAY too much for our budget. Unfortunately, it never turned up. I also tried all the used dress resale sites, but those are often altered way beyond recognition. In the end, I found some thing new from a bridal shop that had closed for $250 with some accessories thrown in. Not bad! We use ebay for worn out brand name clothes that we want to replace often. We already know what size/cut/color we like afterall. This is especially helpful with my husband’s taste in designer denim. 🙂

    • Yes, eBay is great for replacing those old favorites that are no longer in stores anymore.

      I loved the styles of this one designer, but the dresses would have been at least $6000, so I didn’t even bother looking into it. There were plenty of dresses I could feel good in for way less. And there was no way I was going to deal with alterations. I’d find a way to make a non-perfect fit chic somehow, haha!

  • Kate @ making it rain

    Oooh so much love for this (seriously, never stop writing wedding posts). I have noticed when I’m selling stuff online (and actually maybe even when trading stuff on Bunz) that wedding dresses are popping up more and more.

    It’s so nice to scope it out casually (you know, whilst not even engaged haha) and see what’s available in terms of quality, price range, etc. I think it really speaks to your point of starting to look early and there will be a good shot you can find what you want – doing it on a time crunch would be wayyy trickier. Thanks for the words of wisdom, this is definitely the direction I am going to go one day!

    • Oh thanks! I’m always like, hey, is anyone sick of my wedding posts yet? Anyone?

      Man, in doing research for this post, I actually found a GREAT wedding dress on eBay. Even though I have no use for it, I still wanted to buy it anyway…

      Scoping out early is actually really smart! Like you said, you get a sense of what’s actually viable and it’s key for trying to find something rare.

      Thanks for stopping by, per usual!

  • GYM

    I love the shoes they are gorgeous and what a deal! Your wedding dress looks great too! I ended up buying my dress online too for $150 and then it cost another $150 to alter it. That’s great you didn’t have to alter your dress because it was seriously a pain in the butt (I think I went back like, 4 times).

    • Hiya, and thanks! I felt so lucky to have found stuff that I thought was awesome, and really reflected my taste and personality.

      Yeah, I was so determined to not do alterations, and I think the style I picked was conducive to that. Plus, I was so paranoid about the tailor messing it up and then not being able to fix it.