When Andrea Lown started SmartBride Boutique in 2008 a lot of her clients couldn't get over the idea that they'd be using someone else's wedding dress. According to Lown, brides were nervous and somewhat secretive about it, hiding the information from friends and family. Today though, Lown says that with the rise of the sharing economy outside of the wedding world, more and more brides are becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of buying a used dress, and selling their dress later. Lown points to the rise her company has seen in resale of dresses costing over $2,000 as evidence that this trend isn't just for the cash strapped, and isn't in fact just about saving money.
Jennifer Soffen, founder of Rebloom, would agree that the rise in selling and buying used wedding items isn't just about money. Soffen started Rebloom earlier this year after noticing how many events had gorgeous flower arrangements that went to waste after the event. With Rebloom, couples can arrange to have their flowers picked up after the event. The arrangements are then resold at a 70-90% discount to other events. A portion of the proceeds from the sale goes to a charity of the couple's choosing and many couples simply donate the entire amount of the sale. Of course, couples can also purchase the flowers from other events. Soffen believes that the millenial generation's well-known tendency towards both altruism and DIY is helping to erase the stigma of "used" items for weddings.
At GigMasters our own research supports that idea. We recently surveyed over 2,000 couples with weddings from the early 2000s through 2014. We found that the percentage of those planning to buy and resell "used" items for their wedding was higher for those with weddings after 2012. We also found that those folks getting married after 2012 were on average less embarassed by the idea of purchasing used items for their wedding. Many people admitted that rather than be embarassed, they had actually bragged about the fact to friends and family.
One aspect of the "sharing economy" that may be gaining traction a little more slowly with brides and grooms is the idea of bartering with wedding vendors instead of paying cash outright. For those who got married in 2012 or earlier, 66% said they would have done so if they could have found a way. That number raised only slightly to 69% for those with weddings in 2014 or later. For the most part, people are still paying for wedding services in traditional ways.
Used wedding dresses and other wedding paraphenalia will never do away with the need for new items, but for today's brides and grooms they are definitely a much larger possibility than in the past.
(Love the dress at the top of the page? As of this writing, it's available on SmartBride Boutique! Love the flowers? It's an example of an arrangement that Rebloom repurposed!)