As a professional with over 10 years of experience in the bridal industry, I have been on all sides of the wedding gown buying experience. I can help you with all the things that you need to know about how to list your wedding gown and get a good price for it. Whether you are a bride trying to free up some needed closet space or a bridal shop looking to sell some of your non moving or discontinued inventory, I will help you make the most of your ebay selling experience.
The first thing you need to know is to be ACCURATE in your description. Nothing is more frustrating to a buyer than to feel that they have been deceived. Give as accurate a description on the color, style, designer, name of the dress or style number, current measurements of the dress (bust, waist, hips, length), and if there is anything wrong with the dress (tears, stains, snags, etc). Don't think that you won't sell the dress if you disclose that there is dirt along the bottom of the skirt from being worn. Your perspective buyer may not care if you are selling a dress that is cut for a woman who is 5'9 and she is 5'5. The other thing to remember to disclose is if the dress has been worn at all. If it is a store stock sample that has been tried on a lot, tell your perspective customers that in the description. Also for retailers, if it is a current style play that up in the description, if it is a discontinued style, try to list how long it has been discontinued. I will get to pricing later in the guide.
If it is a wedding gown that has been worn in a wedding, say so. If you are a bride looking to sell your wedding gown, and you don't know or remember the style number of your dress, don't be afraid to contact the bridal shop that you purchased it at and ask them to look it up in their records. The more information you can give in your description, the more confident perspective buyers will be that they are purchasing the dress from a reputable person and getting the dress that they want. If your dress is a color other that white, find out the exact name the company uses of that color. What one company calls ivory, another may call candlelight or diamond white.
For brides that have had their wedding gowns preserved by a professional dry-cleaners, if you have made the decision to sell your dress, take out your dress out of the packaging and look it over. If your preservation company offers a guarantee, remember that you have decided to sell your dress the guarantee won't apply to the next buyer. This is also a great way to test the guarantee and quality of the dry-cleaning. If for some reason you change your mind on selling your dress, some companies will re-seal your dress for a small fee.
The other thing to remember is to give any lace an accurate description of what kind it is. There are many different kinds of lace: chantilly, alencon, venise and battenburg are just a few. If you are not sure what kind of lace is on your dress, try to look it up on the internet, or again, ask you bridal shop where you purchased your dress.
If you have a dress that you consider "old fashioned", use terms like "traditional" and "modest" to describe it. Many churches have modesty guidelines that requires a bride to have her shoulders covered, her back and upper chest not exposed, etc. So, if you have a long sleeved gown or high neck wedding gown, that would work great for this type of bride. Also, you may want to play into the whole idea of a bride looking like a princess. We have all watched Disney animated movies. Describing a dress as "Cinderella", "Snow White", "Belle", "Sleeping Beauty" etc. can tap into the whole fantasy of feeling like a Disney Princess. Saying that you wedding gown looks like what Princess Diana wore, can also be used as an assett.
The next thing that you need to do in order to successfully sell you dress is to photograph it. The best way to do this is to either take a picture of the dress on an actual person or on a dress form. This enables the customer to see how it fits on a person. If you want to use your wedding picture, that is okay. Just make sure that it is a detailed photo of the dress. You may also want to crop out your face. Remember, this is going out on the world wide web and you may not want everyone looking at your face. Take at least two picture of every dress. A full length front and a full length back picture. Seeing is believing, and the more photos you can take of your dress, the better. This includes taking detailed close ups of the bodice or any unique details that you want to make sure people notice. It may be a lace detail on the train or pretty piping on the bodice. You also may want to photograph any flaws of the dress so that the bidder can see for themselves how bad the flaw is. Make sure the lighting is good and your camera is in focus. If you are unable to take a picture of it on a person or dress form, the next best thing is to photograph the dress hanging. This way, the perspective buyer can get a good idea of how it hangs. Whatever you do, don't take a picture of it lying on the floor, table, bed etc. That is a horrible way to feature your dress.
When it comes to describing the train, make sure you know how long it is. Describing a train as a chapel or a cathedral length are bridal industry terms and the average bride may not know what you mean. There are There are four industry terms to describe the length of the train: sweep, chapel, cathedral, and royal. A sweep train does just as the word implies. It sweeps the floor. It is usally between 1-2 feet long. Dresses with a train of this length can be described as "informal" or "destination" type wedding gowns. A chapel length train is the most common. They measure between 3-5 feet in length. They are considered a formal wedding gown. Cathedral trains are between 6-8 feet in length. They are very formal gowns and usually quite ornate. The last type of train is a royal length train. It is usally longer than 8 feet. These types of trains are often detachable because of their weight. Measure the length from the top of the back to the end of the train. You can always use the word "approximate" if you don't get a precise measurement.
Now for the important part: pricing your dress. If you are a bride that is looking to sell her wedding dress. Don't be fooled by thinking that you will be able to get the full retail price for your dress. Even though your gown was only worn one time, your dress is used. A good starting price for any dress is to start with the wholesale cost. Most bridal shops will set their retail prices at double the wholesale price. So, if you paid $1,000 for your wedding gown, figure the wholesale cost is around $500. As for retailers, if you are selling a current wedding gown, try to get the wholesale price plus 10%. If it is a discontinued gown, start at the wholesale price. If it is a dress that has been discontinued for more that 6 months, start at 10% below wholesale. Remember, a little bit of something is better that a whole lot of nothing. If it is a dress that you purchased at a resale shop or yard sale, auction, etc. most likely you will only be able to get around $50-$300 for the dress. Especially, if you don't know how old the dress is or if it is still current. Remember, people are looking on ebay to get a bargain. Any more than that and you will be competing against retail bridal shops selling brand new wedding gowns.
Shipping and handling costs can vary a great deal. If at all possible, try to include domestic shipping in the cost of the dress. Be sure to list free shipping in you title. You can add about $10-$25 to the cost of the dress to account for this. If you don't want to do thism most buyers prefer to have a preset shipping cost listed in the auction. This way they can have a much better idea of how much the actual cost of the item is. However, you can price yourself out of the bidding if you try to make a lot of money on inflated shipping costs. As a general rule, for US domestic shipping, it shouldn't cost more that $20 to ship a wedding gown. However, when in doubt, check it out. Both the United State Postal Service and UPS have websites where you can look up shipping costs. You need to know the weight of the dress BOXED. You are allowed to charge a little over the actual shipping cost to account for shipping supplies and your time. When you have shipped your wedding gown, alway get a delivery confirmation. UPS will have this service automatically, USPS, does cost a little extra, but it is worth it. That way your buyer can't come back and say she never received the dress and give you bad feedback or worse, get her money back.
When it comes to actually shipping your dress to its new owner, I reccommend calling a local bridal shop and asking if you can have a box that they have recently received a dress in. If you are uncomfortable or if they are resistant to letting you have one because you sold your dress on ebay, tell the shop that your sister is wanting to borrow your dress and you need to ship it to her. Once you have the box which should be about 30 inches long by 6 inches deep for a large gown, try to put the dress in a large plastic bag. If you still have a zippered bag that your dress came in, this will work, or you can use a large dry cleaning bag. Wrap the train around the front of the dress, like a cape, and pin it together at the top. This will make packing the dress much easier. Then tape the box up, put the address on the box and send it off. REMEMBER: UPS will not deliver to a P.O. Box. So, if you are using UPS, you must get a street address, or 911 address.
If you follow all of these steps, you should be able to successfully sell your wedding dress. Good Luck and Happy Selling!