Where to buy your wedding dress-Ebay?

She’s back, folks. And thank goodness, because there is no way either of us could have written this eloquently about buying a wedding dress from eBay. Mostly because we didn’t buy our dresses from eBay. But also because we couldn’t write this eloquently if we tried. It’s Anna K, with her dress story-it’s turning into something of a dress fortnight ’round these parts, no?! We’ve had Rachel’s heartwarming Oxfam Bridal story and you’ll find out the conclusion to my Jenny Packham dilemma this week. (SPOILER ALERT: I didn’t keep the JP. Shocking.) But for now, less of that and more of this…

If there’s one thing that gets me riled up more than anything else, it’s the thought that I may have paid too much money for something.  I’m nearly 30 but seem to eternally live my student days where I am still outraged at the price of a drink in London.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely happy to spend lots on something if I feel its justified.  But I never bought into spending a lot of money for my dress for one day.  Even THAT day.  Call me vain, but I just wanted to look smoking hot.  Without the smoking price tag.    

So what’s a girl to do?  I bought my dress off e-Bay, that’s what.  However, it wasn’t by any means a stress-free process…and I would hate future brides to think that it was.  You have to make quite specific choices.  You have to be willing to stand up to people who look at you agog and aghast: “But…but…what if the person who previously wore your dress got DIVORCED and it is blessed with bad luck?”  (Yes really).  Wow.  I thought divorce happened due to complex and painful systematic breakdown of a relationship between two fully functioning adults.  I didn’t realise it was due to malevolent spirits stored in layers of tulle.     

Back in the heady days of the winter of 2008, second-hand bridal dress shops and websites were just taking off.  Now, I saw, clearly, that as a girl with bits, I wasn’t going to be able to pick any old dress off a rail, throw it on and look like a slinky, pouty goddess.   I am slightly OCD when it comes to organising things and arranged a Gestapo-style bridal dress shop operation, where I tried on different dresses, styles, designers, and narrowed it down to a list of at least 6 dresses and designers that I liked.  

So this is eBay lesson no.1.  It may not be the one, but it will be The Very Very Nice One.  You are very unlikely to find The Dress That Made You Weep in the right size on eBay.  But you are, with perseverance, going to find one of your shortlisted dresses that makes you look fabulous.  This means changing your thinking…and confronting head-on the stereotype that you must only wear the dress that stopped your heart.  The dress that stopped mine was Augusta Jones’ Tia in a size 14 in ivory.  But the thought of buying her full-price stopped my heart too…in a heart-attack way.  So I made the choice to ignore her, and to stick to my guns.

Dress list in hand, reality-check in place, I started the searching on second-hand websites.  And eBay.  And nothing was coming up that suited me and was in my size.  This was peak recession time so there were lots of dresses available…but even with my relatively relaxed standards, not the right ones.  And sometimes, I would stay in front of the computer for entire evenings waiting for dresses to finish bidding just to be outbid at the last minute (download ebay Sniper, it is your friend).  I missed social engagements for this, it became a bit of an obsession.  Not good.  

This is eBay lesson no.2.  Start searching as early as you can, my fellow e-Bay dress foragers!  It got to March, the wedding was in June, still no whisper of a dress.  I was lucky, I had the money to buy a full-priced one, so I knew I wouldn’t end up dressless, but I know other brides-to-be won’t be as lucky.  Start early.

Rule no.3 – trust your instinct.  But don’t be a div.  Do your research.  The dress I eventually hit Confirm on came from a shop in Scotland that was closing down.  The dress was ex-sample, but had never been worn.  It was Mariposa by La Sposa.  I had actually never tried this style on before, or this designer.  Mental, I know, but I loved the shape of the dress, the quality of anything under the Pronovias brand, and I know it sounds crazy but I just trusted my instinct.  I researched the hell out of the seller’s strong feedback from other buyers, worked out whether she was a good communicator, and whether the shop actually existed and reviews from previous customers. In the end it was a heady mix of going with my gut feeling and doing my research. 

Rule no.4 – be all over the delivery.  Oh yes, the delivery.  Now a wedding dress is heavy.  And big.  It came in a ginormous box.  A box you could keep a dog in to RSPCA standards.It came by courier.  And because I live in a block of flats, they couldn’t access the building, so the dress got sent back to a delivery depot.  In Scotland.  A matter of weeks before D-day.To say I went crazy is putting it lightly.  I had images of Scottish villagers wearing it and leaping around the fens and dales and rolling around in heatherI then paid for it to come all the way back to London….and they messed up the delivery day so it ended up in a depot in Vauxhall…and eventually I had to carry it home all by myself.  In my hands.  On the Tube.  In rush hour.  I had ripped biceps for weeks.  

But when it did get home…oh Lordy.  The lovely Scottish lady had packed it in perfect condition, and the dress was exactly what I wanted, and I was so so lucky, and the eBay story worked for me.  But it didn’t come without stress.  A lot of people might just prefer to spend the money and have the nice dress shop experience.  Or the security of knowing that their dress is safely locked up in a store in Knightsbridge, and not in some depot in John O’Groats. But I am a voucher fiend and a bargain hunter and nothing pleases me more than to “beat the system”.  

And though it was a lot of effort and probably aged me significantly at times, it was definitely worth it.  The eBay story will work for you if you manage your expectations.  Because, at the end of the day, it’s only a dress.  It’s only a flouncy bit of fabric covering the living, breathing human being that is getting married.  And really, who cares what it cost or where you got it?
Anna included a P.S when she e-mailed this piece to us. It went like this, ‘Here’s the picture-does that bad boy look second rate? Does it my ar*e.’ And we couldn’t agree more. Stunning.
Categories: Wedding Planning, Wedding Pretty, Written By Anna
4 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Katie
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Anna, you look radiant on your wedding day. Your photo makes me wish I’d persevered with Ebay. xx

  2. Rach H
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    A beaut of a dress, you looked stunning in it. Love the name of the dress as well, Mariposa, spanish for butterfly. Well impressed with your Tube ordeal! A great buy lady, you rocked it xx

  3. Anna K
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Thank you ladies! It was totally worth it. Rach H…I know…seriously I would call my future kid Mariposa if I could! x

  4. Posted September 8, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I brought the 'dress of my dreams' on ebay! Right size, right colour. Was an absolute steal. Now I'm trying to sell my dress, but no one wants it. There definitely are some stunning dresses out there. Keep trying.

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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