The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the trees are sprouting tiny buds and the formidable Prairie girl is climbing her way out from under a pile of Sorrels, knit sweaters and wool socks. This creature of habit has noticed the enhanced climate of her natural habitat. She immediately takes stock of her current seasonal closet offerings and surmises that it is once again time to venture out into the wild for her yearly Spring shopping. With vim and vigor she heads energetically towards the mall. She completes this first test of survival with great success returning to her domicile, bags in hand, wallet significantly lighter. It is at this time she confronts the current condition of her closet and quickly realizes that this four seasons storage room is packed to the rafters. She looks lovingly at the over-sized white fabric bag stuffed in the corner and ponders its fate. Unzipping the bag slowly she reveals a stunning creation of tulle and lace, every sequin and jewel perfectly positioned and immediately a flood of memories pour to the forefront of her mind. Visions of her wedding day distract her from her task and she wonders- just what will I ever do with this gorgeous gown? Eagerly she pulls the dress from the closet, disrobes and launches the garment over her head in an effort to climb back into the moment she so fondly recalls. When her husband finds her she is a sweaty, sentimental mess. He cautiously enters the room and gingerly asks, "babe, what are you doing?"
Now if I were to write the end of this version I would probably be in a puddle of tears, size shaming myself and wondering how wedding-day-me could have ever doubted the gloriuosness of my then size 10 frame. Some brides on the other hand may just slip right into that baby and be in full veil staring adoringly into the mirror when caught in the act. There may also be some whose memories are more faded, the dress having been moved from moms basement to the closet to the garage. Regardless, the love affair with our wedding gowns are real. They are the eternal symbol of our wedding day. Of the journey we took to the alter. That dress is the way we chose to honour ourselves when we walked down the aisle. It is no wonder that we have a hard time letting go of the gown. How do you put a price on those feelings? How do you let go of the most tangible part of that bridal moment?
Here are some questions you can ask yourself when determining if you are ready to sell your wedding gown:
Am I saving this gown for someone other than myself? Many brides consider passing their dress along to a future child or family member. Although this tradition is less frequent these days some brides embrace the idea of sharing the memory of that day by having the dress to show to a daughter or younger sister. As Mothers often play a large role in selecting the dress, and in my case purchasing the gown as a wedding gift to me, it may be pertinent to disclose to them that you are considering selling. At very least they will appreciate that you are including them in the conversation. Surprisingly, some husbands are very emotionally attached to the wedding dress as well. Although most celebrate the relinquishing of closet space (lets face it, we didn't store it at our end of the rack!) some are equally as nostalgic. Ultimately the decision is yours but including others in the consideration may be helpful in the process.
Is this the Memory Box equivalent of my adult life? For the last 25 years I have dragged a cardboard box around from home to home, rarely every opening it, always storing it in whatever dusty corner made sense on moving day. It is filled with child hood photos, team jerseys from when I made the cut, books I wrote in elementary school and letters from best friends in high school. It is all the tiny pieces of my life that shaped me during my most formative years. My trophies, science projects, camp crafts there was no room for. My wedding dress would not fit in it. The size of the box has never changed. Occasionally I slide things through the top, but it is almost a time capsule now. Perhaps you don't have a Memory Box. Perhaps, your wedding dress is your time capsule. What your dress represents to you now may be totally different 10 years from now. It may be just as valuable to store the pictures, your veil or garter as a keepsake than an entire dress. Figuring out how you keep that gown with you always doesn't necessarily mean physically holding onto it. If it does, make sure it is properly cleaned and preserved so that years from now you can enjoy it the way you are intending to.
Do I feel joy knowing someone else could love Her? We literally fall in love with the dress we choose because it makes us feel beautiful and hopeful and special. We immortalize the wedding day version of ourselves wearing these unbelievable gowns and regardless of others choices this one, this dress, was The One. The One we wanted to remember forever. The One that stood out among the rest. And then we put her away. Probably forever. Until we play dress up or our daughter plays dress up or we loan her to a friend. Until she is moved from place to place and house to house, closet to basement. And that immediate love fades into a fondness. If you could imagine rewriting your dress's love story with new characters but all the same emotions, would that make you smile? If you could set that dress free and offer a new bride in equal measure every experience you had in relation to wearing that gown would that be worth letting Her go? If you could provide a Bride the opportunity to wear a gown that would normally be outside her budget would that allow you to imagine your dress belonging to someone else?
This is where we get down to brass tax. This is the part ya'll are dying to read. Because regardless of how you answered those questions the monetary value we put on an item that is sentimental to us can make or break that decision. Most Brides are willing to share their gown with a new Bride but the initial investment and emotional value has to be compensated by cold, hard cash. So once we have crossed the threshold from keepsake to consignment here is how we help you determine the pricing of your preloved wedding gown at Pearl and Birch.
In fashion. Fashion is about what you buy. Style is what you do with it. A dress that is currently in fashion- floral, off-shoulder sleeves, lace, illusion backs and everything blush are some examples, is more likely to translate to a new Bride searching for her gown. It is what she is looking at in magazines and encountering in other bridal shops. The newer the dress the more likely it will catch someones eye. The more current your gown is the more likely you are to recoup some real money. An in season, dry cleaned gown can fetch up to 75% of its original retail price. Any dress that can be styled to appeal to a modern bride whether she is planning a boho beach ceremony or a ballroom traditional affair has value. Our job is to style each dress in order make it relevant in the current marketplace. This is the largest determining factor of how we price your gown.
A true lady never discloses her age. When you purchased the gown is not the most important variable in pricing. That being said, a gown that is still currently in bridal boutiques will be more recognizable, on trend and sought after than a dress from 5 years ago. As previously mentioned, styling plays a large part in how we determine the marketability of your dress and subsequently the price. If your dress has been well cared for, stored properly and is undamaged she still holds value. Dresses that are beyond the 2 year mark are generally marked down from the original retail price by 30-60%. The most popular dress in our boutique is almost 20 years old. Many of our gowns are hard to date because they offer timeless qualities that don't push the boundaries of fashion. If you have purchased something very unique and on trend bringing her in sooner than later will provide a larger opportunity for resale.
Designer label. Karl Lagerfeld was quoted as saying, "fashion designers are dictators of taste." I don't believe that a designer gown is necessarily nicer than one designed by a less recognized brand. Many people look to labels in order to justify an expense or qualify the value of a dress. Although many designer dresses use high quality fabrics and embellishments it is equally important that the designer create form and function within a garment as well. We assess our dresses not only on an established reputation that produces high quality gowns but on the construction of the dress and its ability to be altered in the event that our new Bride requires that. Poorly manufactured dresses are sometimes difficult to alter, use lower grade fabrics that may wear during cleaning or tailoring and lose beadwork and sequins easily. A designer label carries weight in the wedding dress market in the eyes of our clients. In terms of pricing, it offers true value in the quality of the construction of the wedding dress.
There are other variables besides current bridal trends, original date of purchase and quality of design that impact pricing. Size is also an important consideration. We have Brides of all shapes and heights searching for their gown. Dresses of mid-range size with little or no hemming appeal to a larger market of consumers. Size is always impacted by the original alterations on a preloved gown. We then use that information to determine how many limitation the dress may have in a open market. Additional alterations such as bustles or reinforced modesty panels may add value to a dress due to the fact that these are expenses a new Bride will not have to invest in. We evaluate a gown as a whole, weighing each asset and challenge to determine a price recommendation.
Once you have decided to sell your gown where you do that is another determination you can make based on the variety of options locally, via the open internet market or on the regional buy and sell. When I was creating the boutique I took into consideration all the attributes and draw backs of the various platforms used to sell preloved gowns and wedding items to establish a place which met the needs of both our Consignors and our Prairie Brides. It is a constantly evolving community. The success of our boutique has been in providing amenities, personalized service and a dedicated store front. This also allows our pricing to remain competitive in the sense that we don't have to undervalue our inventory to attract buyers. At Pearl and Birch we never deny a consignment. We only ask that our clients are reasonable in their pricing. Gowns that exceed the 8 year mark should be priced at 60-80% off their original purchase price.
Financial limitations are something we all struggle with during the course of our planning. Most of us are fortunate to have options in which we are able to choose freely where to allot our wedding day funds. Some Brides do not have that luxury and are often forced to make disheartening compromises on their big day. Our boutique elevates and increases the wedding gown options creating an inclusive bridal experience. Which makes those "say yes" moments all the more meaningful.I am on a mission to rescue as many gowns as I can. My passion for wedding dresses has grown in so many new ways. If you are considering consignment or resale of you dress there are many wonderful reasons to do so. Ultimately you have to feel positive about the experience. As a consignor myself, it was hard watching someone try on my dress for the first time. But that was quickly replaced by the knowledge that someone out there was crazy enough to fall head over heels for a swirling organza ball gown with a six foot train. And that was reason enough for me to let her go.