Save Hundreds on Your Wedding By Shopping Secondhand

A bride smiles at the reception of her wedding.
Candi Block chats with others at her wedding reception in 2016. She saved on her wedding by purchasing a previously owned wedding dress, jewelry and reception decor from the online marketplace OfferUp, and then later re-selling some of the items. Photo courtesy of Luminous Photography

Looking for clever ways to save money on your wedding? Think “something used.”

Used gown, vintage jewelry, repurposed centerpieces. Selecting used items and opting out of retail prices wherever possible can help you save big on your big day.

When Candi Block got married in June 2016, she bought a previously owned wedding dress, jewelry and some of her decor from the online marketplace OfferUp.

“I personally love shopping secondhand,” Block said. “I love taking secondhand items and either repurposing them or doing something creative to make it a bit my style. So when it came to our wedding, that just seemed like a really natural fit for me.

“It was a big bonus that it was also a great way to save money.”

While The Knot reports that the average bride spent over $1,500 on her gown in 2016, Block snagged her dress for $200. She spent about $100 on pre-owned LED candles, which served as her decor. The secondhand statement necklace Block donned for her rehearsal dinner only cost 18 bucks.

While Block said OfferUp is her go-to platform for secondhand goodies, it certainly isn’t the only one.

When Marian Schembari got married in October 2014, she wore a dress she bought off OnceWed for $500. She had originally spotted it new at a bridal boutique for $1,300. Instead of paying retail, she set a Google alert for the brand and name of the dress and eventually got a ping for the exact gown — only worn once — in her size.

Other websites where you can find used wedding gear include Nearly Newlywed, Stillwhite, Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Tradesy and Letgo.

Offline, couples can shop at thrift stores, consignment shops, Goodwill, flea markets and antique shows for discounted treasures. When Laura Grace Tarpley got married in October 2016, she purchased multiple mason jars, vases, picture frames, candlesticks, linens and chalkboard signs for her decor — plus a flower girl basket — for a total of $120 at Goodwill.

Garage sales and the classified section in your local newspaper may also turn up some cheap finds. Tarpley’s father-in-law snagged the arch she and her husband married under at a garage sale for $45. A comparable arch new would have cost over $130 online.

Tips for Buying Wedding Items Secondhand

Block, the bride who used OfferUp, is also a wedding planner and founder of Block Weddings and Events. She advises couples to buy used if they want to save money, incorporate DIY projects or reduce their ecological footprint.

“You don’t need a brand new item for it to be special on your wedding day,” Block said.

Here are a few tips she has for buying used wedding goods:

  1. Get creative. You can repurpose or personalize gently used items to make them unique to you. Add a jeweled belt to embellish a used wedding dress, or use old Mason jars as vases for table centerpieces.

  2. Search in different categories. Some items that’ll work for your big day might not be advertised as wedding specific. Do a little digging and search through other categories — like home decor or antiques — where you might find vases, dishware, mirrors, picture frames and more.

  3. Look for sellers whose wedding style is similar to yours. Often times, people post a bundle of their decorations. If their aesthetic mirrors yours, you’ll be able to purchase a lot of items at one time for an affordable price.

  4. Take your time. If you have a long engagement, space out your search and collect the things you need at a comfortable pace. Search marketplaces as wedding season is wrapping up. On OfferUp, you can set an alert to get notifications when new items that match your search terms are posted.

Making Money With Your Haul After the Wedding

A couple hold hands during their themed wedding.
Sandy Yong was able to recoup some wedding expenses from her marriage to Albert Ho by selling items online. Photo by Tyler Tang/Tang Photography

While secondhand markets can help couples save money for their weddings, they’re also great platforms to cash in after the big day.

After Sandy Yong got married in 2018, she was able to make a few hundred dollars selling her wedding veil, wedding shawl, faux flower bouquet and other items on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Letgo and Kijiji, a Canadian online classified ad service.

Block and her husband revisited OfferUp to resell the dozens of LED candles they had bought. They also sold other elements of their decor to break even on their purchases.

The one exception? Block’s husband put his woodworking skills to use and made a custom bench seat out of two wooden chairs they found at a thrift store for about $5. The couple was able to turn a profit with that. It sold for $150.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.