Whilst I had an absolute ball planning my wedding (well, at least 88% of the time), sticking to our firm budget was not always easy. One of the trickier parts of getting organised was finding a dress that was both gorgeous and not too expensive. Unfortunately, those two search parameters can often be at odds with one another these days. As you have probably gathered, I’m all for savvy tips and tricks that couples can use to make their day incredible and cost-effective.
With that in mind, I was super excited to hear about local Brisbane business The Bridal Garage, who sell trendy and affordable second-hand designer dresses. Brides can expect to pay, on average, half the original price of gowns that are either brand new or have only been worn once. Now, I don’t know about you, but anything with a ’50% off’ tag immediately grabs my attention…
Owner Chloe came up with the clever idea after her own long and frustrating attempts to both buy and sell her gown. Chloe’s quest for ‘the dress’ included visits to bridal stores in two major cities, online shopping and browsing classifieds of pre-loved gowns and although she ended up loving her “medieval boho” look, she knew that other brides-to-be would benefit from having a place to browse through and try on second-hand frocks.
I visited The Bridal Garage on a hot summer’s afternoon and was instantly enamoured with the laid-back and cozy feeling of the room. As the name suggests, the business runs from Chloe’s converted garage – a cool, industrial-meets-girly space set up with vintage armchairs, bright florals, a huge decorated mirror and glimmering rose gold accents. There’s plenty of room for the bride’s entourage to relax in and of course, racks of eye-catching dresses in various styles, sizes and colours to squeal over (and try on!).
I was lucky enough to sit down with Chloe just three months after TBG opened to the public to find out how this idea came to life and to investigate second-hand dress shopping further.
Where did you get married?
We got married in Lake Garda in Italy. It was a destination wedding because my family are in Europe and then my husband is from Sydney, so we needed to go somewhere. I looked into the lakes and Lake Como was way too expensive. Lake Garda isn’t as well known but is even more stunning. There’s massive mountains, a castle over the lake and it was just amazing. It was a week with friends and family on holiday!
What was your wedding dress like?
It was a lace gown. I wanted something simple and the back is quite low. We got married in a castle, so it was boho medieval. I had a flower headband made from Etsy and my daughter had the same in a smaller version. She stole the show. [Abby’s note – Chloe’s gown is for sale at TBG and it’s super lovely].
What are the advantages of buying a second-hand bridal gown?
In terms of this store, you can get brand new dresses or they’ve only been worn once. There are barely any flaws at all and they’re 50% off. So it really speaks for itself. For me, the gorgeous dresses were always out of my reach, but if they were half price, they wouldn’t have been. So, you can get the designer dress that you’ve always wanted if you get it second-hand and there are more dresses within your reach this way.
Can you describe the experience a bride will have at her appointment?
The bride can come with her bridal party, her Mum, or whoever they want and have an hour-long appointment, which will involve tea, some biscuits, champagne and some music. It’s a down-to-earth, relaxed experience and not at all pretentious. You’re just going to be trying on beautiful dresses with your best friends and even if you don’t find the dress of your dreams, you can still leave and go, ‘that was a nice experience’. It will be the special moment that you deserve – even though you’re buying a second-hand dress, it shouldn’t be less special.
What kinds of dresses are sold at The Bridal Garage?
The dresses are all pretty much the new collections of 2016. So, it’s all still on trend. I’m quite picky with the dresses that come in – I want different styles that are still current, modern and stylish. There are various sizes to suit different women. There are slinky gowns, beaded gowns, boho gowns, glamour gowns and princess ballgowns. I’ve got a $200 dress if you want to get married in your garden. There’s also different colours including champagne, ivory, ice blue and of course, white. So, it really appeals to all audiences and budgets. There’s no prejudice, and no “you’re not my type”. I want to appeal to everyone.
Is there a rough price guide for the dresses sold here?
It’s quite varied. I’d say on average, a gown would be $1,000, but then I’ve got some which are $2,000 or $3,000 because they were originally bought for $6,000. I also sold a dress last week for $300. [Abby’s note – all gowns for sale are on the website with pricing and particulars.]
Can alterations be made to these gowns?
Yes. I work with a local alterations company that specialise in wedding dresses. So, if a dress doesn’t fit properly, I am able to send them a photo and receive an on-the-spot quote. They’re very trustworthy and reasonably priced and also offer our brides a 10% discount.
For brides wanting to sell their dress, how does that process work?
It works through a six-month long consignment. So, the seller would come in for an appointment and fill out an application form, which includes details of the dress and how much they want to sell it for. The dresses need to be currently on trend and in good condition. I am happy to accept both modern and vintage dresses, as long as it’s what brides want at the moment and it fits within The Bridal Garage style. I will store the dress here, do the marketing, the appointments and the fittings. At the moment as a special introductory offer, there is a 20% commission fee, meaning the seller will keep 80% of the sale.
Has there been a dress that made you want to be a bride again?
Yes! My favourite has been sold actually. It was a champagne coloured, fitted lace dress with a sheer back and floral detail. It was stunning. My second favourite is a sleeved, fully-beaded gown (pictured below) – I absolutely love it. I love slinky lace dresses.
Thank you so much to The Bridal Garage for chatting with My Something Blue! For more information, please check out their website. Brides-to-be, I highly recommend booking an appointment here – I am certain your experience will be fabulous and unique and chances are, you will bag yourself a bridal bargain.