June 9, 2009 -- The anemic economy has forced some couples to look for ways to slash their wedding-day budgets. The result: Some brides are selling their used gowns to raise cash, which can be a great deal for the buyer and the seller.
And while it may not sound very romantic, some have fallen in love with the extra money they've made or saved.
How to Save on Wedding Dresses
Stores like I Do-I Do Wedding Gowns offer beautiful secondhand gowns for rock-bottom prices. The store, which has been in business for 21 years, has seen an influx of customers hoping to cut some of their wedding-day costs.
Sellers can get about a third of the purchase price on average, and the dresses are priced between 30 percent to 90 percent off the retail price.
And it's not just dresses that can make or save money. Buyers and sellers have found engagement rings on the selling block.
Get Engagement Rings for Less
Shock turned into ingenuity for jilted groom-to-be Josh Opperman when he learned his fiancee was dumping him.
"It's a terrible story. I came home, and basically the only thing left in my apartment was the engagement ring left on the table," he said.
When Opperman tried to return the ring, the jeweler was willing to give him only 35 percent of what he had paid, because, the jeweler said, he was trying to protect his own profit margin. Josh was devastated.
"I was saving for it for a few years. I was putting money away from my paycheck every month," he said.
So Opperman and his sister established a Web site called www.idonowidont.com, where jilted lovers could sell their engagement rings. They said sellers can recoup 65 percent to 70 percent of their cost by putting their rings on the site, and buyers can get a bargain.
"On our site, we are basically skipping the middle man," Opperman said.
Sellers get to post their story along with their ring.
"We were never married nor engaged, but I purchased this ring in hopes of that commitment. Sadly, it never materialized," one male seller wrote.
"I got this ring from my "fiance" at the time. He paid half cash and half with my credit card. I'm no longer wearing the ring, but I'm still stuck paying for it," a female seller wrote.
How It Works
What makes Idonowidont.com different is that once a buyer and seller make a deal, both the money and the ring are sent to the site for safekeeping. The money is held in escrow while a certified gemologist appraises the ring.
"My job is to be very independent. I don't know what the buyer wants or what the seller wants. I give my own independent opinion, and if it satisfies both parties, they take it from there," said Mark Yakubov, of Accredited Gemological Institute.
More and more people are taking it from there. As the economy's gone down Idonowidont.com's volume has gone up.
As for Opperman, his own ring was one of the first sold on the site and a year and a half later, he met his true match and got married.
If there is not a good secondhand dress shop near you, there are several Web sites that now help people buy, sell and trade gowns.