By Megan Kennedy
Updated Aug 03, 2016 @ 3:00 pm
Ebay Wedding Dresses - LEAD
Credit: Courtesy

As a busy bride-to-be you may reach a point where it seems like you’ve exhausted every wedding dress resource available to you—every style, every designer, every shop, everything. But we’re about 99 percent sure there’s one place you’re forgetting: eBay.

Yes, we’re being serious. The same site that sold your slightly worn heels from last season can also sell you the most important dress of your life. The key is to start searching with an idea of the style you’re looking for and knowing how to effectively peruse a site with thousands of listings. Most importantly, don't panic! We left the task up to eBay’s creative director, Heidi Ware, who gave us some pro tips on how to navigate the vast bridal category online. Here’s what you’ll need to know.

One of the most common fears of online clothes shopping is not being able to try stuff on. We get it—it's totally a legitimate fear. Obviously, when it comes to buying your wedding dress, you’re not going to just pick a size that seems right and hope for the best (strong advisory against that). According to Ware, the first step is going to a trusted tailor to be professionally measured. A ready-to-wear size might not make for the greatest fit, but specific, accurate measurements won’t do you wrong.

Next, you’ll want to refine your search by looking for dresses within the style category that you want. “I recommend using the menu on eBay’s Wedding & Formal Wear page to sort by brand, style, designer, color, size, price, and condition,” says Ware. There, you’ll be able to find dresses that are “new with tags” and “new without tags," both at Buy It Now prices.

Utilizing the search refinements on eBay is of course essential for finding exactly what you want—but it's especially important if you're going vintage (which could be the reason you're wedding dress shopping on eBay in the first place). Finding an authentic vintage dress on eBay is actually a lot easier than it sounds. Here's what you need to know:

First, a real vintage item is listed under the vintage category. Watch out for general listings titled "vintage inspired" or anything titled "vintage" that's not in the actual category. Rely on the refinement menu NOT the keyword.

Next, to make browsing all the more specific, you can narrow down your options based on the decade. eBay carries more than a century's worth of dress styles, so refining by decade can bring you that much closer to the dress you're envisioning.

Another factor to keep in mind when vintage dress shopping is that these dresses are, well, vintage—translation: they're old. So, many of the ones you find will more than likely require some repairs. But don't let that turn you off; it's nothing a seamstress or tailor can't handle (and you'd probably be going to one regardless). It's best to air on the safe side by contacting the seller for details on the dress's condition. Sellers can even provide additional pictures if needed.

To give you an idea of what eBay has to offer in the vintage designer dress realm, here's a live listing of a Monique Lhuillier ivory dress.

Ebay Wedding Dresses - Embed
Credit: Courtesy

Another eBay consideration: shipping. More than half of the items listed on eBay include free shipping. When it comes to mailing out a wedding dress (think heavy fabrics, lots of embellishments), you’re really gonna need it.

To save even more money you can buy products in bundles, according to Ware. eBay lets sellers bundle accessories with the wedding dress so you can basically pull together your entire wedding ensemble, saving you the pain of searching for each individual item.

A cool feauture you probably didn’t know existed on eBay is that yes, you can actually intreract with the seller face to face. So if you are dead-set on trying on your dress before clicking Buy It Now, then you can do just that by using the search menu on eBay’s Wedding & Formal Wear page and choosing a seller within a certain distance of your house—many of which are open to local buyers picking up purchases.

So if you were skeptical before about eBay bridal options, then be assured that it can absolutely serve as a legit option in your search. Who knows, maybe your dream dress is waiting for the highest bid!