Images courtesy of Tim Gibson
We have finally found the solution for all you brides looking for that perfect designer dress that you just have to have, but can’t justify spending a third of your budget on. Nearly Newlywed is an online boutique for modern brides to buy, try and sell ‘nearly new’, fashion-forward, hard-to-find dresses. Who would of thought you would be able to save money, and make money on your wedding dress?
Think high-end designers like Jenny Packham, Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Rodarte and Carolina Herrerao at 40 to 90 per cent off the retail price.
“We’re here to create a trust-worthy upscale shopping experience online so that girls everywhere can have access to dresses they maybe otherwise wouldn’t – we help brides to be, and former brides, save money,” said owner and creator of Nearly Newlywed, Jacqueline Courtney. “You can sell your dress with us, so if you bought a new dress, and you don’t feel the need to hold onto it, we work with brides to help the next lucky bride to wear it.”
Jacqueline has a background in PR and was a bridal publicist working with celebrities of all kinds, and feels like all brides should also get that red carpet experience, at least once in their life.
You can get a great deal on a dress that’s either a sample or nearly new, meaning it’s been worn once, maybe twice. They make sure all the dresses are of a very high quality and are wearable. The best part? If you buy a dress from them, you can either sell it back if you don’t want to keep it, or you can send it back and they’ll help you sell it. So, they help brides at all stages of their wedding, even afterwards.
You simply send a photo of your dress, along with a description of the condition of the dress. If it is accepted, it will be posted on the website for an agreed amount. If someone decides to ‘rent’ your dress, the majority of the money goes directly to you, and you don’t have to pay anything up front, or at anytime during the process.
What inspired you to start Nearly Newlywed?
“Definitely my own wedding, I got married a year and a half ago. Personally, I had a modern approach to my wedding and I knew I wanted to look a certain way but I didn’t want to spend a fortune on my dress. I also knew I didn’t necessarily need to keep it to pass it down. I was looking for something special, but for some sort of way to not spend a lot.
It’s something that I wish had existed when I got married, so that’s the reason I started this business. I kind of went about it myself, buying a dress from a bride, wearing it myself and then reselling it. But the process was really difficult.”
How do you decide which dresses are a good fit for the online store and where do they come from?
“Really we just accept gowns that we think our girls would want to wear. They definitely have to be in great condition, so they will feel good about wearing it. We also try to look at market trends – some girls want dresses that are a bit more bohemian. Some want gowns that are more princess-like, so we have a high-end curated collection with something for every sort of bride.
We don’t have any rules for what sort of dress; we take the kind of dresses that brides are requesting for or are interested in, so we don’t have a rule of it being designer. We have some small designers that are not as well-known and some of the bigger ones. Right now we’re working with Kleinfelds in New York to get some of their sample and dresses. But most of our gowns right now are from brides. We’re still a young company, so we can’t take on as many gowns as we want; we’re working on expanding so we can accept more.”
What makes Nearly Newlywed better and easier to use than a traditional sample sale or consignment store?
“There are a lot of sample sales here in New York. I think the main difference is the access and selection, because we’re getting dresses from girls from all over. There’s much more to choose from and that’s the reason why we want to expand.
It’s nice to not feel like you’re shopping at a sale. A lot of women are coming back and visiting the dresses numerous times over a long period of time, so they can still feel like they are having a bit more of a traditional shopping experience. They are able to take it home and do an at-home viewing with their family and bridesmaids. They can look at the dress and see it on themselves in the comforts of their own home, which is a nice personal aspect. I also think the fact that we specialise in selling them back for the bride, or offering a high end place for a bride to sell it again also helps.”
How do you approach a bride’s budget?
“A lot of women come in saying, ‘It’s my big day so what I’m wearing is very important…but at the same time I can’t get my head around spending 1/3 of my budget on the gown.’ Because we have the sell-it-back option, a girl can fall in love with a dress and decide if she wants to sell it back afterwards. That can substantially change the cost of the gown. We also try to have a variation of price points; there are some gowns that are a little more expensive and others that are a little less.”
When a bride buys a dress, is it altered for them or do they take care of that part themselves?
“We don’t provide alterations – we do measure all the dresses and talk with women at length on the phone and online about what they are looking for so that they can get something that is close, but just like a dress you buy new, you still have to take it to a tailor and get it fitted just right.”
In your experience as a bride, and with your business, what is the most difficult part for a bride when choosing a dress?
“I think the most difficult part, and I speak also from experience having been a bride, is deciding on the look that you want for your wedding. A lot of the time when girls are shopping for a dress you hear things like, ‘Are you a modern bride? Are you a bohemian bride? Are you a vintage bride? Or what type of wedding is it? Is it black tie? Is it beachy?’
It’s such a big day and most women don’t get a chance to dress up like that very often, so the hardest part is formulating the vision. Every girl has a few different types of gowns that they would love to wear, and it’s just about deciding what direction to go.
We’ve had a few women come in and do fittings in New York and really fall in love with more than one dress. I think the hardest part is committing to that vision of how you want to look on your wedding. There are always a few different things that would look great on you, and it just depends on how you see yourself as a bride. It’s tough to make that final choice because you feel like that part is kind of over.”
What advice do you have for brides on choosing that perfect dress?
“You want to take into consideration what type of wedding you’re having and where it’s going to be, but at the end of the day you really want to wear something you’re going to feel really special and comfortable in.
Brides should be open. A lot of girls come in thinking they can only wear one type of dress with their body type, but usually there are always more options than that. It really just comes down to how you see yourself looking on your wedding day and what’s going to make you feel special. Especially with our brides, who are usually selling them back, it’s really about having that perfect day, and perfect photos and all about the experience of that day – you want to wear something you’re going to feel amazing in.”
What is this year’s popular trend?
“A lot of women are wanting to wear a second dress – something a little more formal and bridal for their first dress. There’s a lot of colour – lots of women are interested in blush, even deeper pinks and other colours outside of the white and ivory range.
In terms of sillouette, some girls are really liking the Monique Huillier candy dress. It has a very interesting embellishment, and it’s very intricate. There’s also a bit of a Great Gatsby, bohemian sort of 1920’s vibe that girls are looking for. A little bit of glitter, a little more slinky, a little bit more romantic. There are a lot of girls who still want a full traditional gown as well.”
For 2013, Jacqueline and the Nearly Newlwed team will be continuing their partnership with Kleinfelds New York. They are also working on expanding their business to be more accessible for local brides so they can come in and try the dresses on. We think this definitely warrants a trip to New York, ladies!
They’re also working on introducing some additional tools on the site so brides can request a specific dress or a specific style which may not have been introduced yet. This way they can get to know the girls, help them track down that perfect gown and help them figure out exactly what they are looking for and be able to create more of a personal shopping experience online.
“We’re very by the bride, and for the bride. We’re small but we’re really trying to be the place where girls feel excited about getting their gowns, even if it is for a deal. We want to be the place where they can feel proud to have gotten their dress from; that’s our main goal.”