Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How Much is Your Wedding Dress Worth?

I am sure I will catch some flak for this but I thought it bears saying. Some things in life have intrinsic value. Take my coin collection for instance, there is a market for coins. And while my coin collection may not be extensive, I could easily sell it and gain some extra cash.

My baseball card collection from when I was a child also has intrinsic value. Not much mind you, since the vast majority of them were from the late 80s and early 90s when everyone was collecting baseball cards so all of the major manufacturers produced billions of them (funny how that works, increase supply, and the value goes down, sort of like money). In any case, I have been toying with the idea of liquidating the baseball card collection on Ebay. Of course I would have to find it first. I am sure it is somewhere in my attic, but I can honestly say, I haven't looked since before I was married.

Which brings me to today's topic. Marriage. Or more specifically, how much is that wedding dress worth? Ten years ago when my wife bought her wedding gown it cost $250. She loved it. It had a detachable train and lots of fancy beading. She looked beautiful in it. At first she had an idea that our daughter might want to wear it for her wedding. I asked her if she wanted to wear her mother's dress from 25 years ago and she responded with a definite no. I explained that styles would more than likely change and our daughter wouldn't be interested (besides, I am going to heavily encourage the whole eloping thing, and after our wedding and reception my wife is on board with that idea).

Then she had another idea, she could use the material to make a confirmation/baptism dress. OK, that is something that I could live with. It would mean storing it for several years. Well the time has almost come, we got the dress out (it has moved 5 times in various boxes). After going over it, my wife decided she really didn't want to try sewing and cutting the satiny material (plus the panels would make transferring a new pattern difficult). So we did what any capitalist would do and shopped for a new dress.

Eventually, we found something that my wife and daughter liked online. For $50, my wife would have had to make the dress from her wedding gown in under 7 hours just to be equal to minimum wage (good thing we still have cheap labor in the world where people get paid $3 a day to sew and it is much better than being sold into prostitution which is the only other option).

Even better, we ordered the dress on a Saturday night, and it arrived on Tuesday (that was with the slow shipping). Showing once again that private companies (in this case UPS) could efficiently deliver packages faster and cheaper than the government (although I do like the USPS flat rate boxes for very heavy items that make it very cost effective).

So with the new dress here, I convinced my wife to Ebay her wedding dress. This was a difficult decision because of the sentimental value to her. My coin collection also has sentimental value which outweighs its intrinsic value (hence the reason I still have it). We may think sentimental things are valuable, but it is completely intangible, and what one person values, another may think is worthless. However, I find that selling things with sentimental value are much more difficult than selling things with intrinsic value for a loss. After making the decision, she put the dress on gain so I could take pictures. She still fits in it after 10 years and several children. Not only that, she was able to breathe!

This it was matter of uploading the pictures on Ebay and posting the listing. For several days we bit our nails as no one bid on it, then we got our first bite. 99 cents! I was optimistic that this might encourage a bidding war, but alas it didn't. The dress sold for 99 cents.

Now, I calculated, that all the time my wife actually wore the dress (including fittings, the wedding, the receptions, portraits, and again for pictures 10 years later) she was wearing the dress for less than 12 hours. I wear my clothes each day for longer than that. So what is it about wedding dresses that women will spend hundreds (and sometimes thousands of dollars) for the perfect gown that they are going to wear hardly at all. Is there a market for wedding dress rentals?

I hope that the person who bought our dress enjoys it and looks as beautiful for her wedding as my wife did for ours. Plus, since she got it at a bargain basement price, she has a much better chance of recouping her investment on Ebay when she is done. Looking at several other wedding dresses on Ebay, there were some that were nicer, but all were more expensive. Ever since I started Ebaying in 1998, I have always trusted the auction market and started my merchandise at 99 cents. Sometimes it worked out great (I sold a free pool table for $341) and sometimes it doesn't work out (our headboard didn't sell at all). In this case, the seller should be happy. If the dress turns out to be nothing what she thought, it could always be burned in a fireplace and the heating value is worth 99 cents.

So if you are still hanging on to your wedding gown a decade later, why don't you make someone else happy and find out how much it is worth!

1 comment:

  1. I never bought a wedding dress. I rented mine. It didn't make any sensed to buy it. I knew it would be outdated for my future daughter/daughters, I didn't want to store it for all those years, and it just didn't make any sense to me. I have pictures and that's good enough for me. Great job to Devon for being so fit and still fitting in her dress comfortably! Bummer the dress sold for so little, I thought it was gorgeous on the hanger.