You loved it, you bought it, and now you can barely force yourself to peek inside your closet. You were happy with your wedding dress when you tried it on, so what went wrong? If you're stuck in fashion limbo with a gown that's too expensive to forfeit, try not to worry. You still have plenty of options.
Alter It to Fit
For wedding gowns, alterations are the standard. Don't just expect a gown off the rack to hug your body perfectly. Unless you're the one bride in a million who just happens to match the designer's imagination, your dress is going to need a little nudge in the right direction. The good news is: seamstresses are used to altering wedding dresses. This is their job. Find a reputable alterations shop that can show you photos of successfully altered dresses in styles that are similar to yours. From there, it's just a matter of gusseting, trimming, lacing, or otherwise enhancing your dress. Remember, it's always easier to make a dress smaller, but there are elegant ways to let dresses out, as well.
In many cases, brides are convinced to buy dresses in larger sizes than they wear, so that alterations shops will be able to cut the dress to the exact size shortly before the wedding. If this is your situation, don’t panic! Your dress will look every bit as good as you remember it from the dressing room. The baggy parts you hate now will all be gone once the dress is fitted to your body.
Want to say goodbye to your gown forever? You don't have to say goodbye to your entire investment. There are multitudes of recycled-fashion websites that offer free listings, as well as sites that cost around $25 to list your dress. Look for once-worn wedding shops in your city, as well. You won't be able to make all of your money back, but you can at least recover a percentage of the cost (40 to 50 percent is average) that you can put toward a new dress.
If you're selling your gown online, be sure to take very clear photos in good lighting, and get some close-up shots of beading or details, too. If you can take a flattering photo of the dress being worn, it will help prospective buyers to picture themselves in the dress. List every bit of information you have, from designer name to types of materials used. If you've made any alterations, list those as well. The more information you can provide, the better your chances of making a sale. While you're on the websites, don't forget to browse around a little–you may end up finding your dream dress at a discount!
Buy More Dresses
If you have the room in your budget, go ahead and buy more wedding dresses. Maybe the gown you have is appropriate for your church ceremony but not your garden reception. The two- and even three-dress trend has been sweeping the nation, so there's nothing wrong with hopping on the (ahem) gown train. Look for dresses you can convert to all-occasion formal wear after the wedding, if possible. That way, you won't be stuck with multiple dresses you can't re-wear.
Was your dress a wedding gift from someone else? If you didn't pay for it, unfortunately, etiquette dictates that you can't ask your benefactor to buy you another one. Even trying to sell your gown lands you on pretty shaky ground. The best approach is to communicate clearly. Take the person aside and explain to them, calmly and with much appreciation, exactly why the dress doesn't work for you anymore. Practical points like, "The bodice is too tight" will get you much further than, "I decided I hate brocade."
Try asking the person what suggestions he or she has for you. If you work together on a solution (such as you refunding the cost of the original dress and buying another), you can more easily avoid confusion and hurt feelings.
Alterations are a common answer for inherited, less-than-flattering gowns. If your mother-in-law is getting all misty-eyed at the thought of passing down the gown she wore at her own wedding, a few alterations could be just what the thing needs to fit you, instead. Don't be pressured into wearing a dress you hate. Modernize it with a few touches and it will fit both your body and your style.
Remember What You Loved About It
If you already found a dress you love, stop watching wedding shows and reading magazines. It's a lot like smart gambling–you have to know when to walk away from the table. It's too easy to start second-guessing yourself, especially if you bought your dress early in the engagement. If the dress fits you well and you like the style, now isn't the time to wonder whether sleeves really are better than straps, or whether you're really more of a "lace and pearls" type of girl. Love your dress for what it is: a gorgeous garment that makes you look like a movie star.
Keep it in Perspective
Ultimately, your wedding dress is meant to be worn for just one day. It's a very important day, to be sure, and there will photos, but it's still only a single day in what is hopefully a long, full life. If your dress fits you, or can be altered to fit, it's not worth going into severe debt to buy another. It's too easy to torture yourself with "what ifs" on your wedding day. Try to keep your wedding in perspective and remember what's really important: your friends, your family, and the commitment you and your partner are making to each other.