Buying a wedding dress doesn't have to break the budget | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Buying a wedding dress doesn't have to break the budget 

"They can find a unique dress that maybe they weren't able to obtain otherwise on their budget."

Tracy Mahood models a wedding dress available at Style Exchange Boutique

Photo by John Colombo

Tracy Mahood models a wedding dress available at Style Exchange Boutique

"Something olde, something new / Something borrowed, something blue / A sixpence in your shoe," goes the traditional English wedding rhyme purported to bring luck to a bride on her special day.

Usually the "old" here relates to family heirlooms. But a new trend has "something old" coming from an unlikely source: secondhand wedding dresses. As wedding costs skyrocket, brides are more frequently turning to stores and sample sales that offer dresses at lower prices.

"This is kind of a new trend, but it is a strong trend, especially in Pittsburgh," says Dana Mazzarini, the owner of Style Exchange Boutique. "The old idea of reusing wedding dresses in the past was frowned upon. But it's a sign of the times that it's become more popular, especially for independent women on a budget."

Style Exchange Boutique is an upscale consignment store that, among other things, carries secondhand wedding dresses. Open for nearly two years, Mazzarini hadn't planned on offering wedding gowns until clients started clamoring for them.

If a bride can find a dress she loves at a budget price, Mazzarini explains, she's more willing to buy a used gown. She adds that buying used has other benefits: "They can find a unique dress that maybe they weren't able to obtain otherwise on their budget. It leaves them more money to spend in other areas so that they can get the wedding of their dreams."

Mazzarini says brides who are still skeptical about purchasing a secondhand wedding gown may be surprised by what they find at consignment stories. One client came in to shop for other items, but ended up leaving with a gown for her destination wedding in Mexico.

"She really didn't have anything in mind for the special day," says Mazzarini. "But the minute she put it on, it was the exact look she was going for for her beach wedding."

Finding a dress at a secondhand store might require more effort than simply going to a larger chain store, which often offers more selection in designs and sizes. But finding a dress at a consignment store can still give a bride her "wow moment."

Though Style Exchange only recently started selling wedding dresses, Mazzarini anticipates having anywhere from 10 to 20 dresses at a time. Dresses range from $100 for a less formal dress to $1,300 for a more traditional gown.

"You can find so many hidden treasures in little boutiques and especially secondhand consignment stores," Mazzarini says.

And there are other options for brides looking to purchase a dress for less. This Magic Moment Wedding Sale offers sample dresses from local boutiques at much reduced prices.

"When a boutique buys a line of dresses, they have to buy every dress in the line," says Mashel Rathmell, co-owner of This Magic Moment. "Sometimes they don't sell because maybe the style isn't as popular here. So they bring them to us."

Dresses at the This Magic Moment sale aren't secondhand. They're sample gowns that have often been tried on in stores. Rathmell says brides can expect to find $2,000 dresses and purchase them for as little as $500.

"We really believe in people not living their lives in debt," Rathmell says. "We often hear stories of people who regret spending so much on their dress. This frees them."

Style Exchange Boutique
4211 Saw Mill Run Blvd. Brentwood. 412-881-1171 or

This Magic Moment Wedding Sale
11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun., March 15. Greensburg Ramada. 100 Ramada Inn Drive. Greensburg.


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