Weird Idea: Wedding Dress Auction?

26 replies
Hi Warriors,

Ok, I have the seed of an idea in my head, but need help fleshing it out. This is pretty personal, so I'm a little bit nervous about sharing it. But I'd really appreciate some brainstorming help.

I was engaged to be married last year, but it didn't work out and we broke up. I now own the most gorgeous, most beautiful wedding dress in the world! But it's just collecting dust in my parents' closet. (Well, actually, it's still in the box, unopened. So I guess it's the box that's collecting dust!)

You can see it here:

Alfred Angelo... Find the perfect Wedding Dress, Bridesmaid Dress, Prom Dress, Flower Girl Dress or Mother of the Bride Dress at Alfred Angelo.

The photo does NOT do the dress justice! The magazine advertisement was MUCH better. The dress is stunning in it's simplicity. Understated. Elegant. VERY chic!

A thread with photos of real brides wearing this very dress:

alfred angelo 1148 brides!! « Weddingbee Boards

There are a few photos there, but one in particular caught my attention: Scroll down about 1/2 or 2/3 of the way down to see front/back photos of a bride wearing this dress. (Her screen name is Mrs. Dee to Bee.)

I don't really want to keep the dress indefinitely, but I don't want to sell it to just anyone. I want one of two things:

1. To give it to someone who would love it as much as I do. (And actually USE it!)

2. Sell it (or auction it off) and give the proceeds to a charity/cause I care about. I got this idea after seeing an episode of "Say Yes to the Dress" where a bride-to-be went through a broken engagement AFTER ordering her dress. Since the dress was custom-made, there were no refunds, so she donated the dress to the salon she bought it from. They in turn, gave the dress to a woman who'd come into their store but really couldn't afford any of the dresses. She was deaf.

Someone had mentioned an organization called Brides for Cancer, where I could donate the dress, they auction it off and the proceeds go towards cancer research.

It's NOT about the money. It's a very sentimental thing for me and since it's not about the money, I don't want to just list it on eBay or give it to the first buyer for a cheap price.

For several reasons, I have NO interest in donating to cancer research. But I'm incredibly PASSIONATE about microfinance and how tiny loans can help lift people out of poverty. My idea is to auction off the dress and donate the proceeds to a microfinance organization like Kiva.org.

I want to make this a BIG auction: meaning lots of buzz and publicity. The dress is modestly priced, but I'd love to sell it for much more than it would normally go for. Given the right presentation, campaign and benefit cause, I think it could be done.

There are two catches as I see it:

1. Every woman has her own vision of her wedding dress and obviously, the dress will only appeal to a certain number of women. It's a personal and unique choice. I've found other brides online that gushed (like I did) over the dress, but would this be a good idea?

2. The dress is a size 2. Fortunately, we never had it altered. (If we had, we'd never be able to sell it!) A size 8 or 12 are more common sizes. I'm wondering if this would seriously limit the potential for an auction?

Should I just do this locally? Or try to do an online auction nationally? Any suggestions for getting buzz?

Should I keep it local, get some other local merchants involved and use it as a way to introduce myself to the local business community (for future offline marketing efforts). If I did that, I'd need to keep the charity/recipient local too.

This is just an idea that's been brewing in my head. I'm not even sure I'll actually do any of this. I'm not sure how/if to proceed.

Is this a good idea? Feasible? Am I totally off my rocker?

I don't mind parting with the dress. But I'll keep it in the closet forever before I sell it to just anyone (especially for a fraction of the price!).

Thanks for the ideas!

Michelle
#auction #dress #idea #wedding #weird
  • Profile picture of the author ksmusselman
    NOT a weird idea!!! As someone sort of in the wedding industry, I think what you're planning is an AWESOME idea and definitely with the right Buzz you could get a lot of people "bidding" on your dress.

    Another idea - have a contest and give it away!!

    There are a lot of website owners who hold contests who would just love the opportunity to gain readership with a prize as beautiful and expensive as what you have. You could offer to be one of the judges for the contest; make it like an essay for "Why I Need to Win This Gown."

    Bridal shops and those who do alterations would really be able to help too.

    If you decide to donate the gown as a contest prize, do a press release about it too - Twitter about it, put it on your Facebook, etc.

    I don't know how patriotic you are, but there are things sprouting up all over the place to help military couples have their weddings and even vow renewals when the couples have had a quick I DO before deployment.

    Alfred Angelo's donates gowns every year to an organization in the south for brides who otherwise couldn't afford a gown. Weddings for Warriors Index

    (I was going to donate bookmark favors for the couples last year but for the life of me I couldn't get enough sponsors to help with the supplies.)

    Maybe you can get in touch with someone on the council for this year's wedding event??

    Whatever way you go with the dress, what you're doing is absolutely selfless and a wonderful idea.

    My best to you, whatever you decide to do.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      It's a lovely dress - looks like something I would choose:p. As the style is available and price easily found - I have some doubt that you could generate enough interest in an auction for one gown that would exceed what it sells for elsewhere.

      Most brides I've known would only buy a wedding dress at auction if it meant they were getting a great deal dollar-wise....but who knows?

      The "operation homefront" mentioned on the site linked above is wonderful. Another alternative (less time, less effort, perhaps less memories) would be to donate the dress to operation homefront or one of the other good causes as if they are non-profits you'd also have the tax writeoff.

      Thinking like a marketer, there might be similar charity groups in your city - where a donation might get some news exposure as well (I know, crass marketer idea).

      kay
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      • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
        Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

        It's a lovely dress - looks like something I would choose:p. As the style is available and price easily found - I have some doubt that you could generate enough interest in an auction for one gown that would exceed what it sells for elsewhere.

        Most brides I've known would only buy a wedding dress at auction if it meant they were getting a great deal dollar-wise....but who knows?
        Good point! I knew that, which is why I'm wondering if somehow, through the cause and the event, we can make it special enough that it would go for more than it's normal selling price? Maybe not, but I think with great marketing, it might be possible.

        Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

        Thinking like a marketer, there might be similar charity groups in your city - where a donation might get some news exposure as well (I know, crass marketer idea).
        This is EXACTLY the kind of crass idea I'm looking for. I'm not looking for a tax write-off. If I were only interested in that, I would never have brought it up here.

        I'm looking for exposure -- and a positive introduction to potential clients/associates. Crass? Yes. Maybe....

        But if done the right way, I think that it would be a great way to get an introduction to the business community and be viewed in a positive light.

        More ideas?

        Michelle
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        • Profile picture of the author Kay King
          If you want local business story - stay local with it.

          Just throwing out thoughts here -

          Think military bases - lots in your general area with returning soldiers? Brides waiting for them to come home for the wedding? The bases have offices that might be able to help locate a worthy (and newsworthy) recipient.

          Think local newspapers and "personal interest" stories.

          Contest is probably out due to the dress size - that's a limited bride selection as you know. The size might be a hook for a local news story - "looking for the right bride for..." The bases also put out their own newsletters that are widely read.

          I'll be interested to see how you do this and how it works out.

          kay
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    • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
      Originally Posted by ksmusselman View Post

      NOT a weird idea!!! As someone sort of in the wedding industry, I think what you're planning is an AWESOME idea and definitely with the right Buzz you could get a lot of people "bidding" on your dress.
      Whew! Glad it doesn't seem like a weird idea.

      Building buzz to drive bidding is exactly what I'd like to do!

      Thanks for sharing the info on Weddings for Warriors! I love it!

      I like the idea of giving a dress to a military bride. But I think I need to have just one cause, whether it's microfinance or military brides or...

      Giving my dress away isn't entirely altruistic. If I'm going to give away my beautiful dress, I want it to be for something worthwhile. I don't want it to go to a bridezilla who only sort of likes it/appreciates it.

      I'd prefer to benefit microfinance, which means we need $$$$. Which precludes a contest giveaway.

      And I'd love the opportunity for an introduction to potential clients/associates in the business community. As wonderful as Alfred Angelo's dress donations are, I don't want my dress to get lost in the "donation crowd." I want it to stand out -- and above -- normal donations.

      I'm wondering if I couldn't find a publicist to donate their expertise to building and executing a campaign to auction off the dress for microfinance? Not to mention a wedding planner, caterer, florist, etc.

      Hmmmm.. Maybe donate an entire wedding package: dress, flowers, catering, planning, etc. Wonder if I could get any other suppliers to go for it?

      But mainly, I need a publicist! Wonder if any publicists specialize in weddings or just special events?

      Michelle
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  • Profile picture of the author Terri LC
    Hi Nightengale, we have similar stories and I also have an Alfred Angelo and its been in my closet for 6 years!!

    there are no consignment stores here anymore so I am watching this thread to see what might come to fruition.

    Perhaps you could have a Facebook Fan page announcing your cause and garner support and awareness and maybe even a buyer in the process.

    I'm an event planner as well, and I love the idea of an auction or even finding out who else has a dress that was previously owned and join in.

    Good Luck and hope you receive more ideas..............

    Terri
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    • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
      Originally Posted by Terri LC View Post

      Hi Nightengale, we have similar stories and I also have an Alfred Angelo and its been in my closet for 6 years!!

      Good Luck and hope you receive more ideas..............

      Terri
      So sorry, doll! I know how hard that is.

      Long before I was engaged though, I always felt that I'd rather be single for the rest of my life than married to the wrong person. My parents went through a bitter, extended divorce and I've never been in any rush.

      There were always wedding dress books floating around the girls' dorm in college, but unlike most of my female classmates, I deliberately avoided weddings, wedding dresses... or wedding ANYTHING for most of my adult life. Didn't want to torture myself by focusing on something that might never happen.

      Even though it didn't work out, it's been like opening Pandora's box. I can't seem to get wedding "stuff" out of my head! A neighbor recently got married, a cousin of mine is getting married later this month and with the upcoming royal wedding in the news all the time.... Well, it seems very "in my face" at the moment.

      NOT fun!

      Thought I'd try to do something worthwhile with the dress. Because it really is my dream dress, I don't want to give it to just anyone. And since it's a size 2, it's more difficult. So getting rid of it is actually proving to be more challenging than I expected.

      Michelle
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  • Profile picture of the author Susanrh
    Hi, I don't know if this is something that you could copy in some way. Someone linked to this auction a couple of weeks ago.

    It spins a story and becomes something much more than an auction for a used wetsuit, if you can do something similar (probably without the surfer language) you could inspire as much interest in your dress.

    You have a story and a good cause to support you just need to get them noticed.
    Good luck
    Susan
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  • Profile picture of the author AdamCBR
    Just a thought. Instead of auctioning it off for charity, why not hire it out for charity?

    Think about it. If you hired it out, you could still own it. Give multiple women the opportunity to wear it. And have the charity receive a regular income from it.

    Set up a website, encourage other women with wedding dresses to join and have a whole site hiring out wedding dresses to brides, at a cheap price where all the money goes to charity.

    Just a thought. It might not work, mainly as I dont know the buying habits of brides to be.
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    • Profile picture of the author ksmusselman
      I'm going to bookmark this thread. My gown is hanging in its bag for when I get the money to clean & preserve it. Only worn once; a "Bonnie" knock-off, ivory gown (You can see it here; they don't make them anymore and that's not me in the photo ROFL: Plus Size Wedding Dresses that Fit Beautifully)

      But I'll be waiting to hear what you come up with. I might do the same thing but on a smaller scale since mine's a once-used gown. :rolleyes:
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      • Profile picture of the author doorkicker13
        I know I'm not providing anything of value.. but that dress incredibly beautiful. I sometimes get stuck watching "Say Yes to the Dress" with the lady friend and I have never seen a dress that I like as much as yours. Good luck!
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        • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
          Originally Posted by doorkicker13 View Post

          I know I'm not providing anything of value.. but that dress incredibly beautiful. I sometimes get stuck watching "Say Yes to the Dress" with the lady friend and I have never seen a dress that I like as much as yours. Good luck!
          Thank you sir! I really do appreciate your comment.

          I LOVE that dress! It's so simple, yet incredibly elegant. EXACTLY what I was looking for.

          I actually don't have TV. I refuse to pay for cable, so I only had TV during the time my ex and I were together because my he insisted he couldn't live without TV. :rolleyes:

          That show caught my eye, of course, because I was engaged. But I found my dress within a couple of weeks of getting engaged, so I watched it out of interest, not for ideas. I'm small (a size 2 or 4, depending on what it is), and because of some physical problems, finding clothes I can wear is a chore. I'm one of very few women who DON'T enjoy clothes shopping at all!

          So I anticipated a NIGHTMARE when shopping for a wedding dress and was actually dreading it a little. But I found that dress within two weeks of getting engaged and fell in love with it. Just because it looked good on the model didn't mean it would look good on me, so I was thrilled when it worked for me.

          I still love it just as much as I did a a year ago. So I guess I made the right choice!

          Michelle
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      • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
        Originally Posted by ksmusselman View Post

        I'm going to bookmark this thread. My gown is hanging in its bag for when I get the money to clean & preserve it. Only worn once; a "Bonnie" knock-off, ivory gown (You can see it here; they don't make them anymore and that's not me in the photo ROFL: Plus Size Wedding Dresses that Fit Beautifully)

        But I'll be waiting to hear what you come up with. I might do the same thing but on a smaller scale since mine's a once-used gown. :rolleyes:
        That's a lovely dress. Not my style, but lovely.

        I'm still not sure yet. I'm in no rush. Because that dress really is my dream dress, I don't want to get rid of it until I'm satisfied and excited about how I'm giving it away and who gets it (or who benefits).

        Still mulling over ideas...

        Michelle
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    • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
      Originally Posted by AdamCBR View Post

      Just a thought. Instead of auctioning it off for charity, why not hire it out for charity?

      Think about it. If you hired it out, you could still own it. Give multiple women the opportunity to wear it. And have the charity receive a regular income from it.

      Set up a website, encourage other women with wedding dresses to join and have a whole site hiring out wedding dresses to brides, at a cheap price where all the money goes to charity.

      Just a thought. It might not work, mainly as I dont know the buying habits of brides to be.
      That's an idea. I'm not sure how well it would work, though. Thoughts on this idea, anyone?

      Michelle
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  • Profile picture of the author BXPS
    I personally think its a wonderful idea.

    Go for it, all the best.
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  • Profile picture of the author msaqib301
    nice dress though.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
    Ok, here's an idea:

    I could donate the dress to Grameen America (the American division of Grameen Bank founded by Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize) or Kiva and let THEM auction off the dress.

    They might be able to get other vendors on board to donate stuff and possibly create an entire wedding package to auction off (for the publicity alone). Since they already have a lot of media coverage, I might be much more successful doing it this way.

    Or if I wanted to keep it local, I could round up some wedding vendors, create an entire package, and then give it away. I feel silly admitting this, but I'm intimidated by the idea of calling up local businesses and asking them to donate something. :rolleyes:

    What do you think?

    Michelle
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  • Profile picture of the author Rompart
    good luck with your excellent idea! Donating to charity is a good idea and please donate smart) without giving a chance to misuse your contributions.
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    • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
      That's what I'm trying to do and why it's not as simple as it seems it should be! Arrggh!

      I forsee a bit of a problem with the dress: it's a size 2. Maybe too small for something like this as most women couldn't wear a size 2 dress.
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  • Profile picture of the author joymarino
    I LOVE the idea of donating it to Brides for Cancer and I am sure they have people that donate their time to alter the dress as needed.
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    • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
      Originally Posted by joymarino View Post

      I LOVE the idea of donating it to Brides for Cancer and I am sure they have people that donate their time to alter the dress as needed.
      For various reasons, this doesn't appeal to me. I have absolutely NO desire to donate to cancer research. But I have heard of this organization.

      Michelle
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      • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
        I haven't hit on the right idea yet, so I'll just let it percolate in the back of mind for a while. We'll see.

        Thanks for all of your suggestions!

        Michelle
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      • Profile picture of the author joymarino
        Originally Posted by Nightengale View Post

        For various reasons, this doesn't appeal to me. I have absolutely NO desire to donate to cancer research. But I have heard of this organization.

        Michelle

        My apologies...since you brought it up, I thought it was something you were considering. I also misunderstood...I thought you were helping a soon-to-be bride get a dress. My mom got wigs, prosthetics (sp?), through the donations of others-as well as help with make-up, etc. during her treatments. I thought it was like that. Sorry.
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        • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
          Originally Posted by joymarino View Post

          My apologies...since you brought it up, I thought it was something you were considering. I also misunderstood...I thought you were helping a soon-to-be bride get a dress. My mom got wigs, prosthetics (sp?), through the donations of others-as well as help with make-up, etc. during her treatments. I thought it was like that. Sorry.
          No problem! I don't have a particular person in mind. I just have a dress I want to give away and I want a charity to benefit. Hence, the auction idea. Brides for Cancer had been suggested to me by someone else. But for reasons I won't get into here, I don't like that idea.

          Like Kay pointed out, I'm not likely to get more than I bought the dress for. Money is not the issue. But I want more than just selling it for half-price or getting lumped in with a bunch of other dresses for donation. Ugggh! It's special and I want something special for it.

          An auction might work if I could get wedding vendors to donate products and services (cake, flowers, etc.) and create an entire wedding package to auction off. But that seems like a lot of work. I know salons don't take wedding dresses back, but I briefly wondered if Alfred Angelo might be willing to take my dress back and give us the same dress in a different size if necessary.

          But that seems like more trouble than it's worth to put together.

          I'd prefer to benefit a microfinance organization like Grameen America or Kiva.org. Or I may forego the auction idea entirely and donate it to a military bride.

          Also, I might be wrong, but I think the size is problematic for an auction. Where would I find someone who could wear a size 2???? I'd have much better luck with a size 8 or 12.

          Not sure if I'm making it more complicated than it should be, but I'm starting to get a headache over it. (Seriously.) Maybe I ought to chuck the whole idea and let the dress stay where it is. No harm, no foul.

          Michelle
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  • Profile picture of the author joinmyclub
    it's a bright idea! very unique and I love all the designs. I wish I could wear one of those in the future.
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  • Profile picture of the author edv
    A very good idea. I'm sure that with the right marketing you could get to the top. For example you could buy your first interview at a local radio and the news would probably spread since "weird ideas" are currently some kind of a hit. A viral youtube video could also help at this matter. Good luck!
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