As anyone who has ever watched Say Yes to the Dress knows, finding the right wedding gown can be downright brutal--especially on your wallet. Happily, genius new tech startup Nearly Newlywed, which launched just last Wednesday, is helping to change all that.
Here's how: The brainchild of former fashion publicist Jacqueline Sheller Courtney, Nearly Newlywed carries a curated selection of 'nearly new', hard-to-find, fashion forward wedding dresses from designers like Oscar de la Renta, Monique Lhuillier, Marchesa, Rodarte (and loads more). The best part is that Nearly Newlywed offers a ‘Buy it, Wear it, and Send it Back’ guarantee that allows brides to purchase the gown of their dreams, wear it (and even make alterations!) and then sell it back immediately for 30% of what they paid, or reconsign it for 70%. Courtney cleverly uses Pinterest to connect with nearlyweds and offer gown suggestions based on their inspiration boards. (Like we said: Genius)
We got in touch with Courtney to talk about her new venture, how her work as a fashion PR influenced the concept--and why she's making it her mission to bring the red carpet experience to every bride.
How would you describe the mission of Nearly Newlywed? Jacqueline Sheller Courtney: In short, it is really 'making brides happy' - we really care about our brides, 'nearlywed' and 'newlyweds' alike, and want to create a personal, fun, upscale experience for them. Getting married is one of the happiest times in a lot of girl's lives...[and it's also] a chance to have a 'red carpet moment' that many of us don't often have, so I want to offer girls everywhere the opportunity to wear the jaw dropping gowns they grew up swooning over in magazines, just like I did.
How did working as a fashion publicist prepare you for what you're doing now? A lot of the inspiration for our 'Buy It, Wear It, Send It Back' Nearly Newlywed Guarantee came from my work dressing celebrities and editors as a publicist. I saw how these women, arguably with the most access in the world to high-end fashion, borrow 3-15k gowns on a regular basis from PR showrooms. It was a bit like the idea of renting, but the difference was, for a celebrity like Gwyneth Paltrow, she could alter the dress and hold onto it for a few months until her entire press twirl was over - so it would be altered 'just so', kept for the right event, and then returned - although sometimes, the celebrity would just keep it anyway. So that type of behavior really inspired me to bring that 'red carpet experience' to bridal.
What sort of experience do you hope to bring to brides-to-be? For many women, even if they have the means to purchase a 10k gown, knowing that they will only have cause to wear it once it too much of a deterrent to splurge - so I want to come in, fit the pieces together, and make it to so they can - whether by purchasing a gown at a substantial discount, selling that dress back after their wedding, or consigning a dress.
What sort of advice would you give to a woman searching for her wedding dress? Don't set limits for yourself, and that goes for style, inspiration, and 'cost'. The most important thing about your wedding is how you feel on that day - if you feel incredible, you will look incredible, and your memories and photos will tell that story. The dress is a big part of that, so get inspired and be creative. Think of outfits and photos where you felt especially beautiful, and look for common themes in those, these can help you discern what you really want in a dress.
On average how much will "borrowing" a dress set a bride back? It really varies on which options you choose and the original price of the gown, as we have dresses ranging from 500 to 17K original retail. If for example, you purchase a 10K dress for 4K that has our NNGuarantee, you can either sell it back immediately for 30% (1200$) or reconsign it for 70% ($2800 when it sells) - meaning it would cost you in total as little as $1200 after all is said and done, depending on the options you select - which is roughly 90% off of retail.
How does it work for a bride to alter the gown, without changing the value of it (ie making it unusable for others)? Alterations are tricky, but most of the time they don't drastically affect the value of a gown, they just change who will be interested in it next. Trying to keep as much length as possible in the gown is something we recommend, as dresses can easily be altered shorter, but not made to be longer. It is most important to retain the original design and dignity of the garment, focusing on fit rather than 'redesigning' in any substantial way.
Click through to see some of Nearly Newlywed's wedding gown offerings.
Photos: Lisa Beggs Florist: Denise Fasanello