Does the word ‘consignment’ scare you? Conjure images of Goodwill cast-offs in a store run by darling little old ladies? Walk in any bridal consignment shop these days and you’ll feel more like you’re in a high-end designer salon. With catchy names like Encore Bridal and One More Time, these shops offer some elegant, gently worn gowns in better shape than your average designer sample. In fact, the proprietors of these places can get real persnickety about what they take in—some only accepting top designer names like Vera Wang and Reem Acra. In addition, once gowns are accepted they’re cleaned and pressed to look new before they ever go on display. And think about it. They’ve only been worn once, isn’t that practically new? Most inventory is ‘once-worn’ while the rest could be manufacturer over runs, designer samples bought at market or salon clearances. Additionally, every so often you’ll find that certain gown some bride ordered and for whatever reason, never wore. If you’re price conscious this is the place to shop. Gowns that retailed last season for $3000-4000 are typically half off but sometimes can go for as little as $500-600. More good news. You’re going to get very personalized assistance—the same as in a full service bridal salon. Though there will be re-altering involved, you won’t have to wait 4-6 months for your gown. Bear in mind once-worn gowns have already been pre-fit and altered to someone else’s body. Just make sure they’re once-worn; an over altered dress that’s been on more than one body could lose its original shape after a while. Ask how many and what kind of alterations the gown you want has had. Typically, if it’s gone through more than two brides, forget it. In addition to alterations your shop may offer customizing services (for a fee). Shops realize with previously-worn gowns, there’s a kind of possessive energy the new purchaser wants to create to make the gown her own. Therefore some shops focus on customizing.
FYI: Naturally bridal consignment shops don’t stock set sizes like salons do. Small and larger brides might have to work closely with staff and keep a lookout locating a gown in their size.

And here's a new concept in shopping for bridal: Encore Bridal in Manhattan Beach, California offers second time around high end gowns to brides via the net. Owner Julie Jones gives you the option of saving time and gas by purchasing a wedding gown in the comfort of your own home. There's a 7-day return policy if the dress doesn't fit. SoCal Brides also have the option of viewing Encore Bridal's gowns at bimonthly trunk shows or during private styling appointments.
Finally, shopping for a second time around gown is a great way to recycle and go green. Below you'll find links to some of the chicest of the second time around boutiques in the US as well as online

Situated in NYC, this is the only not-for-profit bridal boutique showcasing stunning designer gowns at up to 75% retail. Carrying samples like Ulla Maja, Angel Sanchez and Judd Wadell, most samples are donated by designers and salons. All proceeds go to NYC schools.
Encore Bridal
Encore Bridal is an upscale e-Boutique as well as salon in Manhattan Beach, California. Owner Julie Jones offers a well edited selection of new, sample, and nearly-new wedding dresses from today's most sought after designers. Julie believes every bride deserves to feel her best while wearing the best, no matter what her budget.
Emily Newman, launched Once Wed in March 2008 as the only free listing service for wedding dresses after selling her own wedding dress online. Realizing how few resources there are for women looking to do the same, her site offers brides everything from real wedding and inspiration galleries to modern DIY wedding projects.