Want to Recycle Your Wedding dress? There’s a Store for That

Bridal Maven in Dormont is a consignment store that offers brides the full dress-shopping experience while encouraging sustainably.
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PHOTOS BY DAWN DERBYSHIRE

Many of the purchases you make for your wedding are items you’ll use once — with a wedding dress being the pinnacle. 

But at Bridal Maven, a bridal consignment shop in Dormont, those dresses can go on to have a second life, not to mention give brides-to-be a break in their budget while encouraging sustainability. 

“I love weddings and I love wedding dresses, and they’re gorgeous and they’re well made, and they’re the most beautiful thing you ever buy, but you do only get to wear it one time,” says owner Hannah Balash. “So what are you going to do with it after?”

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Bridal Maven sells designer gowns from only the last three years at 30-50% off retail price. As a consignment shop, the sellers receive a portion of the sales. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many of the dresses on sale are brand new.

“People eloped or got married in the backyard instead of the Omni, they didn’t need the big fancy dress,” Balash says. 

Those gowns are typically 15% off retail price, Balash says. 

If a gown doesn’t sell within a six-month window, the sellers can choose to take it home or donate to one of several nonprofit organizations Balash partners with, such as Brides for a Cause. 

Balash opened the boutique in February 2021. A year prior, she had her first baby, then the pandemic hit. The longer she was home, she says, the longer her wheels turned about what she wanted to do with her career. She had worked at Blanc de Blanc Bridal in Carrick as well as BHLDN in New York City but had been feeling a nudge to open her own shop.  

“People thought I was a little crazy for opening a brick-and-mortar store in 2021,” she says. “It was a good time to have options for people who had gowns they didn’t need anymore and also to help people who were maybe trying to save money or rehome items or find things for less.”

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She says the boutique’s reception has been incredibly positive. She offers brides a full experience akin to any high-end shop — Bridal Maven is by appointment and comes with a stylist, a fitting room and a large couch where moms or bridesmaids can sit to ooh and aah over the bride.

“I think sometimes people wonder, ‘oh, second-hand consignment, is it kind of like a thrift shop?’ And it’s not, it’s like a bridal shop,” Balash says. “There are people who would never consider buying second-hand for their wedding dress, but as sustainability matters more and more to brides and couples, this is a really big way that they can impact that.”

A 2021 survey by the Knot notes that 70% of couples are concerned with sustainability in their wedding. 

Brides also like the idea of helping another soon-to-be-newlywed starting out in married life just as they are, Balash adds. 

“When you buy a dress from me, you’re helping a small business and you’re also helping another bride who’s just like you. … It’s a nice little circular moment that we get.”

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Balash also sells accessories as well as the kind of little white dresses brides often seek out for their rehearsal dinners or bridal showers. 

“I really love helping people find this garment that has a lot of importance to us culturally, and I love that moment, so being able to do it here in my own kind of vision is really special.”

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