What to Thrift, and What to leave behind.

Modern brides shop differently than previous generations. Not only in doing extensive online research before making decisions but in considering the environmental factor and cost/quality comparisons of the products they purchase. The Knot claimed, sustainable weddings the #1 hot trend. Weddings are extremely expensive, but not only in cost. The extreme amount of waste is far worse.

Thrifting is a very effective way to cut down on waste and reduce wedding debt for young couples that are already catching their breath after a rough year. With weddings averaging $35,000, cutting costs is crucial. Re-using items that are used only once and retain most of their value makes great sense for this new generation looking to make mindful choices!

Thrifting makes wedding shopping cost-effective and even adds fun and whimsy for a more creative and personal outcome. With that said, not every wedding item is appropriate for second-hand thrift shopping. We’ve compiled a list best and worst items to thrift for your wedding. 



Here are some of our favorite secondhand wedding items that save money, waste, and reduce wedding debt without sacrifice! -


#1 Wedding Dress - Why spend $3,000 on a dress when you can buy the same one for under $1000. It was used only once for a few hours and retains most of its value!


Shop this Never Worn, Pre-owned Stella York Wedding Dress

#2 Glass jars, vases, and other decorative items - Finding unique items can also mean a more eclectic experience. I was able to collect around 50 milk glass vases, many of them under $1 each. You can even get some glass jars and paint them to match your theme.



#3 Tablecloth and Linens - Perfect thrift items to reuse. Wash, Use, and repeat. Most often the fabric is long-lasting and can last for years of reuse. Pass them on to your friend


#4 Dishes, china, and flatware from thrift stores give an instant vintage and eclectic look! Except for crystal, and we’ll get into that later in “What not to thrift” below.



#5 Jewelry - Costume Wedding Jewelry such as Tiara’s, Hair Pins, Brooches, Barrettes, and Baubles from a vintage shop is perfect and can be purchased at a fraction of the cost of brand new items from a bridal shop.…. Few items match the retained value of jewelry for your wedding, for you, your bridesmaids and as backups, in case something breaks unexpectedly.


#6 Wedding Veil - These are surprisingly very costly. Secondhand makes sense! Just make sure you are picking up the right color to match your dress. 


#7 Picture Frames - Weddings often require dozens of frames for guest directions, photos, and inspirational sayings. Thrift stores usually have an array of vintage and unique frames that cost a couple of bucks a pop. Vintage frames can be used for photobooths, decor, framed pictures of the couple and family, and for artwork that speaks from the heart and expresses a couple's individual story.



#8 Furniture - Looking for some vintage statement pieces like love seats or stools. These are ultra-expensive to purchase at retail, but thrift stores have plenty for a fraction of the cost. However, ff you are considering items that are upholstered, applying a DIY recovering in unique fabrics, velvet in your wedding colors/theme is not only a good idea to maintain our style and personalize look and feel, but also for sanitary reasons, smells, toxins, and if you’re looking for updated, fire retardant material. However, be wary of painted furniture. We’ll talk more about that in “What not to thrift” below.


What Not to Thrift for your Wedding -

#1 Appliances - Such as for reheating or keeping food hot for a buffet -  In worst-case scenarios, this can be dangerous if not unsanitary. Who knows if the motor is burned out or the wiring is faulty? The number one rule is to make sure you can test it before bringing it home. Even then faulty wiring can go unnoticed…



#2 Anything in Paper - Paper goods are tough to reuse, including books, guest books, and paper decor. Once use they tend to look tattered vs. eclectic...pass on paper. If you’d like to be eco-conscious on your paper goods try recycled for a positive impact. There is one exception, if you’re looking for authentic antique or very aged books, you might have better luck with a trip to your local antique shop - technically that is also considered thrifting! 


#3 Crystal  - Antique crystal glasses, decanters, and other crystal vessels were likely made following outdated standards, which means they could contain 32 percent or more lead oxide, . Try to avoid purchasing old crystal, which could contaminate your drinks and food. 


#4 Decorative Pillows and Bedding Items - They might be pretty, or dirty, or worse, infested with bed bugs or fleas. Bedding items are dangerous candidates for these pesky issues. I’d stay away…


#5 Painted and Distressed Vintage Hardware - Doors and windows painted before 1978 contain lead. If you have your heart set on a distressed window frame at your local thrift shop, ask to do a lead test. I love a distressed set of knobs and keys but these also pose a risk of lead exposure. If you must have the look, there are lots of new-antiqued versions of keys, hardware and knobs found at local home decor and hardware stores.