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Frugal brides find bargains through wedding consignments

| Thursday, July 3, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

When Christine Sypien was helping plan her son's beach-motif wedding, the bargain hunter began looking for frugal finds online.

A quick search landed her on a site that would provide just about everything she needed while saving her thousands. On the Pittsburgh Wedding Flea Market's Facebook page, Sypien found an array of items that worked for their Siesta Key, Fla., affair — everything from mirrors for centerpieces, lanterns to release into the sky, sea-shell decorations, tulle, vases, cake toppers and more.

“I saved $5,000 compared to what I would have bought in the stores,” says Sypien of Scott, whose son Shawn Krznaric wed his new bride Brittney in May.

In the days of Pinterest popularity and do-it-yourself chic, more weddings are becoming secondhand affairs, industry insiders say.

“The Millennial bride has been taught that this is the responsible thing to do,” says Mashel Rathmell, who co-owns This Magic Moment with Lisa Filter. The pair organizes sales of new and consigned wedding items around the Pittsburgh region.

“I wouldn't call it a trend,” Rathmell says. “It's a new way of looking at things and living.”

This Magic Moment has been hosting consignment sales for two years, and Rathmell says they're growing steadily in popularity. Pinterest has helped make reused and repurposed items more appealing to new brides, she says.

“We've had vases, centerpieces, cake stands, an ice sculpture mold, vintage furniture people used for rustic weddings, altars,” she says.

Because social media allows everyone to see what choices a bride made, even if they weren't invited, themes are becoming increasingly unique, Rathmell says.

“Brides want their weddings to look different,” she says.

Jodi Colella, Pittsburgh Wedding Flea Market site administrator, is a former wedding planner who got married in 2006 and was looking for a place to sell wedding-specific items locally. No group like that on Facebook existed, so she created one a little more than a year ago and now has more than 700 members and is growing daily.

Page group members post their items for other members to see. If someone is interested, they contact the seller directly, agree on a price and arrange to meet to make the sale.

Common items listed on the site are dresses, centerpieces and other decor. Colella has even seen some camouflage items.

“My biggest tip is to be careful when making any sale,” says Colella of West Mifflin. “I really try to steer the group into meeting and buying/selling locally. Also, when posting to the group, I feel it is best to place pictures in posts with a brief description, their location or where they are willing to meet, as well as pricing. I recommend pricing fairly and negotiating price with interested parties.”

She personally screens every post and new member requests to avoid spammers and does not allow any businesses or vendors to self-promote on the site.

“I am so glad to offer this site to (brides),” Colella says. “It does make me happy knowing they have an avenue for which to save or make some money on/from their wedding.”

On the site, Sypien found materials for a tiki bar, burlap string to tie napkins and more. Much of what she bought had never been used. It was either another bride's over-buy or something that fell through at the last minute, such as the sky lanterns.

“After (the original owner) bought them, the place she was getting married at said she couldn't use them because there were too many trees,” Sypien says. “She had paid $7 for each. I bought them for $3 each.”

Sypien then sold the lanterns to another bride for the same price. In all, she paid about $500 for the items she found online and has sold most of it for nearly $300.

“It's a great site,” she says.

Lauren Whipkey of Belle Vernon, who is getting married in August 2015, used the site to buy shepherd's hooks for down the aisle, decorative stained crates and signs, among other items.

“My theme is rustic shabby chic, so many items will be an antique, primitive type of feel,” she says.

Whipkey also plans to sell her used goods when the wedding is over.

“All you have to do is remember to take photos of what you have at your wedding and just post it online,” she says. “This Facebook group also gives other brides ideas, too.”

For those who'd prefer to seek out secondhand items in person, antique stores offer an array of used wedding goods. Tim Bradburn, owner of Tim's Secret Treasures in Charleroi, has sold vintage engagement rings, dresses, linens, cookie trays, salt and pepper shakers, veils and more.

“It's hard to say what they're going to buy,” he says. “Anything can be for a wedding.”

He's even had customers purchase old photographs to use as decorations.

“It's very popular right now,” Bradburn says. “In the last two years, it's blown up pretty good. Everybody is coming in for used stuff.”

Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or

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