Many brides today are turning to the internet to search out deals for their weddings. As someone who has worked in the bridal industry for many years, I have seen this trend on the up rise for several years and am happy to say (at least with purchasing dresses online) it has plateaued and is even now on the decline. I understand of course brides wanting to save money by purchasing their gown or dresses for their bridesmaids, but we have seen many instances of it going terribly wrong and wanted to share our insight into the problems with purchasing wedding attire over the internet.
1. What you see is not always what you get Most websites that sell designer gowns at a discounted rate are able to do that because they are not actually selling the real designer gown. What they are doing is illegal, and many get shut down by lawsuits from designers, and then just start up under a new name. Now you may say “who cares if it’s the designer or a knock off? I just want to save!” Well it’s about a lot more than just the designer label. The picture you are looking at is actually stolen from the real designers site, and the dress you will receive is their best attempt at copying it. I have seen and altered many gowns from these sites, and I can promise you, their best is not nearly as good as the real deal. Poor fit, poor quality of construction and poor quality fabrics nearly every time. There’s a reason they are not making their version of the dress and photographing it, it’s just won’t look as good!
2. Lack of customer service We have had to help brides find last minute dresses for their bridesmaids because the ones they ordered never showed up, or came incorrectly and the online companies were not willing to do anything to help them. No bride wants to be frantically searching last minute because when her girls dresses arrived, instead of 4 dresses in the package she got 3 dresses and a stuffed owl (This actually happened!) When you order a dress from a full service bridal shop such as our store you can sleep easy knowing you have someone dedicated to making sure everything with your order is correct, and is willing and able to help you should anything go wrong.
3. No access to alterations Although you put your measurements into these websites, you are not getting a custom made to measure gown, you will be sent the closest fit according to a size chart. The same is true from most designers you can purchase in our store, however here you have access to professional seamstresses who will make sure you go out the door with a dress that fits you perfectly. As a seamstress who does work on many bridal parties, I know that there is a lack of skilled seamstresses today, and a big stress for a lot of brides is finding someone they can trust with their gown.
4. There’s good reasons why prices in stores are higher than online I get asked a lot why a customer should be willing to pay more for a dress in our store than they can find it for online and I am happy to finally get a chance to speak to this issue. When you shop online, the first and most obvious issue is you can’t try the dress on! In order for a bridal shop to have samples available for customers to try on they have to invest in hundreds of thousands of dollars in dresses they sometimes can’t even sell because they get tried on so much. They also of course have to provide you with a location to come try these on, which customers often take for granted. You are also paying for a trained, knowledgeable salesperson to help you through the entire experience. Of course a website only store has a cheaper price, they don’t have to pay nearly as much overhead to exist! And people wonder why it’s aggravating when someone comes in and says “Oh I just want to try it on but I have ordered it online”, you are using our services, giving our samples more wear and tear and taking up our time only to give your money to a company that isn’t offering you any of that.
5. It often ends up not being cheaper in the end When you look at the price as you shop online there are a lot of factors to consider before you are at your end cost. Of course there is your shipping cost, which at our store is included in the price you see. There is also often more alterations to be done to a dress purchased online because you are just guessing at your size. When you purchase in a full service shop, you get to try on sizes to compare and have the help of an expert in getting the closest possible size. An incorrectly ordered size can end up costing a bridesmaid more than $100 to refit the entire dress, and for an unlucky bride who ends up with the wrong size, it can cost a whole lot more. In many cases we have dealt with the biggest increase in cost is actually purchasing another dress because they were so unhappy with how their online purchase turned out.
So before you purchase your gown from a discount website, consider these factors and also whether it’s worth it to spend a bit more to support a small local business that will give you a great experience throughout your wedding planning process!