Facts To Consider When Buying A Wedding Dress
The advantage of buying early (about a year before the wedding) is that you know what you are getting so you can match everything else and you can make everything revolve around your dress.
Choosing a wedding dress can be quite stressful so buying early takes some of the pressure off.
On the other hand, fashions will change so unless you chose a fairly traditional design what seemed so cool last year might not be so by the time you get married. You also have more time where you can change your mind and wished you'd waited a bit longer.
The quiet period for a wedding dress shop is the summer so there are more chances to find sales and discounts.
If you leave it too late though, some shops will charge you extra even if you still have 6 months left. Enquire about the timescale but remember that according to shop staff the best time to buy is now.
Things to Remember Before Buying Your Wedding Dress
Let's say you've found your wedding dress and you are ready to buy it. You'll be told everything you need to know but here are a few hints:
If you are worried your dress won't get there in time you could say you've moved the wedding date to a couple of weeks before the actual date and say so before you sign on the dotted line. Don't say it's months before, you might gain weight, lose weight, get pregnant etc.
Alterations To Your Wedding Dress
Most shops offer an alteration service for a fixed price, do check what exactly it covers, how many fittings there are etc. Sometimes it's only a very basic service for a very exclusive price. You need fittings until the wedding dress fits your body perfectly. You are not obliged to have the alterations done where you bought the dress and the sales talk about having specialized seamstresses is waffle, any good tailor can cope with a wedding dress
Wedding Dress Return Policies
What if you change your mind/ break up with the fiancee etc. Some shops do not have a return policy and if something goes wrong you won't get your deposit back, on average, half the dress price. Read the contract carefully and ask questions and make sure you get straight answers. If you are spending a lot of money it's worth looking into the wedding insurance option which covers all sorts of disasters.
Hints On Wedding Dresses
- Ask if they can give you a few fabric samples, they'll be most useful when you choose your shoes, veil, bridesmaids' dresses etc.
- Take a picture of yourself wearing the dress, again very useful when choosing accessories.
- Now you have a few months to wait before your dress arrives so you can choose your accessories, bridesmaids' dresses and arrange everything else.
Wedding Dress Prices!
- Dresses in bridal stores range from around£400-500 to many thousands.
- Expect to pay more if it's silk and/or has a lot of beadwork.
- Alterations are usually extra.
These days a lot of our clothes are made in China or India and wedding dresses are no different. Shops are not keen to disclose this fact partly because of the sweatshop/child labour issue. On top of that a Chinese made dress doesn't sound as exclusive as an Italian made one and people would, quite rightly, expect to pay less. Although it's rare occurrence, a Chinese made dress could also get caught in trade disputes such as the "bra wars" and could be stuck in a warehouse waiting for the government to sort out the import limits.
So how can you tell if a wedding dress is made in China or not?
The first thing is to look at the label.
If there is no label don't assume that because the designer is French/ Italian sounding the dress is made in the same country. Factories abroad often make up some wonderful fictitious names and you are actually being sold a dress by a designer who doesn't exist. Check on the internet, any real designer has a site with pictures of their collection. If you can't find anything unless it is in conjunction with a specific shop or chain it's suspicious. Ask yourself, why should real designers limit themselves to a few places? Sometimes real designers produce a collection for a department store but in this case the dresses are cheaper than a boutique and the designer is very well known.
Another indication is when the name of the designer is similar to famous people's or other real designers' names. Some invented names are spelt incorrectly or would sound strange and implausible in their supposed country of origin. If in doubt ask your French or Italian friends.
The overall quality is also a good indication. Is the stitching straight? Does the beadwork look cheap? Does the fabric look good quality?
The price tag is unfortunately no indication of provenience, even £3000 silk dresses could be made in China.
Finally you can always ask and beware of vague answers and answers which are not answers such as "The fabric is made in France" etc.
There's nothing wrong with a Chinese made dress but don't pay over the odds for one because they are just not worth it.
Wedding Dress Fittings
When your dress arrives, the shop will write or ring you to arrange the first fitting so it's a good idea to keep them informed if you move or change phone number. Bear in mind that as for appointments everybody wants a fitting on a Saturday and that the first fitting can take more than an hour.
Shops like to keep the fittings as close as possible to the wedding date so your figure won't have time to change.
At the first fitting you need to bring:
- The shoes you want to wear at the wedding, this is because if you wear flat shoes at the fitting and 4 inch heels at the wedding the dress will be too short.
- If you haven't bought the shoes yet just bring a pair of similar height.
- The lingerie you want to wear, especially if you are going for a corset or just to check your chosen bra doesn't show at the neckline. It's always good to wear a bra under a wedding dress.
- Anything that might affect the way the dress fits.
- Accessories are not necessary but you might want to see the overall effect.
- The person who is going to dress you on your wedding day. If you are having a corset, they will need to see how it's done up and maybe have a go at doing it themselves.
The dress you'll be trying is your actual dress not a sample so be careful with your make up as you put it on and make sure your hands are clean.
The seamstress will pin all the alterations to be done and this is a good opportunity to address any special requests you might have, e.g. wanting the waist as tight as possible.
By the second fitting, all the alterations should be already done and you are only trying the dress on to check you are absolutely happy with it.
If you are, you'll be taking your dress home. Keep it under a cover to avoid getting it dusty.
About the author
Lucretia Agnus was born in Hungary in 1947.
She trained as a costume designer and worked on theatre and TV productions all over Europe. She settled in England after her marriage to raise a family and transferred her skills and experience to the bridal industry where she stayed for the next 20 years.She has now retired and enjoys cooking, gardening and skiing.
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"If the alterations are done and you feel that they have made a really bad job of them where do you stand?"
"Very good advice for someone like me who is in the process of opening a bridal shop. Don't want any bad quality or any dresses made in China! Thanks!!"
"Thank you so much for your help with buying a wedding dress. This was most helpful, and written very nicely. Thank you again so much! "
"Thank you for your informing article. Best Wishes, "