This is a very unique shopping experience for you. We like to think of it as something that we will only do once in our lives. Your friends and family will bend over backwards for you to make your day special. Vendors will do the same thing to get your business. Although you may feel like a princess and get treated like one for this very special occasion, please remember that you should treat all of your friends and family and vendors with the common courtesy that you would want.
Bridal consultants work with multiple brides in a day, and dozens in a week. We see people who are the sweetest, most well-mannered people you could think of. But we also see very self-centered, not-so-sweet brides. Although we will be as nice to you as possible because we would like you to purchase from us, there is a line where we can get frustrated to the point that we can no longer help you the way you need to be helped. Please continue reading for suggestions to make your bridal experience the most successful and helpful that it can be…
- Make an appointment: Salons have other shoppers that need attention. It is not fair to you or the other brides to have to share consultants. Walk-in brides stretch consultants thin, can make us flustered, and take up fitting rooms that our appointments need. Make yourself a priority!
- Stick to your appointment time: Show up at or slightly before your appointment time. If your appointment is for 2 hours, don’t stay for 3. There are other brides to help, or I would like to go home to spend time with my family. We can schedule another appointment for later if you need more shopping time.
- It is OK to cancel: If you found something somewhere else, or just can’t make it, call the store and cancel. We could open up your appointment time to another bride hoping to find her gown.
- Let the consultant do her job: I would not try to tell a plumber how to fix a sink, so please don’t tell a sales person how to do theirs. Bridal consultants know what is in the store and how the dresses fit on people. It’s fine to give us a direction, but let us help you find your gown. If the salon allows you to pull from the rack, only pick out a handful (no more than 5) dresses to try on. This saves some dresses for other brides to try on. It also gives the consultant ideas of what types of things you like, and then she can go through the inventory and pull things that you may also like.
- Like Veggies, you must at least try it: If you don’t like it on the hanger, you might like it on. Dresses are not meant to be worn by hangers. I have had many brides who have refused to try a dress on (but I “made” them anyway) and they loved them and purchased them.
- Bills, bills, bills: Like the rest of the world, bridal stores have bills to pay. If you “found your dress” but then find a different dress somewhere else, don’t let the first store continue to think you are going to buy from them. If you say that you are coming in to purchase a couple days later, the store could be counting on that. It’s ok, to change your mind; and it’s ok to tell someone that you change your mind.
Manners are something that we all need to practice in all aspects of our daily lives. We expect it from others, so we should expect it from ourselves. “Do unto others…” When you go somewhere in public, think “If I was on a reality TV show, is this how I’d like to represented?”
Until next time,
The Bridal Lady
There are often two types of brides in this category. The bride who starts shopping way too early and the bride who starts nearly too late.
- The bride who starts shopping too early either needs to see all of the possible choices and ends up trying on so many dresses that she doesn’t remember what she tried on or she starts shopping with the idea that shopping for a bridal gown is the most fun thing and she is really just playing without having the intention of buying until she’s almost too late. Both will probably go to at least 5-10 stores and try on at least 100 dresses total. She will know which dress is the one she wants at this point, but will continue to return to all of the stores to revisit her favorites at each.
- The bride who shops too late is either having a short engagement or don’t realize that dresses take time to order. It is currently November and her wedding is in January or February. She has something very specific in mind but there is not enough time for her to special order. The sample that she loves is a size 8 and she fits in that designer’s size 12. She ends up settling on a store sample that fits but she doesn’t love as much and has a couple of small make up stains from previos brides trying it on.
Who is the bride that comes right on time?
As someone who has worked in both commissioned and commissioned bridal shops, I recommend beginning to shop when you are actually ready to purchase a gown. From the brides’ side, this will help you not overwhelm yourself with choices or exhaust you from the process. It is ok to buy a dress at the first store you visit! On the stores’ side, a bride who is shopping without the intention of buying for a while, you could be taking money out of your consultant’s pocket by “playing”. It is a tight economy and while the shoppers are trying to save money, so are the consultants. If a bride is in a shop without the intention of purchasing, you could be taking away an appointment time from a bride who does plan on purchasing.
Your bridal gown should be the 2nd item to cross off of your bridal “to do” list behind the ceremony/reception site. These first couple of things help establish the theme/feeling of your event.
Most bridal manufacturers have a MINIMUM delivery time of 12-14 weeks, but some companies can take up to 6 months depending on the time of year (Christmas, Chinese New Year, summer/peak season)
Why does it take so long?
- Most manufacturers do not have hanging stock waiting to be sent out. A manufacturer could lose money having the wrong sized/colored “extras” sitting in the wings. Another reason that this doesn’t occur is because many brides like there to be custom changes (hem length, train length, neckline change, sleeves) and these changes usually need to be cut from the pattern this way, not chop-shopped afterward.
- Although it may frustrate many Americans, most bridal apparel is constructed overseas. Unfortunately, many of us (myself included) no longer have these skills so it makes it difficult to do this type of manufacturing.
- The gowns are also made in batches. Say that you ordered a size 12 Champagne colored dress. Once a given amount of size 12 Champagne gowns are ordered through the manufacturer, they will stack the fabric and cut the pattern (working smarter not harder). Then, actually people sew the dresses. I just took up quilting and that takes a lot of man hours, I can’t imagine having to to create darts, pleats, pick-ups and then bead and embroider a very specific pattern into fabric that could cost $100+ per yard—wouldn’t want to mess that up!
- Once the gowns are constructed, they are shipped to the US (or respective destination)—sometimes still by cargo ship. Often, there is a hold up in customs. Then, when the gown reaches the country then its manufacturer’s national headquarters, it is shipped via UPS/FedEx ground to the store it was ordered from.
- The gowns do not usually fit 100% perfectly straight from the manufacturers’ size charts. Alterations are usually necessary and should begin 6-8 weeks before your wear date.
When is the right time to shop for/buy your gown?
- 8-9 months before your wear date.
Until next time!
The Bridal Lady
When you, the bride, first get engaged, the first thought is often to begin searching for what you want for your bridal gown. What should you do to prepare for your gown shopping? Please, let me help.
- When you have seen some styles that you could see yourself in for your big day, start booking your appointments at salons. Every store has a different policy for requiring appointments, but it is always best to schedule appointments to ensure that you will have someone to help you in case it gets busy.
- When you are ready to schedule your sales appointment (different than fitting appointments—many make that vocab error), keep in mind that some stores book up very quickly—especially Saturdays. Schedule well in advance to make sure that you have time to invite your important opinion-givers.
- Speaking of opinion-givers…think carefully about how many people you bring to your appointment. There are a couple of reasons that this is important. 1.) If you bring too many opinions/mouths, there will be too many differing opinions. This will both confuse and irritate you. In the end, it is YOUR dress, the only opinion that really counts is that of the person wearing it. 2.) Bridal stores have limited space. This may be your special day to shop, but there will be other brides shopping too. These brides will also want to bring “the village.” If there are too many large groups in the store, it isn’t pleasant for anyone.
- When choosing your gown, bring only the opinions that are constructive, but that will also agree with you. If someone other than you is paying for your gown, that person should be invited too. You do not need the opinion of all of your bridesmaids, the mother of the groom, you aunt and your neighbor. Suggested people to bring are your mom (or mother figure), sister OR friend, and Grandma OR groom’s mom. So, that leaves 3 people—MAX.
- How many places should you shop? My professional opinion is three shops, maximum. After 3 stores, you get a sense of all the different styles that designers make, as well as a rounded view of different designers’ looks. This number also keeps you from forgetting what you have seen elsewhere.
I’ve been reading reviews for bridal stores (the one I work for as well as competitors) and it seems to me that many brides have ideas about what their experience should be, and when it varies from that idea at all they get angry or scared and need to place blame somewhere. While I admit that sometimes mistakes are made by either the designer or the retailer, often what can appear to be an error is really just one of these variations from expectations.
Purchase today, here tomorrow: Delivery times take much longer than ordering a pair of shoes from Zappos
"I’ve never been a size 12 in my life!": Bridal size charts are different than buying a t-shirt and jeans
Not every bride has an a-ha moment
A bride does not need to go to 10 different stores and try on 10 dresses each—do the math, that’s 100 white dresses! Do you even remember what half of them look like?
Bridal gowns aren’t cheap (except at “the D-word”): Fabric, beading, construction=lots of money)
Bridal Consultants know their products, LET THEM HELP YOU!!!
There are many more, and if you have any questions or concerns about your own experience, I’m an open book.