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
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.