While I know “Say Yes to the Dress” has a nicer ring to it, it is far wiser to proceed with caution when it comes to wedding dress shopping. Did you know that buying a bridal gown generates the biggest number of consumer complaints from engaged couples? Here are some tips to help prevent a wedding dress disaster from happening to you.
1. Underestimate your dress budget by 10% The first question brides get asked is “How much do you want to spend?” Since most salespeople work on commission, it is human nature to “up-sell”. If you say your budget is $1,800, don’t be surprised if you are shown gowns in the $1,950-$2,150 range. If you truly don’t want to be tempted to overspend, lower your budget when answering that question.
2. Underestimate your wedding date The next question that typically gets asked is “When is your wedding?” If you’d rather not lie, simply say “I’ll need the dress by June 30” if your wedding date is actually July 30. By pushing your date forward by 4 weeks, you allow more time to fix any potential problems with the dress. Ideally, you should order your wedding dress 5-9 months before your actual wedding date.
3. Know your measurements before you shop Get measured (bust, waist, hips) and ask to see the manufacturer’s sizing chart before placing your order. Select the gown size that most closely matches the largest of your measurements. This is important because it is much easier to alter a dress that needs to be smaller than to alter a dress that needs to be larger. If the salesperson pressures you to order a size that does not correspond with the size chart, consider walking away. If you still decide to purchase from that shop, write “Size recommended by consultant” and ask for his or her signature on the receipt. If you wind up needing a great deal of alterations, you will be in a better position to ask the shop to cover the alteration costs if you have that signature.
4. Pay with a credit card Even if the bridal salon has a “No refunds on Special Orders” policy, the Fair Credit Billing Act protects consumers by requiring refunds if the merchandise purchased is not delivered as agreed.
5.Check the receipt before leaving the shop Make sure the following is clearly marked on your receipt/dress order form:
- manufacturer’s name & style number
- delivery date
- special requests like extra beading or rush delivery
- deposit, refund & cancellation policy
6. Inspect the dress when you pick it up When the dress comes in, be sure to look it over thoroughly before you make the final payment. Confirm the size by trying it on, and make sure any accessories are in the bag. Don’t be tempted to pick it up and leave. Gowns have been known to come in with stains, tears in the fabric, missing pieces like belts and bolero jackets etc… Make sure you are 100% satisfied before leaving the shop because it will create a much bigger hassle if you have to fight to have issues fixed after you leave.
It’s no wonder so many mistakes can happen with wedding gowns – humans make mistakes and there are lots of humans involved at many different points in this process. If you allow enough time and adopt an attitude of “Caveat Emptor” (Latin for Let the buyer beware) you will have a much easier time saying Yes to the Dress!