‘Hi Dara, I hope you don’t mind but I was wanting to ask you some advice on my wedding dress. I’m having a mini freak out about it because it’s a size 16 and I am a 12.. and the ladies in the shop assured me it would be fine to take it in, but now I’m super worried it will not be possible.’
This is a message I received a few months back and one that is sadly all too common. I know that weddings are a big expense and couples are eager to save money where they can. Unfortunately there are also unscrupulous sales people out there who are more interested in their sales commission than in giving honest advice. This bride was so excited about finding her dream dress on sale that she went ahead and purchased it even though the shop didn’t have a dressmaker on hand to give her advice about taking it in. The shop assistants put her under pressure to buy as the ‘sale event’ was a one off and assured her that the alteration would not be a problem. Neither statement turned out to be true. Passing the shop several weeks later my client saw that the discounts still applied and having had a consultation with me the alteration turned out to be more complex than she had anticipated. I am able to help her, but any ‘saving’ she thought she was making by buying the sample has been taken up by the cost of the alteration.
So, how can you avoid falling into a similar trap?
Make sure you take a trusted friend or family member with you
They should be able to give you good advice and help you stick to your budget (if that is what you want) as well as encourage you take a step back before you buy. Of course you want them to be enthusiastic about your choice too – so choose someone you know will be both honest and diplomatic.
Don’t spend your entire budget on the dress.
It is likely that your dress choice will require some alteration to make it fit you perfectly. Unless this is included in the cost by the bridal boutique please allow sufficient funds to have the alterations made to a high standard. It’s difficult to say how much to put aside for this as the cost will vary greatly depending on the complexity of the alterations. As a guide I would suggest a minimum of £200-300. If the dress needs to be taken in several sizes this cannot just be done through the centre back seam, but will involve taking it in all around the bodice. This will be more difficult if the dress has lace embroidery and/or beading.
Inspect your dress carefully – especially if it’s a sample.
If you are purchasing a shop sample please remember to check for any obvious stains or flaws. It may require specialist dry cleaning before you can wear it which will again add to your cost.
Consider your wedding venue and date.
It’s easy to get carried away by the myriad of beautiful gowns out there. Another client of mine ended up taking her dress back to the boutique losing 30% of the value because she realised that the heavy silk and sweeping skirt weren’t going to work for her late summer Barcelona wedding. I made a floaty chiffon design for her instead which suited both her personality and venue much better.
Hire a stylist.
A good stylist will come with a price tag of course, but can help you avoid the mistakes listed above and will be able to give you sound independent advice. They know the pitfalls and are less likely to be bamboozled by shop assistants. On the contrary they probably have trusted boutiques and dressmakers that they can call on to help you find and create the perfect dress.
I hope you find the above helpful and please feel free to share this post with someone you know that is planning their wedding.
Married already? Please leave a comment if you have any other great advice to share.