Where to buy a wedding dress

Brides have a range of options about where they buy their wedding dress and each option has its own advantages and disadvantages. The options range from the traditional local wedding dress shop / bridal wear retailer through to buying online.

Before deciding which option to go for in terms of where to buy their wedding dress, brides may also find it helpful to read our article on the steps in buying a wedding dress. Some of the options below provide a full service that will help brides through all of the steps in the process of buying a wedding dress. Other options below provide help for only one or some of the steps.

Brides should also be very aware of an issue which is becoming a major problem in the industry – counterfeit dresses. This has become such a serious issue that bridal wear designers and retailers have set up a website www.bridesaware.co.uk to warn brides about counterfeit wedding dresses.

Independent Bridal Wear Retailers

Most bridal wear retailers are independent owner-managed businesses with one store. These are the traditional local wedding dress shops found in most towns across the country. The retailers do not design their own wedding dresses but are stockists for a number of bridal wear designers. Most retailers stock dresses by 4 – 10 different designers and should be listed as an “authorised retailer” by each designer.

One of the main advantages of buying through a specialist bridal wear retailer is that most offer a full service from trying on different dresses through to alterations, cleaning and steaming. Brides can also benefit from the personal advice and expertise of the staff and their knowledge of the range of dresses by each designer.

As a result of providing a full service which is labour intensive – for example, having one or more sales assistants completely focused on each bride during a two hour appointment – one of the disadvantages is that bridal wear retailers can be more expensive than other options which provide little or no service.

Designer / Retailers

Designer / Retailers are companies that design, manufacture and sell their own wedding dresses. As a result they usually have one or a chain of retail stores which sell dresses by that designer only and so the name of the designer and name of the store are usually the same. Other designer / retailers stock their own range of dresses as well as ranges from other designers. As most designer / retailers offer a full service, the advantages and disadvantages are similar to the independent bridal wear retailers.

Most designer / retailers offer a full service from trying on different dresses through to alterations, cleaning and steaming. Brides can also benefit from the personal advice and expertise of the staff and their knowledge of the range of dresses by the designer.

Again, as a result of providing a full service which is labour intensive, one of the disadvantages is that designer / retailers can be more expensive than other options which provide little or no service. As designer / retailers usually only stock their own dresses, brides can only try on dresses by one designer rather than a range of designers.

High Street stores

A number of high street ladies fashion chains also sell their own bridal range. These include BHS, Coast, Debenhams (Debut and Ben de Lisi), House of Fraser (Adrianna Papell and JS Collection), Monsoon and Phase Eight.

The main advantage of the high street stores is that prices are generally below the specialist bridal wear retailers and designer / retailers.

The main disadvantage is that as a general fashion store, they are less likely to provide the specialist wedding dress expertise and full service offering found in the bridal wear retailers and designer / retailers.

Charity Shops

Some charity shops occasionally sell second hand wedding dresses while others have set up specialist bridal wear stores. The dresses sold in charity shops are not always second hand as bridal wear designers and retailers sometimes donate older shop stock in order to free up space for the latest collections.

The main advantage of buying through a charity shop is that the prices are noticeably lower. Where the charity has specialist bridal wear stores, they may also provide more expertise and service than a general high street fashion store.

The disadvantages are that the only dresses available are those in the store – brides cannot find a dress they like and then order it in their size, as they can do with the bridal wear retailers , designer / retailers and high street stores. As the dresses are second hand or donated new, they tend not to be from the latest collections.

Online

There is a lot of controversy in the bridal wear industry regarding online retailers. While some brides have good experiences buying their wedding dress online, there have also been lots of horror stories! As designers sell through authorised retailers or their own designer / retailer stores, brides are not getting the exact same designer dress cheaper online. Instead they are getting a dress by a different online manufacturer or retailer or, in the worst case, a counterfeit version of a designer dress.

The main advantage of buying a wedding dress online is that the price can be significantly cheaper than any of the other options above.

The disadvantages include the risk of ending up in a horror story from counterfeit dresses, differences between the dress in the photo on the website and what actually arrives, hidden costs and dresses simply not delivered at all.

Conclusion

In the end, brides will need to decide what matters most to them personally and what level of risk they are prepared to take when choosing where to buy their wedding dress.

As a sweeping generalisation, brides who have gone to the bridal wear retailer or designer / retailer store, tried dresses on, received expert advice from the staff, ordered the dress in their size, and had the dress fitted, altered, cleaned and steamed by the store, are more likely to end up with the wedding dress they want and which fits them and less likely to experience a horror story. However, as a result of receiving this full service, they may pay more for their dress.

Again, as a sweeping generalisation, brides who purchase their wedding dress online are likely to pay significantly less for their dress, but will have to arrange for any fitting, alterations, cleaning and steaming themselves and are taking a significantly greater risk that they could end up in a horror story just before their special day.


  • HELP PAGE FOR RETAILERS CLAIMING THEIR LISTING



    Claim your Listing
    Edit your Listing and add information


    Claim your Listing
    STEP 1

    • • Find your store in the Retailer Directory by typing in the name of your store in the box marked “Search by Shop Name” and clicking the search / magnifying glass icon.
    • Go down the list until you find your store.
    • Click on the name of your store and you will go to your directory entry.

    STEP 2

    • Once you are in your directory entry, move your mouse over the right hand side of the page and a button will appear that says “Claim this Listing”.
    • Click on this button and you will go to the Claim Listing page.

    STEP 3

    • Once you are in the Claim Listing page, type in your name and email in the boxes.
    • In the Comments box, type in your position within the store eg Owner or Manager or Sales Assistant etc. This additional information will help verify your claim.
    • Select the listing type you require by clicking on the circle next to Premium or Expert.
    • Accept the Terms and Conditions by clicking on the square.
    • Clicking the big “Claim Listing” button at the end of the page will take you to PayPal’s own pages. This Help Guide will not be visible on PayPal’s pages. So before you click on the “Claim Listing” button please note that on PayPal’s pages:
    • Important: If you do not already have an account with Paypal, click the button to use Paypal as a Guest and also click the “Do not have a PayPal account” button. If you already have an account with Paypal, log in to Paypal and complete your purchase as usual.
    • Important: You may need to change the Country to the UK by clicking on the drop down menu and selecting the United Kingdom.
    • Once you have made the payment via PayPal, you will see a message from us which includes the next steps.
    • Now click the big “Claim Listing” button at the end of the Claim Listing page to go to PayPal.
    • You will then go to the PayPal page where you will be able to complete the transaction.
    Edit your Listing & Add Info
    STEP 1

    • At the end of the page, click the “Edit My Listing” button and you will be taken to your Retailer Dashboard.
      Click on the name of your store and you will be taken to your Listing on the website.
    • Move your mouse to the right hand side of your listing and the “Edit this Listing” button will appear.
    • Click the “Edit this Listing” button.
    • A form will appear with the name, postal address and phone number of the store already filled in. Check these details are correct and amend them if necessary.
    • The form has other boxes in which you can add in other information. It is up to you what other information you wish to add.

    STEP 2

    • Type in your mobile, email and website address in the boxes.
    • If you have Twitter, Facebook or Google+ accounts you can add them in the boxes.

    STEP 3

    • Add the designers whose dresses you stock.
    • Firstly, click on the drop down menu list to add a Wedding Dress Expert Featured Designer whose dresses you stock. Click the Add More button to add additional Wedding Dress Expert Featured Designers whose dresses you stock.
    • Secondly, go to the Other Designers box and type in the names of any other designers (ie in addition to the Wedding Dress Expert Featured Designers listed above) whose dresses you stock. Please type in the names of the other designers you stock and put a comma after each of the designers’ names.

    STEP 4
    Type in any additional information you would like to add in the boxes provided. There are separate boxes where you can add:

    • a brief summary or introduction to your store.
    • your trading hours.
    • any industry awards you have won and any industry associations where you are a member.
    • a customer testimonial.
    • a second customer testimonial.
    • a third customer testimonial.
    • any Special Offers including Sale announcements.

    STEP 5

    • Click the Save Changes button at the end of the page to save the additional information you have just added.
    • You can edit and add further information whenever you like by amending the information in the boxes on this page

    STEP 6
    FOR EXPERT LISTINGS ONLY

    • Underneath the heading “Directory Dashboard” at the top of the page there are a row of sub-headings.
    • Click on the word “Listings” and you will go to the next page.
    • Click on the name of your store and your listing will appear.
    • Move your mouse across to the right side of the listing and a small picture of a camera will appear. When you put your mouse on the camera it says “Add frontpage photos”.
    • Click on the camera and you will go to the photo upload page.
    • Click on the button which says Choose Files.
    • Find the photo on your computer that you want to display on your listing. Click on the photo and then click on the Open button. The photo will then appear on the page. Repeat this process to add further photos, up to a maximum of 5 photos.
    • Click on the Submit button.

    STEP 7

    • Click on the Retailer Directory main menu at the top of the page.
    • Type the name of your store into the box marked Search by Shop name.
    • Click on the name of your store and you will see your directory entry.
    • Check your directory entry.
    • To make any amendments (or for Expert Directory entries to add more photos) click on the Edit Listing or camera buttons and follow the appropriate steps listed above.