The wedding gown you select will probably be the most meaningful —and expensive—piece of clothing you’ll ever own. Therefore, shopping for your gown can be not only a highly-charged emotional experience, but also a serious financial commitment. Check out our top tips for keeping your cool when getting the hottest gown around.
Before you start to shop, take the time to study any bridal publication available to you—both articles and advertisements. Review the websites of as many designers as possible. Make a list of the designers you like best, the specific styles that appeal to you, and the retailers who are authorized to sell the gowns you prefer in your local area.
Acquiring a wedding gown can be a lengthy process--anywhere from off the rack to six months--so it's important to allow enough time for it. For example, custom gowns (a popular option for many brides-to-be) require from six weeks to six months for delivery, depending upon the designer. Add an additional month for any necessary alterations--you're going to need it! If time is of the essence, consider purchasing a formal gown off-the-rack—available through many full service bridal and department stores.
Whatever your budget, spending hours or days of your time going from store to store to save $50 or even $100 on your gown purchase may not necessarily be worth the frustration or the time you invest. Your time and energy have a price tag too! Most importantly, you should select a store where you feel comfortable and one with an excellent reputation for service which will provide you with a stress-free shopping experience.
The size charts for bridal apparel DO NOT match the size charts for the clothes you wear every day; they also fluctuate from one designer to another, so don't expect consistency. Consultants at full-service bridal stores and salons will help you to identify the size that most closely matches your measurements from the size chart for the designer you've selected. If her recommendation shocks you, it's reasonable to ask to see the chart yourself. It's unlikely that your measurements will perfectly match the chart; the goal is to order the dress as close to right as possible and then make alterations to adjust it perfectly. A rule of thumb to follow? Go up two sizes. (Example: If you wear a 6, try a 10.)
Virtually any dress can be made smaller but few can be expanded an entire size, so never order a size smaller in anticipating of losing weight. We cannot stress this enough! (Also, your consultant will warn you that you shouldn't custom-order a gown based upon the way a sample gown fits. Sample gowns are tried on so often that a size 10 can stretch to fit a size 12 or even a size 14.
Custom-ordered gowns are ordered by the store from the designer as soon as the sale is completed. Many (but not all) custom-ordered gowns are available with custom change possibilities—you might choose to change the sleeves, the neckline, the fabric or lace. These changes can completely modify the overall appearance of the gown. Naturally, the bridal store will establish a fee for each change. These fees should be indicated on your contract (check out the fine print) with the store and, like the gown itself, usually require a 50% deposit when the gown is ordered.
A tentative delivery date will be scheduled for your custom-ordered gown. The delivery date should be specified on your contract when your dress is purchased. It's a good idea to specify a date after which delivery isn't acceptable to you. If the gown isn't delivered by then, you have an option to arrange for the purchase of another gown from the store.
Once your dress arrives, it will almost certainly need some alterations to make it fit perfectly. Some full-service bridal stores have seamstresses on staff as a part of the store's services, and some hire an independent contractor for alterations. Other stores will simply refer you to one or more outside resources they work with often and trust. Alternatively, you may select a seamstress with whom you're familiar to alter your gown. The cost of the alterations, however, varies depending upon the extent and nature of alterations required.Even basic needs like shortening a dress hem can range widely in complexity and expense. If you've selected a gown with lace trim at the hem, for example, it may not be possible to shorten the gown from the hemline; it will instead be shortened from the waistline, which involves significantly more (and very intricate!) work.
Virtually all bridal stores require a 50% deposit for custom ordered merchandise. Deposits are generally not refundable—even if your wedding is canceled. Always use a credit card when purchasing your gown. This will afford you some negotiating power (a.k.a. a paper trail) in the event that a dispute arises. Purchasing a custom ordered gown is a contractual negotiation. Be certain that all of the terms and conditions of the purchase are included in your contract (or on your receipt). Many stores will require you to sign an actual contract. Others will simply specify all details on the reverse side of your receipt. Be certain that you understand all terms and conditions of the contract before you leave the store.
Featured: Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings: Father of
the Bride Speech. Request a free brochure and
start planning your Disney dream day today.