I had two opposite experiences at one David’s in the Pittsburgh area on different days. The less than stellar one was a Sunday in the middle of prom season. The consultant was barely there, had three other people she was working with, and it was a mad house. I suspect she wasn’t the right consultant anyway, because her personality (and ideas) weren’t close to mine. The great experience was on a week night in May. Great consultant, undivided attention, and our personalities meshed very well together. I fell in love with a dress that was around $675 (on sale) during the second appointment. I had another appointment the next day at another store (Mom was in from NJ, so tried to pack as much shopping in as possible). I ended up finding a dress I loved more at another store for around $599 at the next appointment.
I have been to the David’s in Wayne, NJ and it was a decent experience (for a Bridesmaid or Best Man dress in 2004). We went on a weekday then as well.
I went there this time around because there were specific dresses I wanted to try. I was afraid to look at other designers because my budget was low. I don’t think David’s is such a horrible place. They do have nice dresses, many of them are good quality, and depending on the time, day, and consultant, it’s not a bad experience. You won’t be handed a glass of champagne upon entering, but that was fine with me.
I think the reason their prices are lower is because they are a huge chain, which means higher volume. They don’t have the princess experience bells and whistles that some of the smaller stores may have. You’re also not paying for a name there (unless you get the Vera Wang dress, but even then, there’s still a volume of sales that helps with the price). They are ableto have their dresses in distribution warehouses, for the most part, so I would imagine shipping overhead is lower.
There are designers who are more reasonable than others, and you can probably find a dress that is comparable in price to David’s. But if you love a David’s dress, at least try it on and consider it. No one is going to be rifling through your dress on the wedding day looking for a tag. They’re going to see you as a beautiful, glowing bride.
One other thing, if you love a dress but hate the consultant (she’s a shrew, doesn’t match well with you, you aren’t feeling like she understands, etc), ask the manager about another consultant. The problem with David’s is that they are a chain, which means there are going to be crappy consultants and good ones (which happens at smaller places too, but you don’t hear about them as far and wide).