Post # 1
hi! i am a long time reader of weddingbee even though i don’t post very often. i am thinking of starting a (online?) wedding dress shop and i was hoping to get your opinions on what are some of the issues or problems that brides have when shopping for a wedding dress?
for myself, i hated not being able to browse all the dresses and being dependent on the consultant. i also didn’t like feeling pressured to buy something. and of course, i wish the markup was a lot less….
do you feel the same way? what other things do you wish you could change about your dress shopping experience?
i have also read a lot about online dress shops being cheaper. if you didn’t buy your dress online, why not?
thanks in advance and i really appreciate any feedback you have!
Post # 3
@cc001: I didn’t buy my dress online because I just am one of those people who have to see and feel it in person. Buying online, for me at least, was like trying to judge a book by its cover.
Also, I liked the fact that the salespeople helped me when it came to choosing which dresses to try on. When dresses are in their bags or on a hanger, you can’t even really tell what it will actually look like on (especially when it comes to the train…) After they helped me pick out the dresses, I pretty much liked to go solo from there, including when it came to the decision-making process. I had my BMs, Maid/Matron of Honor, and mother to assist me with all of that. Although, I would say that each bride is different; some may want to ask the salesperson their opinion, considering that they are neutral and do not have any emotional attachment.
Overall, I think it comes down to training salespeople on how to accomodate each customer’s needs according to what they ask for. Maybe, when a customer comes in for an appointment allow them to choose from three fun-named appointments- full service (salesperson is by your side the entire appointment), go with the flow (salesperson is on call for any help requested), or free roam (customer is encouraged to pick out dresses and try them on solo)?
*This would obviously be more useful if you were starting a store, but since it will be an online presence, this is more or less my thoughts on the matter- not sure how you would translate it when it comes to the online shopping experience.
Hope it helps!
Post # 4
I walked in (no appt’s) when I began looking to get an idea of what was out there, and ended up being helped anyway and that was completely fine! I also started at David’s Bridal and I think they are limited in stock compared to most boutiques.
I almost wish I had the experience of a consultant bringing me dresses so that I could see what things looked like that I wouldn’t have normally picked. I really think you need a consultant that is in tune to your needs and your body type though, having a consultant with a different vision than yours could be rewarding but also frustrating!
Post # 5
There’s no way I could buy online. All of the dresses I liked online looked different in person. I do not care for the pressure either but where I went I was allowed to browse and pull some first.
Post # 6
I also could never buy online. I’ve found dresses I absolutely LOVED online and then when I went in to try them on, I hated them. I have mixed feelings about browsing the dresses myself….. I’ve been to both types of salons. I ended up buying from one where the consultant brought out all the gowns for me to try on (after asking me what I liked, what style I was interested in, and what my price range was). I think some salons have such a variety in prices that they don’t want to let you just look yourself because chances are, you’ll find a gown you LOVE and it will be way outside your budget – and then nothing else you try on will compare to how much you like that one.
I’ve also been to salons where they let you look through the dresses yourself, but honestly, it is SO hard to know how something is going to look on you. If you find a good salon who has people who know what they are doing, they are trained to know how to enhance your best features and take attention away from things that bother you – so ultimately, I ended up in a gown that the consultant pulled for me – it was even a different color than I expected it to be, but she knew it would look good, and I trusted her, and it ended up being the one. NOW IF IT WOULD JUST ARRIVE!!!!
Post # 7
I know that as a bride who has absolutely no exerience wearing long gowns, I needed a lot of help deciding what looked good on me. The David’s Bridal woman was not nice, did not help, and just pulled gowns I looked at. Also at David’s Bridal they don’t let you pull gowns off the rack yourself; they have to do it for you. Because the consultant was often MIA, the people I had with me would try to get a gown down and were told not to…but what are they supposed to do, wait while the lady comes back from wherever she was??? The worst part about that was being put in gowns that didn’t fit and being left there to wait. UGH.
At Bijou Bridal in Ardmore, PA (great place!), the consultant was extremely helpful. I told her I wasn’t sure what I liked, and what my price range was. We walked through the different sections together, and any dress I liked the look of she pulled for me right then and there. She was with me the entire time I was there. If the store can provide that level of customer service, it’s great – as long as the consultant is helpful, not surly or impatient!!
I also went to RK Bridal in NYC once, just to try on a long dress to see how I liked it. They have a sign-up sheet for brides, and it’s first come first serve. You put your name down, and then choose five dresses off the racks. They have a huge selection, but all the gowns are in plastic bags. This makes it very difficult to see what the dress looks like. I only tried on one dress, so I have no idea what the process is if you do not like the first five dresses you choose. They have great prices, though, and their alterations are $350 TOTAL. I am probably going to go back for a second appointment and will let you know how it goes!
Post # 8
I have bought my dress online with a designer in another country and will not even put my dress on for a fitting until 2 days before the wedding when I fly in to try it on! Risky yes I know BUT it is a VERY different style of dress that was not available here in the US.
I think if you had an online business that had the ability of almost like a ‘dress rental’ where you were able to ship out ‘mock ups’ of different styles so the bride knew her ‘Style’ might help her to feel more comfortable shopping online.
Post # 9
I been allowed to browse but I was surprised by how strick some shops were about brides picking out their own dress.
Post # 10
I didn’t buy my dress online because I had to try dresses on- my two favorites (which are very different) I never would have choosen if I was buying online.
Post # 11
I didn’t and wouldn’t buy my dress online.
I would have liked a happy medium with my dress shopping.
I went to a salon that didn’t make appointments, but went there because they were the closest that carried the designer I wanted. I had come with a whole list (and print outs) of the dresses I wanted to try. I was told by the consultant when we walked in (if you could even call her that, she sucked) to just start browsing dresses and pull what I liked. We really got no help at all, and even my BFF was the one putting me into the dresses. We never even saw the consultant until we went looking for her. Even then, I handed her my list/pictures and she went to “find them” and never came back with any.
I liked being able to pull dresses, but I would have liked to have a consultant also pull what she thought would look good. I never had the “walk out and everyone go ahhhh” moment because my entourage consisted of my BFF (who was in there with me dressing me), another friend (who was pulling the dresses), and my 13 year old sister (who obviously was no help, and i had to take out of obligation). That was dissapointing. I would have liked to have walked out with everyone waiting to see the dress – it was anti-climatic.
Even though I’m in my late 20’s, I do look younger. Honestly, I think they saw me come in with 2 friends and a young girl and assumed I wasn’t there to buy that day. It’s this unspoken bridal store rule that if a bride comes w/out mom, she probably won’t buy. Well, not in my case because I’m not close with my mom. As soon as I was ready to write the check, my consultant was falling all over me to get me measured and my order taken.
Post # 12
personally i wish i had gone somewhere with a sales person who picks the dresses. i went to bridal and formal and picked out dresses but i feel like if i would have had someone who knew all the dresses it would have been easier. just a thought
Post # 13
What I think would be GREAT for an online store would be have a certain number of everyday women “modeling” the different dresses. There would be a page of photos with all the models and their height/weight + measurements/body type listed, with them wearing some simple regular clothes like leggings and a T-shirt. That way shoppers could choose the “model” whose body was most like their own and then SEE what those bodies looked like in the dresses. I’m sure this would be a huge undertaking but I imagine it would be very successful.
Post # 14
My biggest gripe with some stores is when they won’t let you take pictures and/or they won’t tell you the dress designer and style. I would never buy from a store like that.
For shops that let you browse and pick dresses to try, I found it very helpful when they had a picture of the dress on the outside of the bag. It’s too hard to tell the shape of the dress while it’s crammed in a bag.
Post # 15
Thank you everyone! You guys are incredibly helpful!! For online, I totally get the need to try on dresses. Along the lines of what Angkinah suggested, if the store is willing to send you dresses to try on (say, 3-5 at a time), and provide an online consultant to suggest dresses if the bride wishes, would that be something you would try? Or would people still prefer a physical store where you can bring friends and family, as opposed to trying on dresses in your home?
Post # 16
I wouldn’t buy my gown off the internet. The idea of sending sample gowns is intriguing, but I would be concerned about a couple things, a) the responsibility of returning unwanted gown and being sure they were not soiled/damaged, b) from your perspective as a shop owner I would worry about smells (cigarette smoke), stains (how would you hold customers accountable, and icky as it is…bedbugs. In a salon you have more control over how long and the conditions in which a dress is worn/stored….not so much when shipping them out. This might be a great option for brides with family members who are not mobile and would like to see them try on gowns.