Wedding Dresses 101 - Where To Shop
Don't even think about going shopping for your wedding dress without first checking out these great tips from Gretta! She's got the scoop on the latest styles, where to go and more.
GENERAL SHOPPING TIPS
• Consider the season of your wedding. Late spring or summer ceremonies may call for chiffon, cool silk, pure cotton or lace. Late autumn and winter weddings usually inspire warm, heavier fabrics like velvet, brocade or satin.
• When it comes to alterations, simple gowns have a quicker turnaround. So if you're strapped on time, keep that in mind.
• So many people get engaged over the holidays that boutiques are jammed with people, so you might want to avoid the crowds then. (Besides, you can get a better deal when there aren't too many other potential buyers around.)
• Try to limit the number of bridal shops you visit in one day to avoid feeling overwhelmed and forgetting your original vision or the dresses you try on in one day.
• Do some research to find out what shape and style will look best on you. Bring pics and ideas along. Do research and come prepared. Start here!
WHERE TO LOOK
Chain stores have it all: They can outfit you from head-to-toe so it's really one-stop shopping. Because they have so much inventory in all sizes, you don't have to squeeze into a sample when trying them on. There is also a large variety of styles, with prices ranging from $299 to $1200, so you really have a lot to choose from.
Before you buy:
• Be aware that the quality of the gowns will be slightly different than in a couture boutique, however, the styles look very much the same to the naked eye, and the dresses will arrive much faster if you're in a time crunch.
• A dress will likely be worn only once, and a chain store has beautiful options at more reasonable prices.
• Bridal gowns are sized very differently from normal street clothing. Don't be depressed if you need a gown that is two sizes larger than your usual size. Also, each designer has their own sizing charts, so your size at David's Bridal may not be your size elsewhere. Typically, brides should look for a dress that is a bit larger so that tailors can take it in or let it out.
Consignment boutiques resell previously owned, "gently worn" dresses -- giving you the opportunity to get one for a steal. For example, a Vera Wang dress that originally retailed for $4,000 is $795 at Michael's, a consignment store in New York. The only problem with buying dresses at these places is that they are sold "as is." Once you buy it, it's yours so be sure to inspect the dress carefully, especially the beading and seams. Another thing to remember: there's only one of that dress in the store. If you find one you love, don't wait too long to get it -- it might be gone!
Before you buy:
• Check for stains, tears and irregularities.
• Ask if prices are negotiable.
• Realize you probably won't find this season's most up-to-date styles, but you could be in luck with those from last year.
• Many of the larger bridal consignment boutiques have their own seamstresses, so alterations and pressing can be done at the shop just like full service bridal salons.
• Comfort is crucial. Do the three step test: bend down and pretend you are talking to a guest (showing too much cleavage?), sit down (can you breathe?), and walk (the dress should be at least an inch off the floor).
For busy girls on the go, buying a dress online at sites like eBay is a quick and painless option. eBay is a great place to get wedding gowns at a low price because the bridal boutiques often sell dresses on the site when having a liquidation sale. If you find that dress you really love, be careful not to overbid in your excitement.
Before you buy:
• Check the seller's record of completed transactions. Has he/she sold multiples of this item? Don't get into a bidding war if the seller sold the same dress last week. Also, make sure the reviews from other eBay users are favorable so you know the seller follows through with promises and quality of garments.
• Make sure to ask questions regarding gown condition if the gown is used. Look closely at photos and ask questions about the manufacturer, sizing, whether dress was taken in, etc.
• Purchasing directly from the manufacturer is a good way to buy dresses online for the price you want with a guaranteed shipping date. There are many online sites that sell gowns at wholesale prices.
Upscale wedding boutiques have all the great designer dresses, plus a few more options you might want to try on. Another great thing about going to an upscale boutique for your dress? You get extra pampering -- and what bride-to-be doesn't love that?
Before you buy:
• If the shop is having a designer trunk show, you may be able to save because you can often purchase the show's gowns at a discount.
• Most shops have a small section of the store devoted to sample gowns, discontinued gowns and gowns that were purchased and abandoned. These gowns usually need to be taken "as is."
• If the bridal salon removes labels, sketch a picture of the gown and ask for the name of the designer.
• It's OK to go to a bridal shop and look for ideas. Don't feel pressured into buying the dress there.
• If you can afford to splurge, go for it!
Now you know where to go, do you know what to get? Get the latest trends in wedding wear.
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