An Inside Look at the Bridal Business Ordering Your Bridal Gown
Most first time Brides aren’t aware of how the Bridal Business operates. This is to be expected. No one can know if they have never been involved in the planning of a wedding. Even all the “Planning Checklists” you find in most books are vague and don’t explain the importance in “Ordering Early”.
Most small “Mom & Pop” Bridal Shops order one bridal gown in a particular style, size and color as a sample. The Brides must try on this gown for style, even if it doesn’t fit exactly. When the Bride selects the gown, the bridal consultant measures her and compares her measurements to the size chart supplied by the manufacturer. The shop will place the order with the manufacture for the size selected.
The gowns are made to size chart not to body measurement and usually take three to four months, (sometimes longer), depending on the manufacturer. Once the shop has placed the order they cannot cancel it or return the dress after it arrives.
The manufacturer controls the whole process – not the shop where the order was placed. This holds true for bridesmaids and Mother’s of the Bride/Groom gowns as well, but they take a little less time – about 8-14 weeks. It’s not uncommon for a manufacturer to be running behind schedule and delay shipment. Customs is usually involved, as many gown manufacturers are located overseas.
This all may sound somewhat intimidating; but if you order the bridal gown early enough, about 6 to 8 months before the wedding date, there will be less stress. This also allows time for alterations. This is not to say if your wedding is in four months or less you shouldn’t bother looking. It is possible to get gowns in less time.
Some manufacturers offer rush service for both bridal and maids, but it usually comes at a price. Most shops will sell “off the rack”. So if you find a gown in their stock that you love and it fits relatively well, you can purchase that one.
The “Big Box” store on the other hand has several sizes and colors of a limited number of styles on the rack. This is fine for the shopper that doesn’t want as large a selection of styles to choose from as the local shops have. These stores also usually use “high pressure” sales tactics that some people find uncomfortable.
When you go shopping for your gown, you should call ahead to see if appointments are required at the shops you wish to visit. Being a small shop, usually room is limited as well as staff. It is also not a good idea to bring a lot of people with you the first time, unless you intend on purchasing that day, and want everyone’s opinion. Just remember, too many opinions are not always good the first time out. Trying on too many dresses can be draining, as well, and take some fun out of what should be a joyous event.
Some shops limit the number you can try on or just bring you a few gowns they select for you, while others allow you to look through the stock yourselves. Always remember, the Bride is the most important person, and she must be the one who is happy with the choices made.
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