Due to the credit crunch brides are looking for cheaper ways of buying their wedding dresses, and directly from China is a growing trend. This isn’t without its worries, and I have seen quite a few dresses purchased this way recently, and some are good. Most are not so good, many are just dreadful. It can be an expensive way of trying to save money if the dress is not right. We recently had an Alfred Angelo copy bought into us for alteration. The bride ordered from the internet for £5.00 and paid £98.00 to have it delivered. It looked nothing like the photo, and the bride was very distressed. We also happened to have an original Alfred Angelo dress in, and although the photo’s on the web looked identical, the dresses were worlds apart. The copy was unrecognisable from the original, and the quality of the material, stitching and cut were very, very poor. We have tried to help her make the dress as good as we can as she was so distraught, but after buying the dress, and now paying for major alterations, she still has only got a very poor copy of a very beautiful dress. We have to charge for this consultation service and subsequent alterations however sorry we are for the bride, which all adds to the overall cost of the dress. The old saying is true, if you buy cheap, you end up paying twice.
I have heard reports of bridal shop owners resorting to cutting out labels, hiding style names and sizes, and even charging £50 for appointments to stop cost conscious brides finding the dress of their dreams, and then going off to China to get it copied.(well perhaps not going there personally but you know what I mean) Bridal stores are running a business and offer a very good service, and it does cost time and money to help a girl try on a number of dresses and give advice. To then see them go off to the internet to get a poor copy is very disheartening. High Street Bridal store owners have overheads like any other business, and they do offer an excellent service ( ok, some don’t, as I mentioned in my Harrogate blog below and anyone who can sell £1.00 tiaras for £130 deserves to be used and abused in my opinion, but the vast majority are very good). The argument is that the majority of wedding dresses purchased in the UK do start out life in China. Unfortunately, as with all manufacturing in this country, companies are increasingly going abroad. But please remember that responsible Bridal Houses take the time to check out the factories, the working conditions, and the quality of material and work before working with them. Once they have established a relationship, the factories are continually checked, and the product has to reach stringent quality measures, in order for them to get repeat business. After all the factories are getting orders for 1000’s of dresses at a time, so they can’t afford to drop the quality and lose their customer. When an individual orders one dress, from a factory that they know nothing about, there are not the same insurances in place. You are gambling with your wedding dress, and it really isn’t worth it, there are so many better alternatives.
If you come to us you can try on dresses that are for sale, be they new or worn once, and see before you buy. But if you are still thinking of purchasing your dress abroad, my advice is buyer beware! Be very very careful and do your homework first. Be very wary if the manufacturer only wants to deal with Western Union for payment, as you have no comeback if it all goes wrong. Be realistic, if you are paying £5.00 for your dress, and £98.00 postage then you can’t expect top quality. If it says refunds available, be aware that you will only be refunded your fiver, and not the postage costs, and you will still have to pay to post it back, which will cost more than if you keep the dress. Simply, it is a scam in offering dresses this way, by hiding their costs in postage charges. If it was really such a fair deal the cost of the dress would be much higher, and the postage much lower. The factory loses £5.00 if you are unhappy and gets the dress back too. You lose £98.00 and have to pay the P&P charges to return it before you get your £5.00 back. The odds are really not in your favour. Getting a dress falterer if it is wrong can be very costly, and you can never improve the quality of the material. So, read feedback very carefully, and if in any doubt at all, don’t do it. I have dealt with a girl recently who has bought 5 dresses from auctions sites, and none are right. She has only paid £50 per dress + pp, but that still amounts to more than £320.00. That money would go along way to hiring a dress, or buying one that at least you get the opportunity to try on first.
Saving money on your wedding day is what we are all about, but your day is special, and you need to feel special. Having to wear a dress held together with safety pins is not a good look for anyone, especially if it cost you more than it would have to hire or buy in the first place. We are all about making the most of every opportunity, getting a good deal, getting top quality and good service, but never about just making do. So whatever route you decide to go down when choosing a dress, make sure you are happy with it. Whatever you do, if you have used a bridal shop to choose your dress, AND THEN gone to the internet for a cheaper copy – do not take your poor quality dress to the bridal shop and ask them for help altering it- a smack in the mouth often offends!! (even posh ladies can punch.)
Sue xx March 16th.