How To Pick The Perfect Bridal Salon

Now that you’re engaged your ready to jump right into the wedding gown buying process. But hold your horses. Don’t jump so fast. Picking the right bridal store is just as important as picking the right bridal gown. You don’t want the dress of your dreams to be ruined by the store owned by Attila The Hun!

Job one is to get personal referrals from recent brides. Every recent bride is eager and willing to talk about her experiences buying her wedding gown. That could narrow the field of potential bridal shops considerably.

Next, create a spreadsheet that will coordinate all the following information. You can get this information by calling the bridal salons and checking their websites, if they have one.

  1. Store hours: It’s pretty obvious that if you work 9 – 5 and can never get off that the store of your choice will need to have either evening hours or week-end hours. Some bridal salons are closed Mondays and if that’s you’re only day off, you’d be in trouble. This becomes even more important if you have alterations done at the bridal salon as you will need to make three or more visits just for that.
  2. Range of Prices: You may set a budget and discover that you underestimated. But in an effort to try and stay within that budget, get the price range of the stores before you go. If a store’s range is $1,500 - $3,000 and your budget is $800, there’s no point in going, at least not in the beginning. After you have explored all the wedding gowns in your price range and still don’t find anything, maybe the more expensive stores have mark-downs on last season’s dresses that you could investigate.
  3. Ordering Time: A few wedding gowns are available off the rack. Most have to be ordered. If you need a wedding gown in 6 weeks, you are not in ordering range. Find a store that has hanging stock or possibly has some manufacturers that can deliver with a rush charge. You must also allow time to alterations.
  4. Alterations: Find out if the store offers alterations on-site, if they are included in the price of the gown and how many fittings are normally required. One huge mistake that is most often made is this. You try on a sample wedding gown that fits perfectly and order it in the same size. You pat yourself on the back because you think you will not need alterations since obviously the sample was perfect. You think you’ve saved a couple of hundred dollars. Guess again. The wedding gown you tried on was stretched out by the 100’s of brides that have tried it on before you. These wedding gowns can stretch out 2 sizes. Hopefully, your sales person will help you select the correct size and limit the alterations but always allow for the time and the money it will cost. If your wedding gown comes in and fits you perfectly, consider it a miracle!
  5. Other Services: Ask what other services the store might provide. These include pressing and steaming the gown, prepping the gown (stuffing with tissue and putting a cardboard bodice) and even delivery of the gown to the church. The reason you want the wedding gown prepped with tissue and cardboard is to protect it in transit.
  6. Appointments: Many salons work only by appointment. This is preferable in the theory that you will receive the undivided attention you need. Check beforehand. You don’t want to be turned away at the door and told the next available appointment time is 3 weeks down the road.
  7. Intangibles: Your phone survey may not be done. When you were getting the answers to your questions, how were you treated? Was the sales staff courteous and helpful in answering your questions. If they were not and acted like you had no right to be asking all these questions, move on to another store. If a store treats you badly before you buy, I promise you it will go downhill from there.
  8. Security: How long has the store been in business? Bridal Salons probably have the shortest life span of any retailers. You don’t want to put down a hefty deposit only to find out the store files for bankruptcy a month later and you have no wedding gown and no money. For that reason, you absolutely must put your wedding gown purchase on a credit card. Your credit card company will protect you if the store goes under. Also, please check the stores credentials with the Better Business Bureau in your area and see if they have any unresolved disputes.

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