There are 7 main ways to buy your wedding dress and each way has its pros and cons. A bride should choose how to buy her wedding dress based on her own requirements. Let’s explore each method further, so you “the bride” would be able to buy your beloved dress with the right budget, turnaround timeframe and importantly the exact dress you expected.
1) Newly made to order directly from a designer
You order directly from the designer’s current collections which usually have a cutoff day for certain styles and a delivery timeframe. Typically, you would make an appointment with the designer and try on some samples from the available collections. Nowadays some modern brides would order a dress online from the designer without trying on the dress, given the designer could provide detailed explanation and pictures of the dress and with the ability to promptly answer brides’ questions. Since you are choosing a style out of a pre-designed and pre-made collection, you have to place an order for one of the available sizes each design has. Most of the times you’d be between sizes and you have to decide on either a size up or a size down. Upon your dress delivery, you would then go to an alteration seamstress to have your dress altered to fit your body either to tightening or loosening your dress.
Pros: More trustworthy than ordering from a reseller; More knowledgable about the dress than a reseller; You can communicate directly to the designer about your dress order.
Cons: Limited styles available based on designer’s collections; Limitation on customisations.
2) Custom made directly from a designer
Some designer offer custom made dresses. During your initial consultation, you would tell the designer your requirements and inspirations about your dream dress. The designer would then discuss with you what is possible and what is not; your option of fabrics and trims; the range of budget you would need; and the procedure and timeframe of the whole process.
Pros: You have maximum control of what your dress would become; You usually have some flexibility of making changes at different stages of the dressmaking; You would have an unique dress others would not have.
3) Newly made directly from a maker who is not the designer
One could be a dressmaker but not necessarily a designer or a sample maker. This kind of dressmakers could make your dress from stock dress patterns but might not have the capability of designing and sophisticated modifications. In the workshop they would have existing dress patterns which are the backbone of dresses. You can customise your dress to the limit of these dress patterns. Some dressmakers would even copy a designer dress if she/he so chooses to. However ethical dressmakers tend to refuse jobs involving copying others’ designs.
Pros: Usually cheaper than ordering from a designer; Might have some flexibility of customisation; You can communicate directly to the dressmaker.
Cons: Quality might not be guaranteed if the dressmaker is not experienced high end dressmaking; Can be expensive if made in countries with high wages such as Australia.
4) Pre-order through a seller such as retail bridal store or online shop
This is probably the most common way of purchasing a wedding dress. These sellers are resellers of others’ designs even though some might also have their own inhouse brand. You would preorder a dress from their existing stock of designer brands. If you book an appointment with a retailer, you usually could bring along with 2-3 extra persons and try on a few samples. These samples would unlikely fit your body and you could at best pin and clip the dress when you try on these dresses. You would need to rely on the staff’s knowledge of the dress and her/his ability to pin and clip the dress correctly to your body. Unlike purchasing directly from the designer, many retail store staffs are purely wanting to make the sales without good knowledge of some dresses. You should really do your own research about the dress and the designer. You should also compare the pros and cons of ordering the dress from the designer directly as opposed to going through a reseller.
Pros: There are a large range of styles across multiple designer brands for you to choose; Some retailers stock exclusive brands and designs.
Cons: You have limited ability to follow up your order if there are unknown delays from the designer’s end; The retailer may be more inclined to sell you a dress that paid them higher commission or profit margin than some.
5) Buying a sample dress
This is for brides who are on a tight budget but desire a popular or designer brand. Design samples are available on the floor for display and try on by potential buyers during current season. Boutiques would buy these samples on a discount from the designer for each style they stock during a season. At the end of a selling season, the boutiques need to make room for new stocks and these past season samples would be available to be purchased for a discount. Many of these samples are usually not at their best condition as they’d be worn and tried on by many potential buyers. It is not uncommon to see sample dresses with stains, loosening stitches and rips. These sample dresses might be a bargain if you know why they are so heavily discounted.
Pros: Bargain for popular or designer brands; Good for a second or third dress that does not need to fit perfectly; No delivery waiting time.
Cons: Bad conditions; Usually off your size by a lot; Higher cost in alterations and repairs; Past season styles.
6) Buying a mass-manufactured ready-to-wear dress
This is for brides who just need a white dress to get marry and are not fancy for a good dress. There are plenty of overseas manufacturers listing their mass-produced items online. They are cheap and usually can be delivered within weeks. The pictures however may be sometimes not reliable and the piece you receive could be a big difference than you expected. But if you have plenty of time before your wedding day and budget is a big issue, it may be worthwhile taking the risk of ordering some of these dresses.
Cons: Not reliable; May receive a dress totally different than expected.
7) Buy second hand dress from a past bride
Buying a second hand dress may be the best option if you don’t need a new dress and want to buy a dress as it is with a discount. Especially if you are into sustainable clothing, reusing a wedding dress would sure give you a peace of mind. However, buying a second hand dress isn’t without risk. Unless you are an expert in authenticating designer brands or the dress is from a genuine seller of the brand, there is always a chance the dress may be a fake copy. When you buy a second hand dress, it is important to check the condition of the dress inside and outside. If it was previously altered to fit the previous bride, you must check to see if the already altered dress could still be altered again to fit you. In some cases when the dress was badly altered before or there was not enough fabrics underneath left to further let out again, you could be at risk of buying a dress that is not possible to be altered for you. It is smart to check with a reputable bridal alteration specialist like us before purchasing a second hand wedding dress.
Pros: Could be a discounted designer brand; No delivery waiting time; More room for negotiation.
Cons: Dress conditions might not be the best; May incur more cost in alterations and repairs; Lack of authentication means.