We’ve heard the horror stories. A friend buys a wedding dress online. She loves the style and “thinks” it will look good on her. She gets the dress, it doesn’t fit right (was it custom or off the rack?). Or she doesn’t like the style. Or the color wasn’t what she expected. Or the fabric looks cheap.
Buying anything online is scary. Now buying a wedding dress online almost seems impossible. But it doesn’t have to be. If you know how to do it right, you can buy a beautiful dress that fits and has the same or better quality of other luxury dresses – all while saving thousands of dollars in the process.
Here is how we break down buying a wedding dress online:
1. Look at your own closet.
I don’t always pay attention to the details about the clothes I wear every day. I know what makes me look good and I know what I think is cute. But your closet can be the first thing that leads you to the right silhouette or what looks best on you. Start at your closet – look at the necklines you typically buy, look at the dress shapes you buy for other events. For example, I tend to buy more sheath dresses because I am bigger on top and want to highlight my slimmer legs and hips. I go for necklines that don’t accentuate my broad shoulders. What you have in your closet can help you get an idea of what might look best for you on your big day.
2. Research dresses you like online.
Did you take a look in your closet? Good. Next step is to look online and see what you like. When you see a dress that you like, and you have that “ooooo, this one is really pretty!” moment, take a closer look and note the details: will the color/shade of the dress look good on your skin tone? Is the neckline flattering for you? Do you like the cut and do you think it’ll be flattering – trumpet, natural waist, mermaid, sheath, etc.? What do you think about the train? Is it open back or illusion/button up back? Is the open back low or too low? I recommend selecting 8-10 photos of different dresses you like, save them to your phone, and take them with you when you go try on dresses (yes, I think you should try on dresses!).
3. Go to a boutique
When choosing to shop online for your wedding dress, you think about how you will miss out on going to bridal shops to try on dresses with your Mom, maid-of-honor, and another bestie bridesmaid (really, it is recommended that you actually go with no more than 2-4 people). However, you don’t have to miss out on this part of the fun and I think everyone should go to a bridal boutique to try on dresses with their besties! Also, this shopping excursion could go two ways; you might really like the bridal shop and decide to buy from them, or it will reconfirm that online wedding dress shopping is for you!
4. Look online for a similar style.
After you have a good idea of what you like, repeat step 2 as appropriate but with a more focused search looking at the dresses online retailers offer. Do any of them have the style you like? If you’re still not sure, you can always repeat step 3.
5. Choose if you want custom, made-to-measure, or just buy off the online rack.
When comparing online bridal shops, note if they are completely custom, made-to-measure, or off-the rack with general sizing. For example, Grace + Ivory is made-to-measure with custom detailing. We like to offer a “template” of a dress where you can request custom changes (we tell you if it is possible) or you can order the style as it is. Everything is made to your measurements and isn’t general sizing. Think about what you want and then consider companies that provide that type of service.
Here you are also choosing your customer experience because this company will be making a very special dress for you and most want to make sure you are really happy with your purchase! I would look at reviews and see if they are an approved vendor on popular wedding websites (100 Layer Cake, Wedding Wire, etc.). I love the wedding websites because they vet most of their vendors for you to ensure a company is legitimate.
Most importantly, I would contact the online bridal shop before any purchase. It sounds like a hassle but it isn’t more than a quick email or phone call. Reach out to them over email or phone and just have a chat about what you want and what you are looking for as a customer. For instance, do they have someone who will be your point-of-contact and work with you the whole time? Quality companies will be more than happy to connect with you and it helps them by giving guidance on what you want. Then you can decide to move forward with them or buy from somewhere else.
6. Say “Yes” to the dress!
By this point, you should be confident about your online wedding dress purchase. If you aren’t then don’t rush it. If you are, then buy your dress! You’ve done your homework, researched options, and have found a dress that will make you feel great on your special day. Congrats!
More questions? Contact us and a design stylist will connect with you!