Dress shopping should be an exciting and memorable time, but sometimes a bad in-store experience can put a damper on your special day. Between pushy consultants and hidden costs, there are a lot of factors that can add stress to what’s supposed to be a fun experience. Knowing what bridal store scams to watch out for can save you tons of stress during your wedding planning!
Since you will probably only go wedding dress shopping once in your lifetime, there’s no way you’d know what bridal store scams to look out for - it’s not like you make a weekly trip to the bridal salon like you do the grocery store! There are a few red flags to be aware of when visiting a bridal shop. If you do your research and know what to avoid and be aware of when shopping, you’ll walk out feeling confident and accomplished - as you should!
A bridal salon’s job is to find you your perfect dress. Your consultant should make you feel special and taken care of. Don’t settle for anything less. Take a look at these common bridal store scams before hitting the racks with your “I do crew”!
Common Bridal Store Scams
Scam #1: Not Really Telling You the Cost of the Wedding Dress
Before you even book an appointment at a bridal shop, take a look at their website to get an idea of what their gowns cost. Many stores claim to have various gowns within a certain price range but only carry a handful of gowns within the lower end of that price range. Call ahead to be sure that you’ll have plenty of dress options to try on that fit your budget.
Watch Out for Bridal Consultant Scams!
On top of unforthcoming websites, some stores don’t even list the price of the gown on their sample dresses! The last thing a bride wants is to try on the dress of her dreams only to find out that it’s out of her budget. Your consultant should know your budget before even pulling sample gowns for you to try on, but in the event that they don’t ask, be clear about how much you are willing to spend. A good bridal consultant should never put you in a gown that is out of your budget. Be sure to check the tags on sample dresses when trying them on. If a shop does not include price tags on their sample dresses, be sure to ask for the price before trying anything on. Be mindful of tax, too. Since the Wedding Shoppe is located in Minnesota, there is no sales tax on clothing. However, this is not the case everywhere. If a shop is not transparent about their prices and is unwilling to answer your questions, it is likely that they might try to catch you in a bridal store scam!
Scam #2: Not Being Transparent About Additional Costs
Once you’ve found a wedding dress within your budget, it’s smooth sailing from that moment forward, right? Well...almost there! Before committing to the perfect bridal gown, be aware of any additional fees associated with the dress. Bridal stores can easily scam you if you don't ask the right questions. For example, how much does shipping cost? Are you required to get alterations at the same shop that you purchased your dress from? What types of bridal shoes and accessories do you plan to wear with your dress? What is this store’s return policy (if they even have one)? Read the Fine Print of Your Contract Make sure that you aren’t tied to any additional purchases with the bridal shop, such as bridesmaid dresses or tuxedos. If you are, make sure that you’re ok with committing to them. Many bridal salons provide you with a contract to sign at the time of your bridal gown purchase. Be sure to review this agreement so that you know what to expect when it comes time for shipping, sizing, alterations, and more. Your consultant should go over any contracts with you, but it’s important to take some time to read the fine print so you can watch out for hidden bridal store scams! A bridal gown is a big purchase, after all!
Scam #3: Improperly Taking Measurements
When you say, “yes!” to your bridal gown, your consultant will measure you and instruct you to order a specific size based on a size chart provided by the dress designer. This goes for all special order bridal gowns (the ones that are not “off the rack”). Your consultant should measure your bust, waist, and hips and then determine your correct size based on these measurements. It’s common for an individual to measure in between sizes. For example, your bust measurement may put you into a size 8, while your hips may place you into a 12. That’s why it’s important to take your dress to be altered to custom fit your body once you receive it!
Find an Experienced Bridal ConsultantThat all sounds easy enough, right? While your consultant is typically only responsible for taking three measurements, it is crucial to make sure that they know what they are doing. Although mistakenly taking your measurements improperly may not be a scam, this is a common mistake that consultants make to watch out for! Here are some tricks to make sure that you are working with an experienced consultant:
- Your bust measurement should be taken from where your bra sits on your back and then straight across your ta-tas. Your consultant should NOT measure your ribcage or above the fullest part of your breast. If they do, this is a red flag.
- Your waist measurement should be taken around your natural waist. The easiest way to find this is to bend to the side and measure where you would bend. If your consultant measures any higher or lower, this is a red flag.
- Hips differ for everyone, given we are all different shapes and sizes. Some hips sit lower, some higher. No matter what your hip shape, your consultant should measure the widest part of your hips.
It is very common for your consultant to recommend that you order a few sizes up from what you normally wear. That’s totally ok as bridal sizing runs much smaller than American street sizing. However, if you feel like something isn’t adding up or feel that you’ve been measured incorrectly, speak up! A great bridal consultant should be willing to re-measure or find a second pair of hands to double check all proportions. Pushy consultants and unaccommodating shops are clear warning signs of bridal store scams.
Scam #4: Sizing Incorrectly to Force You into Unnecessary AlterationsAlong with sizing comes alterations. Some bridal shops offer alterations in-house. These shops often know that their average customer doesn't have a ton of sewing knowledge and may try to get you to pay more money in alterations costs by sizing you incorrectly. Every bride needs some alterations, whether it be as simple as a hem or something more custom, like adding sleeves to a gown. Taking a dress in a few inches or adjusting a strap that's a little too long is definitely not unheard of in the bridal world. Alterations can be costly but are almost always necessary.
If you need to completely re-make a dress or take extreme measures in order to get it to fit your body at all, you've been caught in a bridal store scam! If a bridal shop's in-house seamstress or consultant measures you incorrectly or pushes you to order a size that's WAY larger or smaller than your body's proportions, they're probably hoping to coerce you into paying for alterations that are much more complex and expensive than average bridal alterations. Again, bridal sizing can run a bit smaller than average American street sizing, but the dress size shouldn't be twice as big as what you normally order. Brides should be wary of pushy seamstresses and consultants as they are often associated with bridal store scams!
Scam #5: Not Providing Vendor Referrals
Whether a bridal shop offers alterations services or not, they should be able to give you some insight on what you may need done. They should also be able to brainstorm customizations with you, such as adding sleeves to a dress. If they answer any of your questions with, “I don’t know,” get out. At the very least, a bridal shop should be able to connect you with a good seamstress if they are unable to provide any guarantees on alterations or customizations.
A good bridal shop employee answers questions with, "while I don't know everything about that, I can connect you with someone who can answer your question in more detail," when they aren't able to provide you with all the information you need. If they don’t have any recommendations or are unable to answer your questions, find a bridal boutique who can walk you through the whole process.
This is exactly why the Wedding Shoppe offers pick up and try on appointments; we can help you determine any conversations you should have with your seamstress and connect you with an awesome alterations professional!
Your Bridal Shop Should be an Expert in the Wedding Industry
In addition to suggesting great seamstresses, bridal shops should be able to refer you to other vendors such as florists and photographers. While bridal consultants may not be able to provide super specific recommendations for non-apparel vendors, they should probably be connected enough to be able to provide you with some word-of-mouth recommendations!
This shows that they listen to other brides and take the time to learn about their weddings. Wedding professionals should be well-connected and should be able to provide referrals. If not, they may not be as experienced or legitimate as you think!
Scam #6: Not Caring for Sample Sale Gowns
Shopping bridal sample sales is a fantastic way to save money and stretch your wedding budget. Plus, you get to bring your dress home with you the very same day that you pick it out! While sample sales are a great way to get a gorgeous designer gown at a fraction of the sticker price, there are a few things to be aware of when bargain hunting.
The Way a Shop Treats Their Sample Gowns Says A Lot About the Shop Itself
First of all, pay attention to how the sample gowns are displayed in-store and how employees handle the gowns. Are the dresses in bags to prevent beading and lace from being damaged, or are they haphazardly hung on the rack in no particular order? Do the consultants handle the gowns with care, or do they fling them on hangers hurriedly? Sample gowns should be cared for so that they can eventually be marked down and sold directly to customers with a time crunch, tight budget, or just an eye for a good deal. If a bridal shop doesn’t take good care of its dresses, they probably don’t take good care of their customers.
It’s also a good idea to ask your consultant if the shop will clean the sample gown for you and mend any minor runs or rips. If not, they should at least provide you with a referral to a trusted vendor who can assist with these things.
Don't Settle for Less Just Because You're Buying a Sample Gown
Lastly, when shopping for a sample gown, be sure that it can be altered to fit you. Since most bridal gowns are not custom made to your exact body, they’ll have to be altered at least a little bit. A good bridal consultant will never put you in a dress that can’t be altered to your size when you’re shopping off the rack. On average, a bridal gown can be altered down at least two sizes, meaning if you’re a size 10, but fall in love with a size 12 gown, you’ll be good to go! However, if a dress is falling off of you, or you’re unable to zip it up all the way, you may want to keep looking for other styles. Great bridal salons will be able to find you a sample gown that looks like new and fits both your body and your budget!
Scam #7: Unprofessional or Pushy Bridal Consultants
Bridal consultants have an extremely important job: to find you your dream wedding dress! A good bridal consultant should be passionate, knowledgeable, and personable. They should be able to answer most of your questions, and even if they don’t, they should be able to find the answer by consulting a manger, manufacturer, or other professional. You should be able to put your trust in your consultant. Be totally open about your wedding vision, budget, and any questions or concerns you have.
A fantastic bridal consultant should be super excited to hear about your ideas and to get to know you and your style! They’ll probably have some great ideas of dresses for you to try on; maybe even a few wild cards. It’s unlikely that you’ll fall in love with every dress you try on, but your consultants suggestions should match your taste. If your appointment isn’t going well, let your consultant know!
Be honest about how you feel about every dress. With that being said, don’t be scared to try on something out of your comfort zone. You never know what you’ll fall in love with!
Don't Let Consultants Pressure You
If your consultant isn’t listening to your feedback or seems pushy, they’re probably more interested in earning commission pay than helping you find your dream dress. This is an unfortunately common bridal store scam as consultants often earn bonus pay and even have certain quotas they need to meet each month. Regardless of this compensation system, a good bridal consultant’s main goal should be helping brides find the perfect dress. Don’t settle for anything less!
Bridal gown shopping should be an enjoyable and memorable experience and a bridal shop's job is to provide you with that. The bridal store scams mentioned here are some of the most common ways that stores' lack of professionalism can take away fro your special day. Now that you know what to look out for, you'll be able to fully enjoy your wedding dress shopping experience and feel comfortable and confident when trying on bridal gowns! Got any other tips for brides searching for their dream dress? Leave us a comment!