Wedding dress shopping should be an exciting, memorable, and magical time! However, 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 wedding dress shopping is often a once in a lifetime experience, there’s no way you’d know what bridal store scams to look out for. After all, 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!
Common Bridal Store Scams
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”!
Scam #1: Not Really Telling You the Cost of the Wedding Dress
Before booking an appointment at a bridal shop, look at their website to get an idea of what their wedding dresses cost. Many stores claim to have gowns within a certain price range, yet only carry a handful 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 prices on their sample dresses! Always be clear about how much you are willing to spend so you can avoid trying on an out-of-budget dress. Your consultant should know your budget, and should never put you in a gown that is out of your budget.
Check the tags when trying on dresses. If a shop does not include price tags on their sample dresses, be sure to ask before trying anything on. If a shop is not transparent about pricing and is unwilling to answer questions, they're probably trying to catch you in a bridal store scam!
Scam #2: Not Being Transparent About Additional Costs
Before committing to the perfect wedding dress, ask about additional fees. Bridal stores can easily scam you if you don't ask questions. For example, how much does shipping cost? Are you required to get alterations at the same shop? What is this store’s return policy (if they even have one)?
Read the Fine Print of Your Contract
Make sure you aren’t tied to any additional purchases with the shop, such as bridesmaid dresses or tuxedos. If you are, make sure that you’re ok with it. Many bridal salons provide you with a contract to sign at the time of your purchase. Review this agreement so that you know what to expect when it comes to shipping, sizing, and alterations. Your consultant should go over any contracts with you, but take time to read the fine print so you can watch out for hidden bridal store scams! A wedding dress is a big purchase.
Scam #3: Improperly Taking Measurements
When you say, “yes!” to the dress, your consultant will measure you and instruct you to order a specific size based on the dress designer. This goes for all special order wedding dresses (not the ones “off the rack”). Your consultant should measure your bust, waist, and hips to determine your correct size. It’s common for an individual to measure in between sizes, and that's why alterations are important!
Find an Experienced Bridal Consultant
While your consultant is only responsible for taking three measurements, it's important that they're properly trained. Although taking your measurements improperly may not be a scam, it's a common mistake that consultants can make! Here are some tricks to make sure you're working with an experienced consultant:
- Your bust measurement should be taken from where your bra sits on your back and then straight across your breasts. 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 - some sit lower, some higher. No matter what your hip shape, your consultant should measure the widest part of your hips.
It's very common to order a few sizes up, as bridal sizing runs smaller than American street sizing. However, if you feel like you’ve been measured incorrectly, speak up! Pushy consultants and unaccommodating shops are clear warning signs of bridal store scams.
Scam #4: Sizing Incorrectly to Force You into Unnecessary Alterations
Almost every wedding dress requires alterations - that's normal! Taking a dress in a few inches or adjusting a strap is common in the bridal world. Some shops offer alterations in-house. However, these shops may take advantage of customers, sizing you incorrectly so you have to pay more in alteration costs.
If you need to re-make a dress or take extreme measures to get it to fit, you've been caught in a bridal store scam! Watch out if a bridal shop's in-house seamstress or consultant pushes you to order a size that's WAY off. They're likely coercing you into alterations that are much more expensive than normal. Be wary of pushy seamstresses and consultants, as they're often associated with bridal store scams!
Scam #5: Not Providing Vendor Referrals
Whether a bridal shop offers alterations or not, they should give you insight on what you may need done. They should brainstorm customizations with you, such as adding sleeves to a dress. At the very least, a bridal shop should connect you with a good seamstress if they are unable to provide 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 the information you need. If they don’t have recommendations or are unable to answer your questions, find a shop that will 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
On top of suggesting great seamstresses, bridal shops should refer you to other vendors, such as florists and photographers. In terms of non-apparel vendors, stores should be connected enough to provide some word-of-mouth recommendations!
This shows that they listen to other brides and take time to learn about their weddings. Wedding professionals should be well-connected to the wedding community. If not, they may not be as experienced as you think!
Scam #6: Not Caring for Sample Sale Gowns
Shopping sample sales is a great way to save money and stretch your wedding budget. Plus, you get to bring your dress home with you the very same day! While this is a good way to get a designer gown at a fraction of the sticker price, there's a few things to take note of before bargain hunting.
How Sample Gowns Are Treated Says A Lot About the Shop
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 or tight budget. If a shop doesn’t take 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
When shopping for a sample dress, be sure it can be altered to fit you. 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. However, if a dress is falling off of you, or you’re unable to zip it up, you may want to keep looking. Great bridal shops will be able to find you a sample gown that fits 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 consultant is passionate, knowledgeable, and personable. They should be able to answer your questions, or find the answer by consulting a manger, manufacturer, or other professional.
Be totally open about your wedding vision, budget, and any questions or concerns you have. A fantastic bridal consultant should be excited to hear your ideas and to get to know your style! 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 you or seems pushy, they’re probably more interested in earning commission than helping you. This is an unfortunately common bridal store scam, as consultants may have quotas they need to meet. A consultant’s main goal should be helping brides find the perfect dress. Don’t settle for anything less!
Wedding dress shopping should be enjoyable and memorable. 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 can take away from 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 confident when trying on bridal gowns! Have any other tips for brides searching for their dream dress? Leave us a comment!
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