There’s been a rise in the last few years of websites and companies based in China selling wedding dresses to those of us in the Western world. It seems like every dress I like on Pinterest comes from one of them. The apparent great thing about them is that they’re far cheaper than buying from most bridal boutiques, even though a lot of their dresses are made in China, too.
I imagine the reason behind this is that you’re not paying the middle man—boutiques have to pay to get dresses shipped to them, a storefront to display them to the public, and commissions to sales associates. Websites don’t have to do any of that.
Despite the cost difference, I don’t plan on ordering my dress from one of these companies. Here’s why:
1. I want to make sure I look good in it before I buy it. Call me crazy, but I’d like to try something on before I drop hundreds of dollars on it. I’ve heard horror stories of dresses not fitting, and then being really hard to return because of…
2. …poor customer service. If the dress arrives in the right color, the right size, and at the right time, ordering from these businesses would be amazing for my pocketbook. But I understand that a lot of these companies are very hard to get in touch with if you need to return the garment, or, heaven forbid, you need a refund because they don’t get it to you in time.
If you’re determined to buy online, I’d check out The Dessy Group’s selection. They have a great return/exchange policy and great customer service. Plus they’re an American company originating in New York. They’re offering 10% off and free shipping on orders over $100 now through December 31, 2016 when you use code Newdg15.
3. They have different holidays than we do. My friend ordered her dress from one of these online vendors. She actually still highly recommends the website. But there was also a hold up in dress production because of Spring Festivals or something like that. (Please forgive my lack of knowledge about the specific holiday.) I guess it would be akin to most people having abbreviated work schedules in the US around Christmas and New Years. But I don’t know what other holidays they have and what weight they hold as far as worker or postal vacation days.
4. You still have to pay for shipping. And shipping from China isn’t cheap. The price difference starts to become more neutralized when you take this into account.
5. Sometimes dresses get held up in customs. Because the dress is getting shipped from across the world, it makes many stops along the way. I read one story in particular of a bride-to-be’s gown getting held up in Ireland, where they wanted hundreds and hundreds of dollars to get it to pass through customs. The bride didn’t have hundreds and hundreds of dollars. She tried to get in touch with customer service. For the rest of the story, refer to reason number 2.
What I’ll Do Instead
1. I won’t turn my nose up at “as-is” racks. I don’t have to have a custom ordered dress. If I can find one that fits and I fall in love with that’s a former display model or has a minor defect, I won’t be too proud to take it home with me at those marked-down prices.
2. I’ll get it tailored. If it doesn’t fit right off the rack, I’ll just get it tailored. I’d probably have to do that if I ordered from China, anyways.
3. I plan to go shopping in the winter. Because December-January tends to be the cheapest time of year to purchase.
4. I’ll only go into boutiques I know I can afford. There’s no point in going to a store where I know I can’t afford the merchandise “just to look.” If I fall in love with something there, it’s going to ruin my outlook on other, more affordable dresses. There’s no reason to depress myself when I could be perfectly happy with something that doesn’t costs thousands and thousands of dollars.
5. Anna taught me that it’s okay to negotiate. Yes, even on wedding dresses. Read about her experience.
I’m going to nip this in the bud before all the personal finance bloggers can suggest it: I’m not going to get one used. I did that last time I got married. I used a divorced girl’s dress because it was free and pretty enough. It was actually a really expensive dress originally. But I’m a total believer in bad mojo if I wasn’t before.
Besides that, I really was bummed that I didn’t get to do the traditional dress shopping with my mom. Turns out it was a good thing that marriage didn’t work out, or I wouldn’t be getting married to the love of my life now. So thank you, cursed dress. Thank you.
Pssst! I’ve gotten married since this post went live. Want to see how shopping actually went for me? Read this post.