In General: There is a lot written here, but there is a lot to know about buying a wedding dress or bridesmaids dresses.
Buying a wedding dress is not at all like buying regular clothes. If you take the time to educate yourself on the subject, you'll find the perfect dress at the right bridal store, at the right price, and have great memories of the entire process.
Where: Where you buy your gown is really important. Just ask brides that lost all their money when Wedding World closed all their stores. Experience and financial stability matter. Ask as many past brides as you can about where they went and how they were treated, and you'll get a good idea as to which stores know what they are doing and which stores don't.
Ask how long the store owner has been in the bridal business. At this time, the majority of stores in this area have owners with not many years of experience. They may advertise that their business has been in existence for 50 years, but they don't tell you that they just bought the store.
We can tell you that we made more mistakes in our first five years than our last ten years -- and we do a whole lot more business each year now!
Going to a trusted, established bridal store makes a bride's and her attendants' life a lot easier and less stressful. Experienced stores have well trained staffs that know fabric and design and know what looks best on different body types. Experienced stores are extremely organized and may have custom written computer software to keep track of the dozens of details per wedding party.
Experienced stores know how to measure properly so there will be minimal alterations. Experienced store owners know the best way to fix just about anything and can anticipate problems before they cause you a problem.
Established store owners have long established relationships with their designers. They can pick up the phone and talk to the designer him/herself about a design or shipping question. Established stores have accounts directly with the designer (many new owners, just to make a sale, will try to get designer gowns they don't carry through the "bridal underground." That means that if there is any problem whatsoever, like the gown is damaged or miss-cut, you'll have to deal with it yourself).
Established stores also have financial stability. This is important because you want the store to be around for your wedding!
Alterations: If you are like 98% of all brides, you'll need some kind of alterations to your wedding dress in order to get it to fit you properly. You should consider alterations as part of the cost of your gown because in all likelihood you will need some kind of alterations.
First and foremost, you have to know that the alterations professional who is altering your gown will do it properly. A bad seamstress can basically ruin your gown. Make sure the store you buy your gown from stands behind the alterations done.
Ask whether the store uses "in house" seamstresses (seamstresses that work for the store) or "contract" seamstresses. Contract seamstresses are independent of the store -- they work for themselves and usually rent the space they are using in the store.
If they use contract only seamstresses, whatever happens with your gown will be between you and the seamstress. The store will not take any responsibility and may not even try to help you at all if you are dissatisfied with the alterations performed. You may also have to go to another location for the work to be done or pick up your gown.
In house seamstresses work for the store, so any problems or questions you have will be handled by the store owners. You will be able to do everything at the store concerning alterations.
The vast majority of bridal stores will not quote you a price on alterations until your gown comes in and you are in front of a seamstress. Therefore, you might think you are getting a great deal on the gown itself, but you may be "overcharged" on alterations later. Alterations charges can vary widely.
We know of a bridal chain store that any hem, no matter how easy, starts at $125. Generally, brides there spend at least $250-$350 for all their alterations.
Another store generally charges $300-400 for all alterations.
We were the first bridal salon in Western Pennsylvania, and now one of the very few stores anywhere in America, that has an alterations package price. Basically, this means you cannot be "shocked" or taken advantage of when it comes to alterations charges because you'll know what you'll pay for alterations before you buy your gown.
You should be aware of all the extra charges that you might face if you buy somewhere other than MB Bride.
For example: if you want your gown steamed and pressed for a portrait, that will be $30-$60 at a competitor.
Another example: An additional $30-$100 for steaming and pressing for your wedding day.
Some bridal stores even charge an extra $5-15 per gown for shipping. And these are just the extra charges we know about! We include ALL this in our price.
We will also match any competitors price (without the "buy today" pressure and "registration fees") if you prefer. But, we will also match the alteration fees, shipping and handling fees, and all the other hidden charges of that competitor.
Print this page and ask about these charges when wedding dress shopping.
A knowledgeable, educated bride has always been our best customer.
A Competitor's Alteration Charge Sheet
|Extra Changes requested|
|Lining of the neck||$10-15||$||$|
|Lining of the sleeve||$20-30||$||$|
|Extra Veil Length||$20-30||$||$|
|Changes to Poof||$20-30||$||$|
|Add Pearls and Sequins||$10-15||$||$|
|Full Length of train||$30-40||$||$|