Buyers Beware: Wedding Dress Shopping Do's and Don'ts

Dos and don'ts for buying the perfect dress.

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We want to make sure that brides are getting the wedding dress of their dreams, not a cheap imitation. To avoid nuptial nightmares and make the most of your gown-shopping experience, we suggest brushing up on some buying basics.

Do: Bargain Hunt

Keep an eye out for sample sales. Browse websites for listings and ask salons in your area about getting on their mailing list. Already found the dress of your dreams? Don't rely on a deal on eBay to save you from paying the full price. You must be a wise and flexible shopper to find what you want for a price you like. Changing gown fabrics is a better way to save and the difference can be significant (sometimes $1,000 or more).

Don't: Rule Out Online Shopping

Online retailers like J.Crew and Ann Taylor make dress shopping a cinch. Gowns fit true to size, you can make quick returns or exchanges, and you can even have dresses delivered in under a week (though we still suggest getting the gown at least three months in advance to save time for alterations).

Do: Shop in the States

Shopping overseas isn't worth the hassle. "They're not bound by U.S. laws," says Joseph Murphy, CEO of JLM Couture. "Therefore, there's no recourse should something go wrong."

Don't: Trust Ad Images (Online)

Sometimes unauthorized sites will steal ad images from the designers' websites. Confirming the authenticity of a site or salon is as easy as calling the customer service number on the designer's homepage.

Do: Follow the Same Rules for Your Bridesmaids

Think about the effects of having bridesmaid dresses from different dye lots. This subtle difference may be difficult to see with a naked eye, but it will definitely pop up in your pictures.

Don't: Deal with Unauthorized Retailers

"The further you get from an authorized retailer, the greater chance you have of purchasing the wrong gown," says Murphy. "A salon that doesn't represent the designer may say they can get the product and entice brides with a discount." The fabrics may be from different dye lots, defective, or even the wrong fabric altogether. The details may not be the same as well (think a zipper instead of a buttoned-up back), or worse yet, the gown may not arrive in time for the big day!

Knot Note: Brides with sensitive skin could end up with a rash and an ill-fitting garment.

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