Your wedding is nine months away and you decide to start searching for your perfect gown. You walk into a Pittsburgh bridal store and start talking to one of the salespeople. They ask you for your wedding date and you tell them. They immediately tell you that you will need nine months in order to special order your wedding gown. Is this true? In most cases, this is not true. The bridal shop is telling you that just so you will panic and place your order that day. This also helps them in stopping you from looking at other bridal shops. Don’t ever be bullied into buying your wedding dress on any given day. You might have found the dress of your dreams but give yourself a little time to think about it. You are making a big purchase for a special day and you need to make sure that this is the dress.

Even if it is one day make sure you really think about it.

I have suggested to some girls to go eat some lunch, discuss it with family or friends and then come back to make your purchase. Once you buy your gown that is it. Most shops do not allow returns or money back especially on special orders. Once you put money down on a special order, the dress is yours. The majority of manufacturers require 8-12 weeks for a special order unless you are making drastic changes to a dress. Did you even know you could change designs on a dress. Most manufacturers will allow you to lengthen a train, shorten a train, take off some beads, or add beads. If there is something you would love to add/change to your dress just ask the salesperson. Not all manufacturers allow this but some do. It never hurts to ask. If a bridal shop gives you a delivery date of 6 months or more then I would be very careful.

Deposit should be no more than one-half the price of the wedding gown

You have decided on your perfect wedding dress and now it is time to order it. First of all I would pay one one-half of the deposit. If the shop asks for more than that then walk out. You do not want to put more then half down on something you do not yet have in your hands. Also if the wedding is cancelled, you have lost only one-half the cost of the dress because remember deposits on special order dresses are not refundable. Being in the bridal business, I understand why stores ask for more then half. Weddings sometimes get cancelled or the bride decides she does not want the dress. Also, I suggest you put your deposit down with a credit card. This way if anything happens like the store closes down or never places your order then you have a way of getting your deposit back.

After you place your order and put your half deposit down, make sure you get a receipt. Also make sure that they write down the style number, color, and size down on your copy as well as the store’s copy. This way you have proof of what was supposed to be ordered. When I was a bride, I picked out my bridesmaids dresses from this particular store near me. I searched for hours in bridal magazines until I finally found the perfect bridesmaids’ dresses. Believe it or not once the dresses came in, I realized the store ordered the wrong dress. This was only one month before my wedding day. Luckily we caught it in time and the store corrected the problem. It does happen, so make sure you get everything in writing.

Get the delivery date

In the next couple of days after you place your order, call the store and get an estimated delivery date. This way you can be sure they ordered it. These are estimated dates not actual dates. No one can give you an actual date. This is the real world and things do happen. When a bride places an order with us, we always call them the next day or so and give them the delivery date.

Make sure you right this date down on your receipt along with the day and person you spoke with. One hint: If you have plenty of time then I suggest you move your wedding date up one month. This will help to reassure you that the dress will come in plenty of time before your wedding. This is a trick I use myself. When I order a dress from the manufacturer, I move the wedding date up a couple of weeks just to make sure we have plenty of time to get the dress in. The manufacturer thinks they have the actual wedding date and base their delivery date on it. This gives me a couple of extra weeks to correct a problem if something does go wrong. If your wedding date is 4 months or less away, then you cannot do this because you will incur rush charges.

How to make sure your dress is new: You’ve found your perfect dress and although the store has the exact size and color in stock you decide you want to order your dress new from the manufacturer instead of the store’s sample. You make your down payment, the dress is ordered and you have an estimated delivery date. The bridal shop calls you to tell you your dress has arrived and you go in to try it on. Before you even try it on you notice makeup stains inside the bodice of your dress and the underskirt looks as though it has been dragged across a dirty floor. Guess what? It’s a sure bet that your dress was never ordered and they are passing off the floor sample as a new dress. At this point you should point out the problems to the shop. Refuse to take the dress and demand they order you a new dress. Never take the dress out of the store and expect to come back later to show them the problems. Once you take a dress out of the store, the dress is yours no matter what.

Sometimes when a dress comes into the shop and we unpack it, we will find dirt or stains in the dress. We notify the manufacturer immediately and they provide us with a new dress at no extra charge. If your dress came in from the manufacturer stained or dirty you should have no problem requesting a new one. If, in fact, the store never ordered you a new dress and are trying to pass the floor sample on to you, you have every right to demand your money back or if it would satisfy you, to have the store clean it at their expense. Always make sure you go into the store as soon as you can when your special order dress comes in. This includes bridesmaids’ dresses as well. If you go in immediately then you can still get the manufacturer to replace the dress if anything is wrong.

Usually most manufacturers give the shop one to two weeks to notify them if something is wrong. After the certain time frame there is nothing you or the bridal shop can do to request a new dress if something is wrong. This is another reason to plan your wedding a year in advance. When situations do arise and things do happen then you have plenty of time to correct the problem. When dresses are ordered just 8-12 weeks prior to the wedding, if something does go wrong, it is very difficult to correct the problem.

By Susan Cook

Photo by DelPrincipe Photography of Pittsburgh