Every week I get lots of phonecalls, emails and Facebook messages from brides asking me for tips and advice about wedding dress shopping. The most frequent question I get asked is 'When should I go looking for my wedding dress?' and I always give the same answer:
Go looking when you are ready to buy.
For one bride, she may be ready to buy 20 months before her wedding, For another, it may be 7 or 8 months before the big day.
When a bride visits our shop, we give them over an hour of our time and expertise. (And sometimes a lot more if she books a second viewing.) Our aim is to find a wedding dress for each bride who visits us. We gladly allow each bride to try on thousands of pounds worth of dresses. We help her to get in and out of each dress, often pinning her into the dresses to get the best looking fit to help her imagine what it would look like if it was the perfect fit (brides visiting our shop often remark how well we do this compared to other shops). We will guide her towards the dresses which we feel she will like and which will flatter her figure. If she likes a dress, we will help her accessorise it, giving tips from what shoes to wear to how to do her hair and what jewellery and head dress she should go for. We don't charge for these consultations - we do them for free in the hope that some of the brides we help will 'Say Yes to the dress' in our shop and do business with us (so that we can pay the bills!!!)
Our job is to sell you your dream dress - and when we do that appointment, we are working with the stock we have on that given day. Fast forward 1 week... 1 month.... 3 months... 6 months.... As each week passes, that stock is constantly evolving. If you follow our Facebook page you will see constant updates. Pictures of new arrivals. New styles straight from the catwalk so that we keep our stock fresh, following all the latest trends that our designers have to show us. You'll also see Facebook updates warning of imminent discontinued lists. For example, we lost 13 Essense of Australia dresses at Christmas to one of these dreaded lists. Before that, we lost 18 Maggie Sottero dresses in September. Also, if a supplier runs out of a certain fabric or trimming, they will discontinue a dress with immediate effect.
As well as losing stock to the designers' discontinuations, at Beautiful Day, we have always sold current season dresses 'off the peg' in our shop, mainly to brides with wedding dates that are too close for them to order a dress in. We cannot hold on to every single dress in case someone decides to re-visit it at a later date. With every new dress I get in, I have to move a dress along to make room for the new stock on my rails. It's all part of keeping our selection fresh and current and helping to fund the process of getting new stock in. I love seeing the new styles come along to replace the ones we've moved along - we're in a fashion business and following changing trends is what we do to avoid our business becoming stagnant.
So where does this all fit in with my advice on leaving your bridal consultations until you are ready to buy a dress?
I'm always harping on to people to strike when the iron is hot and to order their dress once they find 'the one' - we can never promise that a dress will not become discontinued or won't be sold to someone in between your first visit to our shop and an appointment on a later date when you've decided that it's time to buy. With the sheer volume of brides who visit us, we cannot be expected to track every single bride and keep her up to date on a style's status if she hasn't put down a deposit. (We do track them however is a deposit is paid.) For every ten brides who leave loving a dress in our shop but don't pay a deposit, we are lucky if one or two of them ever even come back to order it, so unless a deposit is paid, we do not mark a dress down as 'the one' for a bride. In the past few months we've had several disappointed brides who've come back to our shop to see a dress they'd tried on during a previous visit and they were bitterly disappointed when they found it was gone. Some brides had left it nearly a year to come back - for one bride, it was only just over a week. It's not nice breaking the bad news that she can't try it on again, or even worse, that she can't even order it. frown emoticon I've had the tears, the drama - even the slamming of doors from brides who came back thinking all they had to do was hand over the deposit for that dress they saw on a previous visit, only to find themselves back to square one, often with a very limited time-frame to start from scratch. One bride a while back had even got a custom made head dress costing hundreds of pounds to match a certain dress that she found was discontinued when she came back to order it. Another had went and bought bridesmaid dresses to match in with a dress that was gone and no longer available to order.
Please ladies - only go shopping when you are ready to say 'Yes to the dress' should you find it there and then. Leaving the decision until a later date because you are not ready is a risky tactic, and you should only walk away from a dress that day if you are willing to take the risk of coming back and having the decision taken out of your hands. To avoid this happening, shop only when you're ready so that you're not pouring your time and energy - as well as ours - into something that you may not be able to get at a later date. Say 'Yes to the dress' that you know you can wear on your wedding day, not to one that you hope (fingers crossed) that you will be able to come back and still get in the future.
Happy shopping!! Ciara xx
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