Ask a Consultant- Buying Online

Today's topic is honestly a very frustrating subject for many of us in the bridal industry. That being said, we actually are very pleased to be able to clear the air and talk candidly about it. 

This question comes from "OnaBudget" right here in Roswell, GA. "OnABudget" writes:

"Due to budget concerns, I am considering purchasing a dress from an online retailer. I have done my research and found a company that seems to have the good reviews. I have talked to three recent brides who purchased their gowns from this particular online retailer, and one of the three gave me good reviews. I am feeling a bit uneasy about all of this and was wondering if you all could maybe give me some insight into how all this works? What's the difference between what I have tried on in the store and what I'd be purchasing online? How do I know the quality will be the same? Is it possible to buy the in-store dress online for less? Thanks so much for your time and consideration!" 

"OnABudget", we sincerely thank you for your questions! We appreciate that you recognize your budget concerns (we really do love that you have acknowledged your financial requirements)! That being said, here are some to-the-point answers to your questions. 

"Imitation is the greatest form of flattery."

Honestly, the greatest form of flattery in the bridal industry is not imitation. The greatest form is buying the gown from an authorized retailer. If you asked gown designer Sherri Hill if she is flattered by imitation dresses, we think she'd most definitely say "NO!"  

Let's be honest about what's happening here: when you buy online from an unauthorized "retailer" or "designer", you are not buying the same dress you tried on in the store. You are buying a copy being produced from a photo. Most likely the dress is being manufactured in China. We're not knocking China. Many top name designers have factories in China. All we're saying is that you will have no way to physically touch the fabric, or try the dress on as it is made. If you were to have a dress custom made by a local, qualified seamstress, you would be asked to be involved as much as possible and try the gown on as it's made. You can see the difference between having a gown custom made for you and buying a gown online that has been "custom made."

Side note:  Having a gown custom made for you by a seamstress, is not cheap. If you're ready to drop some serious $$$ and having a one-of-a-kind gown is a must have for you, go for it. But be prepared and do your research! 

In general, the designer gown you tried on is going to be made from high quality fabric and has a precise pattern. Using quality fabric and having proper construction is really what makes a designer gown different from a department store dress. You are essentially foregoing this aspect of your dress when you order online. So, to answer your question- The quality will not be the same, so there really is no comparison. 

There are a few designers who do not *exclusively* work with authorized retailers. The only problem with purchasing these types of gowns: it is very difficult to tell from a photo if the gown is genuine or a copy. You won't know if you've gone "all-in" with your hard-earned money on a quality gown until it is either too late or too financially difficult to order a new one. These online companies are counting on their bluff working. Don't be fooled. Don't be taken advantage of. 

We are not going to say it is impossible to have a good experience shopping online for your wedding gown. We will, however, very strongly advise you against making the bet that you will happen to be one of the very fortunate few who are happy. 


The follow photos are actual examples. There has been no editing of any kind. These are the honest truth about ordering a bridal gown online. We don't mean to seem overly dramatic, well, okay, yes we do. This is serious. 


To paraphrase the undeniably intelligent Forest Gump, buying a gown online "....is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get!"