At Tickled Pink we have some thirty years experience in helping brides make their bridal gown choices, so to help make things go smoothly, here’s a few friendly words of advice.
Expect to make an appointment
At least an hour will be set aside as your personal time for you to select a dress. If you call in ‘on spec’, you may find an appointment slot free, but otherwise you’ll need to be prepared to wait or to have to call again. Popular shops with a good reputation will be busy, especially on Saturdays and during school holidays.
Keep an open mind about styles
Try dresses on to find the shape and size that suits you. You may have decided on a particular look you love, but until you try it on, you won’t really know what suits your body shape and overall style. A professional sales assistant will listen to your wishes before making suggestions. In most shops you can expect to find over a hundred dresses to choose from in a variety of styles, sizes and colours. The most popular shade by far is ivory, diamond white, or pale cream, or sometimes pink or apricot shades. Normally, these are all sample dresses for you to try on and find your favourite. Brides usually know instinctively when they have found “the dress”. There’s no place for pressure selling in a bridal shop.
Once your decision is made, the shop will order a new dress in your size and colour of choice. The sample dress system gives UK brides the greatest choice in the world. In many European countries, shops order bridal gowns in a range of sizes once or twice a year, and customers buy straight off the rail as you do with fashion.
If you search any well-known label’s website for ideas, there will be a huge collection of dresses linked to suppliers. Bear in mind these suppliers dresses are available worldwide to retailers, and only a proportion will be found in UK shops as not all are on trend for the UK.
Looking for a wedding dress with sleeves? An option is to choose a strapless wedding dress and add in a shrug or bolero for the ceremony.
Plan ahead, if you can
It takes about 5-7 months from ordering a wedding dress to delivery as each is made for individual brides. Unless you have a “made-to-measure” dress, you may need alterations for a perfect fit, adding a few weeks more. A further few weeks extra gives peace of mind, so 6 months is a comfortable minimum. Some styles can now be ordered to different skirt lengths which cuts out some alterations.
Shop policy on photographs
Many shops only permit brides to take photographs of dresses after the dress is ordered. Why is this ? There are a few brides who will take a photo of their favourite try-on dress and take it to a dressmaker to copy. Given that the dress is one of the most important elements to your big day, it’s running quite a risk in order to save at most a few hundred pounds.
Weddings at short notice
One of the first questions you will be asked will be your wedding date. Some suppliers now make rush orders for weddings at short notice, and it’s also possible to buy “off-the-rail” if the retailer is prepared to part with a sample that fits you. Some of Tickled Pink’s wedding dress suppliers now keep a stock of a small range of their best selling dresses in their UK warehouses for quick delivery.
Have a budget in mind
The sales assistant should show you a range of dresses and mention price points, so this is the time to set boundaries, moneywise. If you fall in love with something more expensive, you will have to reconsider and see if you can save elsewhere in your budget. A recent Brides magazine reader survey puts the average price paid by their readers in 2017 at £1,200, but our prices start from £450. Sample dresses are sometimes available at a discounted price as we like to keep our collection constantly refreshed.
What is a sample dress? To give brides a wide choice, retailers in the UK purchase a range of dress sizes of each style they want to stock from a supplier. This is generally a 12 or 14, and some in the smaller and sometimes the curvier sizes. After the bride has tried on dresses and her measurements taken, a new dress is ordered just for her, leaving the sample to be tried on by another bride. Some months down the line, the shop-owner may decide it is time to sell the sample (sometimes at a discount, but available immediately) and re-invest in a new dress for the coming season.
Be prepared financially
An initial payment is required to place an order – usually 50 percent of the retail price, or by arrangement. The rest is due when the dress arrives in the shop. The bride will be expected to sign a legally enforceable contract to pay for the dress fully, in the same way that the shop-owner makes a binding contract with the supplier for that dress. Most shops take credit cards and some offer staged payments. Some retailers arrange monthly payments and place the order for the dress once the half-way mark is reached.
Labels tell a story. You can tell the market position of a shop by the labels it stocks. Some shops specialise in offering value for money, some look for greater exclusivity, and some stock dresses across a wide range of prices. Generally the more exclusive a designer, the larger the geographic area the label will allocate to a shop, so for these, brides have to be prepared to travel. Some will only be available direct from the designer in their shop.
Once the wedding dress is delivered and fully paid for, some “tweaking” by a seamstress is usually required for a perfect fit, and most shops charge for this service. As the dress belongs to the bride at this stage, she may choose to have alterations done by a trusted dressmaker or friend. Some dresses can be ordered made-to-measure, in which case the fitting cost is included in the price. More than one fitting may be needed. If the customer changes shape after the final fitting, expect extra charges if the dress needs altering again. Choose shoes and lingerie early on so that you have your basic body shape and heel height in place when trying on dresses.
Caring and cleaning
Silk, satins, and taffetas are very durable fabrics but many dress trimmings include fine lace, chiffon, net and delicate beadwork which need extra care. Specialists can clean the dress after the event to preserve it in pristine condition – best done immediately after the wedding. We use wedding dress specialists Terrington Burchett Ltd, to keep our own shop samples in perfect condition. This is information provided as a statement of fact without prejudice, and for legal reasons is not a recommendation. www.ukweddingdresscleaners.co.uk for more information on their services and charges.
Buy from a reputable bricks and mortar shop
The temptation to buy over the internet is always there, but we strongly advise against it. On many occasions we have had to rescue upset brides who have ordered from internet-based websites, and the dress has been a big disappointment – a poor copy, wrong colour or size, or not delivered at all. And of course, there is no chance of trying on beforehand. If things go wrong, the bride then has to start again – at short notice- hundreds of pounds out of pocket. There may be hidden charges for carriage and import duties. It is not unknown for a £49 dress to have £150 extra charges, as this gets round certain import restrictions.
As a test, the trade organisation The Retail Bridalwear Association ordered some dresses online and the results reinforced our concerns, with the same story repeated from members across the UK, and also from desperate emails from brides to the RBA Helpline. Even an article in The Sun backed our concerns. Beware of websites claiming to be able to supply labels normally found in bricks-and-mortar retailers. The dresses will be copies and poor ones at that.
An online purchaser has no UK consumer protection, if there is no UK or European base. A report in Attire a bridal trade magazine, told how a bride’s dress arrived by post – in an A4 envelope ! You can check on www.bridesaware.co.uk where Brides TV shows the differences between fakes and genuine dresses and also on the RBA website www.rbaltd.org.
Planning an overseas wedding?
There are many designs specifically aimed at weddings abroad, but in our experience, a bride will choose the style she loves best. Airlines are now geared up to deal with bulky dresses, and hotels are prepared to steam the dress on arrival. 25 percent of weddings arranged by UK couples now take place in holiday destinations, disproving the theory that weddings are declining in popularity – the numbers aren’t declining- they are just taking place where they haven’t been showing up on UK records compiled each year by the National Statistics Office. Recording methods have recently been changed.
Changes in UK law have cleared the last hurdle, allowing lesbian or gay couples to have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples getting hitched. Whatever your sexual orientation, at Tickled Pink you’ll get the same friendly welcome and customer care in our bridal and menswear departments.
Any further queries?
We will be delighted to help. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on 01302 842234 extn 20, Tickled Pink is located in Hatfield Doncaster Yorkshire UK DN7 6SB, on the A18 seven miles east of Doncaster and is a winner of no fewer than eight customer service awards.