Wedding Dress Problems™

Your dress is one of the biggest parts of your day - but can be the source of most stress. Here's how to deal with common issues.

The shop is requiring 50% deposit to place an order

This seems to be standard these days. The shop has to pay for the dress at the time of ordering and is probably wary of fickle brides! If it seems scary then make sure you have tried on lots of dresses - then stop looking at dresses in magazines and online once your dress is ordered.

They want you to pay the balance without seeing the dress
You need to insist that you check and try on the dress before paying the final balance. They may have checked it, but you need to do that yourself too. Also there may be problems which would only be visible when it's actually being worn.

When should I expect to take my dress home ?

If you order your dress early then when it comes into the shop you may be required to take it home. Shops simply do not have the storage to hold every dress for many months. If you have a shorter time schedule or the shop arranges delivery for a month before your day as a matter of course you might want to pretend your wedding day is a week or two before the actual date to save you worrying. If you have a VERY short deadline then of course you won't want to do this as you'll just be giving shop staff extra stress!

The shop is requiring full payment before alterations are done
You might see that you're paying for a full service and the balance should only be payable on delivery of a perfect product, but some shops will see it as two separate parts. You will therefore sometimes have to pay for the dress before the alterations. You will be able to check the dress and try it on first though.

My dress is late
They said your dress would be in by a certain date and the date has been and gone. If you haven't already, then give them a ring. It may be that the dress is in and they expect you to call, or have simply forgotten. If you speak to them and it isn't in yet then get them to agree a date that it will be in by - and say that if it isn't in by this date you will be looking for an alternative. You might want to say you will be unable to fit in time for fittings for a few weeks which is why you need it by a certain date.

It's all too easy to let it drift on, with them saying your dress will be in soon and then it not turning up again and again. They are at the mercy of their supplier, but your relationship is with them, so it's up to them to supply the goods. You shouldn't be fobbed off by them saying they are desperately waiting for it and don't know when it will be in.

If your wedding day is getting close and there is not sign of your dress you might want to start lining up alternatives. Some dresses can be ordered in a few weeks, or samples can be purchased. By using an independent seamstress you can get alterations completed in a matter of days. A sample dress may only be the same price as the remainder you have to pay on your dress, so it may not even cost you much more. And remember, it's very,very rare for a dress not to turn up for a wedding, even if it does cut it rather close!

All the dresses seem very expensive
You might be shocked at first at how much wedding dresses can cost. Set a firm budget and phone round some shops to see if they have a selection in your price range. Don't forget to ask about cost of alterations. Veils can also add another £200 to the price of your outfit, but these can be purchased significantly more cheaply online.

If there are no dress shops that can supply you within budget then you still have lots of options:

  • Hiring a dress - the dress will still be altered to fit you
  • 'Budget dress' - try Debenhams, Monsoon, TKMaxx, Asda and M&S for dresses under £200. You could buy a plain dress and pay for it to be customized a little.
  • Second hand - wedding dresses often sell for around 10-20% of their initial cost
  • Online - bear in mind some online will be cheap copies of brands, but others are bargains as they don't have the overheads of shops. Make sure you use a recommended site.

My wedding shop is horrible to me now they've got my deposit

Unfortunately this is more common than it should be. Sales staff are often on commission so they will be very nice to you when trying to get you to buy a dress, and in some cases less friendly once the purchase has been made. By using a shop that has been recommended then you should avoid this - advice which is not much use to you now! If they are really upsetting you with rude/incompetent behaviour perhaps ask a friend or your mum to deal with them ?

Do I really need to pay a £200 alterations package ?
Some shops will suggest that a package of around £200 gives you pieces of mind as it includes unlimited alterations and trying on. This can seem reassuring as it's a fixed amount, but in practice if all you are likely to need is length altering and some taking in to make it fit exactly then you would be better getting it done separately. If they are quoting you this then our advice would be to get the dress altered elsewhere as some people have suggested these expensive packages are a bit of a rip-off.

My dress is not how it was meant to be

If your dress turns up and it's a different colour/wrong size then the dress shop must rectify this. Even if it's an error on the manufacturer's part, then they must sort this out.

More difficult to resolve are issues like the actual dress being much 'cleaner' looking than the sample. Your dress shop should have pointed out to you that the lovely creamy colour would be more like ivory in the flesh, or given you a sample but they could equally argue that you should have asked to see a sample. If the colour is very different then you have more of a case that they should have alerted you.

If your dress is not sitting correctly or has been altered to the wrong length then again they would be responsible for sorting it out. If you make sure you are very precise in explaining the alterations you want then you are more likely to get what you want and get it fixed if it's wrong.

My dress does not fit and they say it's my fault
If you go for your first fitting and your dress is too small/much too large then they might say you need to pay extra/your dress can't be altered. Don't worry, most dresses can have an extra panel put in at the back or a corset back and dresses can usually be taken in several dress sizes. A shop should order the size of dress to fit the biggest part of you - so if your hips would fit into a 14 but your bust is a bit bigger than a 14 then a 16 should be ordered. So unless you have put on weight they should not have to be letting your dress out. In any case you need to dig out the copy of your measurements (which of course you checked were correct at the time) and compare to see if you really have changed. If you haven't then they have ordered the wrong size/the manufacturer has delivered the wrong size and you should not have to pay for the alterations.€™t

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