A stealth Offbeat Bride works in the field and shares insider tips for a bridal salon
I work in a bridal salon. Being an Offbeat Bride, I would like to claim that I work at a boutique that caters to offbeat weddings. I work in a center of Wedding Industrial Complex influence. However, I work with Offbeat Brides every single day and have some traditional tips to help them navigate. These are some ways you can survive )….
Set up an appointment
Make an appointment. I cannot even count how many times I had walk-in brides sent away on busy Saturdays. While some salons won’t accept walk-ins, others may allow you to get in. However, it’s always risky. Most shops won’t allow you to try on wedding gowns without consulting a stylist. If there are only four bridal appointments, you might be stuck looking at dresses until the consultant finishes. Book an appointment to save yourself the hassle. If possible, try to book an appointment on a weekday — busy weekends can be overwhelming, especially for brides with anxiety disorders.
Be aware of the busy season at the store
January through April are known as “Bridal December” in the world of wedding dresses. It is a time when brides get engaged over the holidays, while their bridal parties feel the pinch from summer weddings. Teenagers also flock to the store to buy prom dresses. Bridal salons, large and small alike, are busiest during this time. This can be both good and bad. Companies tend to have sales during this period to drive traffic. Many new styles are also released in the winter. It can also lead to long lines and little or no walk-in availability. There may also be inexperienced seasonal staff.
The best time to shop for a wedding is between Christmas and Thanksgiving. It is usually the slowest season, so it is more likely that you will get a consultant who will only work with your party. Clearance merchandise is also available at great prices during this period, as stores are trying to make space for new products coming later in the year.
Be aware of your budget
Talk to your partner and anyone else paying for the wedding to determine what you can afford. Be sure to consider the cost of alterations, accessories, and preservation. Your budget should be disclosed to your consultant. Do not allow your consultant to push you into buying something that is too expensive. Don’t do it. You shouldn’t do it even “just for fun”. There is always the chance you might fall in love with a costly dress, only to be disappointed by dresses within your price range.
Check the price range of each store
It is not fun to go into a shop and find out you cannot afford the items they have. Do your research before you go. Every bridal salon has a different average price for wedding gowns. If you go to a store that starts at $1500, you are likely to be disappointed. You might spend your time looking at salons that offer wedding gowns starting at $1500 if you have a $400 budget.
Look beyond the bridal section
If you’re on a tight budget or are looking for something more colorful than the bridal section has to offer, don’t be afraid of taking a look at mother-of-the bride dresses and prom dresses. The flower girl section is my favorite section for serious drama and budget-friendly shopping. You can often find miniature versions of beautiful wedding gowns for a fraction of their price if you’re petite, tall, or have a flat stomach.
Learn more about payment options
Ask your consultant about the payment terms before you say yes to the gown. Is it possible to pay a deposit? Is it possible to put the dress on layaway? Can a payment plan be used to extend the lead-time for the dress? Is it possible to open a credit card for a store? Ask about discounts. Some stores offer discounts for military personnel or students. Ask about the benefits of purchasing the dress, such as savings on bridesmaid dresses and accessories.
A consultant may try to increase their commission by “adding on”
By adding on, you can transform a $500 dress to an $800 sale by adding shoes and veils. This tactic is not always a good idea. There may be deep discounts available on the day you purchase your dress. However, don’t feel pressured to buy the entire outfit. Bridal stores can charge a lot for jewelry and shoes, so it’s worth looking around to see if you can get a better deal if you don’t have to buy them all.
To order or not?
A brand new, factory-fresh dress can be a nice option if you have the time. However, make sure to inquire about a discount for the store sample or if they will replace any damage that the sample sustained in the store. If the store doesn’t have the size or color you prefer, you may have to order. In this case, you should always ask for a timeline and compare it to the date of the wedding so you can make any necessary adjustments. A brand new dress may fit better than one that has been in store for many months or years. If in doubt, order a size larger. Ask if the dress is available in petite sizes, or extra long, as this can help save brides on both ends of the height spectrum a lot when it comes time to alter.
If the store offers one, you might want to consider the preservation package
For brides who are not planning on having their dress thrown away, preservation may be unnecessary. For brides who wish to preserve their dress for the future, they can display it, sell it, pass it on to someone else, or give it to a friend.