With wedding expenses spiralling for every part of your wedding, it makes sense to look at any cost savings where you can. Your dress is a large part of your budget, so to get your dream dress for around 1/2 to 2/3 cheaper than the UK retail price sounds tempting. But are these huge savings too good to be true?

How safe is it?

Make sure you’re using a reputable supplier or you could find your dress never arrives or is a cheap copy from China.

Use a company that has been recommended and appears to be a proper, well established supplier. If you are buying from eBay look carefully at the feedback before buying and use Paypal to pay. With any supplier be on your guard if they don’t give a phone number and address.

Wedding DressPay for dress using Paypal or your credit card – then if there are any problems you are more likely to get your money back.

Once you have identified a good supplier, try not to worry. If you buy from a UK based internet supplier you should have full legal protection – more than if you had bought from a shop. A large US supplier may be as reliable as a small wedding shop in the UK. ‘Real’ wedding dress shops do go out of business. But bear in mind that if you do have a problem with a supplier you may feel more helpless than if it was a shop in your home town.

For peace of mind you should build in enough time for a late delivery or possibly non-arrival of your dress. If you allow time to then reorder with another supplier you will reduce potential stress. When ordering, bear in mind that it can take longer for your dress to arrive and the waiting may seem more stressful as the supplier is not in the same country as you.

How much will I save?

This all sounds a bit stressful – is it worth it?! A dress bought from the US can have 1/3 or 1/2 discounted off the UK price – so a £900 could be £450 to £600. Sometimes you’ll find a dress with even more of a saving – £250 to £300 instead of £900. If you order bridesmaid dresses too you can factor in even more savings.

Don’t forget that you will need to add in VAT and duty if buying from the US. This is now 20% for VAT on the total (dress and delivery) plus you may need to pay around 12% duty on the price (minus delivery). This would add around £100 to a £350 dress. You MAY not need to pay duty, but you probably won’t know until the dress is with you. It’s worth doing your sums before you order to see if you dress is still the bargain you thought, or if it’s not much cheaper than buying from your local bridal shop.

How do I choose a wedding dress from a website?

You may find it harder to choose a dress online. Once you’ve decided what style you want this may help – eg straight, princess or a-line. You may have already narrowed it down to satin or organza, lace or beaded, strapless or with sleeves. You may find you want to choose the actual dress in a bridal shop and then order the same dress online, which you may feel is unfair on the wedding dress shop.

How do I make sure I order the right size?

A good online supplier will be able to advise you on sizing. You’ll need to source an independent dressmaker for alterations unless you are very lucky with sizing. Make sure you order slightly too big rather than too small as it’s much easier to take dresses in than let them out.

Wedding DressBe careful with the sizing and look for actual measurements. Even if you have tried on a ’10’ in a shop it’s possible that a retailer may have changed its sizing or be using US sizes. You’ll also need to bear in mind US sizing – which can be either one or two sizes below UK (eg a UK size 10 may be a US 6 or 8). Additionally all wedding dresses tend to be sized small.

Look at a sizing chart on the website that gives actual measurements, or get in touch with them to give them your measurements. Order the size that will fit your largest measurement. Eg

  Dress size 14 Dress size 16 Your measurements
Bust 38 39.5 38.5
Waist 29 31 28
Hips 41 43 40

Your bust size will mean you need to order the size 16 even though you’re actually closer to the 14 overall.

It’s important to get the size as close as possible, even though it will probably need altering anyway. A size too small could be impossible to let out enough, while too many sizes too big will mean excess work and sometimes difficulty in altering panels of lace/beading.

Look at length – find out if the dress comes in two different lengths and make sure the dress is long enough for you once you are wearing your shoes.

Ask if there are samples of material available so you can check the colour descriptions are accurate. You’ll also need to find out if the dress requires a hoop or any other accessories in order to sit as it does in photos on their website.

If you’re careful in choosing your dress and supplier you can make some great savings – good luck with your purchase!

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