Five important considerations when buying your wedding dress online

17 Jan 2018

If you find your dream dress online, here are five things you must consider before placing the order

Image: Colette Allan via Unsplash

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With the recent reports of the high street's struggle to stay afloat as people show an increased preference to shop online instead, it is no surprise that brides-to-be are displaying similar behaviour. Online browsing for the dream dress indeed forms part of the entire journey for most brides as they choose their favourite styles before visiting a stockist to try on the dress in-person.

However, an increasing amount of brides rely solely on bridalwear websites to shop around and make the final purchase. Why? Simply because there are no geographical boundaries when shopping online - if your perfect dress happens to be by an Australian designer with no UK stockists, you can still get your hands on it.

Yet shopping online does come with its own risks, especially when you aren't able to try before you buy. So what are the key considerations to make before taking the plunge? Here are five of the most important questions to ask yourself.

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Image: Charisse Kenion via Unsplash

1. Is the website legit and secure?

First and foremost, ensure the website is a legitimate marketplace by researching its reputation. Wedding forums with frequent input from real brides are a good place to start, as are trusted wedding blogs and websites - simply do a Google search for the e-tailer and see what comes up. Customer reviews on a third-party site or social media are always useful. 

If you are sure that the website is reliable and are ready to make a payment, check that the payment page is secure. Look out for a small padlock symbol in the address bar (or elsewhere in your browser window) and a web address beginning with https:// (the s stands for 'secure'). Intermediary payment platforms, such as PayPal, are a good way to ensure utmost safety and security so if this option is available - use it. Use a credit card rather than a debit card for large payments as you'll be protected under the Consumer Credit Act for payments over £100 and 'chargeback' for payments under £100. Never enter your card PIN number or bank details and make sure any account passwords are strong using a combination of special characters (*, !, & etc), letter cases and numbers. 

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Image: 2Photo Pots via Unsplash

2. Can I speak to the team?

Behind every good customer-facing website is a team of employees who will want to make your experience as seamless as possible. When browsing online it is a good gauge of customer service if you can speak to someone over the phone, via email or through a live chat facility to put your mind at ease. Assess whether you can get answers to your questions in a prompt and friendly manner. Draw up a list of queries regarding the dress/es you are looking at and see how attentive the team are in coming back to you and offering their expertise. You'll quickly realise if there is a genuine, helpful and knowledgable team behind the business who are willing to do everything they can to assist you. 

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Image: Anna Docking via Unsplash

3. What sort of style and key features do you want?

There are so many aspects to think about when finding the perfect style of dress. Australian bridal brand Grace Loves Lace has a showroom in London’s Shoreditch, but more than 70% of their customers have successfully ordered their gown from their ecommerce site. GLL founder Megan Ziems, advises to think about the fabric carefully: "Traditional gowns which feature rigid fabrics, boning, structure and no stretch are a high-risk online purchase, whereas a fitted top and loose skirt is a flattering silhouette on most body shapes."

"Make sure the dress is fully lined and ask for a fabric swatch if you're unsure of the colour," continues Megan. "Look out for 'bust support' in the description if you need it and remember that a tie-back or adjustable straps allow for extra support and easy adjustment on the day. Research how your gown looks on real brides."

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Image: Les Deux capsule collection from Grace Loves Lace

4. What are your measurements?

Don't get fooled by generic size guides; take your exact measurements and check these with the e-tailer before you buy. If you are after a made-to-measure dress and the website allows for this service, ensure your measurements are taken at the point of sale. Leave money aside in your budget for alterations by a professional seamstress should you need them. Here is a useful guide to taking body measurements yourself

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Image: Caroline Hernand via Unsplash

5. Is the price good or great?

Be suspicious of deals which seem too good to be true; find the RRP (recommended retailer's price) on the designer's own website to see how the price stacks up. While you should always stick to your budget whenever shopping for your dress, you should never be tempted by an offer which may catch you out. Take a look at the delivery charges too (as well as delivery timescales) to ensure you're not over-spending and also the website's return policy should the dress not be to your taste when it arrives.

Did you buy your wedding dress online? We would love to hear about your experience. Email sarah.george@archant.co.uk

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