Undercover Bride: The Wedding Dress Boutique

So Roo and I came up with a new blog series idea…she’s going undercover. Many wedding blogs who review the places they visit only write about the good stuff – the glittering service, the elegant decor and the impeccable attention to detail…but you know we’re not like other wedding blogs. Sure, when the service is good we’ll be telling you about it, but similarly when it’s shocking, we ain’t holding back!

And judging by Roo’s experience on her first assignment it’s going to be a very interesting series indeed!

This post was originally intended to be my Bridesmaids post for a multitude of reasons – mainly, because my SILI (Sister-in-Law-Ish) Louise had concocted what we all thought would be a funny, silly, lovely day together, doing the one thing we weren’t expecting to do as a bridal unit: visit a wedding dress vendor and ogle as I tried on all manner of meringues and a plethora of puffballs. We all presumed we’d forego the opportunity because I didn’t want to buy my wedding dress from a shop; I wanted my mum to make it for me. With that in mind, the cogs in Louise’s mind started whirring and she suggested that we go ahead and do it anyway – what better excuse to get together and act up a little before we get serious?

Lamb and I had planned a very short visit up north to finalise our venue arrangements, so Louise offered to book us in somewhere fancy where we’d be treated like royalty, and I’d feel like the (rock n roll) princess that us brides-to-be are supposed to when finding our dream dress. Neither of these things happened, and so here we are.

Unfortunately for the vendor we visited, I can smell a ring-bearing rat a mile off, especially since I have tried wedding dresses on before (with glittering service), and six years of on-off retail experience have taught me a thing or two about how to treat a customer, potential or otherwise. My experience in this bridal shop made me feel undervalued and altogether a nuisance – who you gonna call? My fairy weddingmother, of course. When I told Kat, she was as dumbfounded as I was. My dismay and her brainpower concocted this new series of posts, in which we hope to educate, reassure, and warn you (where appropriate). This is not a witch-hunt, nor is it a promotional feature. I’m simply a budding bride, just like you, and I don’t want you or I to be left jilted or jaded by the experience.  This should be one time in our life when we feel particularly invincible, so this is purely an educational exercise in marital mystery shopping. Without further ado, I present to you: Undercover Bride.

NB: As I had originally envisioned that I would write this experience up as a fond memory shared with most of my bridal party, I had asked my sister Jo to bring her camera along. When we arrived at the bridal shop, Jo asked the vendor whether we were able to take photographs, and we were told no. Jo took all the photos that appear in this post covertly, and I want to make readers aware that omitting any image of the vendor’s face in these published shots is a deliberate decision, as Kat and I agreed that it would be unprofessional to make her identity known. Anyway, on with the show!

♥  ♥  ♥

As we walked through the door of the shop, our vendor exclaimed, “I wasn’t expecting so many of you!” – this might have been a throwaway comment, but I was instantly unsettled by it. In all, there were only 7 of us; I could have taken it a little to heart, but to my ears she made it sound as if the number of us was a problem for her. She called out, “who’s the bride?” and I raised my hand, introducing myself. Instead of offering her name, she just asked me what kind of dress I wanted. After telling her I wasn’t sure (not a lie) I took to the rails with Rea and Louise. I think we half-expected for a barrage of monstrosities, but I was surprised to find a few little gems that ticked my proverbial boxes – admittedly, they weren’t really to my tastes, but this place had some genuinely “WOW” dresses on offer if feeling like a Disney princess is your bag.

I ended up picking about four dresses (I think) and the vendor kindly took them from me and placed them to one side for me to try on. She showed me to the fitting room, where I started to undress. Not twenty seconds later, she burst through the curtain with an underskirt and told me to put it on. I’m not a prude, and I know us girls have all got the same girly bits, but I do not expect a stranger to enter a fitting room when I’m in my underwear, especially without asking or forewarning. This breach of privacy, personal space – or whatever you’d like to call it – was the first and final straw for me, and I already felt like I wanted to leave. Instead, I stood my ground, hoping the experience would get better.

It didn’t.

One thing that bothered me (which I guess was out of the vendor’s control) was that all of her sample sizes were far too big for me. This meant that every time I tried a dress on, it needed to be pinned at the back with an overlap of about 4 or 5 inches (see the photo below). I was assured that “once you get the dress in your size, it’ll fit perfectly” – which is nice, but not ideal considering that dresses look totally different in different sizes. My dream dress in a size 14 is not the same as that dream dress in a size 10.

Also worth a mention is my bra (woof!). Other bridal shops offer a sample bra, and ‘chicken fillets’ if necessary (which is totally necessary for me, being a petite-chested lady!) Admittedly I should have had the foresight to pack a nude bra in my suitcase, but foresight isn’t my strongest point sometimes, and I was sad that this service was overlooked – particularly since all of the dresses were big on me, and some of the bodices gaped open at the top. Still, my mum and sisters were kind enough to keep telling me that I looked “lovely”, even though I didn’t vaguely feel it. Any retailer of clothing, whatever clothing it may be, should be on hand to reassure their customers – if something doesn’t look right, then politely suggest something else. If you think someone looks like a knockout, then shout it from the rooftops. This vendor did neither of those things. She wasn’t on hand to tell me what complimented my shape, or to offer any alternatives. At one point I even told her that I didn’t know what suited me, and instead of helping me brainstorm flattering cuts for my shape, she just let me flail about in the wedding water, leading to lots of awkward silences and a lot of me sheepishly muttering “can I get changed yet?”

I was pretty switched-on to the situation at hand. I walked in to her “high-end” bridal shop in a jersey tea dress and granny boots. I was wearing a boys’ tweed jacket and goofy glasses. I have tattoos. I was not her usual customer, and she was not interested in serving my kind. I can say this with absolute confidence because I have absolutely no doubt that I am right in my suspicions. If you’re not with me on this, I’ll tell you what happened next.

On my way to trying on the second dress, I asked if drinks were offered (I wasn’t exactly expecting champers, but I could’ve killed for a cuppa). I was very briskly informed that drinks “are for customers only”. Well, I never. As I was about to step into the next number, it was announced that it was an Ian Stuart design.

“Oh, I know Ian Stuart,” I said. Only one of the most renowned wedding dress designers, like, ever? Who doesn’t?

“Ah, you’re familiar with his work?” I was asked, quite blankly. So I thought, sod it. I’m having a terrible day – let’s play with this a little.

“No, no!” I chuckled. “I know Ian Stuart. I write as an intern for a really big wedding blog, so I get to meet all kinds of industry people.”

You know how clouds suddenly disappear after a thunderstorm, and the sun comes out, and the birds start singing? Imagine that happening to someone’s face, because that’s exactly what happened to hers.

“Oh REALLY!?” she exclaimed. “How WONDERFUL.”

Quite so.

Her attitude change was so drastic that I was even a little afraid. All of a sudden she was the helpful assistant that I was expecting and kept hoping for – telling me how certain dresses could be changed to suit my tastes, letting me try on different underskirts to show how they can drastically alter the feel and shape of a certain style, and cooing about how nice I looked. I still didn’t feel it, because now I felt like it was all a façade. I dropped a name, and she dropped the attitude. It shouldn’t be that way, surely?

Still, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Midway through asking her a question, her office telephone rang, and instead of dealing with me she decided to cut me off and answer the call. By freakish coincidence, Daniel was on the line – you’re probably thinking, who’s Daniel?, and so did I – our lady informed me that Daniel wrote for Ian Stuart’s website, and at the same time she informed Daniel that “Louise here writes for your blog!”

Louise? Ian’s blog? What?

Embarrassed, I politely reminded her that I was not Louise, I was Lisa, and that it was Louise who had booked the appointment on my behalf. I was also quick to remind her that I had no affiliation with Ian Stuart or anything bearing his name – that I wrote for this blog and no other. I was met with a giggle and a blank stare that can only really mean I’m not listening to you lalalalalalalala, just like she hadn’t listened to me from the get-go.

Needless to say, I was grateful to leave. I was furthermore grateful that I was not buying my dream dress from her, and grateful yet again that I was in a position to get all of this pent-up frustration out in this here bloggy-wogg.

I’d like to think that I’m at a point in my life where I don’t care what people make of my appearance, because on the whole I’m comfortable with who I am. I didn’t leave this lady’s shop feeling like crap, because why should I? I’m not the one deeming paupers of perfect strangers, she is. I’ve been treated properly in shops before, bridal or otherwise, so I know how good service goes. The problem I have is that it could have easily been my first and only visit to a bridal shop. It could just as easily have been the day that I was expecting to fulfil all my heart’s wedding desires. I could have been completely crushed by this woman’s conduct, and I dread to think that someone else might be.

I wouldn’t dream of lacking enough professionalism to name and shame this lady, but there’s a chance that she could be reading this right now. If that’s the case, I hope she reflects on how she made me feel, and I hope she thinks twice about her assumptions the next time someone walks through her door in less than what appears to be their Sunday Best. I hope she knows how horrible she made this experience for me, and I hope she realises that the next time I hear someone mention her business or the establishment in which she is based, I will sound the alarms and tell them to steer abundantly clear. Above all else, I hope she rethinks her game plan because with this level of “service”, something’s gotta give.

25 comments

  1. Beccy

    Love this post, and cant wait for more like this. So many wedding blogs are happy to only sell (write) about the glossy, magical side of the wedding process, but based on my own experiences those are few and far between. xx

  2. Yikes! How awful. :( I have to say…I LOVE that you’re doing this series. I’ve been married for almost 2 years this summer. (Time flies!) One of my bridesmaids had a similar experience with the bridal shop we used for their dresses. It was absurd. Of course, when I walked in the door it was all sunshine and lollipops, but they treated my girls poorly. The shop went out of business this past Fall. What goes around, comes around, right? I absolutely love revisiting your blog each day and look forward to more posts from the Undercover Bride series! Happy Monday! :) ~Krista

  3. I think this is a great post! Just because someone might not buy your product in the end is not a reason to give less than fantastic customer service. I really enjoy people coming and trying on my designs – if they buy one then that’s fantastic but if the pieces aren’t right for them then that’s fine – I’m not about to push anyone into buying something they don’t want. Even if the customer doesn’t buy something they are sure to tell their friends that they had a really nice experience (or that they didn’t in this case)! Word of mouth is my best advertising tool!

  4. Charlotte

    AH! I’m sure this will touch SO MANY nerves with people who experienced similar demented shopping experiences when out looking for a frock. As someone who wears dresses 90% of the time so had a fairly good idea of what suited me and what I was looking for (sleeves/straps, lace, tea-length) I had a horrendous experience at House of Fraser on Oxford St. Won’t go into the whole affair here, but some choice phrases included:

    “oh, most people find 20+ dresses to try, it’s so odd you only want to try three”

    “I’m obviously not going to change your mind: you clearly won’t believe me that this is the right dress for you”

    “you’re just going to have to google lace dress with sleeves and see if anything comes up”

    It was heart warming, especially as the dress she was trying to make me take was a sample size 18. I’m a 12/14.

    Strangely enough, I then picked up my dress in Fur Coat No Knickers where I had THE BEST TIME EVER…! Looking forward to the series!! :-)

  5. Lizz

    I had a horrendous time buying my dress and it really really put me off the whole thing – I ended up buying my dress off of ebay and having it altered – pretty much just to avoid the feeling of being poked and prodded and made to feel like rubbish! The lady told me it was a good job I was looking at full length dresses (I have leg tattoos) and I would only have to lose 8lbs to look fabulous!

  6. Bridal shops – heh, I’ve had some corkers in my time! One, which will not be named, insisted that we removed our shoes before coming in (on a dry day as well without a dot of rain or mud on us), and then barked at us to keep our hands off the samples until we had put on gloves. Needless to say, they didn’t get our service.

  7. What a great series this is going to be–and definitley starting off with a bang! So sorry you had to deal with such bad customer service! I had a fairly bad experience when I first started looking too, but I ended up with a gorgeous Ivy and Aster from the sweet Jenny of Little White Dress in Bakersfield, CA! Here’s hoping you have MUCH better experiences at future stores!:)

  8. Dawn Still

    I had exactly the same experience when I went to try on dresses – it was so horrid that I refused to ever set foot in a Bridal shop again – if you dont fit the boxes then you are not accepted in!!!

  9. Ruth

    Glad to see that I wasn’t the only one who got treated badly by a bridal shop. I had a similar experience and opted to have a simple 60s dress made by a lovely and very talented local seamstress at a fraction of the prices quoted by a bridal shop. I only got in contact with one bridal shop and did some research online and the fact that some of the language used on their website just didn’t tempt me to even go there. Not being able to take photographs for reference (not to rip their designs off – I work in design as well so I know all too well about this – but plagiarism comes with the territory), having to make an appointment well in advance and some of the ridiculously high prices were enough to put me off. From my point of view, most bridal shops are discriminatory (in their pricing and advertising) as well as stuck up. There you have it, rant over :o)

  10. fanbloodytastic post!!!!!!!!
    this really shows the old school side of the wedding industry, judgmental, snooty and want your money. I hate it.
    I went to a big posh store to try frocks on when I was getting hitched and literally had the sales lady chasing me around a chair while I was in my knickers! It was like something out of a benny hill comedy scene!

    I meet so many lovely and VERY different couples through my job. Never judge a book by its cover and always remember this is someones once a lifetime experience, give em some good experiences and memories people eh??!!! If it isn’t in your nature to want to click with people and get to the heart of what they want, this really is the wrong industry for you.

    I cant wait to read more of this series, I’m sure it will strike a chord with so many people, and we can all realise it really isn’t us…… its them ha ha!!

  11. Carla - La

    What a great post. It makes me glad that I went straight to FCNK and nowhere else!

  12. Also, I forgot to mention – if anyone is curious about the number of us that arrived at the bridal shop, the owner was told that there would be 6 of us prior to the appointment. That’s why I was surprised at her comment, as there was only one extra person there!

  13. Lou Liddy

    Fab post. I had similar experiences in bridal shops!

    As a fairly heavily tattooed person I find it amusing when I take off my clothes and watch the face of the shop assistant change to complete horror! I had comments like “Are you going to cover your shoulders with a wrap? Or with makeup?!” Er no! I LOVE my tatts, they are part of me, and there was no way I was covering them up to meet their requirements for a typical bride!!!!

    I have often felt the whole process to be undignified (having some random woman’s head up my skirt without much warning!!!) and unhelpful! I am petite too and found it hard to get the help I required finding something to suit my shape and height and the assistants generally just told me what dress they would have and offered little guidance. Very frustrating!

  14. Leah Marie

    Oh my goodness, I had such a similar experience! I went to one of the stops along the “SYTTD” roadshow, made my appointment and showed up alone (I knew I didn’t want to be influenced by my friends and family out of the gate, but I would wait for their final opinion to buy). I walked in wearing leopard print jeggings, heels and a plain white tee with my sleeve in all of it’s glory. No one there knew that I worked for one of the largest local wedding venues and the sales associates flocked to me like vultures. While I initially appreciated the attention, by being alone and looking a certain way, they kept TELLING me which dresses should make the short list and giving me the hard sell. The seamstress passed by and even suggested adding a sleeve to cover my tattoos and I’m sorry but the dress made me look like a back up dancer for Ms. Tina Turner herself (and they wanted to tell me “What’s love got to do with it?! This dress is a must-buy-now!”). I literally had to escape (fortunately since it was set up for television, there were pipes and draping everywhere for me to escape behind…) and I left feeling like I had just been violated in every which way!

    Fast forward–I said “Let me go swing thru Saks to see if they have anything I might like”. My sales person saw me looking distressed, listened to my concerns and what I was considering, and literally picked the perfect dress for me. She even picked my shoes. And because I wasn’t sure (I was famished and exhausted by this point), she held everything for me to return the following day with my closest friends. She was such a tremendous salesperson that I now consider her a friend! I’ve kept her close in every step of the planning process and actually seek her advice because she actually listened to what my style is and kept it in mind all the while.

    As a member of the wedding industry myself, I have to say, there are few things I hate more than watching another industry professional take advantage of a bride, which I now am…but take comfort in knowing that there are truly some salt of the earth sales professionals who work in fashion and love what they do :-) Good luck to all and happy hunting!

  15. My recently married friend had an absolutely horrid experience while dress shopping. She was born with a skin disorder, not contagious of course, but she does look noticeably different. She called a fancy bridal boutique and made a reservation to try on dresses and explained to them her situation, and they said it was no problem and continued to book her a date. Well, my friend shows up to her appointment with her mom and sister and the owner turned her away!! The owner said due to her “condition” she wasn’t allowed to touch anything let alone try it on, and then proceeded to ask her to leave immediately. I can’t even believe someone could be so cruel! Needless to say, my friend ended up taking her chances and buying a dress online. The dress she picked was beautiful, but she never got the whole experience of trying on dresses with her family. It makes me so sad to think of her dealing with that kind of treatment. Her in-laws happen to be millionaires, so there was a reason she was booking a fancy boutique to shop for gowns! If they only knew that, they may have treated her much differently. I couldn’t believe it when she told me.

  16. Misscoco

    In my limited experience of bridal shops, I have experienced the worst customer service in my life. I live in a small island where there is limited choice ( i.e. Less than four bridal shops in total) so they have a captive market.
    The first occasion was with my sister, who ia awesomely curvy and gorgeous. After giving her name to the assistant (strictly appointment only), the woman looked her up and down and said “i’m really not sure we have anything *that* size”. My sister was mortified and we left immediately, knowing that staying would likely not be the most confidence building experience.
    The second time i visited the shop was with a good friend. Whilst she was was putting the first dress on, two assistants gathered in the changing room to discuss their last appointment. Clearly unfazed by the prospective clients currently trying on dresses, they ripped into the poor bride who “was a bit too mature to really pull off the dress she had ordered” and her bridesmaids “she complained about not looking sexy but with a figure like that it’s just npt going to happen”. I was gobsmacked that they would say such terrible things about someone! I dread to think what their critique of us was!

    That being said, i have had some fab experiences in other bridal shops. I think everyone is guilty of high expectations, and somehow when its your wedding, it feels so much worse than a *normal* shop visit with terrible customer service!

  17. Katherine

    That sucks that you were made to feel like that! I bought my dress from the first shop I went in – an Oxfam Bridal, and the assistant could not have been nicer. She helped me pick out dresses, helped me dress with no fuss at all and was very discrete (and was very patient with me when I couldn’t decide between two and kept trying on one then the other, one of which had stiff buttons all the way down to the bum), reserved both dresses for me to come back to the next day with my bridesmaids, and was so lovely and excited the whole time, and asked that I send her picture after the big day. May I add that, although I have no tattoos, I have bright pink hair and I’m still pretty young (21), both of which I imagine (and have heard from friends’ experiences) can yield a large amount of snobbery.
    It’s ridiculous that I was treated better and more professionally in a charity shop than some people are in shops that are asking £1000+ for the dresses. :( Roo (and everyone else suffering) I really hope you have better experiences in the future!!

  18. Aww I feel for you Roo I had a couple of off experiences when I went to try wedding dresses on. I make them for a living but at the time I was only really making bridesmaids dresses so I had thought I’d buy a dress to save the stress. The first shop I tried on at the assistant almost didn’t let me try one dress on as she was highly doubtful I could fit into a small size ten ( I was a size 10 top and 14 bottoms at the time) ball gown dress. So I insisted and it fitted perfectly. She was super nice after that hehe :-) Second shop I had been into in person and made the appointment- I requested a double appointment for myself and my sister (who was also getting married) to try dresses on together. When we got there we were made to wait over half an hour as they;d ‘had a few walk ins’ and also let one girl try on a prom dress who came in after us as she ‘only had one to try on and would be quick’ so once the changing rooms were free again she then let us look at some dresses (weren’t even allowed to look while we waited in case it got in the way of the other people trying on) and I picked 3 and my sister was still looking so I tried them on but didn’t spend a lot of time doing it as we’d already lost 45 minutes and had another appointment plus they only held size 12+ samples and they were all far too big to get a very good idea but this meant perfect for my sister who they then announced there was not time for her to try anything on as we’d had long enough (10 minutes in the changing room) and someone had popped in to try their dress on (with no appointment) that they had already ordered. i asked how long the appointments normally were and she said there’s no set time you just get as long as you need. my big fat arse they do!!! so we stomped off absolutely fuming. So a few weeks later when a new bride came for a dress consultation with me and had been and tried some dresses on in the same shop as I’d had the bad experience in, then chose me to make her a dress over said shop as we’d got along so well (she’s still a good friend now) I was over the moon :-) rant over haha! looking forward to the next undercover post!!

  19. this shits me…. because i have had this kind of experience in day to day shopping, and this is EXACTLY what made me go straight online to buy my wedding dress, as i could not stand the thought of it happening when i was to try on my most important dress ever.

    luckily, my online shopping went very very well and my wedding dress only cost me $140.00 all up and is just perfect and custom made…

    the thing is, no matter whether you are shopping for a wedding dress or you are in an every day fashion chain, the person working there shouldnt treat you like you dont belong….

    i am tattooed, overweight, and dress like a hobo some days, but other days, i can look a million bucks and hide my tattoos if need be, the way i am treated according to what i am wearing and if my tattoos are hiding is totally different… totally… every time.

    its stupid and weird and for gods sake, havent these people seen Pretty Woman?!?!

    just because you look that way, doesnt mean you dont have a crap load of money up your sleeve to buy any of of their dresses…. and even if you dont, well, these wedding shops of ALL places should know that every single girl, no matter who she is, deserves a moment of feeling super special.

    oh god, i am so angry for you Roo! i love this post though. its a great idea.

    it makes me sad that i never got to experience going into a bridal store and trying on dresses. i have the opposite problem… being a size 20 in bridal wear means that the two bridal stores i did call snuffed down the phone when i asked if there are any size 20s in store and promptly told me “we only stock regular sizes, like a 10 or 12 at most in samples to try on…. you will have to order and pay 50%” (and hope for the best?!?!)

    gah!

  20. Lisa

    Oh how I feel your pain.

    I’m a size 28-30. Basically I’m HUGE. I’m happy with how I look, but like every woman I have my ‘off’ days.

    Everyone knows that the fashion industry isn’t kind to fat lasses. I’m practical, I know this. When I set the date for my wedding, the one thing I was dreading was picking my dress. I couldn’t afford to get one made, and I am not a traditional wedding kind of girl – finding something with the 50s feel I was looking for was going to be tough. I found this out at the NEC bridal exhibition, as I was ignored over and over again for my willowy blonde friend, who isn’t actually getting married. When I said that I was the bride, their faces fell and they tried to hide their surprise and their disappointment because there was no way their sample sizes would fit me. I laughed, but it’s rather sad in hindsight.

    I did my research. I looked for specialist plus-size designers and shops in the North West, North Yorkshire and East Anglia/Essex. I rang round. I asked what sample sizes they stocked. Most of them only stocked size up to size 22, and very few stocked up to size 26. Size 30? Not a hope in hell. I was told that I could try on a smaller dress ‘to get an idea’ of how it would look. Really? You expect me to spend £1500 on a dress, and I can’t even try it on properly before I pay a non-refundable deposit?

    I’ve never felt as crappy about my weight and life-long love of pies. I cried. I considered buying from somewhere like Light In The Box. I kicked stuff – and I ranted. Oh how I ranted.

    I can understand a normal bridal shop not stocking my size. It would be incredibly impractical not to mention expensive. However, if you advertise yourself as a plus-size specialist, and claim you cater for sizes 16-36, surely you would have the forethought and consideration to allow your customers to actually try dresses on that fit? To make someone who may well have some serious issues surrounding their body shape and size, try something on that is three or four sizes too small for them is the cruellest thing I can think of.

    Eventually I narrowed it down to three places within reasonable and practical distance from both me and my maid of honour (who lives in York). The first place I went to was ok. I was left alone, and the assistant was quite pleasant, but she didn’t really have much to say about the dresses themselves, didn’t help me find a style that suited and she didn’t really seem very interested once she found out what my budget was. It was a bit clinical, and not really the experience I was hoping for. She actually spent a lot of time talking to my mum (because it was clear she was the one who was paying), and I felt a bit like I wasn’t really involved.

    I never made it to the third place, because I found my dress at the second shop I visited. Me and my bridesmaid were fed champagne, and they asked me a million questions before they fetched a dress for me to try (she actually picked it out when she saw my hairdo, but wanted to make sure it was suited to ‘me’ before I tried it on). She also cut me a deal when she found out my budget, rather than losing interest, and I never felt like I was a meal ticket. She made me and my bridesmaid feel like a bloody princess, which is how this should be, because it is the most money I will ever spend on a dress, and dammit I want to feel special.

    I cannot wait for my wedding now. My dress is amazing. It’s perfect. It makes me look like a woman – and most importantly I thoroughly enjoyed every second I was in the bridal shop. Which again, is how it SHOULD be.

    End rant ;)

  21. Sierra

    I went to one of the largest Bridal Boutiques (if you can even call it that) to just peruse the dresses. I didn’t realise you needed to have an appointment.

    Knowing they are so large and advertise all the time, I knew it was likely I wouldn’t get to try anything on, but I wanted to see if they had anything that looked like what I wanted before asking questions and trying it on.

    I was bluntly asked if I had an appointment, when I said no, she looked me up and down and rushed off. I was sure she could have asked me if I wanted one? I would have said yes but she lost out.

    Originally I was planning on spending upwards of $2000, but ended up getting a vintage dress for $400 which almost fits me perfectly. I’ve been given a couple of names of people who do alterations and instead of the upwards of $300, will only charge me $80.

    One is the woman who does this bridal boutiques alt’s for them. Goes to show how much margin they put on their “extra work”.

    It’s disappointing to find this level of service anywhere, if you don’t want to work there, don’t. You need to afford everyone the same or similar level of service, because it won’t get you very far if you are judgemental or rude.

    I’m finding this wedding business is very expensive. I have been very fortunate to find wonderful suppliers who have treated me well, and those who haven’t, didn’t get my business.

    I wish you luck :)

  22. Heather Stanley

    I went to a supposedly lovely boutique and ended up in the tiniest dressing room, full of boxes I couldn’t get around, with the curtain not shutting so everyone going past on the street could see me and to top it all off I was sharing it with Miss Hertfordshire who was being fitted for a gown. I was pushed into a gown four sizes too small (and I’m a 12) I don’t have much of a bum but what there was was pushed out. The hostess ignored all the dresses I said I wanted to try and gave me ones she thought would suit me better – they didn’t. I tried on 15 dresses (too many) and liked one – the one I liked before I got there. The hostess topped it off when she went “oh well, I’m a seamstress, I hate the selling bit anyway.”

    I never expected an “it’s the one” moment, but I expected to be treated with the very minimum level of courtesy. Dreadful.

  23. Joy

    This is so interesting. I only visited two wedding shops, basically because I couldn’t afford a ‘proper’ dress but had no clue what I wanted either. The first basically made me feel fat and unwanted. The second was lovely, understood I had a tiny budget but let me try on lots of different styles on. They did try to push me in to what they thought a larger woman should wear but still let me have free reign. Might be worth pointing out now, that I had to take my 6 month old daughter to both appointments (with someone to watch her) The first basically wanted to throw me out, the second just cooed and then looked after me.
    I get the bad brides, moody bridesmaids, etc that shop assistants have to put up with and it must be hard. I get being blunt and not being able to stock all sizes of all dresses. At the same time it’s worth remembering word of mouth. That first shop I informed many brides not to go to if they weren’t skinny (turns out they had a bad reputation to begin) The second every bride I’ve told to try there has enjoyed their experience even if they’ve not chosen one of their dresses. One bad experience can lose or gain you twenty customers

  24. Kitty

    I am so so glad that I am not alone with these kind of experiences. I went to my first wedding dress shop and frankly cried in the changing room. I lied to the shop assistant and said it was the emotional experience of wearing a white dress, but in honesty I just felt ugly. Incredibly ugly. I felt so disappointed and the only thing that saved it were my friends who tried hard to make me feel good in the dresses. I tried on 3 and left quite quickly.
    It’s actually put me off going into another shop now and so I’m going to buy a dress online, make adjustments and make it my own. I will be a beautiful bride, even if I have to do it with help from my beautiful friends rather than a designer dress.
    I just hope that wedding dress boutiques and shop assistants learn from these kind of blog entries.

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