The Bridal Shop Experience & How to Come Out Alive…

Photography Credit: Assassynation (full wedding here)

I was blown away by the response to the article I published on Weight Loss and Weddings a few weeks ago. Thank you to every single one of you who was brave enough to leave a comment sharing your own experiences. Even though the post has been up for a little while the tweets, emails and blog comments are still pouring in for it. I never really know how topics like that will go down so it means a lot that you guys put yourselves out there like that. You are all so amazing.

There was one resounding message that came from the comments, and one I didn’t anticipate. It was your concerns of bad experiences with bridal shops and your worries with finding a wedding dress you love (and that fitted/complimented your figure/made you look beautiful). The crazy thing was that these concerns were not even limited to those of you who identified yourselves as overweight. It seemed that nearly all of you, no matter what your shape or size, had concerns or stories to tell about the bridal shop experience.

Today I thought I’d put together a few tips and ideas of how to make the whole experience of finding a wedding dress less of an ordeal.

Make an appointment

While there’s nothing wrong with popping into a bridal shop if you see one on your travels, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to actually try anything on without an appointment. Some smaller shops will only have an assistant per appointment, so without one you might not have anyone to help you even look at the gowns on the hangers. Bridal shops can get extremely busy at weekends, so if you are able to visit or make an appointment for a weekday then you may well be given more time and better service (as they won’t all be rushed off their feet!)

Arrive in plenty of time

Being punctual is also super important. You don’t want to get off to a bad start by making the assistant wait. Your appointment will likely be limited to a fixed amount of time (i.e. an hour) and especially if they have a busy schedule of back-to-back appointments, you won’t be able to have your slot run over because you were late.

Photography Credit: Claire Morgan Photography (full wedding coming soon)

Ask questions

If you book an appointment over the phone, be sure to ask any questions to clear up anything you are not 100% sure of beforehand – i.e how many friends you’re allowed to bring, if you can eat and drink during the appointment, what to bring with you etc… Educating yourself beforehand is the best way to feel as stress-free as possible before you get there. Most misunderstandings or bad feelings between bridal shops and clients is through a lack of communication (from both parties!)

Listen to their advice & be open to possibilities

Although we’ve heard horror stories, not all people who work in bridal shops are witches! Most of them are experts in their stock and what styles suit which body shapes.

While you should be clear from the outset about what you definitely do not want (there’s no point trying on a dress that only comes in red if you’re having a blue colour scheme for example) don’t be afraid to try on styles you might not have considered. You may be surprised about what you like and some of the most amazing dresses look awful on the hanger but amazing on an actual body!

Don’t be afraid to say no!

Listen to the advice of the shop assistant and use their expertise and knowledge. However if you feel bullied or uncomfortable at any point don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t ever feel like you have to try a particular dress on because they say so! Be clear and honest about what you do and do not want. Remember this is supposed to be a fun experience not a stressful one! If you find yourself or your feelings being ignored, or you are made to feel uncomfortable at any point then end the appointment and leave. You don’t owe them anything and if you are not feeling well treated then at the end of the day they don’t deserve your custom!

Bring some allies

Bring a small group of friends or bridesmaids with you for moral support. Pick people whose style you admire and advice you appreciate. About 2 or 3 friends is usually OK, however feel free to check when you make your appointment if the shop have a limit. While you might want to bring all your besties for the experience, some shops are very small and you may not all fit in comfortably, PLUS often having too many opinions can be proper confusing!

Photography Credit: Fi Mims Photography (full wedding here)

Wear good underwear

This is a must! The shop assistant will probably be seeing you in not much else as you’ll need help to get into some of the dresses. Make sure you wear knickers that are modest. I’d suggest nude or white full briefs – this is not the time to be sexy or for rocking a hot pink g-string! Similarly bring a well fitting bra and if possible a strapless one to change into. Some of the dresses will look best with a strapless (or no) bra so it’s good to have options so you can see each dress looking its best.

Wear comfortable clothes

You should wear something that you can easily get in to and out of, so avoid outfits with lots of buttons or fiddly zips! Most wedding dresses will be tried on with a separate petticoat underneath which you’ll put on first, so if you’re feeling nervous about the whole ‘stranger-seeing-you-naked’ thing, a skirt and top might be the best option. This way you can take one off at a time and always be partially covered. Whenever I have to do some major shopping, a cotton stretchy maxi dress and ballet flats is my go-to outfit. It’s comfortable and easy to get in and out of quickly.

Bring heels

…Well, only if you plan to wear them on your wedding day of course!

Most bridal shops will provide basic white satin shoes for you to try on with the dresses in order to give you an idea of how they look with heels. However if you have a particular style, colour or height of shoe that you know you’ll be wearing, bringing them with you is always a good idea.

Photography Credit: Erin & Tara (full wedding coming soon)

Make sure you eat and drink (water)!

This is so important and not the time to be starving yourself in order to squeeze into that teeny tiny sample size or to look skinny to the assistant. Do not be ridiculous. It’s much more important to try dresses on at the size you actually are! It is an unfortunate fact that not all dress shops will have samples in your size, however a good assistant will be able to pin, lace, clamp or pad out a dress in order for it to look as good on you as possible.

Also remember that you will be on your feet a lot and it may be hot and stuffy. This is not the time for fainting from malnutrition or dehydration! Dress shopping can be exhausting so you’re going to need your energy. Also I don’t know about you, but I get proper grumpy when I’m hungry and this is not the best mood to be in when searching for your dream dress.

Ask if you can take photos

This is a highly contentious issue with some bridal shops and many will flat out refuse to let you take photos. Others will encourage it so make sure you check beforehand. I’m not going to go into the reasons why some of them are so anti-photos (that’s a whole other blog post!) but there is no harm asking if it is allowed.

If you are allowed to then definitely do it. It will enable you to look back on the photos when you’re back home and decide if that dress that seemed oh-so-perfect in the shop really did look as good on you as the shop assistant said.

Photography Credit: Live it Out Photo (full wedding coming soon!)

Keep alteration costs in mind

If you are on a specific budget make sure your assistant is aware of that before she shows you options. There is nothing worse then thinking you’ve found your perfect dress to then discover it’s double what you wanted to pay. Also be aware that most dresses are ordered in a standard size and then altered to fit you perfectly (FYI the size you order will always be bigger than you expect. This does not mean you are huge, it’s simply because bridal sizes are freakin’ tiny! I’m a UK size 12 and my wedding dress was ordered in an 18!) I think we then had to pay around £300 alteration costs (to make it fit perfectly) once my dress arrived.

Another thing to think about if you’re on a budget is that some dress shops may let you pay in installments. There’s no harm in asking if they offer this service. They can only say no!

You dont have to do it!

Wedding dress shopping can be a daunting experience and many brides choose to forgo it all together. Going the bespoke route with a dress maker is often not as expensive as many people assume, so if you really don’t fancy the bridal shop experience this is another great option. Similarly there are a huge number of online retailers selling wedding dresses (etsy is amazing for this!) but if you do order online, make sure you do so in plenty of time in case it doesn’t look, or fit, as you expect when it arrives. Also be aware that if you are ordering from overseas you’ll often have to pay custom charges.

Photography Credit: Emma Lucy Photography (full wedding here)

I hope some of you find these tips valuable. In fact if they help just one of you feel better about going wedding dress shopping then I’ll be super happy. Good luck girls. You are all beautiful!

p.s. Shameless plug alert – if you like posts like this then why not make my day and vote for me for ‘best wedding blog’ in the 2012 Perfect Wedding Awards? I’d be ever so grateful!!


  1. Brilliant as usual, I have shared with all my bridal shop contacts to share with their brides too 🙂 Oh and of course you have my vote!
    Kerry xxx

  2. Sam

    Hiya! Great post, wish I had of read this pre-shopping. I found wedding dress shopping the most stressful part of planning so far. Some bridal shops were really rude and hard to work with, others were very nice but I just felt bad saying no to all the beautiful dresses that were ‘nice’ but not the one. After going to every shop I could get to in the North West and giving up I gave myself a few months off from looking, as it became soul destroying. I just didn’t feel like or look like a bride, maybe down to my own low self esteem but mainly I think I was being too fussy. So many dresses, and only one to chose. The pressure was immense! Being a designer myself I think my desire to just change everything was too strong, but the thought of getting someone to make my design (in my head) was too risky… what if it went wrong?! I’d have no-one to blame but myself! I eventually went back to a shop I’d visited before and bought my dress, as I signed the form to say I would not back out I was still doubting myself. The people in this particular shop were not the nicest, only after the sale and I’d had loads of trouble with them being funny with us previously. They were the only supplier of the dress in the uk so I just had to go for it. Still doubting my choice, it’s in my nature – but I know I did my damn hardest trying to find it, so the dress means a lot to me now. Blood sweat and tears went into finding it, lot’s of break downs, sleepless nights, arguments with bridesmaids and many miles travelled. xx

  3. Cat

    Great post 🙂

    I’d just like to add, don’t be afraid to barter! I found my dress recently but it was £2,000 after all the alterations etc, and that was out of my budget. At my first request, the shop owner agreed to knock off the alterations, bringing it down to £1,700 but after lots of umming and ah-ing (and encouragement from my super thrifty mother), I told her that I just couldn’t go beyone £1,500 and she agreed to do the whole thing for that amount, dress, alterations and all. I’d never have tried this normally but my mother was adamant that it wouldn be possible and bless her, she was right.

  4. Lara H

    Thanks for this article, and it’s great timing! I have my ‘dress day’ experience coming up in just under 2 weeks! Fortunately I’m 99.9% sure I’ve found my dream dress already and have already tried it on, but I’m doing the rounds just in case. I hoping for a fun day with my Mum & 2 Bridesmaids and a pitstop for lunch is planned. I won’t be parting with my hard earned cash to anyone who is mean to me or makes me feel ‘small’!

  5. What a great article! I didn’t look at any bridal shops because of two reasons. One, I knew the dress I wanted would not be in any dress shop where I live. And two, I didn’t want to have an argument with my mother about what dress she would like to see me wear.

    This decision was the best one I made because it meant the wedding planning was stress free and I could concentrate on the things that were important like having fun!

  6. Really good artical! Covers everything I can think of! Maybe one other actually……cocktails & cake at the end of the day 🙂 this has always been a key in any bridesmaid duties I’ve done like this! xx

  7. Lucy

    Great article. I hate clothes shopping, so I went into one shop which stocked loads, picked out 6 I loved in different styles (princess, fishtail, loads of bling, classic/plain etc) and colours (white, ivory, champagne…even one ivory one with a choice of either black or red embroidery!) picked my favourite, paid for alterations, paid in instalments…job done!I thought I looked great on my wedding day and let’s face it, when it comes to the dress, it’s only the bride’s opinion that really counts!

  8. Lucy

    fab post (also the weightloss and undercvover bride one). ive been totally terrified of going into bridal shops so im glad i now have a manual to keep in mind. you ROCK. i think the women who work in / own these shops dont realise how terrifying they can be.

  9. This is brilliant advice and definitely information we try to share with all our potential brides. I’ve already shared the article and I’m sure I’ll be referring people to it many times to come x

  10. Sara

    Just come out the other side of our wedding (two weeks ago yesterday). And I’m definelty an advocate of ‘you don’t have to do it’. I didn’t want to have a traditional dress ie strapless and the thought of going into a bridal shop filled me with dread. Having a dress made was the best experience ever, the designer was able to tweak as we went, make suggestions on what suited my shape with complete design creativity free from having to sell a particular dress. I also had time for my thoughts to evolve and get use to
    me ‘wearing’ it (rather than the other way
    round). The whole process was paced out over several months and was such a joyful experience!

  11. I remember one wedding dress shop I went into in London (which will remain unnamed), with a friend who was choosing her dress, where they not only insisted you wear gloves to handle the samples, but also that you took your shoes off before walking on their carpet. Seriously – get over yourselves. It didn’t add to any ‘exclusive’ experience, it just felt as if they were treating us as grubby second-class citizens.

    Needless to say, the bride didn’t buy from there, but instead from the lovely Suzanne Neville, whose premises was not only much more welcoming (and nicer), but who actually allowed us to keep our shoes on.

  12. Very sensible and common sense advice Kat, every shop operates differently so it makes sense to ask beforehand and be prepared…only this morning I had a bride ask if she could bring a 2 year old…”sure “I said ,as there were other adults coming who would keep an eye on her. However I would not have recommended it if the bride had been alone, as there would be nobody to watch and entertain her whilst we spent time getting in and out of gowns in the fitting room.
    Very glad of this post and advice for brides

  13. Great post Kat! Thanks for the tips. I’ll definitely be using them when the time comes to find a dress. I’ve contemplated avoiding the whole experience and getting a dress made, but part of me does want the experience of trying on some dresses with my best girls present and your tips have actually made me want to do that even more! Just out of interest, what would you say is the best way to choose which bridal shop to go for? There seem to be so many in my area and I don’t have a clue where to begin!

  14. Post author

    Sarah – I’d say look online and see if you can get an idea of designers you like the look of. Most designer websites will have a list of everywhere their dresses are stocked. If you literally have no idea then I guess start local and work your way out!

  15. Joanna Beardsmore

    Hi All,
    Do London Brides realise that the prices in central London are much higher for the same dress than if they bought the dress from say in Glasgow? I had this experience at one Designer Boutique, paid 30 pounds for the privilege of booking an appointment with them, only to not have the dress that I wanted to see available to try on. Anyway the dress I wanted was 3K. I decided (as the shop would not negotiate) to call nearly every other boutique under the English Sun to source the same dress but cheaper. I managed to negotiate with a shop in Glasgow the same dress 1,900 pounds. It really does pay to shop around. For me wedding dress shopping wasn’t fun 🙁

  16. Hello,

    I was very lucky with my experience, they were very accommodating and offered drinks and biccies. They advised me to bring shoes/ appropriate underwear and let me have as many of my support crew as I wanted. The dress I wanted they also negotiated on price as they had previously had it at a lower price when I first did my looking.

    I would most certainly advise on getting very good underwear fitted, sorry other big reatilers but I will only do Bravissimo after my experiences. Also buy 2 or 3 styles as they may not sit correctly with your dress. As my bridal shop was 60 miles from home I had a costly experience when I had a bra fitted at a department store, I had told the fitter it didn’t seem to fit correctly, but they knew better… so when I took it to what should have been my final fitting, of course it was clear that it was not suitable nor correctly fitting.

    I returned the next week with 3 well fitting styles from Bravissimo. The seamstress was able to make final adjustments and I knew exactly which bra looked and felt the best with the dress.

    Thanks Kat as always for sharing all these experiences.


  17. Betty

    I hire, train and manage Bridal Salon managers in the Midwest. I think you did an excellent and balanced job preparing brides to be informed customers. I hope they read and re-read your blog so that expectations are managed and they have a great shopping opportunity. I prefer mom and/or a favorite aunt to a group of Brides maids but every bride has her own needs and style. Keep up the good work !

  18. Great advice. Lots of brides are afraid to ask questions about what they can/can’t do but we’re really super friendly people & want to do our best to help brides find the best dress for them.

    I would say, don’t bring too many people with you. I’ve seen a couple of brides get talked into/out of what they really wanted because of comments from friends/bridesmaids etc. which always makes my heart sink. Doing what YOU want is so important for your big day.

  19. I went to a bridal shop (You ALL probably know this brand if your in the USA) having to find a bridesmaids dress a year or so ago. Get this- NO mirrors in the dressing room. Yeah, they make you come outside of the room to look at yourself. Where they are all waiting, like sharks, to pounce on you. OMG it was awful. I was in and out of there by the 3rd dress. THIS is why I suggest to shop for your dress at a private dress boutique, rather than a large chain dress store. More respectful, less of a hard sale, more honesty, and better experience all around. Especially for us gals who want some privacy. Maybe the money is a little bit more but the experience is SO much nicer. 🙂 Yeah to the private boutique!!

  20. I own and run the day to day managing of the boutique.

    I am also a wife who went through the whole daunting process of wedding dress shopping just coming up to 6 years ago. I hated it, I had never shopped for a wedding dress before, had never planned a wedding so was shocked at the whole patronising way I was dealt with. I bought the dress and Jacket because it was the only thing which was different to all the other samey dresses.

    Did I love the experience? – No. I hated it. I was in a stuffy old shop with carpets in from the 70’s, the ladies who ran it, ‘told’ me what I had to have, that I had to bustle my dress etc etc…

    When a bride comes into my shop, whether or not she has £300 or £3500 to spend, I dress brides according to shape, colouring, style. I do not believe in dressing girls in the standard. I give girls a choice but will always be there to advise on what will best compliment the girls figure, dress the best and hide the worst….(In that girls own opinion…)

    The boutiques which girls have a horrible experience in are ‘typically’ the older managed shops. I have only just this week had a bride in who was a average size 14/16 who was basically told “there is nothing I can fit you in” This angers me beyond belief. I am told week in week out, my boutique is a breath of fresh air and I firmly believe his is because I am young, flexible and open to new ideas.

    In the same breath, I also think the way girls are being taught about what to expect in their quest of their perfect gown is becoming an incredibly hard expectation to live up to.

    Some Brides have been to up to 6 bridal boutique trying on up to 10 gowns per session, turning up 10-15 minutes late with an entourage of 6 girls can be over whelming for both the bride and me, the assistant.

    I know my service and advice is second to none, I know that every girl I dress won’t be one of my brides, I get that and I would rather a girl look beautiful in the ‘right’ dress than me, force/push them into a dress that isn’t right. This can be a downfall of mine as I am allowing them to walk out of my store, after being told to think about it, to walk into another boutique and then subtly pressured into buying/putting a deposit on a gown. But I will not change my method. The purchase of a wedding dress is an emotional decision in most girls situation, where as some girls are very methodical and simply has to ‘check’ all the boxes they have set for their dress.

    I say this to every girl, in this day and age, do not be told what you are to wear, do what ‘feels’ you, but the very best of you. Be strong and stay true to your own vision, but with a little professional advice…

    Peace out Vic x

  21. I went to a few shops and one hot me trapped in a dress I found it hard to breath & I kept saying get the scissors!! But they wouldn’t they hauled me out of it and I was so shaken I never went back the place I did get my dress from was local, rolls Royce service and so lovely 🙂

  22. Emma Meek

    I was almost terrified to read this in case I spun out into orbit as bridal retail is tougher & more competitive than ever & whilst I am tough & competitive I just don’t need another scrap on my hands. Your guide is great, covers all the bases.
    Please could I add to brides – having a fun day out in a bunch of wedding dress shops utterly wastes everyone’s time & you will find soon that most shops will be charging refundable fees to cover the very expensive rent, stock & wage bill.
    Secondly unlike most retail our dresses do not have a built in ‘extra’ margin. They are fairly priced. Shops that take 500 off a 2000 dress (unless it is a sample sale) and give away the alterations will not be desperate. Not a good bet for your wedding.
    Please Kat, should you decide to write a post on photos in shops I would be pleased to contribute .

  23. I really felt compelled to comment on this blog post – which was very informative and well written. However, as a mother (and assistant/helper) of a bridal shop owner I’d like to say, as in everything – there are 2 sides to the dress buying ‘ordeal’ and I would live to chat with you and put our side across sometime!
    We always do our best to work with our clients but there are some very difficult ladies to please sometimes!! We often get girls COVERED in fake tan, we get real smellies, we get very rude people. We get many many time wasters, we get the ‘I want to try that one’ even when it’s double their budget and you know they aren’t going to buy! We get them with huge entourages – all with conflicting advice, causing much upset and confusion for the bride…. We get the muddy wheeled buggies, those bearing… Wait for it…. Cans of coke!!! – yes!! In a bridal shop…. Honestly we’ve seen it all!! So if you’d like to do a blog from the shops point of view…
    We have to buy our samples… We try to keep the dresses nice for the next client… We want all ladies to have the best experience… But we do spend hours with girls – who then take a pic and rush off to the outlet round the corner and try to find a similar one for half the price….
    Hmmmm. It’s not all a bed of roses, I promise you!

  24. A great article Kat with lots of great advice, and I am sure anyone using this article will have a much easier time shopping for their bridal dress.

    OK so I know I don’t own a bridal shop so probably have no right to add to this conversation but hey i’m doing it anyway.
    My wife had a nightmare shopping for here bridal dress and in the end opted for a cheaper online alternative which I then altered (re-made) how she wanted it. That decision was nothing to do with budget, just the experience. I also speak to 100’s of brides in my shop here every year, and lots of them do not enjoy the experience either. So something is not quite right? Or maybe it is just fine and potential brides expectations do not match the reality?

    I think retail as a whole has become more difficult for small ’boutique’ businesses, retail is more laid back, more chilled out than ever before, I call it the ‘Apple’ affect. People go into the Apple store for an hour or two with their kids, for recreation. They play with the iPads, charge their phones, make a call then walk out without buying anything, and Apple are cool with that. This is how many expect retail to be these days, very hands-on, chilled out, relaxed and freedom to do as you please. My business is certainly not like that! And I know Bridal Boutiques are not like that!

    Customers/Consumers have to try to be more patient with smaller ’boutique’ businesses, we have lots of rules yes, but they are there for a reason. They are there to try and help us be as professional as possible and they are there for a reason, something has happened in the past which has lead to the creation of this rule! Try to be patient and remember that most ’boutique’ businesses are not multimillion £ concerns and very often the staff and owners are simply trying their best.

    Also it is worth remembering (from both consumer and business owners point of view) big businesses are designed to appeal to a large cross section of society, small businesses do not. If you do not like the shop you are in, go somewhere else! If you have a customer who does not like you or your stock don’t worry, that is fine, it’s their opinion and they are entitled to it, there will be another customer along shortly who will understand you and your brand.

    I would like to know, although I am sure its probably for a different discussion, why are you not allowed to take pictures? And why not factor in the cost of alterations into the sale of a dress ? (just my curiosity)

  25. Brooke

    Must say this is a great blog! I work in a bridal shop and, like stated, we aren’t all witches aha. I personally LOVE my job and helping a bride to find her dream dress is the best feeling ever. I would add though try not to bring too many people just mum, sister and/or close friend, there’s nothing worse than bringing all your friends who then sit discussing what THEY like rather than what you like. In regards to photos, we don’t allow photos to be taken (designers rules not ours) and my pet hate is being asked if they’re allowed me saying no and then them sneakily trying to take one. And if on you’re first shop you don’t find anything you are completely free to ask to see someone else instead, each consultant is guilty of having their favourite designers and dresses so sometimes seeing someone else will shed a different light on what you like in a dress.
    But most of all enjoy the experience, as scary as it may seem, we are here to help and the majority of us do want to make you feel as at ease as possible. You should never feel pushed into buying a dress if you’re not 100% sure of it


  26. Rebecca

    I visited ALWAYS AND FOREVER bridal boutique in St a Helens, Merseyside over the weekend with my mum, my partners mum and 3 bridemaids. It was an awful and upsetting experience and I was more than horrified with the customer service I received.

    Having made a telephone appointment several days before I was so so excited to start trying on dresses, like any bride to be!

    This was my very first bridal appointment, ever. Having seen online they stocked Mori Lee dresses, I couldn’t wait.

    When booking the appointment on the phone I spoke to a lovely sounding girl, I explained who I was bringing, and asked if there was anything i needed to do to prepare or bring along with me. I was advised to just bring a bra. That was that.

    On Saturday morning, we arrived at the shop, we travelled in separate cars. My mum and bridesmaid arrived a few minutes before the rest of us and stood outside the shop to wait. We arrived. A woman opened the door and bluntly said ‘do you have an appointment’. There was no hello or a smile, nothing. We replied yes and gave our name. Before letting us through the door she went off to check. She returned and rudely informed us that I was only meant to have one guest because thats what it said on her sheet. I explained I had informed the girl of this when I booked. Begrudgingly she let us in, but the ordeal didnt end there. With barely a foot in the door, the woman explained again how much we had inconvenienced her by having more guests. I explained I had arranged this when I booked but she was dismissive of this. She repeatedly informed us about how she would need to ‘rearrange the furniture’. This actually involved her moving 2 light faux leather dining chairs from one side of the room to another. Also its worth mentioning we were the only customers there.

    This had already made everyone feel uncomfortable and awkward, BUT IT GETS WORSE.

    I asked the lady whether there was a toilet. Bearing in mind we had drove quite a way to the shop. She loudly and obnoxiously informed that I should have gone before I left, and asked if i was nervous or something. I explained, I just needed the toilet. Thats all. She then went on to rant about how they have a toilet but they aren’t insured for customer use. And again explained how I should have gone before I left. Which I had. Not that it was any business of hers.

    I was feeling pretty uncomfortable by this point, and confused.

    The woman whipped out her clipboard and with absolutley no discretion, in fact she was practically shouting as she asked for personal details which included my dress size and my Mums budget. My Mum felt extremely uncomfortable with this also, we didn’t have a budget it was just about finding The One. She pushed for a figure, so my mum said around £1000 to shut her up, the woman then appeared to turn her nose up at this. The woman then made several remarks about parents paying for children’s weddings, blah blah blah.

    With the awkward formalities over. We moved to the dressing area. The woman lectured us all about the ‘rules’ then asked us to check if our hands were clean. She honestly made us feel like a bunch of dirty grubby children. Given the age range of the group was 26 to 60, this was understandably insulting.

    The woman then explained my group must stay sat down whilst I and one other chose dresses to try.

    I showed the woman a picture of a dress I had got off her website and asked if she had any similar I could try. The woman, again in her vile tone said ‘thats an old picture’, dismissed me and I carried on looking. I chose another dress, to which the woman replied, oh no, that wont go near you love. Being a size 12 to 14 I consider myself to be pretty average, yet Ive always struggled with my weight and suffer from low confidence and self esteem. I appreciate not all the sizes would fit me. But this woman made me feel like an absolute whale. Just what you want when youre about to try on dresses for the most important day of your life, right?

    Once I had chosen several dresses to try I returned to the dressing room. By this point my guests looked uncomfortable and annoyed, and I had knots in my stomach.

    The woman then questioned me infront of everyone about wearing fake tan. I explained I had applied some a couple of days previous. It was a light tan, I wasn’t orange or anything like that! The woman went away and returned with some baby wipes. She grabbed my arm and scrubbed it, there were some faint tan marks, which is to be expected when youve scrubbed with a wet wipe. She then took me behind the curtain and made me scrub my body and then inspected the wipes. The woman rudely asked why I wore fake tan and implied I should get out in the sunshine. I explained I didn’t tan in the sun. I am fair, have freckles and a history of skin cancer in my family, so fake tan is the safer option for me, not that I should have to explain myself, although I didn’t get the impression she would have cared if I did.

    Because there was a trace of tan she advised she would not allow me to try dresses on because cleaning them takes too long. Bear in mind these are samples. But according to this woman it is commen sense, so obviously I must lack that. Maybe it would be common sense to advise people of the rules and expectations before an appointment. Although I would be unsure if anyone would turn up then, I certainly wouldn’t have dragged everyone from around the country to go.

    My mum tried to politley challenge the woman on her appalling customer service. The woman again was dismissive, rude and obnoxious towards us as we left.

    Safe to say, I was absolutely mortified, in shock and ended up leaving the shop feeling sick and in tears. Not the bridal experience I was expecting.

    Don’t worry though, I got my happy ending. My bridesmaid called the shop we had made our second appointment at, I DO DRESSES in Crewe, Cheshire,she explained what had happened. The lady was able to bring our appointment a little earlier, so a quick trip down the M6 and we arrived at a beautiful bridal shop! This was the opposite of everything. The lady was approachable and lovely, she actually laughed about the ‘fake tan drama’ and said she had never heard of anything so ridiculous. She explained she pays to have sample dresses cleaned professionally if they require it before selling them in sample sales.

    She allowed everyone in the group to help me choose dresses to try, there were no rules, nothing. She made me feel fabulous and at ease, and I tried 11 dresses on. Each one we checked for fake tan transfer, and there was absolutley nothing on any of them. I ended up purchasing my dream Mori Lee gown and I cant wait to go back for my fittings!

  27. Hi, just read your article about bridal shopping experiences (whilst researching bridal shopping experiences) and thought to myself what a great article. I have a bridal shop in Birmingham and exploring what brides are looking for from a bridal shop in terms of the experience. Your article was great to read with all the negative stuff surrounding the industry it is both refreshing and inspirational to read as a bridal shop owner.
    Kathleen/pearls and lace


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