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Risky Business: Online Wedding Dresses

Will that e-shop save you money or rip you off?

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Online Wedding Dress Shopping

Between booking the perfect venue, dressing the fifth bridesmaid we just had to have and feeding the five thousand wedding guests, our bridal budgets are stretched. No wonder many of us are getting hooked on the promise of our dream wedding dress online – and cheap at half the price. But is it safe to spend your money with websites you don’t know? And will that tiny price tag be worth taking the chance in the long run?

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Do Me a Favour

It sounds obvious, but if an e-shop is swindling your dress designer, why wouldn’t it swindle you, too? Like that girl at school who tried to get you to gang up on your mate but actually ended up losing your trust herself, if an e-tailer tells you how you can rip off a bridal boutique together, you probably can’t trust them not to rip you off later.

Many unauthorised e-tailers manage this by pretending to do you a favour: “Try the dress on in the shop, then we’ll sell it to you for less.” They even use official photos you recognise from the real website. But if you’re not careful, a lot can go wrong once you’ve handed over your credit card to someone you’ll never meet.

Faking it

Before you key all your vitals into the online checkout, compare your e-shop’s price with the official designer’s website. If it’s a lot less, consider how this little company you’ve never heard of is able to afford to sell your special dress so cheaply.

If a price sounds too good to be true, it’s possible you’re actually about to pay hundreds of pounds for a fake. And fakes aren’t just copies that cost less because they’re not trying to make much profit – to keep costs down, they can actually be made of far poorer quality material, to a far lower standard than your true dream wedding dress.

The Customer is Always Right?

Even if your dress isn’t a fake, if your e-shop isn’t licensed, there are still more pitfalls to watch out for. Some brides have received dresses several sizes different from their order, with the company offering to alter them for prices way over the odds; some have been forced to pay for gowns that are dirty or damaged with little or no recourse; and others have placed orders only to receive calls demanding extra fees, such as ‘rush’ charges to pay for their dress being made in time for their wedding, despite ordering it in enough time.

Check This Out

There are a few ways to spot dodgy dealings before you take a chance on an unknown e-shop. To be sure you won’t be buying a fake, check the original dress designer’s official website to find a list of stockists and see whether the e-tailer is licensed to sell their gowns.

Next, if you’re buying online from the US, check out the Bridal Blacklist blog and make your mind up from its real brides’ honest experiences. Or wherever you’re buying from, get other brides’ opinions from forums and chatrooms. Just Google your e-shop’s name and keywords like ‘review’ and ‘experiences’. But be sure to cross-reference your results across a few trusted forums – since the posts are essentially anonymous, you can never be sure who made them.

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If you have any doubts, for a big purchase like your wedding dress, it’s best not to take any risks. And after all, there’s nothing quite like seeing your mum and maids’ faces as you step out of the changing rooms wearing The One.