Ever wondered what the term ‘designer’ actually means? The majority of bridal boutiques will have a collection of wedding dresses made up from their own "in-house" designer and from a number of "famous name" designers. The more famous the name, the easier it is to sell the dress after the wedding.
There are around a dozen "big name" designers in Britain for whose bridal gowns you can expect to pay between £1500 and £4000. Each has their own unique style, so if you like one bridal gown from a particular designer you may find that their entire collection will appeal. Rather than using stockists these big designers tend to have their own boutiques selling just their own range. If you are considering selling a designer wedding dress after the wedding be prepared to part with it immediately, and if you are planning to use an Agency, register your intentions early to enable them to let Brides know that it will be coming in. Designer gowns lose value as soon as they are no longer this season's design, so time is of the essence.
The majority of bridal gowns bought in the UK are classed as "off the peg" - these are the wedding gowns that you might have seen in a bridal magazine along with a list of stockists, or at a local or chain bridal boutique.
You try on a sample of the gown in the shop; they take your measurements and order the most appropriate size for you which is then delivered to the bridal shop for alterations to fit your exact shape.
If you are planning to have your gown made for you, it’s still a good idea to spend some time trying on different styles to get an idea of what suits you. You never know, you might find the perfect dress with the perfect fit and can save yourself the time involved in a bespoke, made to measure dress.
Choosing from a picture or paper pattern won’t give you a clear idea of what bridal gown actually looks good on you. However, remember that dress designs are protected by copyright law and you are not allowed to recreate an exact copy of someone else’s wedding dress. Think about combining different aspects of different wedding dresses, perhaps the neckline of one, the skirt of another and the train of a third. Allow at least six months for a wedding dress to be made, and check for last minute alteration costs if you’re planning to lose weight before the big day.
At the end of each season bridal shops tend to sell the end-of-line samples at discounted prices. Any discontinued lines will be included in these sales along with popular designs that have become too marked or damaged. Don't expect to find a spotless sample of a popular design though; the popular dresses aren't discontinued and the samples will be kept until they are too damaged to use.
If you choose to buy a sample then be sure to thoroughly check that you are happy to accept any damage it may have sustained while being tried on in the shop.
Do not go to sample sales if you want the full "bridal boutique" experience. The gowns tend to be sold at cost price and there is no profit margin for sales consultants to spend hours with you. It is usual to have to pay for and collect the dress on the day you purchase it.
There are several sites where it is possible to buy once-worn dresses. Generally they are designer gowns and you have the confidence that you are buying from a business with a reputation to consider, not an individual, so the gown will be exactly as advertised.
If you are feeling brave then you might like to bid for a dress on one of the online auction sites such as eBay. Some of the dresses have never been worn, and may be a style that you have tried on in a bridal boutique but can't quite afford. The named designers sell best - largely for that reason.
If you are planning to sell your gown on eBay, prepare the listing before your wedding day so that it is ready to upload straight after the wedding. You may need to add photos, if for example the dress has got a bit damaged.
This is a great way to find a designer dress at a bargain price but if the dress has been altered, pay attention to the height and shape of the bride who is selling the dress! It may have started out as a standard size 12, but then had several inches taken off the hem or waist.
You may have found the perfect dress, but it is how you frame your dress that makes it special. There are many different types and styles of wedding accessories to choose from but be patient. It is worth the wait and finding something which complements your dress beautifully then rushing in and buying the first pair of shoes you try on!