When it comes to wedding dress shopping, there are more choices than ever – but that can sometimes leave brides-to-be feeling overwhelmed. With high street chains now offering their own bridal collections, brides have alternatives to the traditional bridal boutique, but is it always suitable? We’ve listed the pros and cons of each, to help you make the decision…
Image credit: Monsoon
There are more and more high street chains launching their own bridal sections, from high end (e.g. Whistles) to the more budget-friendly end of the scale (e.g. Boohoo). This can be handy for brides who are on a tight timeframe or even tighter budget, but there are some drawbacks associated with shopping the high street too. Here are the pros and cons:
Can be lower cost, depending on where you go
Buying off the peg is good for short timeframes, as you don’t have to wait for the dress to be ordered in
Can be ordered online if you don’t like the boutique experience
More casual designs are perfect for weddings abroad or elopements
A cost-effective option if you want to change into a different dress in the evening
You miss out on the customer service and attentive nature of the bridal boutique experience
You’ll need to work around high street sizes – plus-size brides may struggle on the high street, and you may need to get the dress altered to fit correctly
There are fewer silhouettes and styles to choose from – high street collections are less likely to include ballgowns, for example!
You’re more likely to encounter brides in the same style as you
The dresses can’t be as easily customised at the point of ordering
Some high street collections are just as expensive as designer options
Image credit: Morilee
For a classic wedding dress shopping experience, you can’t beat the bridal boutique. However, if you’ve been watching too many episodes of Say Yes To The Dress, you may have a skewed vision of what a boutique offers – it’s not all about 20-people entourages and £10,000 dresses! Here are the pros and cons of supporting your local bridal boutique…
You have access to a huge range of designers, styles and price points
You’ll receive dedicated customer service right up until you pick up your gown, and even up to your wedding day – some boutiques offer a dressing service!
Many bridal boutiques offer in-house alterations, meaning you can easily make adjustments to your dream gown
Your bridal consultant will know exactly what alterations and customisations can be made to the dress at the point of order, such as different colours, straps, sleeves, less full skirts etc.
You can take advantage of events such as sample sales, designer events and trunk shows
Your bridal consultant will have experience in dressing brides for their day, and will be able to advise not only on your dress but also on veils, jewellery and shoes
Boutique stock is always changing, whereas high street collections tend to only update once a year
Plus-size brides will have more options, especially if they visit dedicated boutiques or shop designers who specialise in gowns for bigger brides
You may have to travel further afield to find a particular designer – there’s no guarantee your local boutique will stock the specific designer you want
If you’re not a fan of being the centre of attention, then sometimes boutique shopping can feel quite intimidating. Speak to your boutique ahead of time if you’re worried about this!
Boutiques will generally have shorter opening hours than high street shops, with many closed on Sundays and evenings, so appointments can be hard to source
Some boutiques charge for their appointments, although many will refund this if you go on to purchase a gown
Izzy has been writing about weddings for nearly 10 years. Recently married, she's been able to add her own experience of the planning process to her articles. In-house editor at Guides for Brides and previously editor of top wedding magazines; Wedding Ideas and Love Our Wedding. Her specialism is bridal fashion.