Buying a Wedding Dress Online: The Ultimate Guide

Online shopping is awesome! More and more of what we buy arrives via UPS from online stores around the world. Almond Tree is no different since we sell accessories and our Almond Tree Originals line of wedding gowns online. But at the same time we have helped out a lot of brides who have had a bad experience at other online shops and learned a lot about the do’s and don’ts of the whole thing. So here we offer our ultimate guide to shopping for a wedding dress online.

Returns and Exchanges - Wedding Gowns are Different

Wedding gowns are more expensive than average clothes, they are usually custom fitted (alterations), and they are bulky and more expensive to ship. This means that returns and exchanges are often covered by special policies. Some online retailers do not allow returns or exchanges at all. Others may charge substantial re-stocking fees.

A few of the specialized shops—Almond Tree included—allow full returns and exchanges, but have firm time windows and may not cover certain shipping costs. The point is that once you find a reputable wedding gown dealer online make sure that you understand all of their policies because they may not be the same as what you get when buying other things online.

If it Sounds Too Good to Be True …

Wedding Dresses online are just like everything else online … there is more junk that quality and for every honest vendor there are two scoundrels. Come to think of it, that is true for boyfriends too, but let’s not go there.

The scoundrels of the internet exist because we WANT to believe that we can buy that Vera Wang designer original for $74.95 (seriously … saw someone pitching this exact deal). They might have a great story about overstocks or overseas seamstresses making extra gowns in their spare time on the side. But the truth is that if you buy that gown—IF it arrives at all—it will likely come out of the box looking like a be-dazzled shower curtain.

Yes you can sometimes save money buying online and yes there are some great retailers out there, but a great wedding gown cannot be had on the super-cheap. Heck, the quality materials alone wholesale for more than that, right?

And while we are at it, never EVER use a vendor who wants you to send a check or pay with a wire transfer, cashier’s check, or money order. Shoppers AND reputable online retailers LOVE credit cards and services like PayPal because they can help protect both sides from scammers.

Remember Your Timing

One of the things that makes Almond Tree unique is our standing inventory of wedding gowns that you can take home today. This goes for our online sales too since most of the wedding dresses we ship within 48 hours.

But like we just said … this is not very common since the vast majority of wedding dresses are made to order or redistributed through middlemen warehouses. And all that takes time. We see brides every day who either ordered a gown in another store or online and it either did not arrive on time or—when it arrived—it wasn’t right.

When you are shopping online, make sure that you understand when to expect delivery and that there is plenty of time for you to fix things if they are not right and to do some standard alterations and pressing.

Because timing is so important, we have three ways to get the perfect gown at Almond Tree. Almond Tree NOW are designer dresses in stock that you can have today. Almond Tree Originals are our own designs that you can get quickly, and Almond Tree Couture are soup-to-nuts custom designed wedding gowns. You can get an idea on our Lookbook page.

Shopping Online: Time for Brutal Honesty

I am a woman … I get it. When we are buying regular clothes, we go into the store and find a great blouse, so we pick up a size 8 (even though we know that the last time we bought one, the 10 fit better). We go into the dressing room and—after a few fumbling minutes—we ask the salesperson to get us the size 10 … who then tries to make us feel better by saying that “they run small.”

Been there, done that, live it.

Every guy on the planet wants to be 6 feet tall and every woman wants to be a perfect size 2. This is because we are all crazy. When you are buying a wedding gown online it’s not the time for wishful thinking because heartache and frustration will be the result. Order the size you are, not the size you wish you were.

Have a Good Seamstress Ready to Go

How often does a bride-to-be come into our Almond Tree Boutique and try on a dress that fits everywhere and everything perfectly? Almost never. Most of the time a little tweak needs to be done here or there. The good thing is that quality wedding dress designers know this and make the gowns with a little flexibility built in.

No worries, it is to be expected.

Plan and budget for this. If you order your special wedding gown online—from us or anyone else—have a good seamstress on call and ready to do a little nip here and a little tuck there as needed. But make sure that you are generally satisfied before hand since altered dresses are usually not eligible for returns or exchanges.

To speed things along, we have our own expert seamstress on site at Almond Tree. It makes things a whole lot easier!

That’s it for now. If we think of extra advice we will update this post. If you have any questions, just give us a call at the store and we will be happy to help.

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