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Your Very Best Dress Shopping Expierence?

Hi all, haven't posted for a while but as our first anniversary is coming up I thought I would return to one of the best resources for advice, guidance and emotional support i found when I was planning our wedding.

So fast forward 10 months, I took voluntary redundancy from my role as a director as I wanted out of the rat race and working for the man, I have bummed around a bit enjoying being unemployed for the first time in 30 years and I am in the process of buying a bridal shop, I have 3 that I have viewed and I am doing due diligence on two of them to see if they are as profitable as they appear. One is almost dead in the water being just a few hundred meters from Wed2B, so I sadly discounted that one. The other 2 currently have popular brands, and both have room for growth with a little bit of hard work and imagination, both have good reputations and have been operating for 10+ years.

When I brought my dress, I visited 5 shops and received different service in all of them. The worst was Wed2B with pushy assistants, loads of brides and located in a warehouse. The best where I was the only bride, the owner spent an age talking to me about my likes, dislikes, venue, theme gave me a glass of fizz(i know this is a licensing issue). I didn't buy from her through but left knowing exactly what I wanted, which wasn't what I thought I did.

i would like every bride to have the best experience so I thought I would ask you lovely lot what was your best expierence? Why?  What about your worst, what annoyed you? Did you mind having other brides in the store at the same time, or did you want it to be just you? If there were other brides what could have made it better? How could your experience be improved? Should stores ask your budget and then only show dresses in this price point rather than letting you browse the rails (I spent double my budget on the dress alone, as it was the one)? 

How did you pick the store was ordered of mouth or did you google? One of  the two needs a brand overhaul but the name doesn't suit the business as it's not clear what it is. I am worried if I  rename, people will think the business is not there anymore.Sent

Finally, photos, would you be offended if you weren't allowed to take photos of the dresses, unless you repurchased it? I am undecided, as I only did this once but I know there is a movement in the industry to ban this as brides take photos then stick the picture on social media asking if people know where they can get it cheaper or something similar at a lower price tag?



  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,957 New bride

    There is no licensing issue with giving your customers a glass of fizz - as long as you aren't selling it to them it's fine.

    I haven't gone dress shopping yet, but as a bigger lady my main concern is that I want to go somewhere with samples I can actually get over my thighs - I won't be happy to buy a dress if I can't try it on properly. Brands such as ronald Joyce do dresses in size 6-30 yet if you ring a bridal store they only ever have one sample and it's in a very small size.

  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride

    Hi! Good luck with this! :D Sounds great!

    Okay, just my opinions -

    Not being able to take pics is a deal breaker for me, I need to compare side by side easily and sometimes when your appointments are days or weeks apart you need a visual reminder if you are deciding between dresses from 2 stores. If I wasn't allowed to take pictures I wouldn't buy from there.

    Something I loved was that the store I bought from had a corner with kids toys, books, things to keep them entertained etc. Not everyone is able to go to all appointments child free. I went to 2 without my daughter but had to take her to the third and fourth. One of these had toys, books etc and she happily played and it kept her happy, yes she was interested in the dresses but not much. In contrast another store provided her with harribo sweets then when she went to touch the dress I tried on the woman asked me to ensure she stayed seated and not touch. I understand this, I really do and I of course got her to sit but kept thinking "My daughter is 5. You have just given her sugar covered sweets. And now you're complaining about her sticky fingers near your dresses?".

    Fizz is fab, I didnt get any on any of my appointments and would have loved it but even just water, tea, coffee etc and maybe some bisuits? That would go down a treat!

    I found my stores by googling "*my city name* bridal stores"

    Try to suit a range of budgets. Due to being let go at Christmas I had a very small budget (£500). Luckily all the stores I went to had dresses in this price point. Either samples for sale or dresses that were maybe less well known designers but still beautiful. My dress was a sample sale dress :) There were 3 stores I didnt visit as I emailed them all beforehand asking if they had anything to suit my budget and all said they didn't.

    While on with budget - personally I would price each dress clearly. My sister ended up with a dress waaaay over budget as she fell in love but had no idea on price. Another store she looked at had simple nice lables that stated the price so she only tried on ones there that were in budget. All the stores I went to had clear simple labels saying the price. If you can't have prices somewhere then I would maybe organise your dresses by rough price so you can advise a bride at which point on a rail not to go past or something.

    Something to stand on. I am 5ft tall and it is so hard to imagine how a dress will look after alterations when it's all pushed up at the bottom because there is nothing to give you a bit of height.

    Range of sample sizes. Brides basiclaly being made to feel like crap because there wasn't a single sample they could try on in their size is a common discussion on here. Or even a range of plus size dresses? One of the stores I went to had a whole massive wall dedicated to dresses available in sizes 18 and up.

    Hope some of that is useful to you! I have probably forgotten loads lol

  • Barbie3Barbie3 Posts: 340 New bride

    By all means offer private appts with fizz, but if u have space try 2 also cater 4 passers by and pple who might see the dress of there dreams in ur window and just walk in. 

    Relaxed service where u are greeted with a smile, not intimidated, not hassled by pushy sales people or told 2 go away and book an appointment.   

    The 2 biggest things a shop could do to improve my experience is remember more women in this country r size 16+ than 8-10, and please put clear prices and 'real' sizes on every dress.

    And pictures ARE a big help.  Lets face it, there's so much info an images online these days, including designer's own catalogs, if some1 wants 2 pinch a design or find a dress cheaper sumwhere else, a couple of crappy phone pics taken in ur shop aren't gonna make any difference.

  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,957 New bride

    I definitely agree I'd want to take pics too. You only need the designer and style name/number to find a photo of it online anyway, so stopping brides taking pics won't stop them trying to find a cheaper deal elsewhere anyway.

  • Elz2017Elz2017 Posts: 316

    I only went to one shop (didn't buy anything, ended up having a dress made), but it was a nice experience. Got a cuppa, allowed to browse the various dresses, and the sales lady was delightful - helpful, not pushy, lots of good suggestions, put up with my prancing around like a pony in ridiculous dresses just because I wanted to give them a go. I liked that it was appointment only as it was quiet, no rush, no waiting for a changing room/stripping down in view of strangers. The shop was a fairly high end store in London (price point around 1,500 up). 

    Agree with those above saying that photos shouldn't matter as your can just look the dress up on the internet anyway. However, it would be cool if the sales people took photos of you in the various dresses, then uploaded to a private bit of the shop website so you can log in and do a side by side comparison, remember what you've tried etc. Watermark the photos/make them un-downloadable. This would probably be restricted to a high end environment just because it would be time and money to administer, but I think it would be so useful.  The area could also be your admin for telling people what the update is with their dress, any extra info...

  • Kitty12Kitty12 Posts: 119 New bride

    My best experience was in Brides of Southampton, I went there because my best friend got her dress there, and I was impressed with the service. Before my appointment they sent me a survey asking for loads of details about my wedding and what I wanted - different fabric examples, necklines, etc. When I arrived, they had already selected several possible dresses based on my answers, but they also gave me an iPad to browse through, and select any more that stuck out. This was really helpful, because like most brides, I had never shopped for a dress like that before, so I had no idea what would suit me.

    They run 2 appointments at a time, but we each had a large changing room and an assistant assigned just to us, so that was fine. We were offered prosecco and water on arrival. When i went for alterations, I had a whole floor to myself, and was really well looked after.

    My only negative from the whole process, and it’s a small thing, was that I got a 90 minute time slot, and although I was just deciding between the best two dresses, the assistant had to go and get permission for me to have a few extra minutes to try them again, and this was only allowed because I was definitely buying one of them. I fully appreciate they have a schedule, and I understand I had to get out of the way for the next bride, I just didn’t really like the way it was handled - no 15 minute warning or anything, just “your time is up now”. 

    In terms of advice, I’d say just make sure each bride is treated like she’s your most important customer, they’re going to be really excited about dress shopping, and making them feel special is a really important thing! And letting them know if they’re getting towards the end of their time slot would be nice :-)

  • Daisy29Daisy29 Posts: 44

    Best -

    Fantastic customer service - not pushy

    Friendly, welcoming staff who let us look around on our own as well as offering opinions / advice when needed but not too invasive

    Shops who were open on Saturdays and Sundays

    Roomy / airy shop with good sized changing rooms & mirrors and good lighting

    Large range of dresses and open with pricing

    Allowed to take photos (even if you have to agree / sign something to say that they're not allowed to put photos on social media until after the wedding) - I wanted photos purely to re-assure myself in decisions or remind myself of what the dress looked like in real life. I wouldn't have used it to put on social media especially not to ask if you could get it cheaper - you can do that just by knowing the designer anyway and finding out stockists, and I doubt most brides would want to put photos of potential dresses on social media before the wedding anyway

    No restrictive rules about 'only allowed to have maximum of 2 guests with the bride' - and ample space for guests to sit outside of each dressing room

    Private dressing rooms and at least some level of privacy in the communal areas with mirrors so you're not seeing lots of other brides

    A glass of fizz is a nice touch

    Lots of pictures & interaction on social media / website

    Some kind of reassurance that the shop won't close down and disappear with your money!


    Worst -

    Shops who charge for appointments! I wouldn't make an appointment anywhere that charged

    Staff who are rude or talk down to you or put pressure on

    Staff who are overly fake / pretending they are interested in your wedding / relationship & sound like they are reading from a script to every bride that goes in the shop

    Shops with large communal changing areas (ie David's Bridal)

    Being over the top with protecting dresses - not allowing brides to touch them / putting a cloth bag over their head when trying on (with no makeup) I found was very excessive

    Hot stuffy shops with bad lighting

    Shops with really outdated websites put me off




    The majority of the shops I went to were on recommendation (and they were the ones with the best experiences) I also went to some found on google and they were the ones with worst experiences! BUT I would use google to look up shops if I hadn't had any recommendations.

    I wouldn't mind if other brides had appointments at the same time, I wouldn't expect to have a whole shop to myself but equally hated David's Bridal where everyone was in a communal area with mirrors and tiny changing rooms, there needs to be some privacy so you aren't feeling conscious.

  • Victoria197Victoria197 Posts: 722 New bride

    And this is why I turned to you all!! Thank you all for replying, you have all mentioned things that I have thought of, especially around the photos, something to stand on and price tags.

    Great tips on children's area, even if it was just a chest with toys. Loving the online portal idea, may be a lot of work but Instagram could be an option, as long as bride was captured in lots of dresses. I also like The idea of pre visit survey as this could be used to give information about what to expect at your appointment as I know lots of brides are worried about underwear, wobbly bits, scars and quite a few i have found don't bring shoes.

    The fizz bit needs to be clarified by the legal beagles, as giving alcohol can be seen as an enticement / gift to influence purchase, even if not charged for. However, refreshments is a good idea. I was given coffee in one place but nothing in the others and was gagging for a drink by the end of my appointments.

    I am also keen to explore the larger dress / sample size option more. I am a 5ft and a size 8, when I was dress shopping it was Christmas party season and I had gained my usual dress size but even at a size 10 I had the humiliation of dresses not doing up.

    I am not sure about bridesmaids dresses, both shops do them but sales are not amazing and from reading this forum many brides get them online. However, what about flower girls and page boys outfits or would you just go somewhere like monsoon?

  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,957 New bride
    Victoria197 wrote (see post):


    The fizz bit needs to be clarified by the legal beagles, as giving alcohol can be seen as an enticement / gift to influence purchase, even if not charged for. However, refreshments is a good idea. I was given coffee in one place but nothing in the others and was gagging for a drink by the end of my appointments.

    Is that a legal issue? How is it any different to M&S giving free samples of foods/drinks, which they are often doing when I pop in? Or any different to just giving soft drinks?

    I'm a size 20ish and I am only going to go to shops that I know stock my size, such as Wed2Be, David's Bridal and a couple of independents who specialise in plus size. I've been shopping with bride friends twice to normal salons and know the samples are all tiny. My best friend bought an ex sample dress in fact - she is 6 foot and a size 8 and it fits her perfectly. I'm 5 foot 2 and size 20  - I know they make the same dress in my size too, but how on Earth would I have known what it would look like on me?

    Bridesmaids/flowers girls I have just bought Little Mistress/Monsoon dresses but I am on a lower budget than some.

  • Victoria197Victoria197 Posts: 722 New bride

    Daisy29, I thought a couple of my experience were not good but I never came across charging for appointments, bags overheads, and communal changing rooms 😨😨😨😨😨.


  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride

    I got my daughters flower girl dress from Debenhams. I doubt I would get hers from a bridal store simply based on the fact those ones tend to be more expensive and to me the cost isnt worth it. She will wear it once and never again. Same reason as BM dresses I guess. Got ours online as quick delivery, easy to return and only being worn once so didn't want to spend a fortune

  • Daisy29Daisy29 Posts: 44
    Victoria197 wrote (see post):

    Daisy29, I thought a couple of my experience were not good but I never came across charging for appointments, bags overheads, and communal changing rooms 😨😨😨😨😨.


    Quite a few places charged for appointments near me (I am near London, maybe that's why - but I wasn't going to particularly posh places!) - some had free appointments in the week but charged on weekends so I didn't go to them at all.

    I had a cloth bag put over my head in one shop where I wasn't even allowed to touch the dress...! And was then made to wear gloves - I think gloves are more common and understand in case they think you might have dirty hands or something but it still felt weird.

    The communal areas were in David's Bridal, they did have tiny private changing rooms but to look at the dress in the mirror you had to come out of your little changing room into the communal area which was packed with brides and their guests, it was horrible and I felt really uncomfortable and couldn't concentrate properly on what I was there to do.


    Re the bridesmaids, flower girl and page boy outfits I will be getting all of mine from department stores probably. Any bridesmaid dresses I saw in bridal shops were out of my price range and quite old fashioned - however if they stocked high street styles/brands I think they would be popular.

    Good luck on your venture!

  • RachieLilRachieLil Posts: 24 New bride

    I agree with which a lot of the helpful suggestions but in addition I would also advise stocking a range of dresses that may not necessarily be to your taste. I went to one bridal shop where the dresses all felt very similar and not what I was looking for. It was as though the buyer bought what they liked rather than considering the potential different tastes and styles of their brides. 

  • Lexi90Lexi90 Posts: 971

    Having been to my fair share of wedding shops whilst searching for my dress I definitely know what I liked and didn’t! 

    1. Friendly and interested assistant that isn’t pushy. One shop I loved a dress but was irritated by the assistants attitude, she didn’t seem to care either way which put me off wanting to spend that much money (I didn’t go for that one as it made me look at One final shop where I found my dress). At another shop I asked her opinion between 2 dresses and she said we aren’t allowed to say. Part of me understands why because it’s my decision but I wanted to hear her opinion or wouldn’t have asked! 

    2. Nice changing rooms - makes all the difference to how comfortable you feel putting the dresses on. One place I went to had such a tiny changing room I couldn’t fit in it with some medium sized dresses, I felt like I had been shoved in a cupboard. 

    3. Nice extras eg offered water, prosecco etc, it’s just a nice touch that makes it feel like a special day, which it is. Also appreciated by whoever you take to look at dress with. 

    4. Range of styles and sizes - agree with others it’s good to have mid sizes for more sizes to try on. 

    5. Accessories - I liked being able to look at the dress with various veils, belts etc to see how it could look finished on the day. I also think it’s good to have a range of heels to try with a dress if needed.

    6. Appointments - not too many at once and decent length appointments. You don’t want to feel like your being forced to stop trying on dresses because someone else has arrived. The assistant should manage the time so it feels like a good point to stop rather than rushed. When my friend went to try dresses on they had around 3 appointments at once and at times she had to wait to come out To the main area and show us the dress. I went there myself on a week day and had a completely different experience I was the only one in the shop. The lady said they get so many requests for Saturday they have to put more appointments in. 

    7. Knowledge of the dresses, designers etc. - it’s great when assistants know the colours the dress comes in, rough delivery times, options etc. I also think it’s good to have some idea of what adjustments can be done. Its always good when bridal shops are owned by people that also do alterations as they tend to know their stuff! It’s worrying when they say “I’m sure a seamstress might be able to do x” If you’re paying thousands you want to be sure they can! 

     8. Photos - for me they were a must. I discounted dresses from the first shop I went to that I could have may be gone for because I didn’t have photos to remember them and they look different online. If people want to copy a dress and get it made cheaper they are going to anyway. They will either take photos off the internet or sneakily take a photo in the shop anyway, a no photo rule isn’t going to stop them! My seamstress mentioned to me that the industry is trying to group together to stop photos but she doesn’t agree for my reasons. 

    9. Price - I think it’s good to have variety if you want to attract a wider range of brides. That being said if you want to go very high end that’s also your choice but I wouldnt have thought unless very well known, you may not get so many customers. 

    Ok I’ve realised I have too many thoughts on this and will stop writing now haha! 

    All this being said I generally enjoyed my dress shopping and wish I could still go to more shops. I loved it so much! 


  • britbirdbritbird Posts: 1,486 New bride

    I had the best wedding dress experience possible, I was so lucky- or have been thus far.

    My feedback would be as follows:

    Good website.  My bridal shop doesn't have this (it is very new) but she does have excellent social media, so that made up for it.

    Friendly and personable, without being too pushy.  I met my lady at a wedding fayre.  She sent me a lovely non pushy message after, and was so friendly and kind.  Even after my first appointment she didn't push me to make a decision- she actually told me to wait as she was getting another range of dresses in a few weeks later and she thought I should try them on before making the decision.

    Range of dresses- I am a bigger bride, and she had a great selection of options and sizes.  So important as you don't want to feel rubbish 

    Facilities- the shop is lovely and big, and child friendly.  They have loads of space for kids to play, and a range of games.  The changing room is HUGE as well, and you are the only person there

    Exclusivity- I was the only bride there at the time.  

    Drinks- We had fresh tea, biscuits, soft drinks, and could have had prosecco but we didn't really want it

    Good seamstress- not too expensive.  She is actually coming to my measurement session which is lovely.  

    Service- As the shop is 5 mins from my house, Mel is coming to us on the day to get me into my dress!

    Prices- I wasn't massively fussed on prices, but having a range of dresses for different budgets

    Wedding fayres- Not essential, but Mel holds a little wedding fayre with suppliers every few months.  You can get a free make up trial, look at accessories etc.  

    Knowledge of the dresses- Mel knows the designers personally which I love.  

    Photos- for me photos were essential.  


  • Beatrice25Beatrice25 Posts: 248 New bride

    How exciting getting your own bridal shop, good luck! Here are a few of my good and bad experiences...

    - Experienced staff - where I brought my dress they knew everything about the designers, sizes, fits, colours etc. helped me to accessorise so I could see what it would look like on the day. Seemed so helpful and chatty and genuinely interested in my day. Another shop I went to couldn't care less were to busy chatting to each other about their night out and weren't helpful in the slightest.

    - Appointments - my good experience was a private appointment. There were other brides there but it was all very separate and private which I liked and you didn't feel rushed. In the bad place they took away the dress I liked for another bride to try it on and then when I wanted to try it on again they said I couldn't for an hour because the other person was buying it. It completely put me off and made the dress feel less special. They also rushed me a lot.

    - Refreshments - got given fizz, chocolates and chocolate strawberries in the appointment and then when I brought the dress I got given a bag with a wedding magazine, chocolates and mini bottle of fizz.

    - Nice changing rooms 

    - Able to browse dresses but also maybe sectioned on prices. x


  • MrsKxxxMrsKxxx Posts: 18 New bride

    How exciting, opening your own bridal shop! I agree with most of the things said above but here's my opinion:

    1. Website/social media. This is the first place most people will look at to decide whether or not to visit. Even if it's not the most sophisticated website, the most important things are: To be able to clearly see all the designers you stock, pictures of the dresses, how appointments work, price range and contact information. I went on a lot of sites where it was so hard to find the contact info! I was also looking for 'Real brides'- people who have bought dresses from there, because the designer images are obviously edited to look a certain way. I only saw this on a few websites so this could defo set you apart if you did it. Social media is a good way to show real brides in the dresses and also creates a 'human' feel to the shop.

    2. The whole no photos thing is highly irritating! It comes across as if you're being told off in school for trying to take one. Most people just end up taking sneaky ones anyway. I've forgotten most of the dresses where I don't have photos, and as a result, I didn't make any purchases. For the ones that did allow photos, I was able to look back and compare all of the dresses. The shop that I ended up purchasing from allowed pictures and she even said she couldn't understand how a bride could make a decision without them.

    3. For me, personally, I wouldn't like to have the whole shop to myself as it's a bit too much attention. One of the best experiences I had was in a shop where there were 2 appointments at once. Although they are next to eachother, you don't really notice them as there are 2 assistants working with both. It felt like you had their full attention, but not in a way that was uncomfortable.

    4. I only experienced this in one shop, and I think it could set you apart from the rest. Upon arrival, I received a catalogue of all the dresses and was given time to sit and look through so that the assistant could pick them up for me. This was very helpful as sometimes when you are looking on the rail, it's hard to imagine what it actually looks like.

    5. Water! It sounds so basic but when trying on all the dresses, it's very easy to get hot and dehydrated. I was never offered prosecco etc but it didn't bother me too much- just water at least. Would've been nice to have received something after finally choosing my dress, but was just given the invoice/contract lol.

    6. After-care once the dress has been purchased. I purchased mine about 2 months ago and don't expect it until May. It would be nice to have some kind of contact from the bridal store just for reassurance really (you hear a lot about bridal shops suddenly closing down and taking your money.)

    7. Service is the most important for me, it can change the way you feel about buying a dress. In shops when the staff were uninterested, snappy, inpatient, I already made my mind up that I wouldn't be purchasing from there.



  • CE26CE26 Posts: 351 New bride

    I had a great experience in all the shops I went to thankfully - only bride, given time and not rushed, offered suggestions and listened to what I liked / didnt like. 

    However a big thing for me was accessories. The shop I got my dress from had a few bits and bobs but another shop had such an amazing range of head pieces and shoes. Although I didnt get my dress there, I got everything else because they'd given me great service at my dress appointment and had such a great selection of accessories in to try rather than having to rely on online orders. 

    They also held accessory evenings with a make up artist and hair stylist on hand too. Added to the experience. 

    I've noticed my actual dress shop have now expanded their accessory range and have started doing more styling sessions so it seems its something brides are getting interested in. 

  • Victoria197Victoria197 Posts: 722 New bride

    Ladies, this is such a great help. I really appreciate all of your replies and taking the time to respond.

  • Bebe2Bebe2 Posts: 61 New bride

    I went to quite a few shops and a few things stood out to me which really enhanced the experience


    - having time to look and try on dresses being rushed for such a big purchase is a huge no no and a massive turn off. 

    - sales assistants with great product knowledge so they are able to make suggestions for alternatives on the spot 

    - obviously space decor and cleanliness 

    - sales assistants giving you privacy in the changing rooms and not opening curtains on you 

    - being able to take photos. I found this the most frustrating and ended up just leaving the dresses which I couldn't take pics of. This makes no sense to me 




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