This is a pretty hot topic in the industry. Buying dresses from China, is it a budget savvy tip or is the old adage 'Buy cheap, pay twice' true?
I've come across one or two happy stories, with a bride delighted with her overseas purchase, but mostly I've heard tales of dresses not fitting properly, cheap material being used and horrendous customs charges which negate much of the saving.
The allure of buying a beautiful dress for a fraction of the UK prices is strong; the websites have images of happy, laughing women in beautifully cut gowns - some of them even look like real customer's images, rather than studio ones - and for just a few pounds, it's worth a punt, right?
I decided to test it myself. I picked a gorgeous floor length sequin gown for just £22; the photo on the website made it look like a no-brainer. If I were to buy a dress like this in the UK, I'd be looking at £80, at the lowest, so in the interests of research, I added it to my cart and voila! made the purchase.
So began the month-long wait for the parcel. If you decide to buy internationally, don't forget to factor in the time it takes for posting. It can take up to six weeks, and that's just for prom style dresses, I imagine wedding dresses take much longer.
I had my dress delivered to the office, that way I knew I'd be in to receive it. The morning it arrived was an exciting one - had I just found the bargain of my life?
Sadly, no. It was no great surprise that, when trying the dress on, it was an almighty bust. The cut was awkward, the length wasn't floor length, it was calf length and the underskirt was so short you could see my breakfast. Also, the material used to make the dress was so thin, even a slip would have been visible. Far from being a dress bedecked with glittery goodness, the sequins were sparse and had holes in the centre. Typically, sequined gowns have the larger round sequins overlapping one another, much like fish scales to give the full dazzling effect.
I didn't feel like a glamourzon. I felt naked and cold. That's also £22 I could have spent on a dress from a shop, where I could try it on. D'oh!
My advice is to avoid buying something you can't see. Especially something as important as your wedding dress - the shopping, the finding it, the visiting for fittings - that's all part of getting ready for being a bride.
You may feel like you've saved money, but it's likely the cost will be high in disappointment and alterations. I've had friends opt for buying from the internet, and instead of feeling like their dress was 'the one' it was a dress that 'will do'. After a few bits are changed. And since the majority of bridal shops have a sale rail, you can still get a dress in your budget that's made with the best of materials, with the cloth cut well and will have you excited to wear it.
Now, this is not to say that there aren't some happy-ever-afters for international buyers, we are sure there are. We'd love to hear from anyone who has an experience of this, either good or bad. Drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org