Bridal Salon Issues


If you have an issue with your bridal salon you need to be talking to them about it. Many a bride has no idea what the procedures are in these stores and miscommunications happens all the time. It often helps to write to an impartial third party just to get your feelings out. I can't always solve these types of problems but I can help you see why things are the way they are and maybe give you ideas for adjusting the situations to be more in line with your original dreams.

added June 2010

Hi Leanna,
First I wanted to thank you for reading and responding to this as I'm sure you get many emails and are very busy!
I just had my first dress fitting yesterday (LOVE my dress) and I have a question on the proper hem length for this dress.
I am just shy of 5'3'' and was advised to get a hallow to hem for this gown which I did. I wore 4 inch heels when the bridal salon measured me as I wear heels every day and plan on using a fabulous pair of couture shoes with the gown for my big day (not to mention my husband to be is 6'4'' so I can use some height). The salon measured a 51.5 inch hallow to hem.
I brought my 4" heels with me to the seamstress who is taking the dress in (chest, waist, hips, etc) and she said that 4" would be way too tall for the dress. She suggested 2" heels which puts the gown touching the ground. There is also tulle underneath the dress that seems much more stiff than the sample I've tried on several times so I'm hoping that after steaming and hanging that the dress will fall flatter.
So my dilema. The bridal store said that the peep of the toe of the shoe should be shown in this dress but the seamstress advised on just touching the ground. I don't want the dress to appear "too short" so i'm torn on the heel height. Although i've had my heart set on 4" heels I want to ensure I look appropriate. How many inches off the ground do you think this dress should be?
Thanks in advance,

Hi Melissa,
I am 5"6", so the 51.5 hallow to hem they measured on you should be 3" too short on me. I held a tape up to me and it was about 1" too short. Now, figuring your 4" heals, I'd say they didn't order you the correct hallow to hem measurement. They may have decided for you that the hem has to touch the floor which is not their right to decide. Many brides do want this but it is certainly not a matter of properness. Hem length is a matter of your comfort level for walking ease and gracefulness. If you have the experience to walk in a gown that touches the floor with grace than I would recommend that you can have your hem touch the floor. If you can't than it is much better for you to have it up a little bit. Aside from what all the TV shows are saying - - - No one is looking at your feet. They are all wanting to see your smiling face. If you can't smile while walking in a awkwardly hemmed gown, than you are not going to look good.
Most of my brides have been comfortable with their hem 1" above the floor. In the picture you sent it looks like the hem may be a bit higher than 1", maybe 1 1/2" or 2". I don't understand why they are telling you that this dress has to have a hem touching the floor other then they goofed at the hallow measurement and are trying to get you to accept the hem as is. There is not much that they can do to change the dress at this point. If they knew how, lace can be added seamlessly to the bottom to make it longer. Lace is cool in what you can do with it and since your gown is all over lace design already it would be easy to make the hem a tiny bit longer so you can wear your 4" heals. Though I'm sure they measured your hallow to hem wrong and should do anything they can to fix it, I'm also sure the store will charge you for changing the hem.
Two inches sounds like a lot but it's not. Since your lace has a scalloped edge it's hard to tell exactly how much above the floor it is so you can fudge it a little and no one will know. No one is going to take a ruler to you at your wedding anyway. Like I said, they are all focusing on your face, not your feet. They look at the dress a bit, but only people like me look at hems.
I'm rambling a bit and I don't know if any of my thoughts are helping you decide what to do. I don't think they will cooperate if you do want to do something to change the hem. They sound like they are set in their ways and not caring about what the bride wishes for her vision of her special day. I have rules but I also  understand that you have to be willing to listen to brides and help them get what they want, not what the store thinks is appropriate. Today's bride has her own ideas of what she wants and the industry needs to be flexible instead of insisting that brides adhere to the old standards.
What do you think about 3" heals? That might make the length just right. You do not have to tell them you are doing that either. Just bring a nice pair of 2' heals to your last fitting and say nothing.

Hi Leanna!
THANK YOU SO MUCH for your advice, it all makes alot of sense.  I would agree that the hem is 1 inch shorter than it should be. I think they made the decision that the hem should be shorter and now I can't wear the shoes that I want!
That being said, I was also thinking to go with 3" heels. The seamstress had me try on
 2 3/4" heels and since it wasn't touching the ground said they were still too tall (however I thought it looked fine). I did think the 4" was too tall. I am going to see if I can find a 3" pair so that it's a balance in between. I'm not one to make a stink but my couture shoes were like what diamonds are to other girls! I so badly wanted to rock a pair of christian louboutains in red, purple or blue, especially since I wear 4-4.5 inch shoes daily. I even made sure I had them with me when they measured me!
Anyway, I appreciate your ideas and I think you're right on point. I have a second fitting on August 4 to see how the bust/waist, etc look so i'll bring the shoes with me. I'll bring along a 2 inch pair as well as a 3" to see what looks best........
THANK YOU again for your input, it's really made me feel much better about this whole thing. At the end of the day there are many more important things than my hem and i'm happy to have so many blessings so I should be happy that the worst thing i'm dealing with is that and not something else. :)
take care!

added March 2010

Hi Leanna,

My name is Cheryl and I live in Brockton, MA.
I ordered a dress from a boutique, site unseen. Meaning, from a catalog they had because they did not have any dresses in my size. I ordered a dress that she sells, i.e. Mon Cherie Montage.  Well the dress comes in, I look at it and don't love the dress. It looks good on paper but does nothing for my body. Now this store has wedding dresses on it's web site and the whole shebang, but no dresses in my size.  So I end up paying for this dress. The dress never leaves the store because they said they were going to alter the dress. I have since decided this dress is not for me. When I call the owner to discuss my disappointment she says, you have to make a decision by Monday, well that was 2 days ago. I bring an attendant and she looks at the dress but see's my unhappiness. The seamstress trys to tell me this dress is gorgeous. I am not feeling it. I have a large chest.  DDD also, I went to the store they recommended to purchase my undergarment. Well that lady says it will take 2 weeks for it to come in.  So how can i possibly make a decision about a dress that has not left the store to say, this will work for me? The owner just tells me to buy a strapless bra. Now mind you, don't strapless bras come in different styles in the back and front?  How was I to know which to get for this dress? so, I'm getting worried again. I email her twice and still no respond. I have asked for a refund on this purchase 1, because it has not left the store. 2. she does not have any dresses in my size in the store. 3. I'm not in love with the dress.  4. The seamstress tells  me to get some sheer fabric so she can make straps, I don't mind straps but she can tell, it does not work well for my size chest .  What can I do about this? The dress as of this day still sits in her store. Is it mine or is it hers?  There has not been any alteration on the dress.

--   ~~~~~  (((())))Cheryl
Hi Cheryl,
Usually, wedding gowns are not returnable for any reason. It should say this on your order form some where. The problem for the store is that they will have a hard time finding another bride to buy this gown from them. If you didn't like it, it's highly unlikely another bride will like it. If they are willing to take the gown back you need to make your decision before they change their mind.
A good bra can make a big difference in the looks of any gown. I have seen this many times. For brides larger than C, it's very hard. Alterations are usually necessary to get the breast area fitting well. For some odd reason I have yet to understand, these gowns come in with the oddest breast curves. I had a bride return just yesterday that I had to spend many hours altering her breast area and it looked great on her. I thought about it later and wished I had taken a before picture of her to put up on my site to show larger breasted brides that this is a regular problem and can be fixed.
Can you describe what you are unhappy about in more detail? Do you have a picture of the gown I can see? 

added February 2010

Leanna Studios,
I was wanted to see your comments.  Here's what my local bridal store's recommended seamstress did for a bustle on my dress.  When she was pinning it up, I swear there was only an inch on the ground remaining.  She said it was "impossible" to get a complete bustle because of the train design.
By the way, if you can't tell photo P2020383 is the alleged bustle.










Hi Teresa,
I understand why your seamstress might have created this bustle this way but it is totally unacceptable. The first goal of bustling is to get the train up off the floor. The second goal is to have the bride's backside look good. She was trying to give you as much exposure of the train design as she could but she didn't get anything off the floor.
Occasionally I get a bride who wants a little drag left in her bustle. There is a style going around called puddling that has the gown too long in both the front hem and train but I think it's simply horrible. 
If you ask them to redo the work, I don't think you will get a good bustle from this person. If she knew how to do it right she would have done a lot better than this picture. Your train is a bit of a challenge but I have done successful bustles on such trains. Some of the decoration of the train will just have to be hidden by the bustle. When things are not going well, I have advised brides before to cut their losses and find a new person who can do the work well. 
You have a hard conversation with this store coming. They have not done a good job and you should not have to pay for it but they can also refuse to give you the gown until you do pay. If they will let you pay with a credit card, you might be able to get your money back through a chargeback. I can explain to you how to do this later.
You have not said how much time you have until your wedding. If you have enough time you may try having them redo the bustle before you go elsewhere. There's a slim chance you may like the outcome. You could take them a picture you like from my site. Maybe like this one:
And ask then to do it that way. They might not like being told how to do it but you are the bride and should get what you want.
I hope this helps a little.

added January 2010

I like what you had to say about the alteration policies of the bridal shops. I wish we would have had you when my daughter got married. The seamstress was rude and pushy, and shared her marriage failure with my daughter as she pinned her dress. When we picked the dress up, I had to redo the bustle connections – they were all crooked and puckering, but there was no time left to have the shop do it. It is good to hear that someone out there has pride in their work!


Hi Kathy,
I'm so sad to hear of your experience. I do hope your daughter was able to ignore her seamstress's lack of judgement and finesse. I'm sure you were able to counteract her poor attitude with your own good one. I have found Moms being more involved in their daughter's weddings these past few years. I have had many positive experiences with brides that I find it odd that there are people out there that don't. I think it's all about attitude. I know it's not easy to keep that good attitude up every day, but I have found that on those days that I am a little low on good attitude I can always draw off the bride's joy.
I have always seen my job as more than just sewing on a big white dress. I'm part of the bridal experience. I get to share the joy of so many brides. I get to live the process more than the once that many girls get. It's very cool. I wish all alteration specialists could see it that way.

added April 2009

Fell in love with the mother of bride gown, ordered it last wk of Jan, had tried the sample size 10 on with a corset bra, fit perfectly, looked great.  Went to try it on over the weekend, about 9 wks later, with a reg. bra and some water retention and it wont close at top-about 3 inches off, I was to upset to think to try the sample on again, and it was a busy Sat morning, salesgirl told me to come back for my fitting and they'd fit me for a good corest and we'd be ok.  I've have been working out more than usual these last few months, my husband says its my lats butI'm freaking out!  If the sample dress or my dress does fit, do I have any ground to stand on?  This is a highly respected bridal shop, of course all sales final!!

Any suggestions appreciated-

I had a bride once whose gown fit perfectly when she picked it up and a few weeks later she could not zip it up. After some questioning I found out she and her groom were taking scuba diving lessons and she had built up her upper body so much that her dress no longer zipped. Most gowns have a little something in the seams that can be let out and hers worked just fine once I did.
I can't say for certain what the situation is with your gown but it is a great idea to try on the sample again, if only for your peace of mind. Also, the different bra can make a big change in the fit.
When you go back to the salon, bring along a tape measure and measure the sample gown to compare it to your gown. All sales are usually final, but there are times when respectable salon owners will make things right for you. They might not be able to get you another gown, but they should at least offer to do the alterations to make yours fit like the sample for no charge.  

added July 2008

I came across your website after coming home from a terrible first dress fitting. My wedding dress is a maagie sottero

The dress was ordered in a size 6, I typically wear a size 4. I know this is typical, except the dress was way too big and was falling down at my fitting. The corset was done up as tight as possible which made it lose the criss-cross pattern and look like a straight line at the back. This also made the dress poof up around my bum (making it look very large) They told me I will just have to deal with it because if they tighten the dress I won't be able to sit down. I am not sure what to do because the dress slips down when I move my arms.

I'm not sure what they meant by you not being able to sit down. I have taken in lace-back gowns so the lacings could lace more open. I think because this would be difficult to do on your gown they just said they couldn't do it. In this case you really don't want them doing it because they just might botch the job. Call around a find someone else that is willing to see you and do the work properly. 

added July 2008

Thank you so much for your blunt advise!!!  What I thought would be the most exciting and enjoyable part of preparing for my upcoming wedding, shopping for my dress, wound up being frustrating and horrible.  I started by visiting bridal shop after bridal shop.  The people were high-pressure, dismissive, and pushy.
One day, I walked into a tiny Quinceria shop in the corner of a shopping mall to look at a dress in the window.  A teenage girl covered in smiles ran up and asked if she could help me.  When I said I was looking for a wedding dress all of the sales girls in the shop ran up to say congratulations.  They stuffed me in a dressing room and kept the dresses coming.  I would come out in each dress they bought and they would all give their opinion - "No."  "That's no good.",  "That's okay", etc.  Finally I came out and they all jumped up (also my sister and best friend who came with) and said that was THE ONE.  I looked in the mirror and started to cry.  IT WAS THE ONE!!  This was the most fun I've had shopping for anything ever!  And the dress cost less than a third of what I was prepared to plunk down at the fancy bridal shop.  Please mention Mom Dad & Me in the River Oaks Shopping Mall in Calumet City on your site.  They deserve to be acknowledged.


Thank you for sharing your positive experience. I will get this up on the site as soon as I can! 
I wish you all the best,


added September 2008

I am in the middle of an ordeal with the shop that I ordered my Maggie Sottero "Kiri" dress from.  I ordered it on January 19th, of 2008.  We fibbed to the store and told them that the wedding was in October  and not in January of 2009 so that I was sure to have my dress months before the wedding instead of weeks or worse, days before like other horror stories I have heard.  Well since then, we decided to push the wedding date back even further to July of 2009 for various reasons, but that is a different story. 

Anyway, no one knows that the date is not October 24th of 2008.  My dress finally came in the last week of August.  I went to try it on, and to see if I was happy with the seamstress at the shop or if I was going to be taking it elsewhere.  After the initial fitting, I quickly decided to take it somewhere before packing it up to take home and paying for the remainder of the dress, my sister, mother and I did a once over to make sure everything was okay and we noticed a large stain on the back of the dress on the left side, right where the seam connects.  It appeared to be some sort of water mark on the fabric.  We immediately got a manager who agreed that it happened at the manufacturer.  We were able to come up with this because the "Kiri" has a tull over lay over satin and the stain was only on the satin, not on the tull.  So she originally asked if we wanted it cleaned and we said definitely not.  We want a new dress, knowing that we have plenty of time.  She said no problem, she would not send the dress back to Maggie Sottero until they sent me a new one.  She also said that she could not call that evening because it was after hours, but she would call first thing in the morning and call me back. 
Well, I didn't receive a call so by that evening I called the shop myself to find out.  The manager stated that she left a message and was waiting for them to return her call.  I received a message a few days later stating that Maggie Sottero wanted the shop to send the dress back and they would replace the entire bottom of the dress for me.  I was fine with this because the mistake was being replaced..there was nothing wrong with the top of the dress.  So the manager said she sent the dress back and i would have it by the next Friday.  Well, it took longer than that, and I had to call back to the shop to see if  the dress had come back, and indeed it had, so I made an appointment to go and pick it up. 
When we got there, we looked it over again and the stain was still there, smaller, but still there in the same exact spot.  The manager who originally helped me was not there, she had just stepped out and they expected her to return, so I said that I would wait, that I didn't want to have to explain everything to someone else.  Meanwhile, another manager came in and asked what was wrong and then asked three times in a row, do you want me to clean it.  Each time, I gave a firm answer of no, please don't touch the dress. 
Another manger came in and said she didn't know if the other manager was coming back so she wanted to try and help me.  We started to try and explain the situation and she started to give us attitude.  My mother said that it was simply unacceptable and we wanted a refund right now.  The manager got snippy and said that it was up to the accountant to decide if that was going to happen and she couldn't get in touch with him now because it was after 5:00.  It was approximately 5:45 at this time. 
I was determined to wait around for the other manager to see the stain so that she could confirm what we were seeing was indeed the exact stain that was supposedly sent back to Maggie Sottero to fix.  So we sat up front for another 15 minutes or so.  After 6:00pm, I decided to go get something to eat with my mother and let them know that we would be back to see if she had returned at that point.  When I got back to the shop, I was asked to come into the back to a fitting room. I said sure no problem.  When I got there, the manager proceeded to tell me that she and the other manger that was there that evening were able to ge the stain out.  All they had to do was run it out, and that it was just dust.  My jaw dropped and I quickly exclaimed, "you did WHAT?"  I expressed my anger to them, appropriately at first, for touching the stain after I had specifically asked them not too.  She then gives me a story about how she called Maggie Sottero and they said that they replaced the front panel of the dress.  I replied that I thought that was funny since the stain was in the back, and regardless of whether they replaced the front panel or not, there was still a stain on my dress that I asked them not to touch.  They did not understand why I was so upset.  I explained that I shouldn't to wear a dress that needed to be cleaned in order for it to be worn.  That this is my wedding dress and it's not just a spot.  I went out to the car and got my mother to deal with it because I was almost to tears.
When we came back in, the two managers tag teamed us and accused me of screaming at her, when I was simply crying and sobbing and still trying to hold a conversation. Then she had the audacity to accuse me of not wanting the dress and that was the reason that I was making such a fuss.  At that point, my mother said, Cortney, i can't stand to see you cry like this.  Let's just go and we will talk to Ronya tomorrow, that was the other manager that we dealt with in the first place. 
So we left and Ronya called me at about 10:45 the next morning.  She was apologetic for how we were treated, but said that there was nothing that they could do and she didnt' understand what the big deal was, that they got the stain out.  She then said that it happens all the time and there was even a bride that had blood on her dress and she didn't care as long as they got it out so she could wear it.  I told her that I didnt' care and that she needed to call my mother because I was again too upset to handle or deal with it all. 
The point is, that I should not have to wear a dress that had to be cleaned before it went down the isle.  I called the customer care line for Maggie Sottero after searching for what seemed like hours online for the number, only for them to tell me that they couldn't tell me anything as to whether the shop actually contacted them about the matter or not, I am thinking they didn't send it back at all and tried to get the stain out themselves and missed some of it......but Maggie said they have a contract with the retailers and can't tell me anything, but that they would talk to the shop to try and get it resolved for me.  They said they would call me back the same day, and now two days in a row, after speaking to a manager, I have not received calls back.  
I don't know what to do at this point.  My wedding isn't until July of 2009, so I have plenty of time to get a new dress made.  The shop will not refund my money or even give us a discount because they gave us 50 bucks off the dress when we ordered it......
Do you have any suggestions?  Am I being bridezilla to ask that I get a new dress from Maggie and not wear a dress that has been cleaned? 

Thoughts, suggestions, ideas?
Thank you-  Cortney Mullin....a sad bride who stupidly ordered from (name deleted)


I am very sad that the stress of this situation is robbing you of the joy you should be feeling at this happy time in your life. Yes, I do agree with you that the dress was probably never sent back to the factory. Spots are a common occurrence and solved by cleaning. It is usually done before the bride sees the gown but unfortunately this spot got missed. The store did get the spot out so there is no recourse open to you.
If you simply can not wear this dress because you see it as tainted than your only alternative is to go to another store a buy another dress -BUT I do need to tell you that any dress you buy may have been spot cleaned at the factory before it is shipped to you or at the Bridal store before they give it to you. Keeping these dresses clean through the construction process is nearly impossible. Cleaning does not devalue the dress or make it any less special.
I don't mean to sound unkind but yes, I do think you are being unreasonable in asking for a new dress. Your wedding day can still be all you have dreamed of it being. The spot is gone and no one at your wedding will know it was there. You can choose to not let this ruin your day by letting it go.

I wish you all the best,


I do not condone brides lying to bridal stores nor do I condone bridal stores lying to brides. Both are repugnant. This letter is a great example of why.

added April 2008


My Alfred Angelo 1807 gown came in this afternoon. However i was a bit confused with the sizing. According to the Alfred Angelo's Brides Size Chart, a size 2 measures 33x24x35/5inch. This numbers match exactly with my own body figure and was told by the Alfred Angelo SA to get a size 2. I was hoping that it should fit pretty well except the length. Unfortunately when i tried on the gown just now, it felt exactly like the size 6 i tried at the local Alfred Angelo store. It's way too big to be 33x24x35/5inch.
I wonder if it can be sized down to fit my size easily. Also, is it easy to bustle it?

Thank you very much, Monica

It can be altered but you need to take the dress back to the store and show them the discrepancy in the measurements. I can't promise that they will do anything about it but they should be told. When I was working at a Salon I saw many gowns come in with mistaken size labels. I don't want to accuse anyone of anything, but to me it looked like the manufacturer just put the necessary size label in a dress that was available for shipping. It happened just too often for me to believe it was always a simply mistake..

added December 2007

I am a seamstress (40 plus years experience) . I have recently begun sewing for other again. I happened upon your website and found it very informative. This is an observation on my part. It seems that the bridal shops are ordering wrong sizes to increase their alteration business. If this is true, how sad. However, it make business boom for the professional seamstresses out there. I would enjoy getting the business, however, the industry needs to do better.

Sincerely, Sharon

I rank on bridal stores a lot on my site but I seriously doubt they are ordering large gowns just to alter them. There is just not enough of a profit margin in the alteration department to make this work. A store is very lucky if they make money doing alterations. Most have the department only for the service factor and routinely lose money for it. Ordering oversized gowns would only net them more headaches from brides complaining.

added December 2007

I just happened to look at your web site and was greatly disappointed. I have been altering bridal gowns for over 20 years. I have taken gowns in from a size 16 to a size 4. I have also let them out, maybe having to replace panels, up 6 sizes. I have also worked for 5 bridal salons~ and yes they do want to please a bride and make their day special. No they are not out there to make a buck. I can tell you this because 4 out of the 5 of them went out of business because they couldn't support themselves. There really is no money in the Bridal Gown Industry. I know this because I owned one myself. People who operate one lose money trying to please a bride. I doubt you will let your viewers see this!

I get letters like yours about once a year and I have posted some of them. There are hundreds of letters on the site, so many that I can't even tell you where any certain one is. I doubt you have read everything or you would not have accused me so harshly. You have certainly not seen this page:

I don't believe that it states anywhere on my site that good and decent bridal salons don't exist. I say in one page that I am happy to be associated with one such good salon. I am here to educate brides about all aspects of the bridal industry, even the truth that many salons are not going to have the bride's desires as their first priority. Just as you clearly say, businesses have to make money to survive. A Bridal salon can't do just any alteration. Making gowns that are more than 2 sizes too big or small is a tedious and time consuming operation that brides do not comprehend the extreme difficulty. They do not understand that the choices they make will cost them a lot of money they weren't counting on. All consumers need to be responsible for their shopping choices, including brides. I am here to inform them of things that can be done and why they should avoid doing other things. I try to teach both sides of each issue I am asked about for I have been on both sides.

I am happy that you had the good fortune to work in a salon that did care and you are obviously very skilled in your craft to know how to do such difficult operations. You must know that these types of alterations usually come with a big price tag both monetarily and in the changes that often need to be made to design. Quite often, brides don't want these. They want the impossible. The exact same dress only 10 sizes bigger. I am here to enlighten them that these situation are not as simple as they are thinking.

Normally, after I have answered a letter, it is put into a folder on my computer until I have time to do postings on the site. I do my best to answer letters in a few days, but once written, it could sit in the posting folder for months for it's just not as important for me to get it up as it is to get that one bride her answer. I do have live customers who are my first priority. When there is a lull in sewing work, I work on my site. But, for you, I will be posting this as soon as I send it off to you because I think you need proof that I am doing what I can to be honest and state my views as my experience has taught me. You and anyone else reading this may have a differing point and can tell me so. I have stated that all my postings are my opinion and can be take or not at the reader's discretion.

Look for your letter at:

added February 2007

What is the typical bridal salon sales commission % that goes to the sales ladies at high-end designer boutiques where the gowns range from 3000 up?
A friend who sells clothing at a designer jeans boutique makes no salary but her commission is 10%. She sells a lot of clothes and historically has made a six figure salary. I would think selling gowns for 3000-6000 would be an easy way to make a great living, right?----Judy

I don't know much about this and it varies from store to store, but most bridal sales people are commissioned. I do know of one lady who stopped working at a bridal store because they changed the commission scale to change with the price of the dress. The higher the dress price the higher the commission and the lowest gowns had no commission. She felt it was so unfair to ladies looking for bargains. She just could not show them the same kind and thoughtful service she wanted to give all customers no matter what the price of the gown they were looking at.

Thank you for the reply..I appreciate your feelings about treating all customers well during what can be such an expensive, complex and stressful purchase. I have found some bridal shops that carry gowns for $3000 and up ONLY and know their salespeople must be on commission plus salary or just commission if they are doing well. A friend who sells couture in a small dept. store (not bridal) is on a 10% commission only, no salary, and makes a six figure salary. Average ticket is around $10,000 and customers can well afford it as they are the city's elite. I don't know if it is normal to bargain for the price of a gown, given they can cost as much as a small car and there is a commission involved!

I don't want to sound like I look down on those who make more money than I do. Everyone has the right to a living wage and if you can make more than that then that's why America is great. I criticize Bridal salons a lot but I like to think that the people working there want to be helpful and have a degree of caring for brides. Why else would they choose such a stressful job?

added January 2007

Can you negotiate the prices of weddings gowns that are sold in boutiques? I saw a gown that costs $1000 but online the prices are listed lower (on various online sites) for 800.

You can try to negotiate but if the store wants to stick to their price they are under no obligation to change it just because someone else has a lower price.

If you want the lower price of the other company you need to go to that company. Online sites have less expenses so they can often list their items for less. Stores have many expenses including the cost of giving personal service and other frills they can offer that online sites do not or can not offer. One of these frills is having the gowns in the store and you can often buy them off the rack. Online places make you wait for the shipping. This is a convenience that is worth paying for.

My prices for alterations include a personal fitting of the garment and a one on one consultation that dry cleaners do not offer. My prices are naturally higher than dry cleaners who only let you drop off items and do not give the extra service. I also guarantee quality workmanship. People try to negotiate my prices but I do not lower them just because someone else offers less service. I am worth more so I get paid more. It's that simple.

You get what you pay for and you do not get what you do not pay for in these cases. If you don't want or need the frills than go to the online company and pay less.

added November 2006

hello - i was reading your website about wedding dresses fitting too large or too small. i am getting married february 9th and my wedding dress came in just last week. my mom and i went to the bridal shop to try it on and i am terribly frustrated. originally the sales lady told me i needed a 10 because of my chest area. i am a small 34 D and i wear a size 6 in dresses and i didn't understand why i needed such a big dress. she insisted i did because of the boob size but the sample dress i tried on in the store was an 8 and that even needed to be tightened with hanger clippers. this dress is mermaid style and supposed to be very cut to my body. i am so upset after trying it on last week - it is HUGE!!!! the chest area, waist, everything!! i can even pull it out 7 inches on BOTH sides in the leg area. not only to i feel taken advantage of because of the cost in alterations but im afraid that my dress isn't going to look the way it's supposed to after all the alterations are done. my dress alone was $3000.00 - it's a melissa sweet. now i have a TON of alterations and i don't think they could swap and order me an 8 because they added satin covered buttons with crystal center down the back. the dress doesn't come like this - so they did it specifically because i asked and paid extra. my question is - what should i do? i go for my first fitting this monday and im so upset about them taking apart my dress and fixing it over and over that it's not going to look right. thank you for any advice you can give me!!! courtney

You need to show the store manager how very wrong the gown is, but you also need to understand that she (or he) is under no obligation to do anything about it. This is a very sad thing about the wedding industry. She may decide to help pay for the alterations if she is a good person, but odds are she will not do this. Even though doing this will probably not help, you do need to try to clearly state the situation to them. Bring a witness too, maybe your Mom or maid of honor. Try very hard to not get upset at their response. You may be tempted to make a scene, but this will not help the situation and will only serve to stress you out more.

Once you have done this, call the Better Business Bureau. Tell them the story and inform them that you tired to get the situation resolved. Take a lot of pictures of you in the gown as it is and then get the alteration process started. It may be better to go to an independent alteration specialist for the work instead of using the salon's lady. Take lots of pictures of the alteration process. Work on the other things that need to be done for your wedding plans and try really hard to not worry. Your gown can be altered and look great. It will cost more than you are wanting but the BBB might be able to get the Bridal salon to cooperate and compensate you for some of the cost.

If you are not satisfied with what the BBB can do than you can hire a lawyer. That is very costly and adds much to your stress. You can decide that later. Right now it's more important to find yourself a good sewing professional to alter the gown.

added July 2006

I had a question. I went in to order my dress and of course they never have your size. I wear an 8 typically in everything, so they had me trying on size 10 and most of the dresses were a little too small and pushed my back fat out of the back of the dress. So I tried on a size 12 in the dress that I liked and it was pretty big on me. We decided to go ahead and order the 12 and have it altered later. I am not sure if I will be losing any weight or not, it is hard to do since I am diabetic. So the problem is when I called to see if the dress was, in they had ordered it in a size 10. I was just wondering if the dress doesn't fit right can it be let out a little by the back line? They will not reorder the dress, and I can't afford another gown. So, please tell me do I have any options?

Sincerely, A worried bride

In most gowns there is at least 2 " that can be let out. Many times I have squeezed 4 " out of a dress that has princess seams because there are more seams to get room from. If your gown has only sides seams to let out I'm sure there is at least 2". I really doubt you will need that much if anything. I really think the size 10 will be just fine and you won't have to alter it at all. Try not to worry about it until you can go try it on. If there is a problem, do you have it in writing that it was supposed to be a size 12?

added July 2006


I found your website while searching for what to do when you found a fabric flaws/slubs on your wedding dress when you come to pick up your dress after 6 months waiting for the order? when I saw the flaws I show it to the store manager but all she said was that's the silk dress is perfect. I'm not sure what to say or expect but she was only agree on fixing the other flaw I pointed out before that. what should I tell her if it's silk/fabric flaws?

thank you for your help, I love your website

If it is raw silk, slubs are a natural occurrence and not a flaw. It is part of the character of the fabric. I don't happen to like that type of fabric, but many people do and it can be quite expensive. There is usually a tag on the dress explaining that the texture of this fabric is sometimes seem as flawed, but it's actually just the way the fabric is.

added May 2006

Hello! I just had a difficult time with my bridal salon and found some of what you said on your website helpful, and wondered if you may be able to give me an idea of what should be appropriate for my situation. I live in a large city about 2 hours from my parents' hometown, where I found a cute little bridal salon with a local owner. This salon carried the dress that I loved, which was a few years behind the most recent trends. Because I liked supporting small businesses and found the dress there, I decided to order the dress from that salon. I had my measurements taken at a different bridal salon and called them into "my" salon, whereupon the owner suggested I get a size bigger than what I measured "so it will be fitted just perfectly to you." As I don't know anything about bridal gowns, I did so. When it came time for the fitting, I didn't know you could take the dress to a different seamstress than the salon's seamstress, and so just made an appointment with the salon for a fitting. I was told there would be 2 fittings. The first fitting was a bit nerve-wracking, the seamstress seemed scattered and unsure of what she was doing. But, I trusted the salon and set up my second fitting. At the second fitting, the gown was just butchered. The seamstress must have thought this was not the final fitting, because the only thing that was altered permanently was the bodice-- upon which the lace was unraveling and the ribbon was frayed. My wedding was in exactly 11 days. The salon owner acknowledged that the seamstress's fittings had gone downhill recently.

I was quite calm, and told the shop owner and seamstress that this was unacceptable and something needed to be done. The owner did not apologize, but did call in her other seamstress to try to fix the damage. I explained that I live far away, was not able to come down for an emergency fitting, and needed the dress in 11 days. The alternate seamstress asked me to try on the model dress (the floor model) to get a better idea of how it looked-- and then, upon snugging me into it, declared that this one fit just fine and that she'd hem this one overnight. The next morning I went back to the bridal shop and the alternate seamstress had done a fine job, but the model dress sill didn't fit-- it was too tight in the bodice (I could barely zip it) and it gaped in the breast area, and besides, it was the MODEL dress-- it hadn't been cleaned, and this was what I was supposed to wear down the aisle?

What is expected by a salon owner in this situation? Who should pay for the alterations-- both the past awful ones and any future ones? Should a new dress be ordered? (CAN a new dress be ordered?) If I tried to wear the model (and not eat for 11 days beforehand), should I get a discount because I'm wearing a "used" dress? The salon owner seemed quite reluctant to do any of these things, and I'm not sure what would be expected, or what to do in this situation.

I'm just happy to get married in 11 days, so I'll find something to do with the dresses (both the butchered larger size and the too-small size) that will work for me, but I just would like to know what others would consider the correct thing to be done.

Thanks, LBK

Wow, you sure do have a stressful situation. Stores have differing policies. They are usually written on the back of your sales slip or on a contract you signed. Alterations are usually totally your responsibility, even when done wrong, or not to your liking. Often stores have rules for alterations that don't comply with what the bride wants, but they do it by their rules anyway. One big reason why I like working independent of a store.

It's a good sign that they offered you the rack dress. Most stores would not do even that. I think they are trying to help you. They aren't meeting your desires, but they are trying.

In your situation, I'd tell you to pick the dress that feels better because how you feel is a big part of having a good day. Neither dress is perfect but I seriously doubt anyone at the wedding will notice it at all. I'm sure the model dress can be let back out a little and will be just fine. Many brides buy dresses off the rack and do not clean them. Again, no one at the wedding will know it wasn't cleaned by just looking at it as you walk down the isle and it will not show in your pictures either.

You have taken this all very well so far. I would encourage you to keep your good attitude primary in your mind and just let the dress be less important. You will look great even if the dress is not as perfect as you would wish because you have the right attitude. Stress does really hurt you. So, talk to the store owner and ask for the things you want. She may not give you everything, but I think she is trying to please you so go to her with a list of your requests. I think she will be fare.

added February 2006

Good morning. I own a bridal shop along with three daughters. Just one works in the store full time and she is doing a wonderful job. The other two daughters work full time elsewhere and both have two young children - one does what she can for alterations (she cares about her work), the other helps with sales and marketing ( she does a mean radio ad).

I got online this morning to get some ideas for an "alteration policy." I came across your site and was pleasantly surprised. Your philosophy is so like my daughters, though obviously you have a great deal more experience. Our business has grown because my girls care and do everything they can to make our customers happy. Sometimes it backfires - you know that adage - "no good deed ever goes unpunished" - well we have experienced this one. We are undaunted, but are learning where to be especially careful.

Rather than go into great detail here about "our" business, I just wanted to compliment your site. I could not resist the urge to let you know that i was impressed with your advise and I plan to share this site with my daughters. I certainly wish that we lived in the same area because you sound like exactly the person we would love to have do our seamstress work.


I would love to live in New Hampshire. I have visited it several times and it's very lovely. I grew up in Connecticut.

How blessed you are with your daughters. Bridal is very hard. I don't get many bridezillas, but they are out there. Women can be mean customers normally. Add the tension of planning a wedding and you can get explosive situations. But I'm sure your diligence rewards you with may happy customers.

Thank for writing!

added February 2004

I was planning a wedding and unfortunately it won't be happening any more. My fiance and I broke up for good.
We put a down payment on a dress and matching gloves. The dress was being purchased off the rack since it was perfect and fit me so well already.
Now that we don't need a dress any longer, my mother called the store to ask about some sort of refund.
We were expecting not to receive a full refund because of the way these shops are, but now they are trying to tell us that they have already ordered a $150 dollar veil and that we need to pay for.
I NEVER decided on a veil at all! Let alone ordered one!
That, plus the off the rack dress that we haven't even fully purchased, yet and the gloves, also off the rack.

Thank you

Is there anything we can do about this?

You can refuse to pay the balance and take the chance that she does not sue you for it. She may be too busy to bother filing, but if she does, you can even go to court and plead your case and maybe win, but it's a risk. It might be worth it to you to get some legal advice that is geared to your local laws.

added June 2003


I am being sued for not purchasing my wedding dress. I am normally a size 10 or 12. After my measurements were taken a size 20 dress was ordered. I may have a thick waist but I am not a 20. The sales person took my measurements and when the dress came in it fell off of me.

They eventually did alter the dress however, two days before my wedding, Thurs evening at 8:30 PM to be exact, I was getting married on Sat I tried the dress on and the dress was too tight in the waist and the under slip was still at size 20. They said that it would be fixed for pick up on Friday. I stated that I wanted to try the dress on and they stated that it would not be possible because the dress was ready to take home.

I was charged an extra $75.00 for the large size and refused to pay. The store owner said if I don't pay I don't take the dress. Things got a little heated and she stated, "Why don't you leave like a lady while you still can."

The bottom line is now she is taking me to court because I signed her contract. Yes, I did sign the sales slip without reading it but I did not know that I was signing a contract and no one told me. I was never told that I would be paying extra for a size 20 and was never told they were ordering this size.

Do you have any advise for me?

My first inclination is to tell you to stand up and give your story in court. It is not going to be easy because she will be mean and probably lie about everything. Do you have witnesses? If you don't it could be a nasty fight. She does have a signed contract, the law is on her side. If you don't have witnesses you are going to be all alone with only your word. It stinks, but that's the hard side of it. That's why I wish the system could be changed.

My best advice at this point is to seek out some legal advice. If you have never dealt with a lawyer ask your friends if they can recommend someone. Call for a consultation. It will probably take an hour and not cost too much, but it will be worth much in helping you to decide to fight this or not. It might be worth protecting your future to just pay her off, even though it will pain you to do so. Perhaps the lawyer you choose can contact her and offer a settlement amount to make it easier and less expensive. Lawyers have ways. It's not a disgrace to use one.

That's just what I think. It's really up to you and your new husband.
Wish I could be of more help.


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