So I've decided that it is THE dress, but actually purchasing it has gotten a little stressful and complicated!
What is clear is that I need to order the dress within the next few days in order for it to arrive by mid July. The wedding is late August so that is just enough time for alterations to be done without a rush fee - I hope!
Here is a blow by blow of my dealings with the wedding dress stores:
- The first store I went to, Store A, no longer had a sample of "the" dress but said they could a sample in for me to try on for $100, which would go towards the purchase of the dress should I purchase the dress from them, but would otherwise be lost. That didn't seem right to me so I kept searching.
- On Saturday I found another store, Store B, that was a bit of a drive from my houses, but they had a sample which I tried it on and loved (a size 8, very small on me!). They told me that it was $3,000 but if I ordered it by Monday morning (Sunday night I had to leave a voicemail in fact) I would get 10% off as part of the trunk show. $2,700 was certainly better than $3,000, but was still considerably over my budget (recession wedding!!) so I needed to think carefully about that, and I didn't want to have to make the decision within 24 hours!
- I get home and find that it was actually in the magazine for $2,585!!!!
- I called store A, who were much closer to my house, asked if they could do better, and mentioned that I had actually seen the dress in a magazine for $2,585. They tell me they can sell it to me for $2,590, and that in order to get my business they might give me a further discount of 10%.
- I think about it all weekend, and when I speak to them both again Monday something feels a little off. Store B has agreed to sell me the dress at $2,590 also to be competitive (this time I speak to a different less friendly lady), and it surprised me how readily they agreed to that, and the "deadline" of placing the order seems to no longer be an issue.
- So I'm now ready to go ahead but I'm getting cold feet about working with either vendor. I do some research online and find that both stores have multiple bad reviews online. Really bad reviews. Including one about store B that mentions being pushed into a sale because of a 10% trunk show discount. Sounds familiar!
- I call the designer and they will not let me purchase the dress from them directly, and tell me that I can only purchase the dress from a store that has a contract with them, of which there are only 4 within 60 miles of my house.
- My feeling at this point is that $100 here or there doesn't really matter, but purchasing the dress from a trustworthy retailer does, particularly when there are stories about Store A and Store B deliberately ordering a size up to ensure lots of expensive alterations are required, doing bad alterations, including staining the dresses with lipstick and refusing to take responsibility, and losing orders completely so that one bride ended up with no dress 4 weeks out from a wedding. You can't always trust negative reviews, I know that, but if even half of it is true, it's not good!
- I call a store an hour from my house (Store C) and discover that they have a sample in my actual size (10), and I make an appointment to go there (tomorrow) to try it on. I ask the price and am told $2,700. When I mention the magazine price I'm told they will match that price, $2,585. Store C has no bad reviews online, only glowing reviews but they are an hour from my house, which means I'd need to do alterations somewhere closer, not a big deal.
- I call Store D, speak to a lovely woman on the phone and she doesn't have the sample but can order it for me, and she will match Store A's price of $2,200. No bad reviews, and they seem to be a family run business who've been around forever, which I love, and they're not too far from my house.
So I guess it's true, never pay retail for a wedding dress! And it's worthwhile to do the research and not make such an expensive and important purchase from someone you don't trust. It's crazy to think I will potentially be getting this dress for $800 less than the first price quoted to me!
Also, here are some tips on purchasing a wedding dress on beau-coup.com that I found very helpful!