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You’re a pro at browsing and saying “yes” to making investment purchases online. (See: the chicest pair of prescription glasses, limited-edition sneaker drops or luxe designer heels.) So why wouldn’t you want to embark on your dream wedding dress journey the same way? Because you’re already skilled and empowered in doing your research, on your own time, and making informed decisions in all aspects of your life — and without having to leave the comfort of your own home. So bring that freedom and capability to finding your dream dress, along with added benefits you won't experience from shopping in-store.
First, buying a bridal gown online allows for full transparency from the start — no need to drive or trek to a store just to learn what styles are (or aren’t) available or awkwardly inquiring about the cost. Shopping online gives you direct access to available inventory, size ranges and, importantly, clear price-points — and without gatekeepers or outside influence (unless you want it and more on that in a bit). You control the research process and make your own decisions, like the boss you are.
Secondly, shopping directly from a designer offers brides the best price point because there’s no retail markup. In other words, you can find your perfect luxury — if not couture — gown and not dip into your honeymoon fund (or down payment on your new home with your soul-mate). Plus, weddings are multi-event celebrations these days, so you may be considering additional and more inventive takes on a wedding gown. So, along with options for different budgets, shopping online allows you to assess all your options in one virtual place to create that cohesive story that best highlights your individuality. (That Pinterest board is calling … )
And finally, you can control over the timing of your dress delivery. For instance, looks from Galia Lahav’s debut Pret-a-Porter 10-dress edit will arrive within three weeks once an order is placed. So if you’re not able (or don’t feel like) following the traditional six-month to a year timeline for a dress, shop online. The flexibility helps accommodate these unpredictable times, plus offers that immediate gratification that we’re so accustomed to.
But, of course, there’s a right way to ensure you find your dream wedding dress — or dresses — online. So here’s a guide:
Shop with a trusted source: A wedding dress is an investment — both emotionally and financially — so you don’t want to feel anxious or apprehensive about your purchase. If you’re considering a brand or retailer that’s new to you, perform a thorough online search and check user reviews. But for the most reassuring and straightforward approach, go with a proven designer already known for craftsmanship, luxury and high-touch customer service, like, Galia Lahav and our new Pret-a-Porter demi-couture line.
Understand the sizing: Size and fit will vary by designer, so assess the chart and determine, say, if it’s U.S. v. European or ready-to-wear v. traditional bridal sizing. Look for more anecdotal details, too, like Pret-a-Porter’s descriptions, which share the model’s measurements to compare with the size she’s wearing, plus info like, “slim fit” or “loose at the hip,” which will help predict how the dress may fit on you.
Have your own measurements available: To predict the best fit, have your own accurate measurements on hand to compare with sizing charts, whether you’re ready to click on the “buy” button or are ordering a few options to try at home. If available to you, visit your regular tailor and have them professionally perform the process. Some retailers and brands have posted video tutorials for self-measurements online, specific to their sizing charts. Or, if the brand, like Galia Lahav, offers virtual styling appointments, have a dedicated stylist walk you through, along with providing guidance on styles and fit.
Analyze — and understand — fabric and materials: A good starting point for fabric research is perusing your own closet for evening looks that you love already and know fit you well. Then while browsing online, carefully read the descriptions and check for high quality textures, like silk, crepe and jacquard. Pro-tip: A stretch fabric element — like Pret-a-Porter’s rich stretch crepe — allows for ease of fit, especially if you’re ordering online. Be sure to look for stretch in the lining, too, to ensure a streamlined (and most comfortable) fit.
Opt for personalized customer service, but when you want it: On one hand, it’s great to have assistance and your concerns immediately addressed. But on the other, you’re confident and informed enough to make your own decisions. So ask the questions you want to ask — and when you want — through high-touch customer service offerings, like 24/7 live chat, via online or phone, and virtual styling sessions, like the Zoom appointments offered by Galia Lahav’s Pret-a-Porter. You’ll be appointed a dedicated stylist to answer questions and brainstorm ideas — from fit to accessories to a venue to match your dress.
See what everyone else is doing: Check user reviews on the brand website, if available. Visit the designer’s social media to see more images of the gown from different angles and, possibly, video to see how the dress flows and moves. Also, search hashtags to see how real brides wore the gown — and then imagine how you’ll be putting your own distinctive stamp on the look.
Read the fine print: Make sure the delivery schedule allows for additional time for tailoring, if needed. Also, make sure you’re clear on the shipping, return and exchange policies, and that it all accommodates your needs. Pret-a-Porter offers free shipping and returns up to 14 days, which also gives you freedom to try on the dress — or dresses — at home to make the final decision in person.
Make it a party — well, a virtual one: Just because you can research and fit your wedding dress solo, that doesn’t mean you have to actually be alone. Invite a trusted family member or friend to support you during a virtual styling session. Or plan a Google Hangout with your bridal party and share links of dress options for a group discussion. (Added bonus: Everyone saves on gas and airfare, plus no one will feel left out because they couldn’t make the trip.)
Once your dress options arrive, plan a virtual group fitting with your besties — everyone BYOC, as in bring your own champagne — and maybe even invite your stylist, who’s supported you along the way. You’ll feel confident and secure about your final purchase — and ready to spend the time and money you’ve saved toward planning for your next chapter with your life partner.