For those of us who build our wardrobe with clothes that are bought from high street stores (mine personally has everything from Primark to Calvin Klein in it) the price of a wedding dress can prove a bit hard to swallow. Wedding dresses can cost anything between £400 and £4000 (and upwards!) – depending on what you’re buying and where you’re buying it from. In these budget conscious times it not uncommon ask questions about the cost of a wedding dress. It's not helped by crafty counterfeiters whose work is all over the internet, and who try to make brides think they're getting ripped off by the bricks and mortar shops.
So why the heck do they cost what they cost? Lets break it down…
Do you get paid for your work? Well so does the person who designs your wedding dress. These are very skilled and creative people who studied hard to learn their craft and get paid accordingly. The best dresses are designed to flatter real people - and making a dress do that is a craft in itself.
When you run your hand down the exquisite material of a wedding dress or you admire its beading or lace you are admiring the work of the person who sources all the materials for the designer. This person hunts high and low for the best silk, the best diamante and crystals, at the best price to make your dress.
A true craft, once the designer has completed their piece, a pattern to bring their dress to life has to be created, and cut. Not just in one size but perhaps in sizes 6 to 32 (depending on the designer). Different sizes will need slightly different attention - it's not just a case of making the pattern bigger.
Marketing the dress
So once the designer has designed, and the pattern has been cut, a couple of the dresses are made and taken to a large exhibition to show different shops what they can buy. Exhibitions cost a lot of money as do the marketing materials such as the photographs you see in bridal magazines. But these are an essential tool both for the retailer, and for you, the bride, in helping you to make the right choice for your wedding day.
The costs of the Bridal shop
Buying the sample: As a bridal retailer we have buy all of the sample dresses that we have in our shop. Contrary to popular belief, we don't get discounts for these, we have to pay full whack. But without the samples, what would you try on? This is an absolutely vital part of the shopping experience for you - we can't imagine how you'd make your choice without them!
Rent: To be a bridal retailer who carries legitimate designs (i.e Maggie Sottero, Benjamin Roberts, Romantica of
Devon, etc) you have to have a ‘bricks and mortar’ shop,
that brides can visit to try on the designs.
So we do, we have a shop that costs us rent, electricity, heating, council
rates, insurance - the list goes on and on, and sadly all that costs money too.
Staff: We also hire and train skilled staff who are able to help and advice customers in their shopping. This is a fairly obvious and visible part of what we do, of course, but once a bride buys a dress we then complete all the administration to send the order to the designer, which is more time consuming than you might think. There is a huge amount of 'behind the scenes' work that goes into your order.
Ordering your dress from the Designer
The orders department at the designer will process the dress order, they will enter this into the production system (accurately – a mistake here could see the wrong dress arrive, or the wrong size of dress!)
The factory receive the order and allocate it to the work load of its staff. This has to be done to ensure the right product in the right size and colour is made by the required deadline for shipping. There is no room for error, so Designers don't tend just to pick the cheapest factory - it's more important to get things right.
The machinist / fabric cutter / finishing
These are the skilled people who bring the fabric and materials together to actually make the dress. They measure and cut the fabric, they sew it together, insert linings, facings, boning, sew on embroidery, beads and applique. To create a single gown, hundreds of pieces need to be cut, draped, stitched, beaded, appliqued....
Quality control / packaging / shipping
So once the product is finished it will be checked for quality, it will then be packaged up and then shipped to the
from the far East – its an expensive journey). UK
Arriving with the designer
After a long journey your dress then arrives with the Designer at their distribution warehouse. Here it will be checked again, steamed, re-packaged and then sent out for dispatch to the bridal shop where you bought it from.
Your dress is couriered from the designer to the bridal shop where you bought it. No one can risk gowns going missing, so they have to be fully trackable packages, sent by couriers, often overnight, and this can be quite costly in itself.
Arriving at the shop
So finally your dress has arrived at the shop! It is opened and checked over by a member of staff, time is set aside to steam / press the dress (this cannot be done when customers are in the shop so either we can’t take any appointments or it is done out of hours). Once we are happy you are contacted and invited back into the shop for an appointment to try on the dress and make sure you are completely happy.
To be honest when I see what goes into making a wedding dress I’m often surprised that they don’t cost more. They aren’t manufactured in the same way that New Look make jeans – there is no bulk buying power as dresses are only made to order. Everybody in that chain is doing a job, and receives a wage for the job that they do, the transport costs, the buildings that cost money to run, it all adds up.
BUT what it adds up to is a process that provides you with a beautiful, well designed and well made dress that goes through several quality checks, all FOR YOU. When it is your wedding day would you want to wear a dress that goes through anything less?