Selecting a Bridal Salon that's a Perfect Fit

By: Karen Sullen

When it comes to bridal gowns, there is no shortage of choices. The same is true for the purveyors of wedding attire. On one end of the spectrum, there are elegant and expansive bridal shops with individual mini-boutiques for each couture designer, webcams for out-of-town family to be included in the shopping experience and a huge elevated runway complete with 3-D mirrors and dimming lights, enabling the bride to see herself "coming down the aisle." The broad spectrum of bridal shops is then balanced on the other end by bridal warehouses with much less frills and dramatically lower prices. Then there is always the option of having a seamstress design a one-of-a-kind gown especially for you. With the many options to consider, how does a bride pick the best place to entrust her wedding-wear purchase?

One of the best places to start your search is assessing your own needs, considering price, location, turn-around times for delivery, and your own style of clothing. Browse through wedding magazines to familiarize yourself with your style preference and the styles of the designers. Most designers maintain a particular style–modern, traditional, romantic and understatedly elegant. You will begin to notice that you like a particular designer's work, which will help narrow down your choices. This will be helpful information, no matter which type of bridal salon you choose.

Now that you're armed with this helpful information, it's time to try the shops on for size. Ask friends and relatives for referrals, and check the phone book or Internet for shops in your area. Calling them in advance of your face-to-face visit will give you a real indication of which shop might be right for you. Are the salespeople courteous and professional? Do they patiently answer all of your questions? Do they seem knowledgeable about the designers or styles you have chosen? Do they have hours that will accommodate your schedule? Does the price range of their gowns fit within your budget? Questions like these are helpful in the initial assessment. But remember, if they are not able to meet your needs over the phone, they probably won't be able to do so in person either. Choose a shop that you feel most comfortable with and schedule a bridal consultation.

There are a lot of elements to pay attention to once you're in the shop. Is the shop clean and organized? Are there plenty of mirrors so that you can see yourself from a variety of angles? Is there ample space for you to walk around and experience the flow and feel of the dress? Are bridal accessories offered at the store? Do they offer a broad selection of the style or designer choice you prefer? After taking note of these things, be sure to ask about their guarantee, delivery times and if alterations and accessories, like veils, are included in the price. Finding the perfect gown may take some time, so don't be afraid to visit a few salons. However, once you find the perfect dress, buy it! You could try on 100 more dresses and still go right back to the dress that first took your breath away.

Many cost-conscious brides have taken advantage of bridal shops that are going out of business. While it is true there are some good deals to be found, you may also find more than you bargained for. Shops that are closing may not be around to handle any issues that may arise. Be sure that you really, really love that dress and are willing to take the chance. Whether the shop is closing or not, it's always a good idea to purchase your items with a credit card, so that you can dispute the charges if the dress doesn't arrive as anticipated or if a shop that appears to be viable closes without warning. If you're still not sure about the shop, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if other brides have lodged complaints against them.

Shopping for your wedding dress should be a wonderful and fun experience worth sharing. Take your mother, bridesmaid or close family members with you. They might also help you pick dresses for the wedding party while you're there. You're making memories that will last a lifetime, and their input and support will be treasured for a long time to come.

This article was brought to you by, an online retail company specializing in unique wedding favors, wedding shower favors, bridesmaids' gifts, groomsmen gifts, and wedding accessories. We are also dedicated to providing informative articles on weddings, wedding planning, marriage, marital issues and other topics.