Online shopping either makes you twiddle your fingertips with excitement or break out in a cold sweat. For some of us, buying everything online from clothes to groceries is the norm. For others, just the thought of purchasing something you’ve never touched, tried on or seen is unthinkable.

So the question is would you buy your wedding dress online? For those of you who are ready to spend some quality time with your computer, here are some tips to help you avoid a dress that looks like your Auntie Toula’s toilet roll holder.

1. Know your body type

As much as we all want Miranda Kerr’s waist line or Kim Kardashian’s famous curves, the truth is we all come in different shapes and sizes. Start by taking your measurements. This is the first step to knowing what dresses will suit you the best. For example, if you’re pear shaped, your biggest numbers will be on the bottom half of your body and you’ll be narrower up top. If your shoulder and hip measurements are similar, you’re column shaped.

This way, you can eliminate styles that don’t suit you. Don’t be fooled with how the dress fits on the model as chances are, you’re not a replica of her.

2. Book multiple appointments with a bridal boutique

You won’t really know what style suits you until you try on a few dresses. Most brides will tell you the style they never thought they’d like was the one they ended up choosing to wear on their special day.

Get a feel for the fabrics, styles, colours and embellishments that flatter your body type and skin tone. You’ll find out soon enough if that low-cut mermaid bottom number is for you or not.

3. Review the fit guide and take your measurements

Each site and designer uses a different set of measurements. Those measurements you took before? Use them to find your right size. Remember to wear a bra similar to the one you will be wearing on your big day and stand naturally, with your heels together and arms by your side. If you purchase a made-to-order gown (in a boutique or online), you are still ordering by the designer’s standard sizing policy.

As a rule of thumb, when purchasing online, order a size up and then alter the dress to fit you perfectly. You can take fabric in, but very rarely out!

4. Understand your fabrics

Certain fabrics are stretchy, letting you order your dress according to your bust size. Some are unforgiving and will show off every single lump and bump. Others are stiff and make a swishing sound as you walk.

Make sure you understand the type of fabric you’ll be working with — it’s not enough to rely on the photo. If you can, order a sample swatch of the fabric to get an idea for exactly what the dress will look and feel like.

5. Educate yourself

There are more designer knock offs than we can count out there. They look great in the photos online, but you might receive it and it could be completely wrong.

For example, satin gowns are lightweight and have a lovely sheen, but if they are not lined or cut the right way, the fabric will wrinkle easily and stick to the body. Be sure you have a clear understanding of the fabric used, how the dress is lined, and where the gown is made.

6. Ask about the length of the gown

We all want to show off our wedding shoes, but it might be a little awkward if your floor length gown arrives and it’s ankle length.

You can hem fabric that’s too long, but you can’t add extra! If you already have your wedding shoes, grab a measuring tape and measure exactly how long you want your dress to be.

7. Be wary of additional customisation costs

If you want a longer train, change the colour, or add straps and extra embellishments, keep in mind these could in fact cost extra.

If you’re purchasing a ready to wear gown, your options are more limited and a tailor or dress maker will need to make any changes.

8. Review the shipping and returns policy

Some sites will allow you to return the dress if you’re not satisfied with how it fits, but others may charge a restocking fee. If you’ve purchased a made to order gown, many will not allow returns at all.

Make sure you know their policy when it comes to cancelling your order and/or returning it. The shipping time will also vary so ensure you’re aware of that as well.

9. Contact customer service

A reputable site will be accessible, helpful, and responsive. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any and all questions on fit, style advice, options and general guidance.

If you can’t find any contact information or they don’t respond, consider it a red flag.

10. Find a tailor you trust

Not many people can slip on a dress and not require alterations for it fit like a glove. This is particularly the case for wedding dresses.

It’s important you find someone experienced, reputable and capable of making the changes you require.

And finally, if you’ve had a bad time or a great experience, be sure to talk about it! Word of mouth is the strongest form of advertising after all. Let all your circle know so you can help another sister out!

Posted in Expert Advice, Planning, Wedding dresses by wedded wonderland

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