Buying your wedding dress

What to ask your bridal retailer to make sure you don’t run the risk of your dream dream becoming your worst nightmare

Sometimes there are moments in the industry when we shake our heads and wonder where things went so wrong.  It is no secret that Auckland bridal retailer Primrose and Finch went in to voluntary liquidation in July 2016.  They left over 60 brides without gowns as they took a deposit but then never placed the order with the designer.  

Back in March there was also a Fair Go story about another retailer who took deposits and payments without delivering the gowns. Even though they offered payment plans they didn’t order the gown until it was paid in full,  this delay caused so much stress to the brides in the lead up to the wedding.

When Bruce and I bought the business over 15 years ago, there was no social media to look at for reviews.  Little did we realise it had a poor reputation - our first hint that something was amiss was when a magazine suggested our first ads include the statement “under new ownership”!

After discovering some brides with less than flattering things to say, our promise to ourselves was to never not deliver on a gown.

First up we culled our designers.  We can’t promise delivery if we can’t be 100% sure it will happen.  So we now only work with designers that have proven longevity, on trend designs, and an intention of staying in the industry for the long haul.  

Our original list of 27 designers quickly fell to four designers across six labels.  We carry those designers exclusively in New Zealand so both the bride and designer has one point of contact.  The buck stops with us.

Then we hired staff that had the same gown delivery ethic as we did.  No false promises.  Their passion lies in the finding the right dress that can be supplied on time.

We then purchased a specific bridal order system to track all the gown orders by bride and wedding date.  We can track in partnership with the designers where the gowns are.

We put in place that every gown order gets submitted immediately the deposit is paid and we get back to the bride with an estimated arrival time within two weeks.

These actions and our low deposit order policy mean that we can take the stress out of the gown ordering process and ensure your gown will be one less worry            

Key Questions to ask your wedding retailer

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. How much deposit do I have to make before you place the order?
  3. What guarantees do you have in place?
  4. What insurance do you have that covers me while my gown is with you?    
  5. Do you order my gown when I pay my deposit?
  6. When do I know if the designer has confirmed my order?
  7. Do you have a contract that states what we have agreed and gives me assurance?

Key questions not to ask your salon – ask others about them!

  1. Look for reviews external to their website e.g. weddingwise and facebook
  2. Check if the facebook review section is turned off (it means there is no place  for disgruntled customers to comment)
  3. Visit some of the bridal forums and ask for feedback from others

Make sure the gown you fall in love with is going to be the gown you wear on your wedding day by picking the right salon to partner with.

Astra Bridal's answers to the key questions

How long have you been in business?
21 years in total and 15 with Bruce and Lori

How much deposit do I have to make before you place the order?
Once we have 20% we place the order

What guarantees do you have in place?
Once a designer confirms the order we guarantee your gown.  We stake our reputation on it.

What insurance do you have that covers me while my gown is with you?
We have a special insurance that covers items on our premise that aren’t actually owned by us.

Do you order my gown when I pay my deposit?
Yes as soon as the deposit shows in our account.

When do I know if the designer has confirmed my order?
Within two weeks we come back to you confirming the delivery time. Usually close to the date we estimated when you put the deposit down

Do you have a contract that states what we have agreed and gives me assurance?
Absolutely, it confirms our obligations to you about delivery and your obligations to us about payment.