Many brides react in an out of character manner if something goes wrong during their wedding dress shopping. In fact, it’s interesting to note that many of the same women wouldn’t hesitate to ask for a manager if a waiter was rude. But they find themselves reluctant to respond aggressively to the same sort of slight in a bridal salon.

wedding gown

Photo: Saul Padua

Unfortunately, some brides don’t have good wedding dress shopping experiences through no fault of their own. Maybe it’s a bridal consultant who is having a bad day, or the lack of dresses available in a specific style. Perhaps the dress shop has overbooked their appointments and you’re not getting the full attention of any of the sales associates. Sometimes the bride isn’t in the right headspace to try on dresses with an audience, and there’s nothing the bridal consultant can do to improve her mood.

Dress shopping should be a fun experience

If you have an unpleasant experience while you’re actually dress shopping, end your appointment. There are plenty of other wedding gown vendors. Don’t make a big scene, or have a fit – there are other brides there shopping who are having a fabulous time. Your temper tantrum will mar their wedding dress shopping experience. Express your opinion with your wallet by buying your wedding gown elsewhere.

Was it your fault?

Evaluate your experience honestly after the appointment, and try to figure out when things went wrong. If you were furious your sister tagged along with your mom, or mad your Maid of Honor showed up 30 minutes late, before you even start trying on dresses, the chances of you having your big “aha!” moment and finding “the dress” are drastically reduced. Unhappy brides do not feel beautiful – and that’s a fact.

If the blame for the failed experience doesn’t lie with the bridal shop, and you liked something you tried on there, go ahead and make a second appointment for another try. But don’t take the same people with you and expect to find success. Remember, the definition of insanity is doing something over and over the same way, and expecting to get different results.

When to stay after a bad experience with a shop

The only excuse for not leaving a shop after a bad experience would be if you have found your dress and don’t know the name of the designer. And even then, if you really love it that much, take note of the details and track it down on the Internet. Almost all wedding gowns are available at multiple bridal stores. If you’re not willing to do the legwork to find the gown elsewhere, request a store manager and explain the problem. Ask for a different sales associate, or the manager herself, to assist you in finishing your dress shopping. These sales associates work on commission – if they treat you badly, they don’t deserve to earn a fee on it.

Problems after you’ve bought the wedding dress

wedding gown

Photo: EP Anderson

If the level of service at the bridal shop drops dramatically the minute you’ve paid your non-refundable deposit, that’s a problem. This happened when I bought my designer wedding dress from a fancy boutique. Fourteen years ago, there wasn’t much I could do about it except cry, and then suffer through the fittings. Nowadays, brides won’t hesitate to shred a wedding vendor online, and in social media, for the slightest perceived problem, and bridal shops know it. So you have a little more leverage than I had if you have to bring the problem to the manager’s attention. With that said, check out their Yelp ratings and ranking on Wedding Wire before you call to make the appointment. Everybody has a few complaints, but if you see a pattern that’s concerning, consider another bridal shop.

Call the shop and make an appointment to talk to the general manager about the problem. You can request to meet with her at a time when the salesperson you’re aggravated with isn’t working. She’ll want to meet with you when she doesn’t have a full store.  Write out the problems, and have a copy of the list to give her. Includes details like dates and times that the problems occurred. The level of detail will indicate your seriousness about solving the problem to your satisfaction.

You may be able to discuss the problem on the telephone with the manager, and email her your documentation, and get results without having to go in person. But offering to come in for a face-to-face discussion about your wedding dress is another signal to management that you’re very, very serious about pursuing the complaint.

Know what you want from the bridal shop

Be ready with an answer when the manager asks what you’d like done – more than one bride has been surprised with a quick offer to make reparations, and been unprepared. Do you want them to provide the alterations to your wedding dress free of charge? Is something wrong with the dress, and a new one must be ordered on a rush? Did the sales associate represent a custom alteration to the dress as something different than what you received? Can it be fixed or do you have to start over, and will they credit your deposit to another wedding dress? Will they give you a really big discount on your veil to compensate for their rudeness?

Nobody is going to hand you a free wedding dress, or even give you half off. But if your request is reasonable and a solution to the problem, a smart bridal shop manager will be happy to accommodate. If you don’t know what you want them to do to fix things, and then you accept whatever the manager offers you, you may get home and have regrets. It’s best to have some idea of what would satisfy you before the discussion begins.

Until next time, good luck dress shopping, and happy wedding planning!