The DOs of Online Wedding Dress Shopping:
Find An Authorized Dealer. One way to ensure your wedding dress is coming from AN ACTUAL WEDDING DRESS RETAILER is to make sure you’re dealing with a retailer who is authorized by the designer to sell their dresses. Some designers will have a function on their Web site that will help you locate authorized dealers, but many will only list physical stores-wedding dress designers are notoriously cautious about selling their dresses online, and you can’t really blame them, as so many other knockoff sites will take their online info (images, dress descriptions, etc.) and steal them for their evil intentions (i.e. ripping you off). They do, however, authorize some sites to sell their gowns, and should be able to tell you via phone or email what those sites are.

Check Return/Cancellation Policies. This goes for any online shopping you do, but when you’re spending the kind of money that you’ll be spending on a wedding dress, it’s especially important. Because of the nature of special order, wedding dress retailers tend to have more stringent policies than, say, Forever21, so it’s critical to make sure you understand the return/cancellation policies so there are no unhappy surprises later.

A Brick-And-Mortar Location. Online wedding dress retailers who have brick-and-mortar stores (e.g., David’s Bridal, BestBridalPrices.com, House of Brides) are your best bet when shopping online–because they sell dresses at real store locations, they have relationships with designers and must be authorized dealers to sell the dresses they offer. A quick call to an actual store location (which will always be listed somewhere on the site), to make sure they’re really associated with the site you’re looking at can save you a lot of headache later.

Etsy is Your Friend.The online marketplace has an excellent selection of bridal dresses for affordable prices (and in a wide range of sizes). The best part about Etsy is that many of the sellers allow you to add customized elements to your dress, giving you a custom dress at an affordable price.

Talk To A Real Human. You probably wouldn’t invest in a new washer and dryer without talking to a real person at some point during the purchase, and we suggest you don’t invest hundreds of dollars in a wedding dress without talking to a real person, either. You’re a savvy shopper – ask some questions, and ask for written proof of anything they guarantee they’ll deliver.