How To Buy A Wedding Dress Online

With the rise of “Say Yes To The Dress,” wedding dress shopping has been elevated to a national pastime – seriously, before that show, did you know the difference between a mermaid and a trumpet fit? Between silky satin and charmeuse?

And while expectations for the bridal experience are now exceedingly high, not every girl has access to – or maybe even, dare we say it, wants–that intensive shopping experience. And what if it’s as simple an issue as no bridal salon near you carries the designer line, or the particular dress, you have your heart set on? Can you really buy a wedding dress online?

Of course, we know you can get perfectly good department store and secondhand dresses online (inexpensive and totally acceptable), but what if you want the actual all-the-bells-and-whistles designer wedding dress? Yep, it’s totally possible – but as with ANY major purchase, arming yourself with knowledge now will help prevent a nightmare shopping experience later.

Tips on Buying Wedding Dresses Online

What to look for when shopping for (and buying) your wedding dress online:

The Telltale Signs Of a Knock-Off Site (Or Worse). The bane of online dress buyers and retailers’ existence is the ridiculous number of scam and/or knock-off wedding dress e-commerce sites. There ARE absolutely legit authorized wedding dress retailers online, but there are plenty of scams – which you can avoid, if you know what to look for:

Prices Are Too Good To Be True. Yes, we would love to be able to pick up a to-die-for $1,000 Maggie Sottero gown for 150 bucks too, but you can’t–period. So if the site is advertising designer gowns at department-store prices, when you order you will get one of two things – a poor quality dress (horrible fabric, substandard stitching, cheesy or non-existent beading) that may or may not look vaguely like the designer dress you ordered, or, well, nothing at all. Like “they’ve got your money and your credit card number and you are now short your dignity and exactly one wedding dress (and that 150 bucks, at least)” nothing. Look, instead, for fair prices. Good prices (even BETTER prices) are possible online, but ordering your wedding dress online will not get you a first-quality designer dress dirt-cheap.

Poor Spelling/Grammar/Syntax. This sounds ridiculous, but many of the sites trying to take your money are set up overseas, and thus the text on the site often sounds like it’s been through Google Translator (probably because it has). Forget the item descriptions (these are frequently stolen directly from the designers or legitimate websites) and look at the “About Us” or “Contact Us” pages – if you don’t feel like the text conveys expertise or professionalism, move on.

Shady Contact Information. Legit e-commerce retailers of wedding dresses will typically have e-mail that is specific to their Web site. If the contact e-mail is something like [email protected], and if there is no toll-free phone number to reach a real person, move on.

Overpromising Delivery Times. Any time you’re purchasing a first-quality authentic designer wedding dress from either a legit website or a store, you’re going to have to understand how specialty wear works – basically, unless you get lucky and a retailer or a designer happens to have the size you’re ordering in stock (in the form of a sample dress or a cancelled, restocked dress), the designer will make the dress per order. This doesn’t mean the dress is custom made to your specifics, but simply that until a size 10 is ordered, they’re not making a size 10.

Once you’ve ordered, the dress doesn’t come from some giant wedding dress warehouse somewhere (though that’d be AWESOME), it actually has to be produced – which, depending on the brand or designer, can take up to five months, or sometimes even more. So if a site promises EVERY dress they sell can be delivered in a matter of weeks – no matter what dress you buy, when you buy it, or what size you order–you can pretty much be sure that what they mean by that is the dress will never actually arrive.


Angela is a senior writer who's been hanging around TBF since way back in 2007. When she's not weighing in on the merits of, say, feathers as a fashion statement, Angela works as a bridal consultant in the St. Louis area. She also enjoys sunsets, and long walks in Target.