Are you wondering if it is appropriate to negotiate with a bridal dress shop when purchasing your wedding dress? Do you want to know if it is OK to ask your bridal salon for a discount before you place your order for a wedding dress? This week’s advice post is going to be very helpful for all brides in the beginning stages of shopping for their dream wedding dress and finding bridal stores to shop. We are talking about negotiating in bridal stores, should you expect to get a discount on a wedding dress or bridal accessory that you are ordering, and the do’s or don'ts of what should you expect in bridal dress stores.
When it comes to discounting in bridal stores or negotiating the cost of an item, whether you are renting a tuxedo or buying a bridesmaid dress, or buying your wedding dress, we are here to guide you in the entire process. We will give you all the details you need to know, tell you the do's and don'ts, and let you know what's respectful and what is considered disrespectful when it comes to shopping in bridal stores. Bridal stores often come with their own set of rules, and there are certain things that can be done and things that can’t be done when it comes to bridal gowns and formal wear.
Once In A Lifetime Purchase
At Lovella, we oftentimes hear people compare a bridal gown purchase to that of going into a car dealership and getting a car. You are going to be looking at all the various specs and design features. Both are higher ticket items than everyday or regular purchases. You will likely only buy a new car every so often in your life, and similarly, a wedding dress is typically a once-in-a-lifetime purchase.
A wedding dress can be a rare purchase, so if you were to compare it to purchasing a car or even a condo or a house, many questions can arise about how the process works. Brides may be wondering if there is negotiation available when purchasing their wedding dress. Do you submit an offer like you would on a home? Or do you go to the store and work on negotiation as you do with a car salesman? In addition, there are many wedding vendors and professionals that couples planning a wedding may negotiate with or who offer discounts. It can be confusing who does and who doesn't offer a discount on a wedding.
We are going to get into all the details so brides will know what to expect when it comes to negotiation and discounting in bridal dress stores.
If you have begun planning your wedding, then you already know how important setting a budget is for each area of your wedding. You may be hoping that some of the smaller items, like wedding flowers or even your wedding dress, will be areas that you can save money on compared to your wedding location or catering costs.
Unfortunately, when it comes to wedding gowns and bridal accessories, there is not a lot of wiggle room in the pricing. All of the items you see in a bridal dress store will have a set manufacturers’ suggested retail price (MSRP) that comes directly from the wedding dress designers.
To continue with our car dealership metaphor, a new car comes with an MSRP, but each dealership is usually privately owned and so they can set their own pricing. Especially now with inflation and the pandemic recovery, so many vehicles are being sold at above market price because there is inventory storage and dealerships can price based on demand.
Lucky for brides shopping for their wedding dress in the pandemic recovery, inflation prices are not as volatile when it comes to bridal fashion. Bridal dress stores receive the market price from the designer and that is the price that every single store that carries that designer must go by.
Bridal dress stores are not allowed to mark higher or mark lower than that MSRP. As a general rule of thumb, there is not discounting allowed in the bridal fashion world.
VIDEO: Negotiating & Discounting in Bridal Stores
For everything, you need to know about negotiating and discounting in bridal dress stores, be sure to check out our video advice before heading to a bridal store to shop for your wedding dress.
The one exception to "no discounts" in bridal dress stores is during a wedding dress trunk show. You may see some wedding designers allowing their wedding gowns to be discounted during a trunk show, and this is usually a 10 percent discount. Some bridal dress designers do not allow discounts, even during trunk shows, so you will want to check on the details before shopping at a trunk show and not expect an automatic discount.
At Lovella, we love to have wedding trunk shows to showcase particular wedding gown designers. Trunk shows are special events where an entire wedding dress designer's collection is brought in, whether it be bridal accessories, tuxedos, bridesmaids' dresses, or wedding gowns. For the duration of the trunk show, the bridal store will cover the cost of shipping these items to their store that are not in their regular inventory.
During normal, non-trunk show times, bridal stores must purchase every item in their wedding dress inventory, so the overhead for bridal stores is really quite high. Every wedding gown or bridal accessory you are trying on has been purchased by that particular store. It’s not reasonable, for cost and physical space reasons, for a wedding dress store to purchase every item in a wedding designer’s collection - especially when new wedding dress collections and bridal dress designs are released seasonally. For this reason, trunk shows are special times when bridal dress shops have a designer's entire wedding dress collection.
Oftentimes, there is no discount offered at our trunk shows at Lovella. A discount is not the main incentive for buying your wedding dress at a trunk show. The benefit of wedding dress trunk shows is to shop a wider variety of bridal gowns, especially if it is a bridal gown designer that you really love. Brides aren't entitled to a discount when the store is spending money to bring those additional dresses in for you to shop and try on. Brides get a larger selection to choose from and finalize their decision, so a trunk show is truly a special wedding dress buying experience.
For more details on what a trunk show is and how they work, be sure to check out our past video with all the information you need on wedding dress trunk shows.
A lot of brides get confused with the lingo in the bridal fashion and wedding dress world. Many people confuse a trunk show and a sample sale and may think they are the same thing. Unlike trunk shows, sample sales will have discounts offered on bridal dresses. If you are a bargain hunter or a bride on a budget, then a sample sale could be a great way for you to potentially save money on your wedding dress purchase.
A sample sale is amazing for all of you bargain hunters and brides looking for a good deal on their wedding dress. A wedding dress sample sale is a sale on the bridal store’s current inventory. A bridal dress shop must purchase all the wedding dresses they have in stock for brides to shop and try on. As styles change, time goes on and bridal designers release new collections, bridal stores need to make space for new samples to be brought in.
A sample sale offers brides a chance to get a designer wedding dress for a substantial discount. The price of the sample gown and discount offered usually depends on the condition of the wedding dress and the bridal store’s motivation for wanting to clear out their bridal gown inventory. Remember, sample wedding dresses are dresses that brides have tried on in the past, but they will still be in nice condition. A bridal store is going to take very good care of its inventory because it’s an investment for the shop.
Sometimes bridal stores may not necessarily really want to sell a sample gown, but may make it available to purchase for a bride who maybe doesn't have enough time to order a dress.
If you are looking for a deal and want even more details on how wedding dress sample sales work, check out our wedding dress sample sales secrets video.
Asking For Discounts
If you are purchasing a new item in a bridal dress shop, it is not appropriate for you to ask for a discount and it certainly is not appropriate for you to feel entitled to getting a deal. The bridal dress store is spending money to buy that wedding dress and to place your order for you to have a brand new wedding dress.
A fee that bridal dress stores absorb and do not pass to the consumer is shipping costs. Bridal dress stores pay quite a lot of money on shipping, as wedding gowns can be bulky and the material quite heavy. That is an extra cost that wedding dress shops don’t transfer over to the bride, so by you asking for a discount or wanting us to discount a bridal gown or accessory, you are cutting into profit margins which puts the business at risk for thriving and surviving for years to come.
Bridal stores also have signed contracts with their wedding dress designers that do not allow them to discount their dresses. We have to adhere to the pricing at which the wedding dress designer wants us to sell an item. If you go shopping at a big box store or department store, or any store, and you see the price tag, you don’t expect to go to the register and negotiate with a salesperson. What you see is what you get in terms of the price. If there is a markdown or a sale price, then that’s the price of the itme. But if it is listed at full price, then that is the price you can expect to pay.
In the bridal fashion and wedding dress world, there seems to be this misconception that there is an opportunity to negotiate and figure out pricing that works for the consumer, but that is just not the case. You either love it at full price, or you will have to find another option.
A word of caution here - if you are shopping at a store that is deeply discounting its wedding dress inventory, or offering gowns at a significantly lower cost than other bridal stores, you should take that as a red flag. This could be done out of desperation, and just remember that you get what you pay for. Don’t take a chance with your wedding dress.
Quality Over Savings
There are some things that are just worth investing the money in. Think of a scenario when you tried to save money and it backfired - we’ve all been there. You try to work a deal and you end up spending more money in the long run than if you had just gone with the higher ticket item in the first place.
You don’t want this to happen with your wedding gown; wedding planning is already stressful enough. Invest the money because you truly do get what you pay for. You want to ensure you have a quality wedding dress and a quality shopping experience overall.
We are not saying to be irresponsible and throw money at things that don't deserve it, but when people are serving you and giving you a quality of attention, there is a price associated with that. You are getting all the knowledge and guidance and attention to detail from your bridal stylist at your wedding dress appointment at no additional cost. You aren’t paying a service fee to the bridal store for their expertise in helping you find your dream wedding dress. Think if you had to pay for your dress plus the service you receive- the cost of your dream wedding dress would really increase.
There's value in the time, expertise, and energy the person who is helping you put in that is not built into the cost of your wedding dress. Remember that it’s not just about the product, it’s about the entire experience.
Now that we’ve discussed trunk shows, sample sales, and discounts in bridal stores, the last important item to cover when it comes to wedding dress pricing is alterations. So many times we hear from brides that they think their wedding dress alterations costs could be negotiated or gifted with their purchase. Perhaps because it is someone’s time and energy and not a tangible item, they think there could be wiggle room on the cost of wedding dress alterations. However, if you were the seamstress, you likely would not want to cut your hourly pay or eat into your own costs. Everyone is valuable and the service being offered deserves to be properly paid for.
The same advice we mentioned earlier applies to wedding dress alterations, too. You get what you pay for and we would hate for any bride to not look her best on her wedding day because of poor alterations.
The bridal industry is definitely a unique industry and we hope this advice gives you more insight into what to expect when you go shopping for your wedding dress as well as more information on negotiations and discounting on wedding dresses and bridal fashion accessories.
More Helpful Wedding Dress Advice
We hope you have found this insight helpful in preparing you to shop for and purchase your wedding dress. For more helpful tips, be sure to check out these recent advice posts:
- Bridal Store Etiquette: Do's and Don't's of Wedding Dress Shopping
- 5 Questions to Ask When Wedding Dress Shopping
- Sample Sale Secrets for Wedding Dresses
- What is a Trunk Show?
If you're shopping for your perfect wedding dress, come visit us at Lovella Bridal in Glendale, CA. We carry wedding dresses in all sizes and styles, including plus-size bridal gowns and a full selection of veils and accessories. Lovella Bridal is the premier, luxury bridal wedding dress shopping boutique located in Los Angeles, California. Lovella features couture, feminine, modern and chic bridal gowns in all sizes from the best wedding dress designers. Schedule an appointment to find the wedding dress of your dreams at Lovella Bridal. We can't wait to help you!
About Wedding Fashion Expert
Our wedding dress shopping tips and advice are from Nayri, Lovella's own, in-house wedding fashion expert. Nayri is truly the expert when it comes to bridal fashion and wedding style. As the Wedding Fashion Expert, Nayri is the top bridal fashion stylist and the best-selling author of the book "I'm Getting Married And I Have Nothing To Wear," the ultimate guide to helping brides find their wedding day style and their perfect wedding dress. You can subscribe to her YouTube channel or listen to her podcast for more helpful and practical advice on wedding dress shopping.