I have always sent my gorgeous Brides something I call the 'Bride Guide' as I find it can help prepare Bride's once they have purchased their gown for the rest of the journey, and this weekend, I gave it a little refresh and it got me thinking that actually this advice is also perfect for Brides to Be who are just starting out on their Bridal Buying experience.
So I thought it might be an idea to share this advice, some is super helpful for every bride especially a H&W bride but it's an interesting read even if you purchased your gown elsewhere or haven't started shopping yet.
I am also open to feedback on your thoughts on what I have prepared? H&W brides I will be sending you the new version of the Bride Guide for reference but please do keep the old one too.
First Steps Finance:
You have paid your deposit, when do you pay the remainder?
Jemma or one of the team will have briefly discussed this with you at the appointment;
We offer three options for payments.
1. Full Payment at Ordering
2. 50% deposit, the remaining 50% is due on arrival of the gown at H&W
3. 1/3 deposit, the 2nd third instalment is due 3 months later and the final instalment is due within 30 days of arrival of gown at H&W
How do I pay the remainder?
The deposits can be paid by bank transfer and can also be paid over the phone, however this will incur an additional fee of 0.35% due to a compulsory charge from the bank for ‘Customer not present’ transactions.
No alterations can take place on a gown until the gown is paid for in full. Please review the delivery times for your gown to ensure you have the funds ready for when you are notified of the gowns arrival.
I want to stress to brides that the gown you have tried on in store is a sample gown, this means that unless the gown fitted you perfectly and we have ordered you the exact same size as the sample, your new gown will look different on you to the sample gown.
I also want Brides to understand that your gown when it arrives is not wedding ready, it will still not fit perfectly, wedding gowns ALWAYS require tailoring to fit you perfectly, so please do not bring an audience to your first fit expecting to put on a perfect finished gown, the wedding dress fit is a PROCESS.
Different designers work in different ways; Jemma would have explained in your trial that the designer you have purchased from is either a Made to Measure Designer or Ready to Wear. Let me explain the differences:
Made to Measure: Your bust, waist and Hips (for some designers/designs there will be additional measures) are measured and the gown is made according to these measurements. Most of the designers I stock create a made to measure gown for no additional charge, some will charge an additional fee for this service.
Ready to Wear: Your bust, waist and Hips are measured and a gown is ordered according to your measures based upon a size chart created by that designer, now, if you’re buying a fitted gown, the gown will size ordered will be based upon the largest area for example for most women that is the hips. The gown will then be taken in across the waist and bust and any other area required. If the gown is not fitted at the hip it will still be ordered on the largest area, however, with less empathise on the hip measures.
Now, what is the difference in terms of alterations, depends, if the Bride is planning on (or not) changing size, then, either way will make no difference when it comes to alterations as we can only order a gown based on the measures at the time. If you a bride who doesn’t plan on changing size then Made to Measure will possibly save you a small amount on alterations.
When are measurements carried out (and what happens if I lose or gain weight)?
Measurements are carried out at the time of ordering, lot’s of Brides set self expectations to lose weight, firstly, we would like to remind you, we at H&W, support you, beautiful YOU, just the way you are!
Whatever your personal physical goals are, your measures are taken now, and you and every single bride regardless of weight change or not will require alterations, we ARE NOT responsible for your gown not fitting perfectly when your body size/shape is changing/changed, and YES you will need to pay for these alterations. If you lose weight, we can make your gown fit perfectly so please don’t worry, if you lose excessive amounts of weight where you are changing two to three dress sizes, there will be more extensive alterations and likely your alterations will cost more.
Next question is always: How much will I pay for my alterations?
I will expand on the seamstress further below, but briefly: the seamstress (S) are self employed, they set their own rates, they are not obligated to work on H&W Bride’s gowns and you a H&W are not obligated to use our recommended seamstresses.
I can never give you a price for your alterations as I am not the skilled person doing the work.
However, for the purposes of Budget, here are some average costs:
£50-60 an area e.g. waist taking in (once), or length being taken up so I would assume you will need between 3-5 areas requiring work, however for some brides this is less and for some it is more.
Our average Bride spends £185-250.00 but gain we do have some spend less and others more.
If you are making changes to a gown, changing a strap, adding hand beading, adding sleeves or additional work outside of the usual bust, waist, hips, length then I would suggest having a larger than £250.00 budget for your alterations.
When do I start my alterations process?
Again, as above this is very personal depending on your personal physical goals, some brides will have a plan to lose weight so it doesn’t make sense to start alterations until closer to the wedding. If a seamstress carried out the alterations and got the gown finished, fitting perfectly and then the bride lost weight, the bride would need more alterations therefore have to pay for the work to be done again…So you can almost answer this question yourself, if you don’t plan on changing shape then I would recommend:
Between 8-12 weeks before the wedding 1st fit, 2-3 weeks later 2nd fit and then either another fit two weeks after that or a final fit 7-14 days before the wedding, where the gown can be collected.
If you are planning on losing weight, I would recommend:
Between 4-6 weeks before the wedding 1st fit, 7-10 days later 2nd fit and then either another fit 7 days later or a final fit 7 days before the wedding which can also be a pick up appointment.
Some top tips regarding your fittings straight from Jemma & Sarah:
1. Have your shoes for your first fit. If you require special supportive underwear e.g. corset or basque, have that ready too.
2. Be flexible for fittings and ensure you have allocated some time off work close to the wedding in-case you need an additional fitting.
3. Bring your underwear options to try at fittings, it’s the perfect time to try different options.
4. Be vocal, your seamstress will look at you practically from an experienced fit point of view, you will need to be able to describe to the seamstress how you want the gown to look and feel and tell her where you are uncomfortable or where you want changes. Sarah is a perfectionist and will want you to be happy, but, she is not a mind reader nor is she offended in any way when you suggest things or change things, ultimately her goal is to make you HAPPY in your gown. She is also laid back with 25 years experience so nothing, absolutely nothing fazes her.
5. You can book Sarah via my website during set days/times, if you need outside of this you will need to contact Sarah independently. If you would like to discuss changes with Sarah – please contact her directly, not through Jemma.
6. PRE-BOOK your appointments, if you are getting married in ‘peak’ season from APRIL – SEPTEMBER, then as soon as your gown has arrived or you receive an email informing you it is on it’s way, please pre-book 3-4 appointments. Remember you can always cancel an appointment you don’t need but if the seamstress is fully, she is FULLY BOOKED, that means you will have to find an alternative seamstress.
7. Fittings are carried out at H&W, Jemma is not present at fittings, the boutique is facilitating the fitting appointment as a convenience to the bride. There is no charge for a fitting from Sarah or H&W. Fittings are 30 minutes, they are swift, practical and functional. It is not a Prosecco filled experience to showcase your gown. This part of your journey is now about functionality & look of your gown so please understand the seamstress is not a host to an experience.
As the fitting appointments are back to back, there may be on occasion an overlap of brides, the seamstress is responsible for her own time, and may run over depending on a brides needs, please be aware of this. You will not be expected to stand outside the shop, you’re welcome in, but please be courteous to the bride having the fitting as I would expect all of my brides to support each other.
I feel it’s important for Bride’s to understand the following to prepare best for their fitting journey.
H&W is NOT providing the seamstress, we do not take any money AT ALL for any work carried out by a seamstress on my premises.
As a bride myself, every shop I went into did NOT offer alterations or seamstress or they would give me some names and numbers for people, now I did not like this! I had to find my own seamstress which was hard work, I was turned down by several seamstresses and after about 3 months of searching I finally found one,,,but how did I know she was any good….
Everything at H&W has been created based upon my own struggles as a bride. So I have found a seamstress for you, not only do you not have to find a seamstress, spend hours or days searching, you have one who is recommended! Not just that, she will drive from where she lives which is 30-40 minutes away from H&W and carry out your fittings at H&W, how convenient is that?!!!
Although, Sarah the seamstress is my recommended seamstress, because of her years of experience and her knowledge of the gowns in H&W, she is self employed, she is not ‘MY’ seamstress, H&W is not carrying out or providing you the alterations. You are employing the seamstress and the contractual decisions and results are between you and the seamstress, H&W is the facilitator of the premises at which this carried out. We at H&W hold no responsibility for any work carried out by any self-employed seamstresses whether they have been recommended by us or not.
The seamstress can be booked via H&W’s website booking page. Outside of these hours/days you can contact the seamstress via Whatapps or via email.
Sarah will need to be paid independently, payment is not expected until the gown is finished. Sarah can be paid via Cash or Bank Transfer.
Gown arrival and storage, and preparation for pick up:
1. Your gown will arrive between 4-7 months from order, please make sure you have your funds available to pay for the remainder on the gown when it arrives.
2. Most gowns will be steamed on arrival, however as they are stored in dress bags which will create creasing on the gown, the gown will not be perfectly steamed for your fittings. It will be perfectly steamed for your pick up appointment.
3. If the bride has ordered with more 9/10 month ahead of the wedding, and storage is required for a long period of time before fittings, there is a £30.00 storage fee.
4. All brides will be provided with a dress bag.
5. Brides travelling abroad and requiring a flight specific box, can purchase one from H&W, for £30.00 this is for a hand luggage sized box, if the gown is expected to be not fit or too big, the it is suggested a suitcase is provided for packing.
6. The gown will be taken by the seamstress to her studio for alterations, we take no responsibility for any damage or loss in transit or at seamstress’s premises and HIGHLY recommend bride’s invest in their own Wedding Insurance for protection.
7. Unless a gown has been picked up by Bride at the final fit, the gown can be left at H&W until the Bride is ready to pick the gown up. It will be steamed along with any veils/cape purchased at H&W, it will be bagged but not fully to be inspected by Bride at pick up. Although the gown will have been steamed for certain materials and gowns, I would recommend making sure your venue/place of bridal prep has a steamer or invest in your own in-case of any creasing during travel or storage once it has left H&W.
8. Pick up must be booked online via our website and can only be carried out within our scheduled opening hours.
I hope this has been helpful for current and future brides, obviously every boutique does it slightly differently but I feel like this good broad advice for any buying journey.
Lots Of Love