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Wedding gowns and the intarwebs

Fashion, Shopping

This weekend my sister will be visiting from Wichita Falls to go wedding dress shopping here in Austin. I don’t know much about the shopping scene in Wichita Falls, but I know there are myriad choices here for wedding gowns and related accessories, bridesmaid dresses, veils, shoes, jewelry and so on.  I personally have not had the chance to explore these shops in Austin, since my wedding was a long time and on the east coast, so I’m looking forward to our weekend shopping. (And I’m very happy for my sister!)

However, thinking about wedding dress shopping gets me to thinking about other things, specifically the role of the internet in this process. I know my sister has been researching and looking at tons of dresses online, but I bet she never once considered buying her dress online, at least not without a great deal of in-person shopping first.

I am online all day, every day.  I feel ill when I don’t have my (web-enabled) phone with me. If I don’t keep constant track of my email and Twitter streams, I’m lost.  I am absolutely, unabashedly, wholeheartedly an internet addict. But I still have a hard time shopping for clothes online. I like to try things on, feel the fabric, see the fit and color before I commit to buying something.

And that’s just for regular items in my wardrobe. Wedding dresses require even more physical contact. They are expensive, arguably one of the most sentimental garments a woman will ever buy, immortalized in countless photographs and videos, and very different from everything else in the average wardrobe.  Buying a wedding dress requires a lot of research and visits to fitting rooms. You want to be completely sure the gown you choose is the right one.

When I bought my dress six years ago, the web looked only a little different than it does now; I used it to shop online for things related to my wedding, and I used it to read about and research dresses and weddings and honeymoons. But I never considered actually buying my dress online. I wonder how many people do. My guess is that if I were going through this now, I would only consider buying my dress online if these criteria were met:

  1. It was the exact dress I had tried on in a physical store.
  2. It cost significantly less than the same dress in a physical store.
  3. It was brand new, never worn.
  4. I could buy it from a reputable e-commerce retailer.
  5. I was guaranteed complete satisfaction and quality.

So I’m curious about other people’s experiences buying (or not buying) wedding dresses online.  Have you bought a wedding dress online? Have you considered it? Why or why not?

Nicole Miller gown

PS – I love this Nicole Miller gown.  If I were getting married now, I’d totally wear this (though, if you’ve seen my wedding pictures, you might notice some resemblance between this and the dress I actually did wear. The beach might look familiar, too).

Jenn @ July 10, 2008


  1. Forrest July 11, 2008 @ 1:44 am

    I am no expert on wedding dress shopping but I don’t see many people trusting their wedding dress purchase to the Internet only. Clothing is one of those things that you need to see on you before buying and a wedding dress even more so.

    I generally don’t buy clothes online. T-shirts are ok (an XL is pretty universal) but most other clothing requires some in person time with the item. I bought shoes online once after just looking at them. They fit but they weren’t very comfortable and I’ve sworn to never buy shoes online again.

    The best things to buy online are the ones that are the same no matter when and where you get it. A book, some electronic thing, cds, dvds, etc. If there is potential for much variation among a product, I like to touch it first.

  2. Julie Nichols July 11, 2008 @ 3:37 am

    I would agree with all your criteria for online wedding dress purchases. I didn’t even consider it for my wedding (only 6 mos or so before yours). In thinking about buying clothes in general online though, I agree that I wouldn’t usually do that, but there are apparently legions of people out there that buy clothes from catalogs (at least based on the number of unsolicited clothing catalogs coming to our house)without ever trying them on. Internet purchases would be no different. So who are these mysterious catalog shoppers?

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