It’s a sad day when you hear of any retail business close its doors for good. The shock news of Alfred Angelo, a global wedding brand, and Benjamin Roberts closing has left many retailers questioning what’s going on. Every retailer in the UK is under pressure from a shift on spending in-store to online, and that goes for bridal too. The retail landscape is shifting, but not necessarily in the right direction.

Who would have thought you could replace the experience of buying the most expensive, important and treasured dress of your life, that evokes feelings of joy and happiness, with a cold, online transaction? Who would have thought that going to a mass manufacturer with huge outlets across the UK, where you buy a dress off the peg, without fittings, consultations or advice, would replace the experience of a bridal shop advising and indulging you?

8507 from the Alfred Angelo Modern Vintage Bridal 2014 Collection

Cheap Not Always Cheerful

But sadly, for some girls these cheap wedding dress options are attractive. If you have never done this before you could be excused for not knowing your designer wedding dress from your copied mass manufactured dress. But, not wanting to sound like a total dress snob, you really do get what you pay for.

Each week I have so many calls asking us to help brides ‘fix’ a wedding dress they bought online. Usually it either doesn’t fit them, the colour is wrong, it’s too short or just plain weird. We have girls crying down the phone to us, but sadly not one bridal retailer in the land would take on such a challenge. If it’s not cut right on the cutting table it will never fit properly at the fittings.

Girls are flocking to buy dresses like this, and online copies are eroding the very heart of the wedding dress industry. Labels at the lower end of the market place are becoming more and more vulnerable and finding it impossible to compete.

2602 from the Benjamin Roberts 2016 Bridal Collection

Alfred Angelo and Benjamin Roberts sold gorgeous dresses at the lower price end of the market. They had strict quality control in place, sold only though good retailers, and were highly regarded in the industry. Yet now, they are no more.

Key Questions

My advice is to ask the questions below of any shop you intend to buy your wedding dress from. This will reassure you that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of brilliant independent retailers and suppliers alike you can rely on.

  1. Are you a member of a trade association that will protect my dress if I buy from you?
  2. Do you offer an in-house alterations service to fit my dress?
  3. Will you store and deliver my dress in time for my wedding?
  4. Will my dress be a new dress, ordered in my size, just for me?
  5. How long have you worked with your suppliers?

These same questions apply if you choose to buy online, and remember, if it looks too good to be true… IT IS. If they can’t answer these questions, walk away.

Guest post by Ellie Sanderson