There are plenty of sites out there that will give you an estimate of when it's best to order your wedding gown or bridesmaid dresses. I'll do one better and not only give you the time frame but also a peek into the behind-the-scenes order process so you can be better equipped to place your order with a certain level of knowledge that may help you avoid any misunderstandings . I understand the anxiety that brides go through during the long wait and sometimes this is simply due to the fact that the whole procedure has never been fully explained before. In part, my purpose in creating this article is to bring helpful information to every bride and help smooth the lines of communication between a bride and her bridal salon.
Ordering in Advance
Without ordering from a huge chain manufacturer like David's Bridal, gowns purchased though private boutiques will be made specifically for you once the factory receives the order. Because these dresses are not mass-produced but made individually there is a longer long gap between ordering the dress and receiving the dress. There are thousands upon thousands of brides (and bridesmaids) all purchasing dresses from different individual stores but the same companies, which means larger manufacturers are dealing with orders from all over the world on a massive scale. When your order is placed it's put in a queue of sorts, the specifics of which vary from little company to company, but generally is not necessarily on a first-come-first-serve basis. There can be many factors in determining how your order is placed in the queue, the most important being the wedding / wear date. I do not wish to cause undo concern or confusion so I will give you an example of a fairly common occurrence; Bride # 1 is well prepared, falls in love with a gown and places the order six months before the date of the wedding. She is given a ship date of around 4 months by her sales associate and the order is placed and sent to the factory.
Three months go by. Bride # 2, who was not aware of the timeframe and does not have the six-month lead before her wedding, purchases the same dress / color / size as Bride # 1. She has to put a rush cut shipping cost on the dress to ensure it will come in time but the associate confirm that it will ship before the wedding. The order goes through as a priority to the factory, pushing it quickly through the queue production to make the ship date. Because the factory can not allow a disruption to the dresses currently in production due to this one order, the system will show dresses already made that match the specifications of the priority order. The manufacturer finds the dress for Bride # 1, which is ready to go but shows there is still another three months before the wear date. The factory will send the dress to fulfill the rush order for Bride # 2 and simply make a new dress for Bride # 1 because she has the time, but this adds another month unexpectedly to the shipping time. All this is done without notification to the salon and then without the bride fully understanding anything beyond the fact that the dress is late.
Every manufacturer will have a slightly different 'purchase to package' timeframe ranging anywhere from eight weeks to twenty-four weeks. Most bridal salons will cover all possibilities with a blanket period of around six months if not more. This is not necessarily a sales tactic to try and get you to purchase that day but more a guide to ensure a stress-free transition from the actual sale to your first alterations appointment with dress in hand. This creates less worry for the bride as well as the salon associates because everything will be done with time to spare. Bridal associates want to ensure the best possible experience at their store which includes making sure you have all your merchandise well before the date you need it. As difficult as these restrictions are for any woman who wants to take the time to shop, remember that the deadlines exist for your protection as well as for the safety of the reputation of the store.
Just Checking Up
It's OK to keep calling the store to check on the status of your order but keep in mind that these shops are given fairly limited information from the manufacturer and may not be able to provide a satisfactory answer on the spot. The majority of bridal salons are simply the avenues through which these orders are sent to the factory, meaning they do not have access to any specific information beyond confirmation of the order and an estimated time of arrival. Once the order is placed and set, there is little control that the consultant has over that order which is why it can very rarely be changed, canceled or checked on. Once placed with the manufacturer, the request is faxed or emailed to the factory (usually overseas, so there can be gaps in communication due to time differences) and then put through the process of being cut and created. There is no set window of time for the entire process, no precise timeframe that can be given up ordering which tends to concern the bride while placing the order. Rest assured, this is normal and unfortunately can not be narrowed down by the shop associates.
As mentioned before, most dresses are made overseas which can sometimes lead to delays in shipping time. When a gown is purchased, the bridal salon will typically give a two-week or more window of time as an estimated time of arrival providing a cushion of time that encompasses many potential delays. Most orders are shipped via containers on a ship versus air to keep costs down but because of this there can be delays due to weather or random selection through customs missing the entire container for some time. It is important to keep all these factors in mind while nervously awaiting the arrival of your gown and refrain from anger or concern when the salon can not give specific dates or tracking numbers. This is not an attempt to be sly or misleading, they simply do not know and can not give Precise details until the shipment has been through customs and put on a UPS / FedEx / Speedy truck with computerized tracking numbers
Get It Done
I promise, this is not meant from a saleswoman point of view but more common sense. If you love the dress and you want to buy the dress, why wait? Trust me when I say you do not want any issues when it comes to something as intrinsic as the wedding clothes. Get it ordered, get it done! Not only will you be spared the nagging worry in the back of your mind but you'll also feel a sense of accomplishment.
Wedding Dress – Check!