Bridal horror stories

Remember the scene in Pretty Woman, where Julia Robert’s character walks into the dress store and is immediately judged for how she’s dressed? The treatment she receives at the hands of the store clerks is atrocious and leaves her distressed and shell shocked.

You’d never expect to be treated like that in real life, would you? More than that, as a bride, with so much emotional investment in the process, such treatment should be the last thing you would expect to face. Sadly, not all stores live up to expectations.

Here are some of the experiences I have experienced myself, as well as some of the stories I have from working in the industry.

Instead of seeing the dress, all I saw was my sides that extended beyond the sides of the dress. I felt so terrible, I almost gave up on the whole thing right there.

After doing a great deal of research to find an actual bricks and mortar store that catered to plus sized brides, including ringing and confirming that plus sizes were catered for, I was somewhat disillusioned when I arrived, as the saleswoman’s body language and the poorly disguised eye roll, meant I was larger than the store’s definition of “plus size”. Doesnt Fit
To further compound my humiliation, the only way I could visualise wearing the dresses, was to stand on the box in front of the mirror, with a far too small dress in front of me. Instead of seeing the dress, all I saw was my sides that extended beyond the sides of the dress. I felt so terrible, I almost gave up on the whole thing right there.

In another bridal store, I saw several areas where brides were displaying the dresses they were trying on in big open areas with their attending entourages. As a plus sized bride I was led to a room, hidden in the back. While the room was nice enough, it made me feel like I was a dirty secret, to be hidden away from the rest of the store.

Recently, another bride told me of how she had been enjoying the process of selecting a dress in a different bridal store, when she made the mistake of telling the saleswoman that she was marrying another woman. The saleswoman, immediately informed her she could no longer serve her. The bride’s mother who was with her at the time, confided in me that the poor bride was deeply hurt by the whole experience.

Another group told me how they had been working with a young woman who had been doing a great job of serving them, with lots of light fun banter, and lots of useful information, until the store owner arrived. Suddenly, the whole atmosphere changed and they no longer felt comfortable, or welcome.

Another bride brought a dress she’d bought from another store to us for alterations. The dress was a sample dress and because it had been hanging in the store for awhile, it was very dusty and dirty around the edges. I was horrified that they had not offered to clean it before selling it to her.

Rather than excellent, well informed service, more often than not you are pushed to buy the most expensive dress, rather than finding what best suits you.

Many stores these days keep their dresses bagged, unlabelled, with no sizes or prices showing. They limit how many dresses you can try on, and how long you have to do so, while making you pay for the privilege. And please don't try to take a photo of the dress you like.

Rather than excellent, well informed service, more often than not you are pushed to buy the most expensive dress, rather than finding what best suits you. On top of that, there are often fees for every little thing – booking fees, dress storage fees, etc.

After all that, it was an absolute pleasure to find a store where I was treated kindly, respectfully, and most importantly, given all the advice I needed to help me find the wonderful dress I wore on my wedding day. The ladies in the store were so kind that I developed a friendship with them over the months of the dress buying, fitting and altering process. It was that friendship that led to me taking over their shop when they decided to sell the business, with a firm desire to carry on their legacy of kind and respectful service to all.