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Wedding Dress Reviews

Shopping for a wedding gown is such an individual experience that even retailers and dress lines that garner strongly positive reviews are also subject to criticism. There also isn't an abundance of wedding dress reviews online, nor is there much feedback on the vendors that sell them.

However, we found enough reviews to draw some conclusions that should help frugal brides-to-be find their match.

Based on the wedding dress reviews we read, brides on a budget are not inclined to lower their standards. They still want quality fabric and construction, service that's attentive without being pushy, and clean gowns to try on if they venture into a store. They are wary of retailers who sell good-quality gowns at budget prices but then compensate by charging high fees for alterations (ahem, David's Bridal).

Customer Service.

Wedding dress reviews indicate that brides expect courteous and respectful service, especially from retailers who require appointments. Customers who shop at Nordstrom, J. Crew, or David's Bridal have access to a personal wedding consultant; Nordstrom also offers personalized service through live chat or by phone. Unlike bridal salons, where dresses are special-ordered, take months to come in, and cannot be returned, all the retailers on our list promise snappy service (some dresses arrive in less than a week) and the possibility to return a bargain wedding gown if you come down with a case of buyer's remorse. Brides who order a dress online expect prompt delivery (or at least delivery within the time specified on the site) and packaging that minimizes wrinkling or flattening, according to wedding dress reviews.

Nordstrom is credited for its helpful sales associates in wedding dress reviews posted on Yelp. Brides say store employees are patient and cheery and have followed up via email to see if an accessory that was ordered fit well. Shoppers commenting on Wedding Wire laud Nordstrom's informative website, generous return policy, and prompt shipping.

J. Crew offers in-store shopping at only a few locations, and most reviews that mention service praise the consultants' professionalism and relaxed demeanor. One saleswoman went out of her way to get "the" dress shipped to a Chicago store's wedding boutique, according to a wedding dress review on Yelp. However, we did come across a few comments about negative experiences in the Manhattan boutique with staff who struck some shoppers as snooty and indifferent. Two brides interviewed for a Wall Street Journal article, on the other hand, were thrilled at how quickly their online orders showed up on their doorsteps.

You won't find specialized wedding stylists at Bloomingdale's. Brides who have posted wedding dress reviews at Wedding Wire say the in-store service doesn't match what you would expect from a bridal salon, but the sales associates are helpful. Most wedding-related reviews of the customer service at Bloomingdale's center on its registry service and other merchandise such as invitations and jewelry.

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Reading through wedding dress reviews, it was hard not to notice the many negative comments about customer service at David's Bridal. Shoppers posting on Complaints Board say the sales staff is inattentive, and an impersonal air permeates the store, making what should be a thrilling and intimate experience seem very cold. More than one bride commenting on Yelp compares her experience at the store in Milpitas, Calif., to buying a used car. Wedding dress reviews posted on Yelp about other stores in the chain gripe about dirty samples and smelly facilities. The price of alterations is another target of customers' ire, with many suggesting fellow brides turn to an independent seamstress. Several brides-to-be also report agonizing moments when an altered dress was not ready for a scheduled pick-up.

The return policy at David's Bridal is relatively strict. According to the website, dresses purchased at the store cannot be returned or exchanged, although customers posting reviews on Brides.com report that the chain sometimes makes exceptions. David's Bridal accepts returns of online merchandise within 14 days, and only when sent via snail mail; dresses can't be returned to a store.

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