These days many think buying their dream wedding gown can be as easy as the click of a mouse.
Online websites such as CocoMelody, AliExpress and JJsHouse are offering dresses, which are manufactured in China, for the big day for as low as $100.
But while some are successful, for others when the dress arrives they find it can be poor quality, it doesn’t fit, or it simply wasn’t what they expected.
And for many who buy online, they are not covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act.
Christchurch bridal stores say as it’s buying season currently, brides-to-be should think carefully about where they purchase their dress for the big day.
Brides of Merivale owner Lisa Dermott said there was so much more to choosing a gown than picking a style, cut and colour.
She said no dress was the same because there were so many possible variations, such as the type of fabric, the colour or the cut, making it difficult to buy without seeing it.
“We have the product for you to try on. You can compare the different shapes, necklines and fabric. We can modify any style to see and morph it into what you like. You can try it on and see what it looks like as opposed to guessing and taking a punt.”
She said overseas-based websites were “notorious” for ripping off designs of well-known and popular wedding brands, and using their photos to sell them online.
“In reality what they send you may not be that picture.”
A lot of online dresses were poor quality, which made them difficult and costly to alter, she said.
Brides of Merivale dresses ranged anywhere from $1500 to more than $5000.
But Ms Dermott said the store also offered advice and recommendations.
“We always try to advise brides to set the budget for your wedding. If you’re trying to do it under a certain price point, look at the things you can save money on and what you can’t. There’s a lot of things you can do yourself and save on like decorations. Spend that little bit more on items like your dress.”
To Cherish Bridal Boutique owner Alison Van Lent when buying locally, brides could try on the dresses, see the quality, and know they had been ethically made.
“I’ve had brides that regularly turn up in tears as their wedding is only a few weeks away and they haven’t got a dress because they bought online,” she said.
“If they come in and be honest about their price point we have a great range of off-the-rack dresses. We will help find them something.”
Dresses usually started at about $1800 in store, she said.
Ms Van Lent said many bridal stores had started charging for consultations to try on dresses, because so many tried the dresses on in store, before ordering what they think is a similar style online. She said To Cherish also sold vales, bridesmaid dresses, shoes and flower girls dresses.
Staff gave professional advice, fitted the dresses, stored the gown and pressed it, made alterations, gave advice, and more, she said.
“We even offer full consultation where we teach the bridesmaids how to dress the bride, how to walk down the isle, how to hold the flowers, how to go to the toilet. It’s a whole experience, it’s not just about buying a dress.”
Consumer New Zealand consumer advisor Maggie Edwards said people who bought dresses from overseas online websites were not covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act.
She said people needed to check the terms and conditions of the website, and do their research beforehand.
Consumer NZ did get a lot of complaints about people having problems when buying wedding dresses online from overseas, Ms Edwards said.
“But we also get complaints about buying wedding dresses in New Zealand.”
She said at the end of the day, it was a choice, and the decision was up to the individual.
Davis Bridal owner Carolyn Rushton said while she had heard of some brides getting lucky, others did not.
“We had one girl who bought three online and never got the right size so she came in and bought one from us. We’ve had girls wanting us to alter their dresses. Some of them just about have to be remade.
“By the time they have to pay for it to fit them it runs up the cost.”
•For information on how to be careful when buying online, visit https://www.consumer.org.nz/
Number of marriages in Canterbury last year Same sex – 54 Opposite sex – 2625 National statistics for 2017: There have been about 20,000 marriages each year since 1992, but the figure is steadily decreasing, as are divorces. The median age of those getting married had also risen. Last year it was 32 for men and 31 for women. The median age at divorce was 47 for men and 44 for women last year, which had risen.