Wedding Dress Appointment Fees: Have Your Say

Whilst sat slurping my Pret green juice last Monday evening at Kings Cross station, I came upon an  interesting piece in a trade magazine written by the owner of a popular bridal boutique about how she will be introducing a fee to brides who wish to book an appointment at her store. I also read this piece by Emma Meek of Miss Bush Bridal in Surrey with interest recently. The feature talks openly about how owner Emma will be introducing fees for Saturday** bookings, and why. 

When I was planning my wedding the thought of having to pay for an appointment to try on some wedding dresses would have seemed a complete extravagance.  Why on earth would I have been happy to pay simply try on some dresses?   Surely that potential business transaction is the role of the shop owner to woo me over, not for me to have to pay for?

I see things very differently now.  Bridal boutique owners are trying to run legitimate businesses.  They have business costs, overheads and exhibiting fees, and staff salaries to pay.  Just like the rest of us they are trying to survive in a competitive world, and just like the rest of us, they want to offer the best possible service they can.

Ellie sanderson bride

Bride Charlie wore a Sassi Holford gown that she purchased from the Ellie Sanderson Beaconsfield boutique
Click here to view the full wedding on Love My Dress
Photography by Dasha Caffrey

When Emma lays out her reasons for introducing a fee here, it makes complete sense to me. Imagine dedicating over an hour of precious business time, shutting off part if not all of the shop to other potential customers to dedicate an hour purely to one customer.  Sharing hard earned expertise and knowledge with that client, and allowing expensive sample dresses to be tried on with a free glass of bubbly.  All things, I hasten to add, provided willingly and lovingly – only for that client to turn out to have absolutely no intention of making a purchase? If you were that boutique owner you’d be wanting to look at how to help reduce this pointless waste of time and activity and replace it with a more positive, purposeful experience for a bride with a genuine intention to commit to a purchase, right?  A win-win for all concerned.

It’s my understanding that in pretty much all cases, if a bride goes on to buy a dress from the boutique where she paid for an appointment, that appointment fee is deducted from her final overall bill. I consider this more than fair.  Having read the trade magazine feature, in all honesty, I’m only left asking why bridal boutique owners haven’t done this sooner?

Miss bush bridal in surrey

Miss Bush Bridalwear in Surrey stocks some of my favourite designers
Click here to view this full glorious photoshoot on Love My Dress
Photography by Catherine Mead

I’m keen to know what you think. As a bride to be or industry professional or simply a casual observer – is charging for bridal boutique appointments fair and appropriate? Brides – are you willing to pay a fee for an upcoming appointment? Boutique owners – are you happy to introduce a fee and how much will you be charging?  Do you have any reservations or do you consider this a pretty fair way of ensuring that appointments are managed more effectively, meaning that brides with a genuine potential to commit to buying a gown have less time hanging around on the appointment waiting list.

Both boutique owners who inspired this piece run highly successful wedding boutiques using business models that many others look to emulate. If these two industry leaders are set on introducing wedding dress appointment fees, there’s one thing for sure –  there will be plenty of others looking to follow suit. Many London based boutiques in fact already do.

Annabel

 

** Editors note:  in my original piece, it wasn’t clear that Miss Bush Bridal is introducing fees for Saturday only, that will be fully redeemable against the cost of the dress.  I offer my full apology to Emma Meek and her team at Miss Bush Bridal for this oversight.  I have also by request removed the public access link to the trade magazine article that inspired this feature.  I have the greatest admiration for boutique owners who manage to run very successful businesses, maintaining excellent and hard earned reputations in customer service.  Miss Bush Bridal have my full support and understanding in deciding to charge for Saturday appointments.  Thanks so much to all of you who have commented so far.

Annabel

Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Annabel is the founder of Love My Dress. She has a passion for photography, walking, yoga, nature, and loves to support talented artists and creative businesses. In 2013, she became a published author. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters Eska and Leanora and menagerie of furry hounds. Annabel supports Philip in the running of the family flower farm at at Moonwind Flowers. She is also co-founder of What About Weddings.

113 thoughts on “Wedding Dress Appointment Fees: Have Your Say

  1. I don’t think I agree. I can see the reasoning but it is the same for everyone working in the service industry. I am a wedding planner and I may spend an hour meeting with a couple, buying them a coffee or taking around cupcakes, to then not get booked. It has still cost me time and money but I would never consider charging for a meeting. If a lady goes into a bridal shop but then can’t find what she is looking for, it seems very unfair to class her as having “absolutely no intention” of buying a dress. I understand there are some time wasters who are just trying on dresses but is it fair to penalise ladies who may have every intention of buying but just don’t find the right dress. I personally would not recommend a shop who charged a fee, as there are plenty of high quality alternatives out there.

    1. Hi Kirsten – could I just point out that I am not charging a fee for a consultation. The £35 is ‘refunded’ in the form of a gift voucher that can be used against any purchase big or small from a dress to an Alphabet Bag. The fee only applies to Saturday appointments and is aimed at us being able to devote more time to time-pressured brides & repeat the unhurried & relaxed environment that I offer to weekday clients.

      1. Hello Emma, my comment was more general than about your store in particular but thank you for explaining. I think it really is a difficult subject and I am sure that brides who really want to use your store would be happy with the charge/refund. I guess it really does depend on each bride as to how they would feel. Some may feel it is a little unfair but I am sure those brides may just book in midweek instead. I hope it all works out for you Emma. X

    2. It would certainly deter the time wasters who have no intention of buying but who are simply using the shop to try on styles then buy cheaper online or simply out for a fun day out with their entourage. I’m a teacher and also a bridal boutique owner. In one job I have no overheads or outlay but get an hourly salary for the service I provide as it is my time and skills the council pay me for. In my boutique there’s only myself and one fitting room so I close my shop as I arrange pre booked 90 min appointments. I am still giving the bride my time and skills. More often than not brides come in try everything they like, love the dresses then go off round all their other appointments and occasionally but not often commit. With total respect to all other service providers in the wedding industry, the overheads and cost of these bridal shop consultations are huge so how do we recoup those costs. In a shop with say 40 samples, each sample has been purchased as they aren’t free so we are talking tens of thousands, rent, rates, furnishings, etc. So it can’t be compared to other wedding service providers. At present, I don’t charge a fee but am seriously considering it and having a redeemable voucher against any purchase made in the future.

      1. I agree, I have a full-time job as well and will do my best to accommodate brides at my boutique only to have them want to take tons of pictures and try on everything and not commit or say that they would like to schedule a follow-up appointment on a busy weekend day and then claim to have forgotten about the appointment that they choose as the best time for them. This is time that could be spent with serious brides and if the fee is reasonable then why not charge it. I am still new in this business and have experience a lot and sometimes it can be overwhelming with trying to grow my bridal business, work a regular day job and find quality time to spend with my family. .

      2. I think it’s a great way to deter the non-serious customer. I Own a Bridal Boutique and the only operator and many hours are spent with brides who do not want to commit. There are “no shows” from customers to do not take the time to call as a courtesy to reschedule. Charging $25 appointment fee/booking fee is not an unreasonable amount of money to convey “its our Professional Services” as Consultants in the Bridal Industry. We are refunding the appointment fee of $25 if a purchase is made on the day of their booked appointment. Is that too much for us to ask? I do not think so.

  2. I suspect that brides to be will respond in uproar but I fully support the luxury boutique owners for doing this. What doesn’t seem to have been mentioned either is the huge wear and tear needlessly caused to these expensive items either by intentional timewasters (which some browsers are – fact). They aren’t just being asked to pay for just the dress try on, these aren’t cheap and cheerful serve yourself shops, the attention and advice each bride receives during these appointments is invaluable, most brides will fritter far more than this over the course of their wedding planning without accounting for it. No body is forcing them to put their business in the hands of some of the best in the industry but you get what you pay for.

  3. I have been really anxious about choosing a dress, and think I will need to try quite a few to make my mind up – I lost 10 stone 2 years ago, so am still getting to know my body and am not confident about the wedding dress choice and it may take me a while. If everywhere charged for every single appointment, I don’t know how I would be able to afford to take the time I needed to choose one at all and would probably end up getting married in my pjs!

    1. One of my customers who bought her dress at Miss Bush was a larger lady and her mother said that they bought there as it was where her daughter was most understood and made to feel special and relaxed.

    2. Will reply properly later Mille (half term madness over here right now!) but just wanted to say that I want you to try hard not to be anxious about the dress experience. I really want it to be a fun time for you! How absolutely amazing that you lost 10 stone, what a magnificent achievement, well done you! I hope you have the wedding you are dreaming of Millie xxx

      1. Thank you, lovely Annabel! I am trying, it’s just in some ways shopping was a lot easier as a size 24, as a size 12 I find all the choice a bit overwhelming still. Hope half-term is going awesomely! xxx

        1. Mille – as a top tip – research your shops and labels well. Pick up the phone and have a chat with your chosen shops, grill them by email. The over-proliferation of wedding dres shops has made the choice much wider but not easier! I think it is only London & the commuter belt shops that are charging so far – but weekdays are a really good idea if you find the idea of wedding dress shopping off-putting.

    3. I was very anxious too Millie. For two reasons; 1) my body, I’d lost about 5 stone after a c section and 2) marriage had, for a very long time scared me and I thought the dress part would give me a panic attack.
      Well I’ll tell you now, dress trying on is the most bizarre experience. Once you get a couple under your belt you’ll become quite complacent that your trying on expensive dresses and your confidence builds as you learn more from the Experts about your body shape and what will and won’t work. You’ll be shouting “next” before you know it. And remember (I wore huge hideous spanx to all my try ons) that the assistants aren’t looking at your body they’re looking at the dress and the way it looks on you.

  4. I don’t know I feel like that is how the retail business is. People go into shops all the time, whether it be a luxury shop, small boutique or a department store to browse around and look. We may buy, we may not. What if all stores charged a fee to look?

    1. HI Kelsey – browsing is free, weekdays are free. Lusting after luxury products in whatever walk of life is a guilty pleasure. I am talking about charging a fee for the stylists time, their expertise & it is fully refundable!

  5. As someone who is finding dress shopping difficult, I think there
    are a few alternative ways to help. A few issues I have noted is that its hard
    to know if a boutique offers things in your price range due to a lack of
    transparency.

    And dresses can look so different ”in the flesh” compared to
    photos, you may find that you do not like anything as much as you hoped once in a store. Or you may be at the beginning and not know what suits you.

    A different appointment structure could be set, where boutiques
    are open to a larger number of brides (5-10) at a time for browsing only for a
    set period (ie. Saturday mornings, 9-12) where clients can see the dresses,
    gain advice and select dresses they would be interested in trying. Then an
    individual appointment can be made to try on the selected dresses. That way, if
    nothing is found, you have not wasted your time, and if you only want to try
    one or to dresses, a shorter individual appointment can be made, maximising the
    use of individual appointment time. And those making “try on” appointments could be asked for more details re: budget or intentions so not to waste further time.

    I think if paid for appointments were universal, the newly
    engaged would not know where to start when dress shopping, and as each
    appointment required an investment then women would greatly limit their choices
    when shopping, making safe choices at larger shops where there is more chance
    of finding something suitable.

    1. HI Lou – many thanks for taking the time to reply to this – the ‘browsing time’ as suggested in a previous comment is a great idea. It is great that you replied with positive suggestions as somepeople have reacted quite negatively! Weekdays remain free and the fee gets you gift vouchers to the full value.

      1. At your shop, Emma. The original post referenced other shops and discussed consultation fees generally. I have come across shops that charge for weekdays and some that charge a fee that isn’t redeemable against any purchase. So I don’t think people are reacting/commenting just on what you have chosen to do in your shop.

  6. You don’t need champagne to try on a dress. You wouldn’t pay to try on an engagement ring or shoes. What I thought I’d like didn’t suit me and I think you need to find your style. If this were to work I think you’d have to get all the boutiques together and charge an entry fee overall however it’s the sort of thing you want to do with a girlfriend or 2. Where do you draw a line?

    1. Interesting comment Fergus, no, you don’t need champagne, but I think it’s kind of become the norm to expect a little special treatment when you are attending a wedding dress boutique appointment – perhaps because of the potential expensive investment you might make? I guess that the industry has become rather competetive too in recent years (I’m assuming, I have no stats – and this is based on what I’m hearing ‘on the ground’ so to speak) so boutiques are vying for custom by enhancing their service. Bubbles included! ? x

  7. As a wedding photographer (oh the horror) I often travel many, many miles to meet potential clients, often having to put a day aside if they are a long way away, the meeting will involve drinks, when I happily pay for and the viewing of albums, also happily paid for, I will be late home to dinner with my family or miss my lunch/some kind of meal (!) I will spend hundreds of pounds on petrol and travel cards, all of this I am happy to do as this is all part of the service and experience, I am not guaranteed a booking, couples will often want to meet a few photographers to find the right ‘fit’ I wouldn’t dream of charging for a consultation even though it is very time consuming and YES you DO get time wasters sometimes, I think if you wish to charge for apportioning a large section of your day to someone who may not end up find thin ‘their’ dress then power to you, I DO feel however that it is just one more step towards alienating brides to be and making the whole wedding process that little bit more uncomfortable.

    1. Here, here Sarah! Could you imagine all the extra cost if every person involved in your wedding charged you a consultation fee? Eek!

      1. I think that it would be unrealistic to assume that most businesses don’t factor in consultations when calculating their overall charges, even if it isn’t broken down as such, I’m certainly not advocating ripping brides off, however if you are running a business that supports your livelihood and your family rather than a hobby where payment is a bonus for doing something you enjoy your time has to be paid for one way or another or you’d be unable to trade without doing so.

        1. And even more expensive! I am happy to pay for service and I am of course happy for all people in the wedding industry to ensure that you not only cover costs and earn enough for your time, quality, attention to detail, expenses, creativity etc but also make a profit. Obviously I do not expect you to give your time for free, it’s business. However allowing people to meet, see, discuss, research whichever aspect of their wedding before committing to buy something is part of the sales role and more importantly it’s part of the fun and experience of planning a wedding! I would certainly be put off meeting someone if I had to pay beforehand. I would much prefer it to be a ‘hidden’ cost reflected in the price of the dress, flowers, hairdressing service. For me personally, ignorance is bliss! I now understand that the amount can be used as a voucher but what if you don’t like anything or don’t gel with your planner, hairdresser or make-up artist? You can’t keep risking £35 each time. I think wedding fairs would become the solution where you can at least pay one fee and meet a variety of people.

    2. Please can you read my blog post. I do not charge for ‘every consultation’ I am charging £35 redeemable as a gift voucher for first visits on a Saturday. Subsequent appointments with my stylists or myself will be free!

      1. I read Annabel’s blog post, I wasn’t suggesting for one second you charged it very time and I did clarify that you only put forward this fee on a Saturday. Please do not take what I have written the wrong way, I am simply responding to a piece of writing which asked for opinions. MY opinion and it really is JUST that; one person’s opinion. And that is that to charge a fee MAY leave some feeling alienated and MAY leave some feeling there is a slight divide. As business women we can run our businesses in whichever way we see fit and that is our prerogative. You have a need to do this and are happy to do it. I’m not saying it’s wrong or slating it, I’m just saying I personally wouldn’t be happy to pay it and explaining my reasons why. Thank you for taking the time to reply to me.

  8. I steered clear of any shop that charged such fee. Weddings are so expensive already that another fee is just unfair. What next, a consultation fee for meeting with a florist or visiting a venue? Every person has a cost of doing business, it’s called ‘sales’. I had all the intention of buying a dress and visited 5 shops and tried on 20 dresses. I bought my dress from the very last shop when I came across the ‘one’. If all those shops had charged me, that would have come to potentially more than GBP 100 – that is a decent chunk of money well spent elsewhere.

  9. I can’t agree with this either. I understand the theory and thinking behind it but this is a service industry. I go into travel agents and don’t end up booking because I can’t find a holiday to suit, I go to make up counters in department stores and the assistant goes through 20 lipsticks but I don’t find what I’m looking for so walk away without a single lipstick! Unfortunately that’s what happens. Choosing a wedding dress can be even harder than finding that perfect lipstick 😉 I visited four bridal shops in my search, I travelled over 100 miles for one, and even revisited two of them with every intention to buy but I’ve ended up having one made because I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. I did not intentionally set out to waste any one of the lovely ladies’ time. I would recommend them to friends along with their beautiful dresses. They just weren’t right for me! The shops I visited asked many questions when I booked the appointments to ascertain whether I was a genuine customer and if they need to save money I think it would be better to stipulate how many dresses you can try on/reduce appointment times and not offer the little luxuries (not that I was offered one glass of bubbles – feel cheated now!). If this cost is introduced then I think the couple of shops that shun the charge will be laughing with their full order book!

  10. There are overheads with any business, its the shops prerogative to charge but I feel they will cut out a huge customer base who a. Dot not agree with the charge and b. Cannot afford extra charges such as this. Maybe they are just aiming for the all out big budget weddings but you cant always tell how people will split their budget. I am a photographer and like the lady who commented below I buy tea/.coffee/cake for my clients show them albums which cost me lots of money and need constant updating and travel all over the uk for meetings, and I am not always booked. If I am booked every time I use my top spec cameras I am devaluing them but I need them to do my job..every few years my kit needs updating too costing thousands…..just as sample gowns?

  11. Upon closer inspection the fee is chargeable on a SATURDAY this isn’t massively clear at the beginning of this article. Just book during the week ladies, problem solved!

      1. Ah right, I can see fors and against for this whether charging just on Saturday OR all week, I PERSONALLY am against but I suppose if one enjoys the divide or indeed feels it necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak then fair dos, as, essentially, this is what with ultimately end up happening, a divide is drawn and customers are ‘classed’ certain people ARE left feeling alienated. I suppose it boils down to how you wish your brand to be perceived. Very interesting to see everyone’s responses. 🙂

        1. I am not ‘classing’ my clients. I am simply trying to reduce frantic Saturdays that benefit no one! If anything Saturday clients have been getting a raw deal in the past. The shops are too busy – and yes sometimes with time wasters – but sometimes just with lovely brides that don’t benefit from our expertise and advice. To be clear the charge gets given back in the form of a gift voucher that can be offset against a large purchase or used for small cards, gifts & ceramics

          1. Great response Emma. I really do admire the way you and Ellie are tackling difficult decisions that can be very easily misunderstood by those you are actually trying to help. I know full well how important your customer is to you and I really respect the way you are dealing with this particular issue. Bravo! I look forward to receiving many, many more ‘happy Miss Bush Brides customer’ emails in the future xxx

  12. I don’t normally comment but felt so strongly on this. Having recently been married the dress buying experience is still fresh in my mind. I did not find it all hearts and flowers but a stressful experience. Though I found a beautiful dress in a really lovely friendly boutique, in general I found trying on either to big or too small dresses generally difficult and not great for my confidence. If I had had to pay for this experience I think I would have been even more upset. Surely these cost come as part of overheads and the dresses themselves are priced to reflect this? Nothing is ever completely free but where weddings are concerned prices are often hiked for the sake of this and this charge smells so badly of this! Where does it stop should the venues, photographers, bands, florists, tailors etc etc all charge for there time?! These small amounts add up!

    1. Well said Amanda I totally agree and it was the same for me only last year, a stressful experience which if I had to pay for would have been even more disgraceful! As you say the price of the dress surly covers the overheads etc. In my personal experience wedding dress buying was far from what I imagined however If you could have guaranteed me a wonderful experience, some beautiful dresses to try on, a glass of champagne for me and my 2 helpers, the full attention of the boutique owner or even a closed shop…would I have paid for this peaceful/happy/joyful experience??….my answer may well be yes!!….it would of course depend on the price but I think it may make me research the boutique more online first to be sure they had a selection I was interested in, id also check out what other brides had been saying about the boutique online….in someways it could actually be not only beneficial to the boutique owner but even for the lovely bride to be! My concern with the whole idea as others have pointed out….What if everyone charges for the consultation stage….weddings would become even more expensive and not everyone has wonderful customer care to offer. Its a great question and one that may be yes in some cases and no in others. I do believe the time wasters are a small percentage of people and it is the job of the ‘vendor’ to sell his/her service to the best of their ability!

      1. Whilst I can see the attraction of this all in service with champers etc. I think I would have used it more as a guaranteed fun day out with the girls before going for more drinks. As opposed to my real dress searching calmly with my mam and sister. Thus the dress shop has just succeeded in attracting exactly the customer they don’t want by charging. Just my opinion though! X

    2. Hi Amanda – I am sorry that you found your dress experience difficult. The charge for an appointment that I am levying is redeemable against any purchase & is designed to make Saturdays, & only Saturdays, calmer & quieter! Weddings are expensive – full stop. A weekday appointment that is free would be a great idea for those brides counting the cost carefully

      1. I take your point in a way and I do understand that your personally only charging on a sat but the article seemed to be about charging in general so my comment was not aimed directly at you. While I’m sure there are a small number of time wasters some people may just not find “the dress” in your shop. The best thing about the boutique I chose my dress in was that Jo and her team never put me under pressure to chose their dress but urged me to chose the right dress. The charge would have made me feel pressured. It’s not the money, that’s small in compared to the overall cost it’s the principal. I only went to three shops in the end and my aim was never to waste anyone’s time least of all mine. X

  13. I got married in South Africa, where pretty much every bridal shop charges you to try on their gowns. Some charge a flat rate for your visit, and some charge per dress. Either way, I HATED it. I went into some of the shops where you can look for free, but have to pay to try on, and I found a few gowns that I thought I’d like to try on, but because they didn’t WOW me enough to take the chance and waste my money, I left. Those shops might have got a sale out of me, but they didn’t. Instead I went to the ONE place that didn’t charge, tried on at least ten dresses to see what worked on my body, and finally bought the dress of my dreams, which I still love 6 years later. I’m now a wedding photographer, and I don’t charge to meet potential clients; nor do my wedding planner, florist, videographer, MUA and hair stylist friends – so why should wedding dresses be any different?

    1. Please read my article! Annabel originally failed to mention that this is simply for Saturdays & refundable as a gift voucher. Also all of the above list of service providers do not have anything like the overheads to support. I will not be charging for weekdays & encourage brides to phone or email me as much as they would liek prior to their visit to amke sure I am not wasting their precious planning time.

  14. well, I was asked for a £150 consultation fee (redeemable against purchase) from a florist so charging for a bridal appointment seems totally legitimate – if that fee is redeemable against any purchase in the shop. What I don’t agree with though is the lack of transparency that I think transpires from Ellie’s article. Do the brides know how much she sells the dresses for? Does she or do her staff ask what a bride’s budget is once they book an appointment/come in for a consultation? Or do they just wait for a bride to fall in love with a dress they can’t afford, hoping that the price point will not matter, in the end?

    1. Ellie Sanderson clearly state on her website the price ranges for each and every collection of dresses she sells, she couldn’t be more transparent.

      1. In that case she is entitled to ask for a consultation fee, as long as that’s redeemable against a purchase!

  15. I completely agree with this. Brides wouldn’t be paying to just ‘try on a dress’ they would also receive expert advice from an established business that many years of experience and knowledge. You’re paying for the whole shopping experience. It’s not like just popping into your local high street chain and trying on a whole pile full of off the rack dress without any assistance. These are high end boutiques that are in very high demand, and you’re receiving a whole lot more than just trying on the clothes. I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all to pay a small fee for a personal service from an established business that is in high demand. I personally would prefer to pay a small fee to see an expert and receive a more dedicated service than trawl shop after shop and try on hundreds of dresses. By doing a small amount of research online first to identify the designers that you like on blogs such as this one you can easily narrow down the search and make sure you’re choosing the right bridal boutique for you!

      1. I think people need to remember that clothes retailers from Selfridges to Topshop you pay for a personal shopper, for one to one advice. You even pay £5 in Tesco for someone else to do your food shopping. This really is the same.
        I think if more brides knew the reality of bridal retail (Emma wrote a good piece on her blog) then perhaps they’d think differently…….or worked in retail……or met Bridezilla!

  16. Although I can see the reasoning behind this and if it meant getting the right dress then I would pay however I would still avoid these types of places as I’d feel that a place that would charge you to try on dresses may have an air of snobbery about them and it could turn into a pretty woman style situation (that’s an exaggeration but you get the gist) I’ve been going with my future sister in law to see her try dresses on and so far my favourite place had the owner upstairs hand stitching the most beautiful dress. It’s personal touches like that that mean something.

    1. Hi Catrin, I think you’d be more than a little bit pleasantly surprised after a visit to Miss Bush Bridal!!! She has seamstresses hand stitching in-house too. It’s a brilliantly run family business absolutely dedicated to providing the best experience possible. Owner Emma is the antithesis of snobbery! Completely down to earth, real, honest and genuine. I love working with her and supporting her business through Love My Dress and I am proud I can do this in a very authentic way as I have witnessed first hand how Emma runs her business and have a folder full of emails from brides thanking me for bringing Miss Bush Bridal to their attention. I can’t speak for every boutique, but I absolutely can speak for this one.

      Much love xx

      1. Thats great to hear about the boutique. Of course I was just on about boutiques in general. I do feel bad for Emma as I’ve seen on here she has a lot of comments to respond to and I hope it has no negative impact on her business (saying that I’d never have heard about this boutique if it wasn’t for the article and I will check it out now). I do however agree with a previous comment about high prices being normalised by the wedding industry, not everyone in sure but this does seem the case with a lot of things.

  17. Sadly these days, despite lots of genuine brides and customers, there’s always those who are less so and thus unfortunately dictate that these types of charges should be considered. In a similar vain, I often meet with brides to discuss their weddings in detail, usually meeting them at a place of their choice for a coffee, with travel costs, sometimes at their venue then spend hours of my time and expertise on putting together a proposal only to never hear from some of them again (some not even a thank you!) – albeit of course a minority. Personally, I see this as fairly standard practice for most businesses – you do often have to make an investment of sorts to win business, just like pitching for work, however I know other planners who charge for meetings, so in my opinion this is no different and can appreciate why it is the case. However as someone who is personally very indecisive in terms of fashion, it could end up being very costly for those genuine brides who are simply indecisive or don’t know what they are looking for or where to begin. Although I would argue that a small investment of under £100 to find the ‘perfect’ dress in the whole scheme of things is fairly reasonable but I assume it is likely to be seen by brides as yet ‘another’ cost of a wedding.

  18. Unless this becomes the norm among all shops I can see those which charge could start loosing business to those who don’t. Will it hurt their business? Probably not, I’m sure they’ve looked into it. Part of shopping is shopping around finding a deal which fits you but also the dress (obviously). Charging will kind of lock people into your shop. The question is, when the shops are not seeing time wasters what do they plan to do with the extra time? Chances are it means they can save money by not having so many shop staff or did the staff just assume it meant they had more free time?

  19. This is a really interesting debate and I think as a bride to be who is very hard pushed for cash I’m going to come down on the side of not charging being best. The whole process is expensive enough! I do understand the reasons for charging and I think perhaps for larger very successful brands this might be an easier choice to make. Especially if you are getting lots of publicity and a steady flow of clients. However I agree that many other suppliers do not charge and I do feel that it alienates me as a potential customer. I’ve been to a few shops and have received a varying level of service. What happens if you pay for an appointment and come away really disappointed with how you were treated/helped? I would have been extremely upset to have paid for an appointment in that case. To me it seems elitist and unfair on those who perhaps have already spent money travelling to a city, who then have to think about eating out for lunch that day AND paying for their appointment? I tend to think that if you have chosen to be in this business there are upsides and downsides to it all and to expect every customer that comes in to be able to find their dream dress in your shop is a bit loopy. Just my two pence though! x

  20. I purposefully did not book appointments at any shops where they charge to try on dresses when I was looking for my wedding dress. How do I know if any of the dresses they have are suitable for my body type? That I feel comfortable in them? You never know. And what if the service in the shop just isn’t great, which has happened to friends of mine that paid for appointments, I would feel even more cheated. And never did I receive a glass of champagne or anything resembling a drink in any of the bridal shops I visited in London.

  21. I had to comment as I just bought my dress from Ellie Sanderson in Oxford. They’ve been great and I’m so excited about my dress. However, I would never have paid for an appointment. Therefore, if they had been charging they would have lost my £3000 order. I know they have overheads, but the experience of wedding dress shopping is nowhere near special enough to charge on top of the high dress prices. I would have ordered off etsy or another online place if all boutiques charged. I feel uncomfortable enough in high end places as it is. I have the money, but still feel like a fish out of water and paying would make me feel even more awkward. I also agree with other people that sometimes they just don’t have what you want. Why should I pay to check their stock list?

  22. I’m perhaps a little bit spoilt here as I purchased my dress from Miss Bush and, being inquisitive, learnt quite a bit about the tougher side and the less romantic side of the bridal boutique business by asking Emma a million questions. I was a bride who was of the opinion that the fewer shops I went to the better. So i found designers I liked and shops that stocked them. I enjoyed the locked shop experience I had at The Dress in Teddington and the feeling I’d just met someone who could dress brides in her sleep (Emma). Would I have paid for an appointment, not in the week no. On a Saturday probably. And with the money I was just about to drop on a dress an appointment fee is a drop in the ocean. By charging, I actually think brides will a)stand a better chance of getting an appointment in the first place, b) it will probably push brides to do a bit of research first into the boutiques they do want to visit a c)may even bring dress prices down.

    1. What a thoughtful comment Sarah, thank you. I hope you found your experience at Miss Bush a really great one – it would be good to see some support for this wonderful boutique. As a business owner, I really admire how Emma runs her own business and her absolute dedication to customer service.

      Thanks again for leaving your thoughts xx

      1. I lucked out visiting Miss Bush first, purely because it was on my doorstep and stocked a designer I liked. I went with my sister, bestie and Mum and we all left impressed. I’m so glad I found my dress there. I visited about 5 other boutiques after and came across some very pretentious staff. Emma isn’t like that at all, none of the team at Miss Bush are. Her Mum is wicked, an excellent seamstress. The whole team there is great. I just can’t understand brides and families that treat, those people who are helping you on one of the biggest days of your life, as just a service. I wanted to know the people who were helping me and I wanted them to know me and what my hopes were for the day. I was so lucky with everyone I chose.

          1. I dreaded wedding dress shoping, being 6 ft tall and around a size 18/20 , I was expecting to find it very difficult to find something that I liked. It didn’t help that I started at David’s Bridal in the hope that their massive range would mean that there must be something I like, how wrong I was! Horrendous customer service and terrible dresses were not for me. I tried lots more shops, I had varying levels of success and customer service and was often dissappointed to only be able to try on one or two dresses maximum, I have to say if I had had to pay a fee for all of those appointments I would have felt very dejected and frustrated. Then, following a desperate pleas on facebook, numerous friends suggested Miss Bush bridal, so I booked an appointment (on a Saturday) and nervously pitched up for my last hope appointment to find something that might vaguely suit me! I can honestly say that I would have paid twice (or even more) the suggested £35 fee for the style advice and general (emotional) support I got in that golden hour with Emma. I left feeling totally energised and excited that I had turned a corner in my wedding dress search. Most importantly I knew that if I bought my dress there, the Miss Bush girls wouldn’t let me leave that shop looking any less than fabulous. I’ve been back to buy my dress there, taking a gaggle of small bridesmaids who were thoroughly looked after for the two and a half hours we were in the shop. I think £35 (on a Saturday!) is a small price to pay, I so hope it doesn’t put genuine brides in need of support and guidance off from visitng what is truly a uniquely brilliant shop!

    2. Sarah – thanks for backing me up! I really think £35 is actually good value for money for all my years of expertise. I shall also not be charging on a weekday & the bride will get a gift voucher to the value of the charge!

  23. I avoided places that charged. I wouldn’t pay to try on a dress in Temperley or Armani and they sell dresses worth just as much. I have a healthy budget and like many brides, limited time. I’d rather spend the £60 (assuming I went to the recommended 3 shops) on accessories. Sadly, I think the shops that charge are losing out on business. The time wasters arguement my doesn’t fly with me. I doubt many women have the nerve (or desire) to go try on wedding dresses in their spare time for fun.

    1. Hello July Bride 19! The point about non -bridal luxury retail is that they shops can aim to have you as a customer to life. Weekday appointments remain free but most London retailers do charge for an appointment.. YI think you would be surprised how many women do find the time to visit dozens of bridal shops!

  24. I’m just starting my dress search at the moment and have made appointments at a couple of places. Two shops have told me they have a consultation fee and, for this reason only, I have decided not to visit them. I have a healthy budget for my wedding dress but it totally puts me off that I would be charged before even stepping through the door. If this is a question of costs for bubbly then PLEASE, I can do without that. In the article, it says “I am aware that introducing this may cost me brides, but I am certain it will be brides that shouldn’t be booked in anyway.” – I totally disagree. Miss Bush Bridal was on my list of shops to go and visit because I had heard good things and because the shop carries many of the lines I was interested in seeing – however, I wouldn’t pay to go; I will simply go elsewhere. Most of my friends are getting engaged at the moment and we’ve discussed this and I would say the majority are put off by a consultation fee. There must be other ways to cut back (no bubbly for a start?).

    The other angle on this is that – most women have never tried on a long ivory dress before and have absolutely no idea what really looks good on them! Trying on dresses for an hour helps them to discover what they do and don’t like – yes, there is research everyone can do beforehand but until you start trying dresses on, it’s quite difficult. I don’t want to feel obliged to buy a dress because the owner is investing an hour in me – I understand it’s frustrating for boutique owners but that’s the nature of the business and it seems unfair to try and circumvent that in this way.

      1. Hi Emma, I was referencing the article that was in the original article, not in your article – apologies if that wasn’t clear. I understand you are only charging for Saturdays but, as I work 9-7ish most weekdays, Saturday would be the day I would visit (unless I took a day off which would cost me more than £35!).

        1. Thanks for clarifying your comment Kate. I’ve actually removed the link to that original article now and the author’s request. It is available for public consumption but, I’ve chosen to respect their wishes on this occasion. I really appreciate your reply here. Thanks so much again,
          Annabel xx

  25. There are three things which you have to remind yourself of in this situation.
    1) This is not the same as any other retail business. You don’t just wander in and try on – you have an assistant assigned to you who advises you within your budget, your shape, your style, the type of wedding. Someone carries gowns back and forth and dresses you. Not exactly the same as Topshop.
    2) Lots of people who have commented (photographers and planners) are self employed individuals. They can call how much of their time they give to people and don’t typically have staff, overheads and a massive heap of business related responsibilities. I’m self employed so I know the difference.
    3) These charges apply only on Saturdays when everyone books appointments and thus weeds out the time wasters, leaving valuable appointment time for those who have done their research and know what they’re looking for and what they value.
    If you really hate the idea of a redeemable charge – book a weekday?

  26. I would have laughed the place down if I’d been asked to pay a fee. Then I’d have gone elsewhere. Good grief, a wedding dress is probably the most expensive piece of clothing most women will ever buy, and it’s freighted with all sorts of hopes, dreams and expectations – and the process of trying on is enough to bring out the insecurities suffered by the most confident of women. To be then labelled a ‘time-waster’ because you don’t find the right dress for you in a particular shop… Unacceptable.

    1. Hi Hannah, I think the phrase ‘time-waster’ is very loaded here. I am simply trying to provide the best possible experience for brides & not to waste their precious time. The Saturday fee, fully refundable with a gift voucher, goes hand in hand with a desire to creat a more unique & personal experience in luxurious surroundings. Weekdays remain free!

      1. Thanks for your reply. Ultimately it is your business, and potential customers are free to go elsewhere if it doesn’t suit them.

        I don’t know why I feel so passionately about this subject if I’m honest as I would never have been a potential client of yours anyway – my budget doesn’t stretch to most of the things on this blog.

        I think it’s just that I’m finding the experience of dealing with wedding suppliers unpleasant and a bit awkward generally (another comments talks about massive expense being normalised and I think that’s spot on). In my family, we refer to people being known as Robert or Roberta… meaning someone who has had their arms and legs ripped off, leaving them bobbing about (geddit, Bob, Bob, Bob… it’s salesman humour!) and just about every ‘wedding-specific’ supplier I’ve had to deal with has made me feel like a Roberta in waiting. As a result, I’m using as few as possible, much as that would be frowned upon on this blog – nope, not even an expensive photographer (to be fair, having one as a sister does help there!). I am loving the planning bit, but the ‘industry’ leaves me cold. I fear you caught the edge of that, perhaps unfairly as you are not the only one!

        Best of luck with your business – clearly there are many who don’t feel like me.

        1. Hi Hannah, I’d not frown on you my friend for choosing to use less suppliers, that’s entirely your perogative! I’d never judge a bride or reader of this blog based on what they spend on their wedding. That’s so far removed from the essence of Love My Dress. I *am* relieved to hear your sister is a photographer though xx

  27. I think it is only fair for bridal boutiques to charge for trying dresses on. The shops I have been to allocate at least an hour per appointment which means there are only a limited number of appointment slots a day. As you say in your post, they have to run a business. Also I often see boutiques on twitter or Facebook advertising for last minute appointments that have become available, where I am assuming people have let them down last minute. I wonder whether it would be a good idea for a boutique to open for ‘browsing time’ where customers can visit for free to see the dresses on offer and chat to the staff about what they’re looking for. That way if they have to pay to book an appointment at least they know there are dresses they want to try.

    1. Hello Diary of a Bride – great idea about browsing time! I will try & find a way of working that in to my plans! x

  28. I am a business owner too, but I simply cannot agree with passing off the cost of timewasters and sample wear-and-tear to the genuine brides that would be forced to pay the fee. If you want to reduce the amount of timewasters and reckless people, take names and addresses (with proof like a drivers licence) when making the appointment so that people feel accountable for the stock they interact with. Money doesn’t need to be yet another barrier to entry!

    1. Tina – I am about improving service, personalising it & make it a valued part of a brides experience. Saturday appointments beed to be as much fun and as relaxed as weekdays. I am not ‘passing off costs’ I am aiming to make luxury shopping exactly that.

    2. I’m not sure that that would work, realistically, what would a bridal shop do with a drivers licence and address? Call the time-wasters police?
      People are shameless, and unfortunately, I think it is only financial loss that will prevent people from wasting others time.

  29. I completely agree with Amanda and some of the other ladies comments regarding not wanting to pay a fee – I got married last year and found dress shopping, while wonderful, a very challenging task. It takes time to find something that’s completely right for you and sometimes that means going to three or four different shops more than once. Brides-to-be are under enough pressure to look perfect on their wedding day; adding a fee to this would have only made me feel MORE pressurised to find the dream dress and possibly result in choosing the wrong thing. I know some shops charge a fee to order certain samples in that they don’t stock and that I agree with, but I certainly would have been put off by having to pay to try on dresses.

  30. Before I embarked on my hunt for the perfect dress the thought of paying a charge probably would have horrified me, being on the other side of my wedding now I can totally appreciate why some stores are introducing a charge. I was a Miss Bush bride and before my appointment there I went to a handful of other bridal stores, I would say in these stores I tried on dresses, and I would have begrudged a charge, at Miss Bush it was a completely different experience, Emma was more of a wedding stylist to me, I went in with a clear idea of the shape and designer I wanted but when the vision of how I would look in my head was very far from the reality Emma helped me to find a completely new style, which in turn helped me to style my whole wedding, I also trusted her judgement and expertise to book hair and makeup on her recommendations. I completely loved the whole experience, I looked forward to every appointment and still miss the time I spent there (and this is the ONLY thing I miss about the wedding planning, I’m not a natural planner!

    2 years on and with a 1 year old I’d happily pay that fee to have an hour to myself and to be made to feel special again!

  31. Offering consultations myself for brides myself, I can see both sides to the argument. But I think any boutique who wants to charge for appointments at any time of the week, should clearly mark the price of each individual dress on their web-site, so potential customers know exactly whats what. x

    1. Hi Leanne – unbelievably it is very difficult to put prices on dresses as there are so mnay variables AND it is anti–competitive to price fix. Unlike any other retail websit ethat can fix a price ‘we’ in bridal retail are not allowed RRPs! As I have said weekdays remain free & Saturday will hopefully become calm & beneficial!

  32. When i first started looking for a dress, my response was no, i would not pay a fee. I wanted to look at jenny packham, my local boutique charged an appointment fee. so i went to a boutique nearer my mum, who stocked JP and didn’t charge.

    But knowing what i know now (having bought my dress), maybe i would consider it. I visited 5 boutiques – the service varied massively. It was clear those who knew their designers, knew their dresses, and knew the cut, material, fit etc.

    I don’t want champagne (and i certainly didnt get it) but if i am to spend a month’s salary on a dress, i guess i do want the service to match the price tag.

    if i really didnt want to pay, i would take an afternoon off work and go mid-week. you also have the advantage then of not feeling rushed.

    the problem is, i didn’t know any of this until i had been through the whole experience of finding my dress.

  33. Tricky isn’t it? I work for Blackburn Bridal in Blackheath and we charge for weekend and evening appointments. These are our most popular slots and by charging we are asking brides to commit to these much-wanted and over-subscribed appointments.

    Emma is right in that it is a locational decision, and one that is common practice amongst many of the London and Greater London boutiques where competition is fierce. It’s not out of greed or in a bid to alienate anyone, but actually a necessity in a rapidly changing and unique bridal retail industry. Not only do we have other retailers to compete with in terms of the dresses we stock, but many brides now find The Dress in one boutique before calling around other stockists to find the best price or shop willing to do a deal. This is a sign of the times, and of course the bride’s prerogative, but not so good for the retailer who has invested their time (often over a couple of appointments) helping you find The One.

    Similarly, someone mentioned Etsy earlier, but dress designers on there, Pre-loved and other second hand sites, Chinese factories…these are all competition for retailers too, and although it’s a horrible term we have had our ‘time wasted’ if our shop has been used to simply ‘get an idea of shapes’. Bridal boutiques wouldn’t exist if everyone shopped this way, and by charging a fee at the most popular time of the week, we can go some way to attracting those who have every intention of purchasing from us, should they find The One.

    Ultimately, it’s a bride’s prerogative to find her dress the way in which best suits her, and it’s a business’ prerogative to set their rules as they see fit. The right bride and the right boutique will find each other eventually, and everyone’s a winner

  34. I can understand having a cancellation policy and being charged if you don’t show up or cancel late in the day, but being charged as standard for a Saturday appointment would be a real turn off for me and I would purposefully avoid the shop. Friends who have paid for appointments have often received incredibly poor service and have come away feeling really upset about having wasted not just time but also money. Until you visit these shops you have no idea what they’re going to be like! Plus, I’ve never met a bride to be who has “absolutely no intention” of making a purchase when shopping for a wedding dress – having squeezed into my best spanx, I’m just desperately hoping to find ‘The One’! At the end of day, shops that have appointment fees stock the same dresses as shops that don’t, so why waste your money? Weddings are indeed expensive but you shouldn’t have to pay out needlessly. I say save your precious time AND your precious money and go somewhere else!

  35. I have to say that knowing the mark up on a wedding dress and accessories sold by bridal shops I believe that they can afford to not charge for people to try on their potential dress. It seems like another way to make money. They also make a lot on any alterations that might be needed by the bridal party. I run a dressmaking service and I don’t charge for consultations which can take a long time. Some people walk away without buying anything. That’s just the way it is.

  36. A thought-provoking article, with plenty of interesting comments too. It’s rather like a service charge in a restaurant instead of asking for a tip, though admittedly with quite a bit more money and emotion at stake.

    One thing that strikes me about the comments is the (completely understandable) passion with which some store owners have reacted. I fully sympathise that negative comments can sometimes be taken very personally, as criticism of a shop’s own choices, which I’m sure have been well thought through. But why not treat the negative responses as free market research instead?!

    Similarly, I think this blog is full of imagination! But if it wants to encourage discussion posts, then the editors might consider commenting in a more balanced way than simply to offer support for their sponsors and partners in the wedding industry.

    On a personal note, as someone who’s only recently get engaged, a great deal about the wedding industry has already surprised me – not only the expense, but the way in which that expense can be so wholly naturalised as ‘normal’ and ‘necessary’ consumption in some parts of the blogosphere! So I really do applaud Love My Dress for an article that allows its readers to respond, and I hope it continues this trend for being a little bit different in the future.

    1. Hi Cat, thanks so much for your comments – I really appreciate you having taken time to feed back and will certainly consider how I can offer discussion posts from a more balanced editorial perspective in the future. I welcome all comments on Love My Dress – but cannot accept/will not tolerate comments that may be commercially harmful or personally insulting. I had to remove one or two posts yesterday because of this. Definitely something for me to think about though with regards future discussion posts – so thank you so very much,

      Annabel x

      1. Thanks for replying, Annabel! I am very new to the world of reading wedding blogs, but LMD is definitely at the top of my list – so forgive me if my thoughts are naive, as you obviously have given this lots of thought. The discussion posts are really valuable. Everyone loves pretty dresses, etc, but what makes discussion posts different is that they’re a chance to interact with the wedding industry (suppliers, bloggers, other brides) in a way that is *not* an advert or promotion – so they make for dialogue, which can only be good for your sponsors, etc, in the long run. That’s all I mean by looking at the comments in a balanced way. I can totally understand the editors’ desire to support sponsors and colleagues in comments (and of course nasty comments should be removed), but sometimes those readers (and suppliers!) who disagree also deserve editorial thanks so the discussion can continue 🙂

  37. I’ve read several of the comments from other industry professionals, and I can’t help but feel that the product being offered is not comparable.
    Trying on dresses is so much fun (sorry, not saying that your services and meetings are not fun, I’m sure they are). But you wouldn’t book a meeting with a photographer/wedding planner for fun. I presume 99.99% of meetings with these services is because the client is seriously considering booking them.
    I wonder what the percentage is that applies to those visiting bridal boutiques.

    Most bridal boutiques will have listed their designers on websites, so potential customers should know what is stocked before-hand.

    You could also say that the price of a dress in a boutique should be adjusted to compensate for said time wasters, but if 50% of visitors were time-wasters, this could just never be calculated and accounted for.

    I don’t know if we are discussing Miss Bush in particular, but the dresses she stocked are high end, and margins are tight. I don’t quite mean it in this way, but if you are prepared to spend several thousand on a dress, what’s an extra £50 to make sure you have a prime appointment in the shop.
    If you can’t afford it, you just can’t have what you want. Business doesn’t work like that. Nobody else on the planet works for free, and I don’t see why the wedding industry should in the name of love.

    I make bespoke gowns, and I have a friend who owns a very high end fabric shop in London who I meet with and who gives me advice. He deals with London’s rich and famous who have their evening gowns made for them, and he finds it ridiculous that I don’t charge for an appointment. His clients expect to pay, and would think it’s a shoddy service if they didn’t.
    At the moment, I don’t charge.
    Products such as wedding dresses, and everything else I’m sure has a ceiling price, where consumers just won’t pay more . . . and this has to be considered too as to what can be included in calculating your costs.

    1. Apologies, It’s so difficult when writing a response like this to address every detail that you want to without writing an essay . . .
      I just read about somebody suggesting that clients are being ‘classed’ . . . as a business owner, I would never want to ‘class’ clients, but I am realistic about what I can afford in my life, and I could never have the wedding of my dreams, and I would never ask a business to compensate for that fact. I just have to make the best of what I can afford and respect everybody’s price.

      1. I really appreciate you having taken time to comment Charlotte – thank you so much.

        No, this piece absolutely isn’t just about Miss Bush in particular. I simply used Miss Bush as an example of a company who has decided to introduce fees (on a Saturday) – something Emma has herself publicly blogged about – and I wanted to make public my support of this move. What I absolutely hadn’t realised before publishing this feature was what a very, very sensitive issue this actually is. I’m a very passionate supporter of businesses in the bridal wear trade and the last thing I want to do is put anyone off from visiting a really great, great boutique simply because I’ve shared the fact they have introduced a Saturday fee! What a way to miss out on a potentially brilliant experience!!

        Hopefully I can use my blog and influence in the bridal community to help shift perceptions in a good way – by helping my readers to understand and appreciate the role of bridal boutiques, the efforts they go to for their customers, and how the likes of Miss Bush are absolutely dedicated to creating a very positive, memorable experience for their clients. I really hope that I can build on the response to this feature to take those first steps in shifting perceptions very soon – and hopefully, with the support of Miss Bush and the bridal industry I so love.

        Big love Charlotte and thanks again 🙂 xXx

  38. I can understand the need for boutiques to try and deter some ‘time wasters’ or people who really have no intention of buying a dress – I have heard of people who actually pretended to be getting married so they could get a free taster meal with caterers! Obviously this is greatly unfair however I do feel like a charge just to look at some dresses seems a bit unfair. As though brides are being punished simply for the few who have no intention of buying a dress. Leaves a bit of a bad taste in the mouth.

    I agree greatly with the ladies who think that looking online at a dress is completely different from actually trying it on. I thought I would go for a completely different dress to what I actually discovered was ‘the one’. Lots of the time I felt that many that looked exquisite were very heavy and just not me when I actually tried them on. I wouldn’t really like to feel that I was a burden to the staff just because I didn’t actually purchase the dress.

    Also wedding dresses are a huge expense and I always thought the profit margin would be quite large (maybe I am wrong as I dont run a business and maybe lots of boutiques struggle – i would be interested to hear).

    Maybe a better way of tackling this would be to give brides (and their friends) an ‘open doors policy’ on a Sunday – where they can browse the dresses for themselves (without the help of staff) and if they find something they really want to try on they can book in for an appointment on a Saturday (limited to x number of dresses and meeting with an assistant). This way brides still get a chance to see things they like in the flesh without the need to waste the members of staff time.

    I am interested to hear from the owners of boutiques though as maybe there is such a huge number of people just ‘browsing’ that lots of potential profit is just being lost. I just don’t like feeling that I am not worth the time if I don’t cough up the cash. xxx

  39. At last! A post on a wedding blog that is genuinely interesting and thought-provoking! (That’s not that I don’t love the many other posts crammed with beautiful dresses and wonderful inspiration!)

    Initially I was of the opinion that an appointment fee was just another way to rip us nervous, excited brides off. Now I’ve read the post and many of the wonderfully erudite responses, my opinion has completely changed! I can’t believe how lucky I was not to have to pay for appointments at amazing boutiques like Abigail’s Vintage Bridal (and others)

    Great post, more like it please!

    Hx

  40. I run a bridal store and have been contemplating charging £5 to hold a Saturday appointment which would be refunded from the cost of any purchase; but also warning customers that if they do not turn up without 48 hours notice then they will be charged a further £20.

    To be honest my attitude is that we offer such a good service, advice and choice that if ‘the one’ can be bought from us then the customer will be back; but if we do not have that elusive dress we understand that the customer will go elsewhere.

    My main reasoning for considering charging is that we can have a 6 week wait for our Saturday appointments and so many customers just don’t show up on the day – no phone call or email, nothing! This is both frustrating for my staff but also means we will have turned away other customers wanting to visit.

    I understand that this is a contentious issue but it is the rude ‘no shows’ that are forcing me to think this way – something I have always been against.

  41. Hi! I own a bridal boutique in South Cheshire and have considered charging a deposit for Saturday appointments for sometime. My reason would not be for ‘time-wasters’ in the sense of brides coming and not finding ‘the one’ but purely to ensure that brides turn up to their appointments. On Saturday’s we are always full with a waiting list and we send text reminders the day before but that does not stop brides not showing up! I feel this is just rude and the only way I can think to stop this is to charge a ‘REFUNDABLE’ deposit whether you buy a dress or not. £20 to secure the appointment which is fully refundable when you arrive. This is time consuming for us but if it stops 2 out of 9 brides every Saturday not showing up it could make a huge difference to us sales wise. I’d be interested to hear your views on this?

  42. As a newbie bride to be I was shocked and surprised when I tried to book my first wedding dress appointment only to be told I would be charged for the privilege of viewing that stores dresses and potentially buying one. I don’t understand that business model at all – charging potential customers is a deterrent to getting them to view your wares if ever there was one. Since then I have figured out which stores are free to visit and I will only be going to those stores, and therefore only they will benefit from my hard earned cash when I decide to part with it. Stores charging to view seems indicative of a wider wedding madness to me and us brides have only ourselves to blame if this trend is taking off (I.e some of us are clearly happy to pay!). I imagine most people visit about 3-5 stores at least, if they all charged £30 you’d be down £90-£150 before you even walked away with anything to show for it!! Personally I’d rather keep the cash and spend it on the shoes I will be wearing that day!

  43. Only moments ago I finished a phone call where I tried to make an appointment for a Saturday afternoon in a Cardiff Bridal shop and I am completely appalled that the shop had the audacity to charge me for an appointment; I did not make the appointment for this reason. I have had many meetings with many other wedding vendors and have never been charged for a consultation/appointment.

    When anyone opens a business of any kind they need to establish a detailed business plan which allows for running costs to be covered by sales; for a bridal shop seeing women for appointments is an inevitable running cost. I am now going to a beautiful boutique on a Saturday where the appointment is free! The suggestion that if brides don’t want to pay then they should book in the week is completely unreasonable. As a mature student who works and volunteers; six days of my week are taken up with one of these activities, the only day time I get off is late on a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday (most bridal shops are not open on a Sunday). Shopping for a wedding dress should not be an activity reserved just for those with lot’s of disposable income and free time. A bridal shop which charges for appointment, I believe should re-evaluate their processes and how they conduct their business because, clearly, something has gone wrong somewhere!

  44. Found this article after googling “is it normal to pay for wedding dress appointments”. My local bridal shop was trying to charge me £20 for a weekday appointment. Fair enough Saturday or evenings if it’s your busiest time, but a week day? And mid-afternoon at that! Also I felt judged from the onset as a potential time-waster, as opposed to an excited, newly engaged bride-to-be. If Ellie Sanderson and Vera Wang don’t charge for appointments, and Temperley and Miss Bush Bridalwear only charge for week-ends, I see no good reason why I should pay for a weekday appointment.

  45. This is ridiculous! I have a hard enough time trying dresses on in high street shops just for going to a party, not to talk of my wedding day! I do agree that there are some brides that are time wasters and don’t take the wedding dress process as seriously but for brides who are just having a hard time picking a dress its very unfair. Some of my friends have had to visit 4 or 5 different shops just to find the dress they wanted to wear and if each shop charges £35 an appointment, people will be spending over £100 just to view dresses they might not even like! Also, wedding shop websites are so ambiguous with the information they put online- if you don’t know the range of prices for the dresses at the shop, how are you supposed to know if you can afford the dresses in there? This is especially apparent with brides who don’t know brands of wedding dresses that well as they might go in to a wedding dress shop with no information online about the price and fall in love wit dresses they can’t afford- hence time ends up being wasted! Bridal shop owners need to realise that not every bride is lucky enough to fall in love with the first dress they see at the first shop they visit!

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