- Gabriella Risatti, owner of Gabriella New York, shares what brides should ask when dress shopping.
- Start shopping 10-months to a year in advance.
- Determine if the price fits within your budget and search the website or call for more information.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
“It takes about three or four months to make the gown,” she told Insider. “And then you’d like to have three to four months to alter the gown. So if you do that we’re talking six to eight months for the process. That’s not leaving you any room to really shop. So that’s why we say ten months to a year is ideal.”
That’s not to say an expedited process isn’t possible — but the sooner the better.
“It’s also important to read reviews. Of course, take some with a grain of salt, but what are people saying? And if there is a bad review, what specifically is the reason? And if you call to make the appointment, what is the experience you have?”
“The good thing about having an appointment is that you know you’re going to have someone dedicated to you and when you call, you can get as much or as little information as you want,” Risatti told Insider.
“If you have a certain style or price point, they can have that set up before the visit — or you can start from scratch.”
“If the bride decides to purchase and we need to do paperwork, or if she’s just not really sure it takes a little longer,” she said. “We kind of buffer it in so that everyone actually has an hour and a half.”
“Sometimes [clients] don’t stop to think about or ask if that is the best style for their body type, their venue, the type of wedding that they’re having, the season, or the time of year,” Risatti told Insider.
“So if a [client] comes in with pictures and wants this heavy satin ball gown and isn’t getting married in August, that’s probably not a great idea, or you’re going to be super hot.”
Your best bet is to ask the stylist for his or her recommendation. Then it’s up to you to decide which of those is best for you.
“I know people can put a lot of pressure on themselves, but we would never order a gown for a bride based on her goal weight. We would take her measurements at the time of purchase and we can adjust it and alter it if she does happen to lose weight.”
Regardless, you might need a few alterations. “Sometimes you plan to run a marathon and might lose weight or add muscle you didn’t have before,” explained Risatti. “So you do have to be mindful of that when shopping.”
“What we recommend is bringing any undergarments that you think you might wear on the day of your wedding to your fitting,” said Risatti. “And definitely bring your shoes. Do not go to a fitting without the shoes. Not just a similar shoe, but the actual one.”
Some bridal shops, like Risatti’s, can add custom cups to the dress, so ask your stylist if that’s a service that’s offered.
“And then we do another fitting a month and a half later,” she said. “We usually do a final fitting about two weeks before the wedding. That does account for if there is any last-minute weight gain.”
Of course, you may change your mind or maybe the dress just won’t fit. Stylists will take that into consideration and schedule fittings accordingly.
“You work with the same seamstress the entire time and then we also have an alterations manager so you would see that person every time as well, and an alterations assistant,” she said.
“We think it’s really important to have consistency so that nothing is lost in the communication, like if you’re talking to a different person every time. The actual person who worked on your dress is the person you’re having your next fitting with.”
She capped her limit at five after an experience where a group of 12, including children, were disruptive. And there’s another very practical reason.
“It’s overwhelming for the bride,” she said. “She’s not making a decision on her wedding dress with all of those people giving her feedback.”
“On my website, I put the price range clearly for each designer,” she said. “Find out what price range the stores have and compare to your budget. If it’s not on the website, call and find out the prices or just a general range.”
“The good thing about made-to-order gowns is the ability to make minor changes like pattern changes or extra fabric. That will often incur a fee.”
Find out your bridal salon’s policy so there will be no budget surprises later on.
“You pay 50% at the time of purchase and then you pay the balance when the gown comes in. We don’t alter a gown or ship it unless it’s been paid in full,” she said. “You can pay in full at the start if you want but we only require half.”
“Once you buy that dress it’s yours,” Risatti said. “That’s just because the gown is being made for you. It’s not like someone else can use it.”
Risatti pointed out that there are extenuating circumstances that warrant consideration. She added, “If someone’s canceling their wedding gown, that’s usually not for a happy or good reason so we don’t want to make that any worse.”
Depending on whether or not the designer has already cut the fabric, the bride may only have to forgo her deposit or make a partial payment.
Gabriella New York partners with a company that cleans, preserves, and boxes dresses for brides in any part of the world. Find out if your bridal salon offers a similar service.