Broke-Ass Category: Broke-Ass Advice

3/31

Picking out your wedding wear is a major milestone in the planning process, but how do you know if that online order is a good idea? With so many concerns about overseas sellers, mother of the bride Leisa hit us up for some advice on how to know the buying experience will be a good one. She writes:

I am the mother of the bride who will be married in September 23, 2017. I have been doing a lot of research in helping her to find a wedding dress. It is overwhelming, to say the least. There are so many beautiful and more affordable dresses on Etsy; many of which are made overseas. I would like to hear from more people about their experiences in ordering dresses online.  You have many posts that highlight Etsy sellers’ gowns, but I’d like to here about experiences in ordering them; which are reliable, no hidden costs, etc.   Thank you…I love your posts!

Hi, Leisa and thanks for reading!

It’s a great question and one that comes up often when looking for a dress. It’s no secret that cheap knock-offs exist on all corners of the internet, and Etsy, despite its handmade reputation isn’t immune. Of course, beautiful, quality dresses abound and there are a few things to look for to ensure that deal is worth making. Wedding planning sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire have entire forums for brides who’ve bought dresses from Etsy which can be an invaluable source for first-hand experiences. For some tips on knowing when you’ve found a great seller, I’ll do a little experiment with you:

Etsy feather ballgown dress

Feathered lace gown available from Etsy seller CustomDress1900

After going to Etsy’s wedding dress and separates section, I pulled this ornate gown with a sub-$500 price because I was suspicious. It looks like a lot of dress for the money.

When you click on a dress you’ve already cursory looked at the picture, so the first thing to check out (before you fall in love with a dress that may not be the real deal!) is the product name; there can be clues there. “Vintage Lace Wedding Dress Beige Champagne Wedding Gowns Formal Bridal Gown Princess Luxury Puffy Feather Lace Dress for Wedding” is a LOT of words, BUT they all apply to the dress. Some sellers stuff their titles so full of keywords to make customers more likely to find the item from a variety of searches.

The problem is when they use misleading or completely untrue words simply because customers frequently search for those words.

If the title had included, say, beaded or mermaid or gold, potential scam alert! If they’re scammy with their title they’re likely to be scammy with their sales.

Looking for items with multiple photos including close-ups is smart, but pay attention to what’s in the photos. This dress is displayed on a mannequin, not a model and watermarked with the shop name. Personally, I count that as a plus. If someone is selling a knock-off, they frequently lift the photo from designer websites which almost always have a model wearing the dress. If the picture looks like it came straight out of a bridal magazine, chances are it did — but your dress didn’t.

If you suspect that might be the case (or just want to make double sure), do a reverse photo search on Google.

For anyone unfamiliar with that process, save a picture to your own computer, then go to the Google homepage. Up in the right hand corner you’ll see “images” in small text; click on that and a camera icon will appear in the search bar. Click on the camera and upload the picture. This will bring up sites where the image appears. Other than a couple instances where someone saved it to Pinterest, every instance of this photo comes from this seller. It’s probable that this dress is an original!

Customdress1900 google image search

Now it’s time to move on to reviews. Under “feedback” there are over 400 reviews, but they’re for the entire store, not the specific dress. However, out of those 400+ reviews, this shop still averages 5 stars and many of the reviews include pictures of the dress received (bonus information). Take some time to read the comments and look for genuine-sounding, emotional words. A store can have thousands of five-star ratings, but if the comments are just a bunch of “great seller” and “item as pictured,” you may be looking at fake feedback.

Even if an item doesn’t have dedicated feedback, looking at the store’s info can bring up some make-it-or-break-it points.

By clicking on the store name at the top of the page, you’ll be redirected to the store front. Right at the top are the three numbers you want to see.

Customdress1900 homepage

Customdress1900 has racked up almost 1,600 sales and has been in business on Etsy since 2013. Rip-off sites that accrue too many negative reviews will shut a page down and start a new one, so it’s wise look for businesses that have been operating at least two years. Again, we see there are 403 reviews, almost all of which are five stars. Highlights in the first few comments are that the owner of this site is great with communication, accepts custom orders and ships quickly.

If everything checks out but you’re still uncomfortable, use the “Ask the seller a question” button to send them a direct message. A reputable seller should get back to you within a couple days with a professional demeanor and relevant answers to your questions. Once you feel comfortable with a seller, have a seamstress take the necessary measurements and double, no, triple check the information before sending it along. This is your dressmaker’s only tangible way of figuring the proper fit, so it’s best to be exact!

I hope this gives you some peace of mind as you go forth on the great dress hunt!

Do you have any additional bits of wisdom on how to be sure you’re not getting ripped off? Share in the comments!

  • 2/17

    Finding the love of your life and taking that next big step towards forever is a blissful time of your life, but what happens when someone you love has life experiences that are giving them a broken heart?

    caring for friends

    Whether it’s the ending of a relationship, loss of a loved one, money, job or health troubles, certain struggles can zap the celebration spirit right out of a person, even if they love you dearly and share your joy. It’s ok to feel disappointment and to go on with your excitement, but taking the time to specially care for your loved one in their time of need can make the situation better for everyone involved.

    Remember their pain is not your fault.

    You didn’t cause the pain your friend is feeling, and even though it can feel unfair to go one with your happiness while someone you love is hurting, it’s really not. They almost certainly don’t feel it is, either. Being sensitive to their needs can help dissolve any potential bitterness and may even give you a needed break from all of the weddingland craziness.

    Let them set the pace.

    Everyone reacts to tragedy differently, so don’t be shy about asking how involved they want to be and make sure they know they can change their minds. Assuming someone doesn’t want to be involved in fun trips like outfit shopping (or, in my case, anything followed by the word “tasting“) can hurt more than it helps. Extend the invitation, but be gracious if the answer is no.

    Set aside time just for them.

    This is just a good practice in general, but loved ones going through a rough patch or all-out heartbreak really deserve the extra attention. Help out by taking care of a need — whether a daunting chore or a fun night out — and focus your energy on them, rather than wedding plans.

    Show up for the big things.

    The mean curveballs life can throw often come with life-altering events that are an excellent opportunity to show your support: medical treatments, funerals, an unexpected move … stopping your day to be there may sound like a given, but it goes a long way to someone in need of that support.

    Honor their requests for discretion.

    When you’re going through a time of personal trouble, one of the hardest things can be to keep positive while well-meaning outsiders ask questions. If your brother is going through a divorce or your best friend lost her job, they may not want to share the details with the people they meet through parties and get-togethers that sometimes accompany an engagement. Unless they ask you to pass on their regrets to others, keep the bad news within their circle and allow them to put on a happy face if that’s what works best for them.

    Be mindful of money troubles and help where you can.

    This is especially true for people in the wedding party. It’s no secret that being a part of the wedding can rack up some serious dollar signs, so whether their expendable cash is simply lacking or their money troubles are rooted in outside trouble, look for ways to keep costs down. Besides, choosing budget friendly options for wedding attire and party destinations never hurts!

    Be prepared to let them off the hook.

    It’s never easy to back out of a commitment, so if it gets to that point, understand they’re likely as disappointed as you are. Give them time to heal and look for other fun ways to bond and celebrate the special relationship you have. Being flexible lets them know how important they are to you and spending time together is a good reminder for you that even though times might be difficult for them, they still care about you and your happiness.

    Have you run into a sticky situation while planning your wedding? Need some advice on how to handle it? Let us know in the comments below!

  • 2/3

    Camping Bubbles Party Favor, starts at $1.35 each from Etsy seller MadHatterPartyBox Decorating your wedding is a big job on its own, but reader Kacey came to us looking for some Broke-Ass advice on how to make 60 rustic camp cabins feel a little more like home for her wedding guests. She writes: Dear BAB, I want to say we're soul sisters but don't want…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!

    1/20

    If the new year brought you a new big step in your relationship, congratulations! We're so happy to have you! As you jump into the world of wedding planning, know that it's totally normal and very much ok to be feeling a little ... overwhelmed about where to start, to say the least. If your head is feeling like a giant cloud full of tulle…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!

    12/9

    From reader Amanda: I am on a very tight budget for my wedding, and I am having issues finding a cheaper venue for the ceremony and reception. I understand most times you get what you pay for, but I still want my wedding to simple yet elegant and not "thrown together" due to lack of funds. I am planning on an outside ceremony and an…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!
  • 11/11

    Whether you're hand-writing on the envelope or using a convenient print-out label, addressing your wedding invites comes with a few *rules* that etiquette specialists still advise you follow. We don't want you to be left searching, so here's what you need to know before sending out that stationery. Before you get started, make sure to check and double-check that spelling! Your partner's cousin Ashleigh is…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!

    10/28

    Weddings -- planning them, paying for them, putting them on -- are kind of an ordeal. Even the simplest of soirees can have a lot of moving parts and when those parts get to rolling, the unsolicited advice starts coming in. Seriously: death, taxes, unsolicited wedding advice. Plenty of people out there have already explained that it's important not to take these opinions (or thinly veiled…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!

    10/14

    Cash Wallet, $56 by Etsy seller BlackArrowStudio I've been wracking my brain to come up with some truly epic wedding advice for you, BABs. This being my last advice post for The Broke-Ass Bride for the moment, I'm feeling some (self-imposed) pressure to get it right! ? I hope you enjoy it, and remember that you can always reply in the comments or email BAB directly…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!
  • 9/30

    Marathon Runner Cake Topper, $205 by Etsy seller Clayphory Pre-post disclaimer: If you're looking for fitspiration, you've come to the wrong place. This is not a post about losing weight, working out, or changing your appearance for your wedding day. Instead, this post contains tips to (hopefully) keep you from passing out on your wedding day. These are general tips, not medical advice. As always, consult your doctor or nutritionist…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!