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:
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!
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 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!