Thursday, March 4, 2010

Breathtakingly Beautiful and Charmingly Cheap ... the Chinese Wedding Dress Syndrome

I'm sure you've all seen the breathtakingly beautiful and incredibly cheap wedding dresses that are all all over the web nowadays.

Usually it's about amazingly beautiful studio photos with a $50-200 price flickering next to them. There's no ironi in this, it's only the truth. Well, part of it. For after browsing the pages a bit more you're sure to find the firm policy, which starts like this: "We are Chinese dress maker company, make beautiful dress for you". But why should it be a problem if a bride wanted to order her gown from China? It's true that the poor seamstresses work for the smallest wages, but if you have a tight budget yourself, should you just ditch the idea of a beautiful gown?

Because wedding dresses are very expensive nowadays. (Sometimes so much so that the poor bride -- literally :D -- can really feel she should forget about her dream princess gown altogether.) Not to mention the dresses in the studio photos on these sites -- I mean the originals. But then how could the knock-off be so cheap? The sites say it's because they have no shop, no salon, they work with local fabrics and employ local people. Well, that's good as may be but I still think $50 would hardly be enough for the fabric...

So I've been looking into things a bit and I can say it's all "IKEA policy". Which is no real problem if you're aware of it. The Swedish manufacturer is considered really cheap in Switzerland and really looked down on. However, we all know that there may come moments in everyone's lives when one's not buying furniture for 100 years that looks a millions' worth -- and the price is really an issue.

Well, these firms work just like this. They make dresses that follow the latest fashion, as the pictures on their sites are from the newest designer catalogs. And their business models are similar, too. There are lots of people at the local IKEA store every Saturday, and I'm sure they don't leave empty handed (after all it's not really a family event to be queuing up there...). This is the basic idea behind the brand, that lots of people buy their products, which are not very beautiful (mind you, we have the apartment full of them and they look nice) but there's plenty of them and they're cheap. And all this despite the occasional quality issues. If you're really complaining, they'll exchange everything (and I mean everything!) willingly and in a very friendly way.

Chinese wedding suppliers have similar principles. Brides choosing simple gowns are usually very satisfied with their purchase. Those who call them and keep in touch throughout the manufacturing process give positive feedback as well. The rest often get horrible dresses, which really have the feel of the infamous Chinese quality to them. Then it's time to send it back and start complaining. But most of the time the shipping cost is just more than what you've payed for the dress, so the bride won't bother.

So is it a "do" or a "don't"? If you're a risktaker, definitely a do. It might be worth it, even if it doesn't turn out well. If you have the time, also a do. If you can track the production throughout, they won't cheat you. (It's a good idea to ask for photos during the process!) If you've set your heart on a simple gown (sot much beading and decoration) and you can specify your needs exactly, do it. As I said, it might work out.

But if you'd like to click and forget about it -- well, forget about it. It's not as easy as that. If your dream dress has lots of frills, beads and flowers, don't do it. These gowns are not made in China. If you're prone to be nervous, I wouldn't advise it either.

So it's really like 50-50. It can either turn out really well, or it's just money wasted. It's no pessimism on my part, I've just been summarizing hundreds of pages of reviews here. (Before you order, google the manufacturer/seller and read the reviews carefully. Some are obviously planted there.)

Well, it seems that my dress might be the most expensive thing about the whole wedding. Hope not. (Definitely not counting the paperwork: that'll be a fortune in itself!)

Anyway, it's one of the things I stuck to at the very beginning (we both had 2 each) so this is only fair. I could also cut the groom's expenses and feed the guests sandwiches. =D =D =D Just kidding! I'd never touch his "babies", one of which was the food. We both have the right to stick to what's really important to us. It's our wedding, after all. But I'm not giving up on my beautiful dress. So we'll see how's it gonna go.

I'm not ordering from China. It just feels too fishy to me and I can invest the $200 in the second plan, which I'd have followed if the China thing hadn't worked out. I am a risktaker normally. It's just too much risk at a time when I'm having plenty. And I want to get on with the dress business too. I'll tell you later how plan B's going.

Thanx for reading! Have an awesome day! (Though it's gloomy here. Supposed to be snowing, which I doubt would happen after weeks of spring. Well, we'll see...)


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