Shopping for your gown online?

Dear Customers,

Amanda-Lina's Sposa Boutique has been serving customers from Toronto and GTA for several decades. We have witnessed many dramatic changes in shopping trends for bridal gowns, formal wear, evening and prom dresses. In the past 10-15 years many young ladies have chosen to shop for designer gowns online, enticed by the discounts they were able to find. We have sold many gowns online as well, however majority of our customers still prefer to come to our boutique and try the gowns, talk to fashion consultants and relish the experience of buying a designer masterpiece.

The following article is not meant to discourage you from shopping online but to provide an honest insight about several pitfalls our customers shared with us:

Image discrepancies

What you see on the photo on the website and what you would end up getting delivered to you could be two very different items. And the more fantastic the deal, the bigger could be this difference. You have to be sure that the site belongs to a vendor who is authorized to sell product of a selected designer, but how do you ensure that?

Fabric quality and feeling

Fabrics are very tactile. Image on the website will not tell you if the dress feels itchy, or the material is too sheer and the dress reveals more than you are comfortable to show. Corseted bodice may be poking you in places that would have you frowning on all your photos. Even if you took your measurements correctly (which is harder than you think), since you haven't tried the dress you are actually getting, you have no idea if it would be comfortable to sit, walk, get in the car, etc. And if you feel confident because you tried that style at the local boutique before ordering online, please read again previous paragraph. Style number and photo only guarantee quality and fit if you are buying from an authorized and trusted online vendor.

Customs and other charges

Buying expensive item from US site seems like a safe and budget-wise choice for a Canadian customer. Wedding gown certainly qualifies for an expensive item, especially a designer gown. So you have found a reputable US vendor and may have called or emailed them to make sure you are getting the real thing, not a cheap knock-off. Ok, let's total up the price. Suppose your dress is sold for US $1000. Your shipping cost varies depending on province and postal code, but let's say it's $50 standard rate. Most shipping companies cover the cost of lost or damaged goods up to $100, but you can purchase additional coverage for $2-$2.50 for every additional $100 value. So on a $1000 that would be approximately $20 additional value insurance.

Additional charges will vary from company to company, however the shipping provider may charge:
  • a customs clearance fee, or customs handling fee for processing the import declaration
  • an advancement fee for paying the duty and taxes on behalf of the recipient
  • an airline handling fee for loading and unloading the goods
  • a security fee for screening or x-raying the goods
  • a fee for preparing the customs declaration

The exchange rate varies all the time but at this moment it is about 1 USD = 1.10 CAD, which applies to the price, shipping and insurance.

As of 2014 customs duty on wedding dresses shipped from US to Canada is 18% applied to FOB price (combined cost, transportation, loading, unloading, handling, insurance, and associated costs incidental to delivery of the goods at the port or place of export in the country of export)

And the last but not least - taxes (HST, GST or GST and PST depending on your province). If you use any duty calculator online to estimate the final cost of this purchase from US to Ontario, it would give you the CAD $1420 approximate price tag.

Returns, late shipment and alterations

If you find the final price calculated above to your satisfaction, before you click "Complete Order" button, please take a minute to contemplate alterations, late delivery and your options if you need to return your dress. Most dresses need alteration and, unless you have a seamstress in the family, you would have to take your dress to a local store. Dresses purchased online may require more extensive and expensive alterations, since you haven't tried it on before buying. Many salons would refuse alterations on dresses purchased elsewhere.

We know you probably started shopping for a dress w-a-a-a-y before your wedding day, so chances of it being late arriving to you are slim, unless it gets lost during shipping. It doesn't happen often but delays are possible due to local holiday seasons in various parts of the world.

As far as returns go, your options vary greatly depending on the vendor. Read return policy and hope you won't need to use it.

Amanda-Lina's Sposa Boutique has been serving brides-to-be for over 40 years. We have met thousands of young ladies in person and have been shipping online orders for the past 10 years. We deeply care about our customers and consider it our responsibility to provide them with complete and honest pros and cons of buying wedding dress online. Hopefully you find above information helpful and complete. Please accept our congratulations on your engagement and best wishes of love, happiness and prosperity. Cheers!!