A retail store that sells counterfeit wedding dresses might be deemed reprehensible enough to get called out in a Hall of Shame video, but online retailers? It’s a little tricky; with so many sites out there, it’s really up to consumers to know the signs of a fishy deal. Here are some tips to go by if you’re shopping for your dress online:
1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Sites marketing gowns that the designer sells for upwards of $1000 for way, way lower are probably leaving out an important detail: the dress is either a replica or simply “inspired by” the original. This can mean different material, workmanship, and fit — not by any means the same dress.
2. If the site tells you you’re buying “direct from the factory,” think twice. No retailer selling legit designer wedding gowns would offer them wholesale online, especially if the price is way below market value.
3. Avoid sites based out of China — these are a hotbed for faux designer dresses.
4. Avoid sites that don’t list contact information or only an e-mail address. This is a red flag that the company will make it very difficult for you to get a hold of them. Look for a phone number and address — and consider contacting them before you buy (so long as they seem reputable otherwise).
5. Look for store reviews online. If you can’t find anything else about it online (or the reviews are all a little too enthusiastic), reconsider.
6. Check the return policy. If the site says orders are non-refundable or exchange-only, there’s probably a reason.
For gowns that have our seal of approval, check our guides on inexpensive wedding dresses, reception wedding dresses, and strapless wedding dresses.