Newest Review: ... welcoming and didn't turn their noses up at all. They actually took the time to ask what kind of thing I had in mind and about the venue, ... more
Member Name: Holland1
Advantages: Staff knowledgeable about dress styles & what suits you
Disadvantages: Staff don't know their own dresses, didn't ask what my budget was, lack of communication re booking
I am probably risking taking a lot of criticism for this review, as I am reviewing a shop in which I've never actually bought anything. However, wedding dress shopping is different to normal shopping experiences in that you don't just pick something up from the shelf, take it to the till, then bring it back if you're not happy with it. Wedding dress shopping is an experience in itself, where the process you go through and the advice you receive is as important as the purchase itself, and can prevent the purchase from taking place. This review is aimed at anyone who is considering buying their dress from Berketex, to give them an idea of the process involved and the advice you will receive. This experience was at the Chester store, I can't speak for other branches of Berketex.
==The booking process==
Firstly, most wedding dress shops require you to make an appointment rather than just turning up on the day. This is because you are allocated a member of staff to advise you through the dresses and styles that suit you, and also because wedding dresses are so heavy you'll probably need someone to help you get in them!
When I made my appointment with Berketex, I also made appointments with three other bridal shops for the same day. I rang them all to make sure I got the times I wanted, because I didn't want my friend and I to be trapsing from one end of town to the other all day. Berketex were the only shop I couldn't get through to on the phone. It rang out despite me trying several times. I remembered seeing an appointment booking form on their website, so submitted a request that way. I received a standard automated response to my email address saying they would confirm the date and time. Two days later I still hadn't received anything, so I phoned them. This time I managed to get through, but I was told they hadn't received my email request. Strange, considering I had received a reply! Then she got the diary out to book me in, and I was already in the diary. Apparently someone had tried to phone me to confirm the appointment (they couldn't have tried very hard because my phone is never switched off and I'd had no missed calls or voicemails from them). Hmmm....not a great start but I was booked in. The woman told me to look on their website and make a note of the names of dresses I liked the look of.
The shop seemed quite small inside and didn't hold as many dresses as the other ones we visited that day. It was clean enough, and the changing rooms were a decent size. The changing rooms were a bit of a let down because they were basically separated by curtains between each person. After visiting bridal shops where you get a room to yourself with a sofa for your friends this was a bit of a let down, and meant my friend couldn't come in with me. Instead she sat on a chair outside waiting for me to come out and show her each dress. The mirror was directly outside the changing rooms, so I didn't have to go far, but there were a few of us trying dresses on (it was a Saturday) so it felt a bit like we were getting in each others way. Not quite the pampering glamorous experience you see in the movies! The shop had dresses, a sale rack, and accessories such as tiaras and veils on display.
I had noted down the name of about four dresses that I'd seen on the internet and liked the look of. I could only find one of these in the shop, so I asked the assistant who had been allocated to me. She said she didn't recognise the names of any of these dresses, and asked her colleague who confirmed that she'd never heard of them. "When did you get these off the website?" she asked. "Last night" I replied. Bit embarrassing on their behalf as they are either advertising dresses that don't exist, not stocking them in all branches, or the staff aren't very well trained.
She told me to have a look round and pick any that I wanted to try on, but to be honest apart from the one I'd seen online I couldn't see ANYTHING I liked. They all seemed quite old fashioned with lots of frills, lace and fussiness. The assistant was actually quite helpful at this stage and talked me through all the dress styles and what type suits different people. This was the only shop who did this with me so full marks for that.
In the absence of me choosing any dresses I liked (to be honest at this stage I'd already decided my dress wasn't going to be from here so just wanted to get out of there and have a glass of wine with my friend), the assistant decided the best thing to do would be to try me in as many as possible. Without checking my budget (surely the first question anyone should ask in this situation?), she proceeded to stick me in dress after dress, none of which did anything for me.
Finally there was a dress that looked vaguely flattering, so I asked her for the details so we could leave the shop. She wrote it down for me - the dress was around £1,100 (WAY over my budget) and she knocked 20% off if I bought that day (no chance!). The alterations package was another £180 on top of this. I wasn't sure how they could decide this when she hadn't discussed what alterations I would need. Surely a bit off the length wouldn't cost the same as the whole thing being taken in? I wasn't really bothered because the dress was the best of a bad bunch and wasn't THE dress thankfully, otherwise I'd have been heartbroken that it was out of budget.
To give credit where it's due, the staff were very friendly and put me at ease. It's a strange experience stripping off to your underwear in front of a stranger and having them pull and squeeze you into huge dresses. My assistant was very knowledgeable about styles of dresses, but not about the shop's stocked range. She was very lovely though and not at all 'snooty' as some of these places can be. The only thing I didn't like was that she didn't check my budget before we started, so was sticking me in dresses I knew I couldn't afford. This could have been disastrous if I'd found something I liked but then discovered it was too expensive.
The relationship you have with your wedding dress shop is one that requires trust and communication. You will be dealing with these people for months, and going back for fittings, alterations and so on. The wedding dress is one of the most important elements of the wedding day, therefore you need to have complete trust that the shop you buy it from will not let you down, and will give you good advice. Although I received some good advice from the member of staff I saw, I wouldn't put my trust in this shop to see the order through and communicate with me throughout the process. I was disappointed with Berketex because they are one of the better known high street wedding dress shops, and I expected better service from them.
Summary: Not the dream bridal shopping experience I expected