Hey fam. It’s time for us to get real with you – like, really real. We want to let you have a small peek into our world and, by extension, some of the back-of-house circumstances that effect you, your bridal party, and your orders.
To start, the majority of our designers manufacturer their products overseas in various Asian and Pacific Island countries. They can range from India to Vietnam. Due to this, different manufacturers have different shipping times, production processes, and delays. We do our absolute best to navigate these differences for you. YOU don’t need to know the different lead times of designers – we do. But what you do need to know is that designer lead times vary and they’re out of our control. Once the order is placed and begun overseas, it’s often out of our hands. Our companies in the US work closely with their overseas factories, but often, especially regarding shipping, their hands are tied. This is why we have an all sales final policy and do our absolute best to confirm color, size, and style before placing all orders. We also stay on top of your orders as much as humanly possible.
Which leads into our first big breaking new: international production and shipping has been severely impacted by COVID-19. Just as an example, one of our designers in Vietnam is currently working at only 1/3 staff thanks to a recent surge of cases in their major cities. Due to that, production is significantly slowed and are facing a 4 week delay. Shipping carriers, too, are also facing massive staff shortages and huge delays in Customs. Usually, we see a 2-3 day turnaround time on orders going through Customs. Now? It’s almost a week. Add in the month delay from the designer to begin with and we’re seeing a 6 week delay on bridesmaids orders. Some designers are more affected than others, which is why we do our best to stay in the loop with all our designers updates. Currently, we’re recommending ordering your bridesmaids dresses 6 months before the wedding date. Otherwise, we will insist on adding a rush fee to the order to ensure its’ quick delivery and minimal delays.
One thing that brides need to keep in mind is, with manufacturing done overseas in different cultures, many factories shut down for different holidays than they do here in the US. While it’s possible that there might be some time off during Christmastime, the majority of workers receive their holiday time off during Chinese New Year, which is February. The time off varies per designer and can be as short as two weeks and as long as six weeks. During this time, production is halted on most orders, which is why we encourage spring and summer brides to shop early. Doing so ensures your group’s order, if delayed, doesn’t disturb your wedding timeline.
The next biggest news? Cost of goods is increasing globally and that includes textiles. As much as we’d prefer to not raise prices, many of our designers have increased their cost of goods to both offset higher production costs and also to meet demand. Costs of fabric, lace, beading, and the labor for the skilled workers for create these beautiful garments are growing with inflation which means that the cost of our dresses has increased, too. We never want to be presumptuous and dictate brides’ budgets, but we also want our couples to walk in with realistic expectations about the cost of gowns and suits. Our average price point for gowns has bumped slightly, to roughly $1599. We still stock many gowns below that price point, but it is growing increasingly difficult to reorder gowns for anything less than $1000. Brides wanting to spend less than that price point at Dress Gallery should anticipate shopping off-the-rack. We simply no longer stock gowns less than $800 unless we are running an exclusive sale.
COVID-19 has also changed the way we do some of our processes, too. Dress Gallery is encouraging brides to limit their groups to 6 people or less for all appointments with no children under age 10. With the recent surges in COVID-19, we are doing our best to keep our staff and patrons safe. Out of courtesy and respect for your bridal consultants, we ask that groups be kept to 6 guests or less and all guests be over age 10. Our private bridal suites can comfortably fit that many adults and we cannot always accommodate extra seating. Plus, additional bodies limits the amount of room the consultant has to move around the suite, along with limiting floor space for trains, veils, and more. For bridesmaids groups larger than 6, we recommend splitting the group into two separate appointments. We also understand childcare in hard to come by, but please, no children under age 10 in the store unless they are being measured for a bridal party. This is particularly important in regards to strollers, as our store is not set up for easy navigation with strollers. If an infant is with you during your appointment, we ask that no strollers enter the store. Car seats and other hand carriers are fine, but especially on busy Saturdays, we simply cannot accommodate the space needed for strollers. Also, children are not encouraged to attend bridesmaids appointments. Our bridesmaids area is separated, but not private, which we’ve found means little kiddos like to roam. Due to this, we ask that bridesmaids attend appointments without children in tow.
We’ve also got some new faces over here at Dress Gallery. It’s possible that some of your favorite DG team members have moved on to bigger opportunities recently. Losing coworkers that feel like family is always bittersweet, but while we will always miss them, we’re super stoked for some of our newbies. They have really hit the ground running with their professional education and growth and we couldn’t be more proud. Just know that while staff changes have occurred, the Dress Gallery standard of excellence and expertise has not. We can’t wait to help you!
So that’s the meat of it, fam. Life looks a little different on this side of COVID-19 and we’re doing our absolute best to navigate this global crisis as best we can with minimal turbulence for our brides. We just wanted to give you some context to our business, our processes, and some of the decisions we’ve made recently. We thank you all so much for trusting us as your bridal boutique and we promise to keep serving you for years to come!
Love, the DG team