Why Are Bridesmaids Dresses so Expensive?


With the party dresses on the high street and online available at such reasonable prices bridal shops are often asked why their bridesmaids dresses are so expensive. To the consumer a £240 dress probably seems rather pricey when compared to the clothes in Coast or Monsoon but there are good reasons for the higher costs. No shop wants to offer over priced goods as it will affect their ability to sell them but bridal shops are faced with some unique demands and dealing with them can be costly.


Every bride is looking forward to the most important day of her life and a big part of the enjoyment of the process is choosing the lovely gowns and accessories for the big day. Brides want to be looked after well and to know that they are in the hands of people who care but offering a helpful, informative and attentive service isn’t cheap. When you buy from a fashion store you choose the things you wish to try on from the rails, take them to the changing room yourself, dress yourself and then decide unaided if something is right or not. In a bridal shop the staff will help you find what you are looking for, assist you in dressing and advise you on every option. It is a bit like having a personal shopper!


In order to give brides a broad choice of styles to choose from each store must invest in many sample dresses for customers to try on. These samples get knocked about and damaged and have to be sold off cheaply when the styles are discontinued. Sometimes dresses become so damaged that they cannot be sold off at all. Sadly styles are discontinued frequently and so shops pay big money to stock a dress and have only a limited period of time to make money from their investment. The prices they charge for their gowns reflect the fact that they have had to buy the wonderful selection for their clients to try on in the first place.


Fashion stores sell from stock. The dress you buy is the one you try on and for this reason each style will only ever be available in a limited range of sizes and colours. In order to cater for everyone, bridesmaids’ dresses are usually available in a very wide range of shades and sizes, hence the system of trying on a sample and then placing an order.

It would be impossible for a small shop to hold all of the options in stock. Dresses are offered in up to 71 colours and 16 sizes making 1136 possible combinations for each dress! The gowns are made to order at the brides’ request and so the prices are inevitably higher. Managing these complications is quite a feat too! Many shops now use costly EPOS (electronic point of sale) systems to organise their orders, monitor their sales and to interface with Sage Accounting systems as it is vital that there are no errors in the handling of an order. Brides generally do not appreciate receiving their dresses in the wrong style or colour!


Many bridal shops do a great job of offering a friendly and informative service and can provide an impressive range of choices for their clients but such a service must be financed and so the dresses on show can never be as cheap as those from fashion ranges. It is a difficult situation for independent retailers who must hope that brides continue to value the terrific choices on offer and are willing to support the shops with their business otherwise one day the options may disappear for good.


Article by Sally Stacey