What’s it worth?? Part 1 – The Dress

Controversial, maybe? Defensive, not intending to be? Quality driven and informative? Yes. As a bridal gown and accessory supplier, there are some-things which I’d like to broach, a few subjects which may be helpful to bride and buyer! The subject of money is one of those things that will always be a current issue and one with emotive value and with the UK as always teetering on the edge of recession and inflation rising, it feels like everything is more and more expensive….

This is the same, I am sure for all those out there about to enter in to marriage and therefore are funding a wedding, an expensive, person filled, beautiful event for which, of course, the lady needs a dress! No longer does it cost a few hundred pounds, depending on where you look, the average wedding cost here in the UK falls anywhere between £15,000 and 25,000, with the cumulative average figure settling around the £18,500 mark.

There is probably not much argument to the statement that the purchase of a brides wedding gown is the most important, special and exciting acquisition that a woman will make. Regardless of it you’ve dreamed of the gown since you were 5 years old or happen to now be engaged and need a dress, it will soon be a significant purchase and one which is essential to the day. You are getting married, therefore you NEED a dress!!

However, until you step in to the world of bridal (forgetting the rest of the wedding) you will have no idea how much gowns cost and may also be unable to see why there is such a huge void in the cost in the choice of gowns out there. With the ability to buy from the high street, ebay, warehouses and most recently TK Max (!), why is there such a vast difference in gown costs and why is this valid?

My analogy? Waitrose and Aldi sell food… the quality, environment, service and marketing to promote this food is hugely different. This is the same for gowns….

Let me explain, 1st starting with part 1 – The Dress!

When I opened The White Room in 2011, I knew who and what I wanted us to be. My brand was one that, after much research, I was to forge on open and honest service in a beautiful environment with couture designed gowns for style conscious, professional and fun loving brides. Nothing to be taken too seriously but one which would after all be a business, not a hobby. After all I gave up a full time job for this….

I knew that we would never be (nor would I want to do mass market gowns). I wanted ‘designers’ not ‘manufacturers’ which is where the price difference can really be seen… after all, when you want this:

Eden at The White Room, Sheffield

And get this:

Bad Frock!

There is a very valid reason why it’s worth the investment!

Our gowns start at £1500, something which I make explicit on the website and always reiterate to brides making appointments to see us. They hold this price tag for many reasons, one which I think is self explanatory, they are beautiful (!) however it is reasonable to ask… Is this excessive?

Maybe to some, “you could buy a car!”

You could – you could also work out how and why you need to spend so much on ‘just one day’ however the answer will never be one you can logically sit with. The answer is yes you could buy a car, but you don’t need a car to wear on your wedding day, you need a gown, something which you will only wear once, but do so on one of the most important and memorable days of your life. One which you HAVE to feel amazing in, beautiful, confident, happy, sexy, enviable, pretty, memorable, like a film star and one which will make your H2B the envy of all his friends.

The dress will be looked at and remembered for the next 30 years, it’s an investment but more so an emotional purchase that no price tag will reason with, however the message here is that YOU have a choice as to how much you spend on that gown is yours but let’s put in to perspective WHY they cost that without trying to sound all woe is the bridal boutique!

Let’s break it down….

Gowns need to be made – an obvious statement of course, but to make a dress of any quality and substance you need the following:

  • A designer and their team. I say team because as much as the designer is the face of the label, there are many more people that go in to making your dream dress. Let’s take Sassi Holford . UK born with her boutique and work shops both in Taunton, Somerset (as well as a London premises too), she is self-taught designer who began her business at the age of 17. She now designs more than 20 + gowns for her Signature, Couture and Classic bridal collections per year which she then presents to her boutiques at The White Gallery in May – a bridal insiders show where she has to not only hope the boutiques buy samples for their boutiques but also has to fund the catwalk show and exhibition space at a pretty penny!!
  • When we (the boutiques), love the gowns and believe they fit our boutique, brides, style and price bracket, we then order a sample for you to try. To make this sample and all the following orders from these, we need a highly skilled team of seamstresses, pattern cutters, hand beader’s, corset makers, administrators, marketing etc. Sassi employs over 45 specialists and all of her gowns are made in Taunton, Somerset so all UK skilled trade and work rooms, dedicated staff and talented craftsmen indeed!

In Taunton, Somerset

  • Fabrics – which can cost up to £400 per square metre for the most stunning laces. An average UK 12 dress can use up to 4 metres of fabric alone. Add this to ornate buttons, silk, beads, crystals, crepe, boning for corsets, thread, pattern cutting, toiles, lining, petticoats, hoops, chiffons, zips and seamstresses and machinery to bind it altogether and the actual ‘cost’ to make a gown can be thousands before it gets to us! Plus – if they sold it for cost, they would not make a penny… and that is not a business!
  • A gown then has to be securely packaged and transported to us. Sounds simple but this includes buying coat hangers, protective packaging, delivery & shipping fees, boxes and insurance whilst in transit.
  • Marketing, advertising and photo shoots, to translate the stunning gowns to brides, so you want to try them on and wear them for your wedding!

The point – quality throughout. Clever, dedicated design, quality fabrics, skilled hands and bride focused happiness! That is why you are a White Room bride – you know that your gown is made with you in mind to look and feel fabulous! 

And then it arrives at the boutique…. (TBC…….)


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A beautiful bridal boutique in the heart of Sheffield city centre. Styling brides since July 2011. Award winning boutique with designers including Suzanne Neville, Sassi Holford, Halfpenny London and Rosa Clara. Accessories by Debbie Carlisle and shoes by Rainbow Club. Bridesmaid gowns by Ghost and underwear and nightwear from a range of UK and international suppliers including Wonderbra 0114 2722336 www.whiteroombridal.co.uk

3 thoughts on “What’s it worth?? Part 1 – The Dress

  1. Hi Chloe
    I really enjoyed this article, thanks for posting. I am finding it really frustrating, across the industry as a whole, that price always such a shrouded issue – why is this? I am trying to guage how much I actually want to spend on a dress but doing research is impossible without the price tags. Even if I do decide to spend £2,000+ on a dress, money is not ‘no issue’ – but I feel like I’m expected to behave like it!

  2. Hi Cara,

    Thank you for posting, so glad you liked the read! I don’t believe boutiques deliberately try to be so stealth about the cost of a gown, more so protective of the brides who are ‘shopping around’ for the best price, which of course, is acceptable, but to bridal boutiques, unfair if we’ve spent time with a bride, offering brilliant service, for her then to be prepared to travel (in some cases) hundreds of miles to save £50!! We work very closely to all of our designers RRP to a) protect their brand and ours and b) ensure the other UK stockists of the same label support and protect our region and brides buying from their local stockist. Costs can also vary depending on the service, so a fixed RRP is never really possible… You may need a neck line change, extra length, made to measure, rush order etc… all these bespoke elements have their own costs, so as much as a bride should be open and honest about her intentions, so should a boutique about the cost.

    Chloe x

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