How Chinese New Year Can Affect Your Wedding Dress Order

year-of-the-snake-2013[1]As seen in, “Huffington Post…”

Did you know that Chinese New Year falls on February 10 and it’s the Year of The Snake? What does this do to your shopping calendar?

It’s almost that time of the year again! It’s wedding, prom and gala season — and Chinese New Year is just around the corner! You might wonder what the first three items have to do with the last, but you would be surprised to know that Chinese New Year could be the determining factor in whether you get to wear “the perfect dress… the dress of your dreams,” or not… (Click on the link below to read more)


When Mother Nature Affects Shipping Dates

Natural Disasters and Other Events That Affect Shipping Dates

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. Those of us in the Gulf coast know only too well the devastation and loss than can occur when Mother Nature unleashes her fury.

We have reports that some (and we have not heard from all) of our manufacturers have suffered severe damage. There are reports of warehouses with standing water and no electricity. As of now, there is no definite date for electricity to return to parts of New York and New Jersey. Those of us who lived through hurricane Ike, know parts of Texas were without electricity for over three weeks.

Over the years, we have seen winter storms, flooding, hurricanes, rioting in Los Angeles, and a terrorist attack on American soil, delay the shipping of special merchandise. I vividly remember a woman screaming at me over the phone, complaining that her dress had not shipped from New York just blocks from ground zero. At the time, there were still no planes in the air.

Everyday I am asked, “What is the last possible date for me to place an order?” I believe that Sandy is the perfect example of the kind of unforeseen events that can affect the availability of dresses as well as their shipping dates. 

Obviously, the odds are in your favor, but do you really want to run the chance of not getting your dress in time? I guess it all boils down to, how lucky do you feel?

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Special Orders and Chinese New Year

The Year Of The Snake – What you need to know about Chinese New Year….

This year Chinese New Year is Sunday, February 10th. Every year countless women are surprised to find out that they suddenly don’t have time to order the dress of their dreams. Most people don’t realize that unlike our New Year’s, Chinese New Year’s is a 2 week celebration that is preceded by a great deal of preparation. We typically see that translate into a 3 to 4 week addition to order time. What complicates this further is that it comes at the height of our social season, which includes bridal, prom, and gala attire. As you can imagine, this creates quite a bottleneck.

A dear friend of mine from church did not heed my warnings, procrastinated, and as a result was forced to buy her Mother of the Bride dress in the wrong size and had to alter it down, simply because she waited too long to place her order. Her mother of the bride dress turned out perfectly, but it was an added expense that she didn’t need to incur.

At this point, my sources indicate that the longer shipping dates will begin approximately October the 25th.  Retailers are typically not given an exact date as to when the jump to extended dates will be made, as it’s at the discretion of the factories in China. If the factories are busy or running short staffed, the order dates will change suddenly without prior notice, so please be advised. The dates may very to a degree from manufacturer to manufacturer, but in the end, plan for a longer delivery date.

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Finding the Perfect Dress Online…is like Chasing Rabbits!

Several times a week I receive calls from Mothers of the Bride and Mothers of the Groom from all over the country looking for one specific dress they have seen somewhere on the internet. Almost invariably, these women are short on time, yet they demand this one specific dress in a particular color and a questionable size – even though they have never actually seen it in person or tried it on. Worst of all, the dress is usually unavailable with the manufacturer in their time frame.

These women spend untold time and resources trying to track down their “Dream Dress”.

I constantly find myself trying to explain to them that the Internet is a great resource to find out who carries what, and how much, but it’s really not the place to find The Dress.

Ladies arrive in our store daily with stacks upon stacks of downloaded pictures. Almost invariably, the dress isn’t what they expected, and about 95% of the time the dress doesn’t suit their body type.

The point is, these women who are chasing after their “Dream Dress” are often passing up other wonderful possibilities in the pursuit of a complete unkown; and all the while the clock is ticking. They become so singularly focused that they loose sight of the prize -which is a dress that is actually in existence, in stock and makes them look and feel beautiful. I call this “chasing rabbits”.

When I speak to women who are in hot pursuit of a specific dress, either on the phone or in the store, I always recommend venturing out into the “3-D world of dresses” and actually trying some on. I strongly urge women to experiment and try on several different styles as well. Find an expert in the field who knows the merchandise and ask her for suggestions.

Many dresses look very different on the hanger than they do on the body. The majority of our ladies are pleasantly surprised – and often confess that their “Dream Dress” ended up being something they never would have picked off the rack for themselves.

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Ordering Timeline and Availability…It Depends

Every day, all day, I am asked, “How long does it take to order a dress?”  My answer is always the same – “It depends.” I then launch into a 5-minute explanation of the categories of dresses and the parameters that surround ordering them. Usually, the customer’s eyes glaze over – who could blame them, they are already under all of the stress surrounding the wedding. I often imagine myself sounding like the adult voices in the Peanuts cartoon “WaaWaaWah! WaaWaaWah!” By the way, that’s the same voice I hear when Dante tries to explain how to fix a problem on the computer, but I digress.

I think the simplest way to explain the ordering system is to break it down into bite sized pieces. Here goes…

Group 1)

These dresses are cut one time and will more than likely never be cut again. If they are re-cut the color is anybody’s guess – and who knows when this will happen anyway. We, as stores, will order these dresses 6 to 8 months out and the manufacturer will only cut exactly what is ordered, with virtually no extras. When they’re gone – they’re gone. These typically are the dresses that hover around $300 and below – especially when the price gets closer to $200 and under. There are some exceptions however, Pronovias is one, these gowns start at about $800 and they may be ordered only one time. They are from Spain and they do not take special orders.

Group 2)

Dresses in this category may be ordered, but know that it will take a minimum of 12 weeks. It is important to know that 12 weeks is shipping from the manufacturer to the retailer – not an in-store delivery date. Also, every manufacturer makes it very clear that they do not consider it late until 2 weeks past the expected due date. This means that if a dress is 10 days past the expected ship date, the manufacturer will not pay for upgraded shipping to get it to you any sooner – even if your wedding is in 3 days.

Group 3)

These dresses are cut in cuttings only. This means that I cannot call that manufacturer up and ask them to cut a teal size 12 for me. If the dress is not hanging, I have to ask if there is a re-cut scheduled and find out if there is a teal in the time frame needed. If there is no teal, I have to find out if there is any other color that will work for my customer. The cut dates and colors will vary.

Other Variables:

Seasonal –

It is important to note also that ordering time will vary seasonally. Chinese New Year, which unfortunately coincides with all of our spring social events, will extend shipping time to 16 weeks or more. As we get closer to this in the fall I will give you more information on this and remind you to get your orders in. 

Rush Orders-

Rush orders are a rarity, but occasionally they are available. They tend to be expensive, I have some that are upwards of $200 – my cost, and these are only available at certain times of the year. We do have a manufacturer that is more reasonably priced and more consistent with their rush orders, but know this – the availability changes too. During Chinese New Year we are unable to take rush orders. Three years ago, we received a sudden notice that they were not accepting rush order for the entire summer. Recently we received an email from them at 4:01 PM.  We opened the email at 5:10, only to find out that after the close of business that day the manufacturer was no longer taking special rush orders. We literally had 20 minutes notice. The problem was, there were a number of customers pushing the envelope waiting to bring a friend or family member in to help make the decision. There were others just figuring they had time. These people were suddenly locked out.


Interestingly enough, at the exact same time, we opened an envelope to find a discontinuation list from another manufacturer. We received the letter on April the 12th, and the discontinuation was effective April the 15th.

You should know that discontinuations are not based solely on sales. Over the years we’ve had many dresses we’ve adored and sold well discontinued.  Reasons for discontinuation are varied. It can be that the fabric is no longer available – or the dye lots have changed; it’s getting too difficult to obtain a special treatment on the dress; the manufacturer has to adjust for costs and it is no longer cost effective to produce; or simply the cut tickets in China are getting too big to be able to cut individual pieces.


Now you know why I cringe when I’m asked, “How long do I have to order my dress?” I sympathize, because it’s a very fair question, but I honestly don’t know how to answer it. If I warn the customer about the possible uncertainty in waiting, they look at me like I’m a used car salesman; however, nothing is worse than having a mother walk in excited, having made the decision, ready to order her dress, only to find out it’s no longer available.

Hopefully, this has given you insight – that only retailers have – into what it takes to order a dress. I often say that our job is “like air traffic controlling – there’s no room for error in what we do.” Now you know why.

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It’s Later Than You Think…

I know that we haven’t even passed Mother’s Day yet, and summer is still a month away, but it’s important to know that most of the special orders I’m writing right now won’t be delivered until the kids are going back to school in the fall. 

Be advised that the factories in China are very busy right now, and we’ve seen the delivery dates extending out three weeks longer than usual in some cases. I called on one of my favorite dresses two days ago, and found out that the manufacturer only had 2 pieces left and won’t have anymore in stock until “October – hopefully.” 

Yesterday, I had a sweet Mother of the Bride in the store who’s wedding is August 18th.  She brought her friend in planning on doing all the foot work in preparation for bringing her daughter in to shop with her in three weeks when the bride is in town. The Mother of the Bride was stunned to find out that she was already too late to order many dresses.  Fortunately, we carry an extremely large inventory (2,500 dresses, suits and gowns) so she was able to find a gown she loved in stock. We took pictures of her in the dress and sent them over to the bride. She bought her gown and headed off to alterations a very happy woman.

If you have a wedding in August or September and live in an area of the country where you are having difficulty finding dresses for Mother of the Bride and Mother of the Groom (which is typical), I strongly recommend you start looking from now. If stores in your area don’t stock merchandise you will be forced to order. The longer you wait, the more your selection will dwindle. I hate too see mothers who feel like they missed out on their ‘dream dress” or have had to settle.

Trust me, when it comes to dresses, options are a girl’s best friend.


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