Your neighborhood coffee hangout, your trusted hairdresser and your go-to nail technician-slash-confidante all have something in common: They’re local. So when you embark on one of the most emotionally-invested searches of your life (well, next to finding the partner you’re about to marry), wouldn’t it make sense to find a dependable nearby source, too? So don’t go far to find your dream wedding gown and have the most gratifying (and least aggravating) shopping experience.
Because shopping local isn’t just about convenience—although we’re all very busy people, so convenience is pretty critical—but there are so many other important factors to staying close to home, from enjoying the most personalized experience to making a positive impact on your community.
So we sought out notable members of their own community: local bridal salon owners, who were more than happy to share their 10 most convincing reasons for shopping local for your wedding dress—and a couple might surprise you.
Browse and decide on your own time.
“Buying a wedding dress is rarely a one-time visit,” says Lauren Crispin, Co-Founder of The Mews Bridal, which offers Parisian bridal couture with two locations in London and one in New York. “It can take two or even three goes to make sure it’s ‘the one.’” So if you need to make multiple trips to the bridal salon to stare at your maybe-dream dress (and crunch the numbers), it helps when the salon is a quick drive, walk or subway ride away. Take your time, instead of feeling pressure to pull the trigger during a short visit to a city in which you don’t live.
Enjoy more flexibility for follow up visits.
“Really consider where you will be able to access your bridal salon on a more regular and easy basis for fittings and other visits,” advises Mark Ingram, Founder of tony Mark Ingram Atelier on the Upper East Side of New York. who points out that once a dress is ordered, a bride should plan on a minimum of three follow-up visits for fittings. “If you fall in love with something from Italy, do you want to go back to Italy four times?” he rhetorically asks. “Of course, you would love to, but it doesn’t make sense economically to do that.”
Decrease travel stress.
Compared to jetting to Capri for gown fittings, even regular commutes from your town to even the next one over can cause major headaches (and road rage). “Traveling to another city can be stressful on top of an already often-stressful time [wedding planning],” says Lily Kaizer, Owner of Happy Isles, a luxury vintage bridal salon in Hollywood, Los Angeles. “Why worry about directions, Ubers, and traffic, when you can shop local and make a staycation out of it?”
Since you’re able to spend time at your leisure at the salon, you can also take the opportunity to build and establish a relationship with your sales consultants and management—creating an extra sense of confidence that they’re taking care of you, even when you’re not physically there. “You entrust them to place and follow-up on your wedding dress special order that will take months to arrive,” says Lanie List, Founder of Lovely Bride, which has locations in 12 cities around the country. “Technically, this back and forth is much easier if you are shopping at a local salon.” Close proximity to the salon also offers frequent opportunities for surprise check-ins, if you’re that bride.
Enjoy a more personalized experience.
“Being close to your boutique is useful when you get your dress fitted to your exact measurements,” says Crispin. “The salon will either have fitters in-house who know the style inside-out, or they will be able to recommend the perfect place to go to elsewhere in the city and have probably fitted the same dress to another bride before.”
Take advantage of local knowledge.
“Every bridal shop owner is connected to a network of other industry professionals,” says Kaizer. Salon owners and experienced sales consultants—especially ones with deep roots in the city—can be a font of knowledge to save you precious research time and energy. “Shopping at a local salon could bear other fruits such as local photographer, DJ, hair and makeup, or florist referrals,” she adds.
Discover cool, indie artisans.
Some bridal salons also make a point of carrying wedding accessories or even gowns by local designers and artisans that you might not have heard of before—and give you a chance to support them. “Happy Isles stocks vintage, but it also has the exclusive on fresh water pearl hair accessories from a local Los Angeles vendor,” Kaizer says.
Strengthen the local economy.
“You are supporting the local economy and small businesses,” says Elle Warren Co-Owner of Warren Barrón in Dallas. Your patronage helps keep a locally beloved salon, which is maybe family-owned for generations or founded by an independent entrepreneur bringing more talent into the area, in business. Plus, the salon will hopefully pay it forward and refer you to other local businesses, all while providing employment opportunities for members of your community. Kind of makes your dress even more meaningful, right?
Be part of a community.
Throughout the year, your nearby salon will throw pop up events, trunk shows and various social occasions that are easily accessible. “By shopping local, you can attend fun community events where you get to rap with other brides going through the same process!” says Kaizer.
Go ahead, feel the warm and fuzzies.
“More importantly, there is a sentimental aspect to wedding dress shopping, and it just feels special to be close to the shop—you may even pop in on occasion after you bought your dress,” says List. “You’ll also love taking your girlfriends to the shop where you bought your wedding dress, creating a new tradition. It may sound corny but it’s true that we feel like we have a courtship with our brides and we miss them when they go.”
Plus, you’re word of mouth goes a long way. “It’s always a blast to come back to the boutique when your friends become engaged,” says Warren.