Best of a bad bunch - the curtain effect
Finding a wedding dress in Hong Kong is challenging to say the least. So challenging, in fact, that it took me four months to find one. Not only do the bridal shops simply not stock anything you could vaguely ever imagine yourself in, but they make it virtually impossible for you to actually try and choose one.
Whether you go to Weddings in Central or Lusan Mandongus (not the most consumer-friendly name) or Designer Bridalroom, you will find that as long as you are looking for a large meringue of a dress, or something to star in a Disney musical with, you'll be sorted. If, you poor soul, you're actually looking for something a little smoother, and sleeker (read "boring" in Hong Kong shop attendant's minds) you're pretty much stuck.
To make matters harder, there's also absolutely no transparency about what dresses shops actually carry. So, you go on their website and think "ah voondabah, they have Pronovias" only to find to your dissapointment that they only have two Pronovias dresses, and not the two you like. But then you'll get convinced on the phone they they-have-something-very-similar-by-another-brand-so-how-about-coming-in-to-try? Then, once you arrive at the shop, they'll give you a pile of glossy bridal books filled with all the fantastic designers they carry, which you'll go through with great care and attention and choose the dresses you want to try, after which the sales assistant will let you know that they carry absolutely none of your choices. Perfect.
The other thing is that Hong Kong wedding shops assume that you're going to run off and have their dresses copied by a tailor in an alley for a quarter of the price. So, in order to stop brides-to-be from stealing their designs, wedding shops don't allow you to take any pictures. At all. To the point that they "help you" with your dress in the changing room in case you decide to take a clandestine shot. I can tell you that even if I had planned to have the latest Vera Wang dress ripped off, a photograph of me taken in a dimly lit bridal salon wouldn't exactly cut it.
You can probably imagine that none of this is very helpful when your mother and most trusted friends all live on another continent, and can't exactly help you choose your dress with telephone descriptions such as "well, it's long, and white and has sort of drapy bits that float over your bum....no I don't have a picture...yes, I'll ask."
Some wedding shops also charge you to try on their dresses. Non refundable. Yep. 5000HKD (500 Euros) to try on three dresses. No, you're not allowed to try on more than three. But here I'm rather pleased to say I was able to find a loophole. As the fee is for trying on three dresses, I found that if I asked to try on only two dresses, then they couldn't find a reason to charge me. Ha! Life's little wins.
Of course, the inevitable and naive thought that comes to every bride-to-be's exhausted mind is, "Ah, I'm in China. The land of silk and sewing. Why don't I just get one made?!" Been there. And back. To cut a long story short, I'll just pose the question: how are you supposed to choose the fabric of your wedding dress based on a sample of cloth the size of your thumbnail? Need I go further?
p.s. Some good things, in case some of you are actually referring to this post for useful information:
- Peeps at Mariee don't have a fee to try on... at least not that I know of...they have some floaty numbers that are less stiff than the usual selection
-Joyce let's you try on their somewhat weathered Vera Wangs if you go to the back and smile a lot
-Hitched was incredibly helpful and have some cool retro dresses
-The WeddingShop has Jenny Packham which can sometimes give the illusion of hope. And other times not
-Blush had some possibilities and their short dresses and bridesmaid dresses were very pretty I thought