Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Finding a wedding dress in HK - Part I

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

5 comments:

  1. If you have not been there yet, try the little boutique Gianni Castelli on Wellington Street. The dresses are designed and made by a lovely group of Chinese ladies. I got a bridesmaids dress made there earlier this year and they were incredible. I ended up having 6 fittings because it was strapless and I have huge boobs but they wouldn't give up on me and I ended up with a fabulous dress that fitted like a dream (and my boobs held up for dancing!). They have a website showing all their designs, meaning my best mate in the UK and her Mum could look at what I'd picked, and will let you take a pic if you put down a deposit for something. Janet runs the place and is really helpful.

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  2. Ah, Hong Kong. There was a run on a Wedding Suppliers when I was there 20 years ago. Can't find a reference to it, but there was a similar run on Saint Honours Cake Shop soon after I left.

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  3. I understand many people write on this blog to share happy things in preparing for their big day. Yes and since its a happy moment, i have decided to share and warn people against the MOST UNHAPPY encounter that can actually happen when preparing for your wedding dress.

    I hate to name companies, but beware: LMR WEDDINGS: DO NOT GO
    not only my personal experience or encounter, i have colleagues and friends who share same experiences with the same sales people.

    1, renting packages in HK is a TOTAL RIP OFF (charge WAYYYYYYYY too inappropriately much) for dresses and for that quality...ehhhhhh

    2. LMR Wedding choices: very worn out and yellowish, not worth the price they're putting up for definitely. the design may not be recognizable by all but the oldness and YELLOWness of their dresses can be seen even by a 5 year old kid.

    2. In chinese slang, a term called BLACK FACE.
    Yep thats them. Esp when u name ure on a budget, the minute u say i dont need to add money for renting other dresses etc (maybe its only for prewedding right?) --> THEY BLACK FACE

    EXTREMELY bad reputation and manners and makes the bride feel most unimportant and cheap when they enter the place to chose dresses.

    3. they are extremely rigid on returning dates for the dress: those who rent dresses not for wedding day dont take time off WORK. YES SOME PEOPLE DO HAVE PROPER JOBS YOU KNOW!!!!

    4. inconsistent policies of fining those who have to pay for tears /damage in the dress. some tore it BADLY in the bushes for outdoor photoshoots and didnt have to pay. some "allegedly" tore a section, but was barefoot in indoor shoot (how is it possible?) and charged $800 for a small normal tulle material tear small than the length of your finger.
    BULLSHIT.

    there are many places you can go to in HK. PLEASE CHOSE wisely.
    otherwise you budget and mood for wedding planning will go up in flames for some company that doesnt do business with their heart.

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