Shopping for the perfect wedding dress is one of the most exciting parts of the wedding planning process, but deciding where to shop isn’t always easy.
Should you hit up a chain retailer like David’s Bridal or an exclusive boutique? Budget, convenience, dress style, product quality and service are all likely to play a role in which option you choose.
To help make that decision a little easier, we’ve done a detailed breakdown of the pros and cons of shopping at David’s Bridal vs bridal boutiques.
How Does David’s Bridal Compare to a Local Boutique?
David’s Bridal is the largest bridal-store chain in North America. With 298 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, David’s Bridal is also one of the best-known providers of affordable wedding gowns.
But does David’s Bridal stack up well against a bridal boutique? Let’s take a look.
David’s Bridal vs bridal boutiques
Let’s dive into the five main things every bride wants to know when choosing where to buy her wedding dress:
David’s Bridal Price
The sheer size of the chain means David’s Bridal will always be able to undercut local boutiques when it comes to price. While prices range from just under $100 to $2,000 or more, most of the dresses are between $300 and $800.
Most local boutiques will sell dresses from a variety of designers with prices starting at or above $800. While there are exceptions to this rule, especially during seasonal sales, most dresses at boutiques will be at least $1,000.
David’s Bridal Convenience
As the largest bridal-store chain in North America, it’s not hard for urban-dwelling brides to find a shop nearby. If you don’t live near a store, or prefer online shopping with some extra guidance, you can set up a virtual 30-minute appointment with a stylist via Zoom.
If you do prefer to shop in person, it’s best to schedule an appointment on a weekday. David’s tends to be packed Friday through Sunday, so brides wanting one-on-one attention will be better served setting an appointment Monday through Thursday.
This will assure you the undivided attention of a bridal expert for 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the store. Your bridal expert will take your measurements to determine the best size for you and then help you find a gown that suits your body type and personality.
One major advantage a locally-owned boutique will have over a bridal chain is a less congested shopping experience. While weekends are sure to be busier than a weekday, it still won’t be as loud or chaotic as a larger bridal chain shop.
If you’re a bride who lives in a small city or town, going to a local boutique will also save you the hassle of travelling to a larger center to shop. Not only will you save time, but any price difference between boutique styles and large chains could be erased by the time you factor in gas and time off work.
As an added bonus, most bridal boutiques, particularly the higher-end shops, offer appointments to brides so you can be sure of quality service no matter what day you drop in.
David’s Bridal style
David’s Bridal has a wide variety of styles available. The retailer sells everything from sheaths, mermaid and trumpet silhouettes to a-line dresses and ball gowns and also has a small selection of bridal separates and jumpsuits.
Some of the best dress options come from Oleg Cassini and the line by Galina Signature. The sequin lace mermaid gown with 3D florals from Oleg Cassini and the Galina Signature illusion cap sleeve lace appliqued wedding dress are two of our favorites.
Due to the wide variety of designers you’ll often find at a bridal boutique, the selection of styles is typically diverse. That said, unless you’re going to a large boutique in an urban area, you won’t have nearly as many dresses to choose from compared to David’s Bridal.
Smaller boutiques simply don’t have the space or the budget to keep that many dresses in stock. Most boutiques will be able to order dresses they don’t have in-store, but only if they carry that particular designer.
David’s Bridal dress quality
While David’s Bridal doesn’t carry dresses from high-end designers, it does have five exclusive labels: Galina Signature, Melissa Sweet, Oleg Cassini, DB Studio and Fifteen Roses. It also has the White line designed by Vera Wang with the more budget conscious bride in mind.
Most of the dresses you’ll find at David’s Bridal will be polyester with additions of lace, tulle and beading to make them look higher-end. Despite using lower-cost materials, the bridal retailer says its wedding dresses take up to 120 hours each to craft by hand.
Boutique dress quality
The majority of wedding dresses you’ll find at a bridal boutique will be of higher quality than many of the dresses you’ll find at David’s Bridal.
For instance, a Maggie Sottero dress found at a bridal boutique will be made of higher-end materials. While many of David’s Bridal dresses are polyester with the additions of lace, mesh and tulle, Maggie Sottero gowns are typically made from satin, tulle, lace, chiffon, organza, crepe and mikado, a luxurious, heavy-weight silk.
Another popular line at bridal boutiques, Morilee, lists similar fabrics such as satin, crepe, chiffon, organza, tulle, net and lace.
If having higher-end fabrics is important to you, a bridal boutique is more apt to meet your needs.
David’s Bridal level of service
Due to its large selection of affordable wedding dresses, David’s Bridal tends to be quite busy, especially Friday through Sunday. Located primarily in large urban areas, the customer base is large as well.
Those factors mean that staff at David’s Bridal are very busy and are often forced to juggle two or even three brides at a time. While making an appointment can help you to receive better service, if there are a lot of walk-ins, your consultant may be forced to split her time between you and other brides.
Boutique level of service
Unless you’re planning to shop at a large, urban location on the weekend during a sale, your experience at a boutique should be much more calm. While boutiques in large cities can be brisk on Saturdays, they don’t tend to be as chaotic as weekends at David’s Bridal.
You also have the option of booking an appointment with a boutique which guarantees you special attention and assistance. You may even get assistance from the owner or head manager while less experienced associates deal with walk-ins.
No matter who assists you at a boutique, the bridal consultants tend to be quite knowledgeable. They are also more hands-on and accommodating because they don’t typically have to juggle multiple customers.
Small Boutique vs David’s Bridal
When it comes to dress quality and service, bridal boutiques will almost always beat David’s Bridal hands down. However, brides, especially those on a budget will appreciate the lower prices and wider selection of dresses David’s has to offer.
If you’re looking for a higher-end gown and one-on-one service, a bridal boutique will be right up your alley. If more choice and cheaper prices are higher up on your must-have list, then David’s Bridal could be the store for you.