How to buy an Etsy wedding dress: 4 tips to avoid getting scammed

Etsy wedding dress by KMK Designs
Etsy wedding dress by KMK Designs

In our modern age of internet shopping, pretty much anything can be ordered online and shipped anywhere in the world — including a wedding dress. Now more than ever, people are making the choice to order a wedding dress online, in particular on a little site you may have heard of — Etsy.

For years, people relied on sites like eBay for their ecommerce needs, but over the last decade, Etsy has emerged as the place where most Offbeat Bride readers do their online shopping. Etsy allows buyers to purchase unique, handmade, or vintage items through its safe online marketplace. Fashion designers from around the world can put their products for sale in their Etsy shops, giving you a wider variety of gowns to choose from — everything from rock 'n' roll wedding dresses to gorgeous plus-size gowns.

Understandably, many are still skeptical about purchasing a wedding dress online, so here are a few tips and tricks on how to successfully get your own Etsy wedding dress.

how to buy wedding dress on etsy - damsel white label on offbeat bride
Etsy wedding dress by Damsel White Label

1. Research your seller

This goes without saying, but do some research! Anyone in the world can create an Etsy shop and you want to make sure that you are going to a reputable seller who will provide a quality product. The easiest way to research your seller is by going into their comments section and doing some digging. Who best to hear from than real customers who have gone through the game themselves?

If that isn't enough, Etsy allows you to see how long the shop has been in business for, where they are based out of, and even how many sales they've made so far. Not to mention it is very easy to get in contact with a seller before you buy through Etsy, so you can be sure that this is the right shop for you. You want to purchase your dress from a seller who wants to provide you with a dress to be proud of — not just take your money and run. Unfortunately, there are lots of shady sellers, but they can be avoided with some careful research.

how to buy wedding dress on etsy - miss braches on offbeat bride
Etsy wedding dress by Miss Braches

2. Know when it's too good to be true

Sorry to say, but the $99 gown may look like a dream but it could very well be smoke and mirrors. These "good deals" are all over Etsy and it is very important to know who you are buying from and be sure that you're not being scammed. Many times retailers overseas will post what looks like a dress fit for a princess but when it comes to your door, it's another story entirely.

Again, this is where the reviews of other buys come in handy. No bride would wish the disappointment of not getting what they paid for on another bride, so the reviews are a great way to know which shops to steer clear of. Even though a $200 dress may look like a steal compared to the $2,000 dress, it is important to understand that paying more for a quality gown from a reputable seller is far better than wasting your time and money on a cheap dress.

how to buy wedding dress on etsy - kmk designs on offbeat bride
Etsy wedding dress by KMK Designs

3. Support small businesses

The purpose of Etsy is to connect small business owners with buyers and while many scam companies may be out there, there are tons of small-scale designers who live to make your vision into a reality. It takes some searching but there are a few ways to tell what's the real deal.

They say a picture's worth a thousand words and in terms of buying a wedding dress online, it's true! Often times scam artists will try to fool you with wedding gowns that have been stolen from other designers, but the small business owners aren't trying to pull the wool (or in this case, organza) over your eyes with a retouched image.

Look for shops that show you the gowns for what they really are — look for multiple camera angles, and photos that don't look like they came out of a catalog.

how to buy wedding dress on etsy - stitchkateer on offbeat bride
Etsy wedding dress by The Stitchkateer. Notice how this listing has TONS of photo angles shown.

These dresses may be more expensive than some of the others that you see on the site, but what is great about Etsy is that you have the chance to explore thousands of unique designs — stuff like steampunk wedding dresses, vintage wedding dresses, plus size wedding dresses, rockabilly wedding dresses, geeky wedding dresses, and UG SO MUCH MORE!

4. Talk openly about timing and expectations

Working with small businesses on Etsy can be challenging because especially with something as complex as a wedding dress, these things can take time. Make sure you're clear with a seller about your expectations and their timeline for your dress.

These dressmakers are all featured in our Offbeat Vendors Directory!

Some of Offbeat Bride's Favorite Etsy dressmakers

These Etsy shops are all in our Offbeat Bride Vendor Guide directory because we adore their work — we think you might, too!

Did you get your dress at Etsy? What lessons did you learn? What should other Etsy shoppers watch out for?

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  1. I bought my $200 wedding dress on Etsy. It was a similar style to an $800 one I had found at a major bridal retailer, but was more than I wanted to spend. I followed all of the tips above and was happy with my purchase.

    My additional advice would be to contact some of the reviewers who bought the dress you think you want. I messaged 4-5 different people who had reviewed the same dress I ended up buying and asked them for their feedback: if they liked it, how well it held up on their wedding day, and most importantly, if they would be willing to share a photo of them IN the dress so I could really see the end product. Most people were more than willing to do that and after seeing what the dress looked like on a few "real" people, I happily bought my dress and and was not disappointed when it arrived.

    22 agree
  2. I brought my wedding dress off Etsy from the most amazing seller Tullahblue boutique, I saw it and fell in love so I sent a message and got chatting we came to an agreement on price and payment and she even held the dress for me! It arrived and was absolutely amazing, I married in it on Saturday and I've had soooo many compliments on it it's unreal! And it cost me £180

    2 agree
  3. Also (I do this is for a lot of Etsy sellers), if the photos make me suspicious in Chrome you can right click any image and select 'Search Google for this image'. It will show you the website it believes the image hails from (and other places it gets used). Sometimes a Chinese Re-seller or a wedding photographer's site will pop up. Sellers that use stolen images always make me wary.

    22 agree
  4. I got my wedding dress off of Etsy from a seller called Rose Mortem. If I had it to do over, I probably would have done the same thing, but it would have been nice to be able try dresses on before buying (especially since I'm significantly larger than the models). But I loved being able to get a custom dress for just a few hundred dollars.

    2 agree
  5. I didn't buy a wedding dress off Etsty, but I did have an unfortunate experience with buying a dress for a special event. I asked the seller if she could get me the dress in three weeks time, and she said, "Send me your measurements and I'll work as quickly as I can!" Deep down, I knew that to get a dress sewn up and shipped around the world in three weeks was cutting it fine, but I was so taken with the dress, I bought it anyway.

    The seller then stopped communicating (she said she had been away from her computer for a week, and then advised me she was taking a three week holiday. Notice she only told me about the holiday AFTER I had paid money). She didn't answer my question as to whether there was an option for express shipping, nor did she give me a shipping confirmation or tracking number when she said she had shipped the dress.

    The dress not only didn't arrive in time for the event (which disappointed me greatly), but didn't turn up at all. When the seller finally got back online, she told me it must have gotten lost and sent me a new one (this time with a tracking number). I have my doubts the first one ever got shipped at all. More so, she offered no apology, even though she knew I wanted this dress for a specific event that had come and gone. And by the time the dress arrived at all (a month after the event date), it didn't fit me properly, and tore the first day I wore it out.

    My advice – always check the reviews. If more than one person had a bad experience, take heed. You might become part of that minority. Consider contacting the unhappy customer and asking how the seller handled/resolved the issue.

    Most of all, build a dialogue with your seller long before you commit to the purchase. My best purchases came from sellers who answered ALL my questions, addressed my concerns, were brutally honest, didn't rush me into making a purchase, and answered my messages promptly without needing to be chased up. All these sellers have received glowing reviews from me, not only for their quality products, but their quality as sellers.

    If the first seller has been honest from the beginning ("I'll try to get the dress ready in time, but I will be taking a holiday so I can't make any promises,"), I wouldn't have had such an infuriating experience.

    9 agree
  6. Some beautiful dresses on here! I haven't quite got my head round etsy shopping yet. as a UK shopper I don't seem to find as many UK shops and then I get confused about shipping costs.

    4 agree
  7. Once again, Mermaid Bridal! Great prices, lots of color options and customization, and my dress arrived a month after I ordered it. It was gorgeous and exactly as pictured.

  8. I bought my dress from etsy and chose based on reviews from other buyers. I was a little worried because the model in the picture was clearly very slim and I am….curvy. But I loved the relaxed style and figured that because it was pretty inexpensive (about £120) if I really hated it I still had money left in my dress budget to find something different.

    The main thing I did was give slightly larger measurements than my actual measurements. A lot of the reviews had said the measurements came out small from the seller and I thought this way I can get it taken in rather than stressing about diets or other things like that.

    It's a beautiful dress and such a lovely colour. I need it taken in a bit but I think it will look stunning on the day 🙂 Laura Galic, the seller I bought from, does unique and interesting designs and I'm super glad to have found her as it's something I never would have found on the high street.

    1 agrees
  9. I have never bought clothing off Etsy (I have a bizarre body shape that makes it difficult to get something that fits right), but as a small business owner with an Etsy shop, I HIGHLY recommend messaging or emailing the owner. You can make 100 sales that end happy for everyone, and get 0 feedback or ratings from it. But a responsible, reliable small business owner will respond to your query promptly and professionally. If your instinct is that they aren't treating their business as a business, best to avoid them. Otherwise, it can be amazing to see the creativity and talents of others create a one-of-a-kind item for you!

    4 agree
  10. I really wanted to buy locally or even from someone in America for that matter, but unfortunately financial situations came up. I was very close to thinking I was going to have to settle for a dress that I was not in love with. I wanted a white and black wedding dress and could find nothing in my area. I looked at a LOT of dresses online and fell in love with one, but I could never figure out how to buy it. It was from a designer somewhere in Europe. Also, the whole buying a dress online issue really freaked me out. When I started having financial issues and needed to do some severe budget cuts on the wedding, I got a little desperate. It was almost like a sign though. While I was browsing on Ali Express, I came across that dream wedding dress from Europe. I about died I was so shocked. I looked over the reviews for the shop that was offering to make the dress and they were surprisingly very good (and with views from American women which helped ease some of my worries). I ended up taking the plunge and buying the dress. It took a little over a month to get here, but it is BEAUTIFUL. I paid $224 for it plus free shipping and I could not have asked for anything better. There are a few minor differences between my dress and the one in the picture, but unless you are me and obsessed over the picture, you'd probably never notice. All-in-all though, I know I was very luck to have such a good experience buying a dress online as well as from a foreign country. I've heard some horror stories from brides ordering online and I feel for them. If anyone is curious I believe the name of the shop I ordered from was Queen Dresses. FYI, I am not in any way affiliated with them nor am I receiving any compensation. Good luck and I hope you all find your dream dresses wherever they may be!

    2 agree
  11. I got my wedding dress from etsy. Everyone said how crazy I was but I defiantly did my research. Reviews go a long way. My designer Pixie Pocket's brides would post their wedding pictures so it gave me a better visual seeing the dress on a real bride and not on a model in a photoshoot.
    Also looking at the vendors other dresses and make sure the dress you like is the style they are use to doing. It will be easier to communicate your style and look you are going for. Trying to explain you are having a rockabilly/50s themed wedding to the average person at a bridal shop is frustrating. They just don't get it.

    2 agree
  12. I got a vintage Edwardian-style (but made in the '70s) lace and cotton dress for less than £40 including postage. It's absolutely gorgeous and fits just right. Honestly, I think I was mostly lucky, especially price-wise, as similar dresses I was looking at on Etsy were going for £100 to £200. Still, I'm ridiculously pleased.

    1 agrees
  13. As someone who works in the courier industry, please – ask the shipper to call their shipping company and get a quote on insurance. 9 times out of 10 any given parcel will be delivered to you and nothing will go wrong – but if your dress is lost, the last thing you want to do is wait for an investigation to finish. You want your money back ASAP to buy a new dress, and let the investigation continue in the meantime. Also – buy in advance! There is nothing worse than watching the number of days to the wedding tick away while you chase up a shipper or courier or postal worker.

    1 agrees
  14. I've heard and read that Etsy had a practice of either censoring reasonable negative reviews and discussions, or allowing sellers to do so. Is this ever/still true? I have purchased small things on Etsy in the past and have been very surprised by the lack of <=3 star reviews for most of the top sellers. On Amazon, even the highest rated products have a distribution of ratings, and I'm always suspicious when such a spread is not there.

    9 agree
  15. i didnt get my wedding dress of etsy but i got my bridesmaids dresses of the dainty yard, multi wrap / infinity dresses, full length, cost 1\4 of what twobirds\ eliza&ethan dresses cost. even with postage and customs tax.

    • Hi whovian bride, did you like the quality of the dresses? I'm looking into buying from dainty as well. I'd appreciate your help. And congrats on getting hitched!

      1 agrees
  16. I got a custom wedding dress from Kimera designs! Yvonne is sooo nice to work with and she makes dresses (all kinds!) that are beautiful and work with all different budgets! She loves color and if you love working with color, you'll probably love her stuff!

    She has a shop in Brooklyn, which is how I managed to pull of getting the dress, but she does have an Etsy shop! Check her out! =D

  17. I found my wedding dress and my bridestribe dresses through Etsy. The wedding dress was a vintage dress from the 70's from a shop the sells vintage clothing. I looked through the reviews on the store and communicated with the store owner a bit before I decided to buy but it worked out really well. The bridestribe dresses were the infinity/convertible dresses which I got from an Etsy shop called the Radical Thread Co. The woman who runs it was amazing and made really great quality dresses and was amazing at communicating well with me.

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