Weddings are big business, with bridal couples spending an average of $25,000 on their wedding ceremonies as of the publication date, according to The Wedding Report, a website that offers wedding statistics and marriage industry news. Wedding attire accounts for much of that: Brides average slightly more than $1,000 for their gown, according to a survey done by the XO Group through The Knot Inc., a public media company that reports on the wedding industry. Bridal shops sell wedding dresses, veils and accessories, along with attire for rest of the wedding party.
Bridal shops do not operate on a commission-based sales model. The shop typically marks up the price of the dress over the wholesale cost. A markup is a retail term used to designate how much more the product is sold at retail over the wholesale price. For example, the bridal shop may buy the gown from the designer/manufacturer for $250 and sell it for $1,000. The bridal shop has to pay for the gown regardless whether the gown is paid for by the bride.
Bridal shops order sample gowns, all in one size, from the bridal gown designer/manufacturer. The bride tries on the sample gowns to see which she likes the best and then orders the gown in her size. The difference between what the bridal shop pays for the gown and what it sells the gown is the bridal shop's gross margin. The bride may pay the entire retail price of the dress when ordered or 50 percent when ordered and 50 percent when delivered. The 50 percent deposit is more than enough to pay the gown designer.
Bridal Consultant Commissions
Bridal sales consultants work on straight commission, a base salary and commission or on salary alone. The commission varies depending on the bridal salon. An upscale shop may not pay a higher commission percentage than a budget shop. How much the consultant earns depends on the commission percentage, dress price and how many dresses she sells. J.Crew prices its dresses between $350 to $3,500, while Anne Taylor has dresses for around $500. Vera Wang offers bridal gowns priced between $500 to $1,500, according to the Forbes website. At the New York salon that is the focus of a TLC wedding gown reality show, the average gown sells for $4,500, according to Bloomberg "Business Week."
Occasionally a bridal shop will accept wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses on consignment. The dresses may be brand-new and never worn because the wedding was canceled. Secondhand bridal shops accept gently used bridal attire. The dresses are not property of the bridal shop. When a dress on consignment sells, the bridal shop receives a commission, with the remainder of the sale going to the owner of the dress.
Brian Hill is the author of four popular business and finance books: "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital," "Attracting Capital from Angels" and his latest book, published in 2013, "The Pocket Small Business Owner's Guide to Business Plans."