Wedding Dress Consultant Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a wedding dress consultant career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a wedding dress consultant is right for you.
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Wedding Dress Consultant Career: Pros and Cons

A wedding dress consultant helps a bride choose the perfect dress for their wedding. Continue reading to learn about the pros and cons of being a wedding dress consultant to determine if it's the career for you.

Pros of a Wedding Dress Consultant Career
Work in a high volume industry (the wedding industry generates $165 billion annually)***
No formal education requirements*
Can use fashion knowledge and interact with many people**
Your pay may be boosted by commissions**

Cons of a Wedding Dress Consultant Career
Low base hourly wage (average $10 per hour)****
Can be stressful **
Have to stand for long hours on sales floor**
May have to work weekends and holidays**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **April 2012 job postings, ***Association of Bridal Consultants, ****PayScale.com.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Wedding dress consultants work with brides to help them select a bridal gown. When thinking of jobs in the wedding industry, it's easy to get starry-eyed and envision a glamorous job that's fun and easy. But a job as a bridal consultant is still hard work. You'll need to be familiar with your store's merchandise, including the variety of cuts and styles that brides can select from, and be able to identify what will look best on a customer. You need to pull dresses based on how the bride wants to look on her wedding day, and part of your job may be asking the bride about her venue and what her groom will be wearing, so you can factor those details into the dress selection.

In addition to helping the bride choose her gown, you may make recommendations about her veil, shoes, jewelry and other accessories to complete her outfit. You'll also have to try to stay within the bride's budget, which means recommending dresses she can afford, while still pulling the dresses that she wants to wear. To excel as a wedding dress consultant, you should be friendly, professional, self-reliant, a good listener and patient so you can deal with brides who don't know what they want or are constantly changing their minds.

Career Outlook and Salary Info

According to the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC), more than 2.4 million weddings take place in the United States every year, and the wedding industry generates $165 billion annually (www.bridalassn.com). Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the employment growth for retail salespeople, including those that sell clothing, is expected to increase by 10% between 2012 and 2022, which is average for this decade (www.bls.gov).

According to Weddingstats.org, the average wedding dress cost about $1,259 in 2015. This doesn't include added embellishments, such as embroidery or beadwork, the veil, the undergarments, shoes or alterations. In addition to your base hourly wage, for every dress you sell you may earn a commission, which will vary depending on where you work. According to PayScale.com, bridal consultants (including wedding dress consultants) made about $10 per hour and an annual commission that ranged from approximately $125-$11,000, as of July 2015. Retail salespersons made a median annual salary of $21,390 in May 2014, according to the BLS.

Career Skills and Requirements

To become a wedding dress consultant, you don't need to have any formal training. However, some employers may prefer that you have retail experience. Generally, you'll receive on-the-job training when you begin, which will familiarize you with your store's stock and how the employer likes to do things. You may also spend time studying wedding dress styles and designers so you can find your clients' preferences. Among the skills you need to succeed in this field are:

  • Strong communication skills
  • People skills
  • Persistence
  • The ability to close a sale
  • Energy
  • Enthusiasm

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers are looking for individuals who have a background in sales and fashion for positions as wedding dress consultants. They want someone who can sell, while maintaining a good attitude, staying professional and being friendly. The job postings usually include information about the salary and benefits, such as hourly wage, commission, health insurance and paid vacation. The following job postings for bridal gown consultants are from April 2012:

  • A bridal boutique in Virginia advertised for a bridal sales consultant who had 2-5 years of job experience. According to the ad, the consultant would make an hourly salary and a commission.
  • A bridal salon in Texas was looking for a bridal retail sales associate who had at least a year of experience in a fast-paced sales setting and would be able to keep up on changing sales and promotions while providing excellent customer service to help brides find their dress.
  • A bridal retail company in California requested that upbeat and self-motivated individuals apply for a job as a wedding sales consultant and dress specialist. The employer was seeking someone who was a good listener and able to work on a team.
  • A bridal salon in Minneapolis wanted to hire a bridal salon sales consultant who had experience in retail sales. The ad stated that the ideal person would be a friendly, energetic, team player who wants to help brides find their ideal gown.

How to Beat the Competition

To get ahead, having some college education or at least a few college courses could be helpful, especially if your coursework is related to the wedding industry, fashion or sales. Consider earning a degree or a certificate in one of these fields to indicate that you're serious about this career, and to develop related skills that could help you stand out. These programs are also likely to include an internship, which will get you real-world sales, wedding or fashion experience that could capture a potential employer's attention.

Through a sales program, you'll study sales techniques and retail principles that can train you in methods to improve your salesmanship. Wedding planning certificates typically include courses that address common wedding dress styles, tips for helping a bride select her dress and information on the top wedding dress designers. This education could reduce your training time since you wouldn't be starting from scratch with wedding products. Fashion courses could provide you with a thorough knowledge of clothing design so you can show brides how a dress will look once it's altered or the embellishments she could add. Some fashion programs also offer courses specifically in bridal design.

Alternative Career Options

Wedding Planner

If you love the idea of working with brides, but want to have more responsibilities than just choosing the wedding dress, becoming a wedding planner could be for you. Wedding planners have a lot of stress because they're responsible for helping the couple settle on details such as a venue, flowers, caterer, bridal attire and even music for their big day. However, according to the BLS, event planners, including wedding planners, made a median average salary of $46,000 as of May 2011. The BLS also reported that the employment growth for event planners is expected to increase by 44% between 2010 and 2020, which is much faster than average. Most wedding planners have a bachelor's degree, but some training in wedding planning could get you started by familiarizing you with the ins and outs of the business.

Customer Service Representative

If you can keep your cool while dealing with a hot-headed customer, but sales isn't your thing, becoming a customer service representative could be for you. In this job, you'll work with customers, handle questions or complaints about products and help with returns. You don't need any formal training for this position. The BLS projected an average employment growth rate of 15% in this field for the 2010-2020 decade, so it's a solid career choice. Customer service representatives made about $31,000 as of May 2011, the BLS reported.

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