INSIDE EDITION Investigates Counterfeit Wedding Gowns

Most women plan every aspect of their wedding and it can be expensive.  The average couple spends $25,000 on their wedding, so finding a gorgeous gown at a great price is incredible. But, as Lisa Guerrero reports, some of those gowns turn out to b

It's the most important dress a woman will ever wear: her bridal gown!

Candace Burch of Salt Lake City, Utah, thought she had found her dream wedding dress when she fell in love with a designer gown by Justin Alexander. But, at $4,000, it was way out of her price range. 

“It was my budget for my entire wedding,” Burch told INSIDE EDITION.

That was, until she found the exact dress at an online wedding boutique, called
“The dress was normally thousands of dollars, and here it was for me to order right then for $300,” Burch said.

But, when the dress arrived in the mail, Burch was shocked! 

“I pulled it out, and I was horrified,” she said. “It wasn’t the dress they showed in the picture [on]. It was the most hideous dress I have ever seen.”

Instead of an actual designer dress, Burch received a poorly-made knock-off gown.

“It looks like I am wearing a white trash bag,” she said as she tried on the gown for INSIDE EDITION’s cameras.  

The material of the counterfeit dress was thin and cheap. The beautiful, crystal embellishments on the designer’s gown had been replaced with cheap sequins--like the kind used on Halloween costumes.

Even worse, it was only weeks away from Burch’s wedding date!  

“I was on the brink of canceling my entire wedding,” she said.

INSIDE EDITION found Burch isn’t alone. Hundreds of brides say they have been mislead by counterfeit wedding gown websites that not only copy the designs, but use the designer's own photographs to advertise their knockoffs.  

We wanted to see for ourselves, so INSIDE EDITION’s I-Squad ordered a beautiful, taffeta gown by wedding dress designer, Maggie Sottero. The gown is one of the most popular in the country and retails for around $1,200. But, at, we paid only $477.00 - less than half the cost.

A month later, our wedding gown arrived. But, INSIDE EDITION’s Lisa Guerrero discovered it did not come from the designer, it was shipped from China.

Guerrero inspected the gown, and found that the material felt cheap. “It feels like tissue paper,” Guerrero said. The dress was also missing the designer’s label.

In addition to the dress, we also received a shabby-looking veil. It looked like mosquito netting.

“That's just sad,” Guerrero said, examining the veil.  

How do our internet gowns compare? We put the real Maggie Sottero gown next to the dress we bought online, and asked Randy Fenoli, star of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” to take a look.

Fenoli said one of the biggest differences between our internet gown and the authentic dress was the length of the train, or the back of the dress.

“When you order [the real dress] from Maggie Sottero you’re going to get a really dramatic, beautiful train,” Fenoli said.

When compared to the real gown, the counterfeit Maggie Sottero’s train looked significantly shorter, and less dramatic.

Also, the beading on the counterfeit gown looked nothing like the designer dress:

“[On the real Maggie Sottero gown] you're going to see glass crystals, little tiny miniature pearls, glass cut beads, and this is beautifully done,” Fenoli said as he showed Guerrero the beading on the real designer gown.

“But, if you look [at the counterfeit gown], what you're going to see is a lot of big, plastic silver sequins,” said Fenoli.  

They were just like the sequins on the counterfeit dress Burch received.  

“I would be horrified to see someone walking down the aisle, let alone myself, in this [counterfeit dress],” Burch said.

Fortunately for her, a local bridal store in Salt Lake City, The Perfect Dress heard about Burch’s story and offered to give her credit in their shop towards a new gown. As if that wasn’t enough, Burch’s friends also pitched in money towards her new dress.

“All my friends rallied together and said we will buy your dress, any dress in the store,” she said.

On her wedding day, Burch said she felt like every bride should: beautiful.

Tips from the owners of The Perfect Dress, Salt Lake City, UT

•    Bridal gown manufacturers do not sell their gowns online. They only sell their dresses through authorized retailers.

•    Just because a website uses a designer’s own photos, doesn’t mean you’ll be getting the real thing.

•    A counterfeit bridal website often asks for a lot of measurements, many more than any manufacturer or legitimate bridal store will ever need. That is an indication that the website is creating the dress from scratch, and is not working with the real designer.

•    If the an online bridal store’s hours are strange, such as they want you to only contact them at 1am or 2am in the morning, that is something to be concerned about.

•    If you are looking online to purchase a gown because you think it will save you money, try talking with a bridal consultant at a shop instead. They work with manufacturers and can help you find a gown within your budget.