I recently came across the question: “Why are wedding veils so expensive?” on Almighty Google.
My first reaction was “because they’re a pain to make,
and my second thought was “Really??” Uber increases rates when it rains so why wouldn’t a bridal shop charge a premium for a bridal accessory?
The question really bothered me, so once I moved passed my knee-jerk reaction, I decided to write about it. After all, why should a bit of fabric command such a premium price? As a milliner who specializes in bridal headpieces, let me share how I calculate the price of something that I’ve made. It’s really pretty straight forward. I keep detailed notes on the elements that go into making a piece. First, I start with the design which incorporates overall proportions and how things look. It’s important to understand that adding or reducing 1/4″ somewhere can make a HUGE difference in how the piece looks and feels once it’s placed on the head.
Next, I look at the materials used.
Is the bridal veil nylon tulle or is it made from silk illusion? There is more than a 10x price difference between the two materials. Most retail places require a minimum purchase of 1/2 yard while wholesale accounts can require a minimum purchase of 50 yards. Although the wholesale price per yard can be much cheaper, when you’re running a business, there is a financial impact to sitting on 50 yards of fabric that needs to be calculated and incorporated into the purchasing decision. My accountant likes to remind me that inventory is an asset and I pay taxes on that at the end of the year.
Finally, there is the time needed to make the bridal veil.
I hand sew many of the wedding hats and bridal veils that I make. It’s the difference between “Made in China” and “Couture.” Does the bridal veil have lace? If the answer is yes, you can probably add a zero to the price. Basically, fine lace doesn’t come “pre-cut” so the person making the bridal veil takes out a teeny-tiny pair of scissors and begins to cut the lace. Thread by thread, it’s a VERY slow process that can’t be rushed. The lace is cut and then sewn on the tulle or illusion. It is basted on with red thread, and then properly attached with ever-so-tiny stitches. I still remember the very first lace veil that I made. I sat there sewing hour after hour, day after day, week after week since it was a decent size veil. In the end, there was something transformative in seeing how radiant the bride looked and felt with the lace bridal veil.
Once these elements are calculated, I add in packaging costs; markup; wave my magic wand and voilà have the price. Magic? Price gouging?? Before you make a final decision, a wise person once said, it takes 20 years of experience to sew a piece in 15 minutes.
The craftsmanship that goes into making a luxury piece reminded me of the Hermès film “Hearts and Crafts.” It’s a movie that came out several years ago describing how their luxury products are made. Warning: it’s 48 minutes long but well worth watching. So what do you think? Enjoy the movie and share with others.