Thanks to the Internet, you can now shop-the-world for your wedding and most notably for Canadians, all sorts of US-based websites, with their much lower pricing. But, in practice, shipping costs, customs, duties, taxes and other fees can quickly become a frustrating adventure and many a Canadian bride have found it more economical to abandon their order, rather than pay some significant and totally unexpected charges.
Here is a list of the top-20 ranked online wedding stores in bride.ca's Invitations and Favours & Supplies directory categories. Luckily, most of them are in Canada! Still, those 4-5 U.S. stores carry enough products to easily double your choices.. so, what do you need to know?
|DreamGroup Boutique (Wedding Star)||Canada||CAD||(details)|
|Print Canada Store||Canada||CAD||(details)|
|Bridalicious! (Kate Aspen)||U.S.||USD||UPS (details)|
|Nuptial Celebrations: SHOP CAD||Canada||CAD||(details)|
|Finally the Bride||Canada + U.S.||CAD||(UPS) (details)|
|In Casa Gifts & Favours||Canada||CAD||(details)|
|Creative Expressions (Wedding Star)||Canada||CAD||(details)|
|The Uncommon Bride||Canada||CAD||(details)|
|Nuptial Celebrations (Carlson Craft)||U.S.||CAD||UPS (details)|
|Paper Garden: DIY Supplies||Canada||CAD||(details)|
|Prelude to a Kiss (Wedding Star)||Canada||CAD||(details)|
|Wedding Style - Wedding Favours||Canada||CAD||(details)|
|Nuptial Celebrations: SHOP USD||U.S.||USD||UPS (details)|
|MDC Designs (DIY)||Canada||CAD||(details)|
|A Beautiful Day||Canada||CAD||(details)|
|Nuptial Celebrations (McPhersons)||Canada||CAD||(details)|
|The Thank You Company||Canada||CAD||(details)|
|Nuptial Celebrations (Stylart)||U.S.||USD||(details)|
(*) Careful: these are not your only options for invitations or favours, just the most popular e-commerce outlets. For your full range of options, including local specialists, spend some time in the directory.
We have turned to our "resident expert", our good friend Linda from Nuptial Celebrations, to try and make some sense of this labyrinth of charges and learn what to look for before ordering, to ensure you are trully getting a deal.
Linda operates her own Canadian wedding web-store, in addition to another three "private label" websites by US-based wedding companies: Carlson Craft (often referred to as "Cceasy"), Stylart and McPhersons, as well as operating a website where customers can order with drop shipment directly from United States vendors (referred-to as Nuptial Celebrations: Shop USD). So no one understand this stuff better than her!
Before even browsing a website, first check out their About Us, shipping policy and return policy pages. This will help you determine where the company is located and decide whether it makes sense to even bother considering these items.
(*) If you can't find a physical address and/or phone number for contact purposes, leave the site. It can have all the web-security in the world, but that will not help you when there is a problem after you place your order.
(Obviously, if you're on a Canadian website -that passed rule #1!- there is nothing much to discuss.. no duties or levies or customs or brokers.. what you see is what you get. But the interesting things happen after you "cross the border"!)
..which is very often a source of confusion. See, many Canadian owned and operated companies are actually marketing a third-party "affiliate" website, which itself is operating out of the US. Most of the time, you can readily see this in the website's web address, in your browser. Something like www.somecompanyname.cceasy.com. So (in this case) this is really the Carlson Craft website, marketed locally by some Canadian company.
HINT: The About Us page should clearly identify the Canadian "host" of the website, while the company that actually powers the website should be shown on the bottom of the home page (with their name and the copyright sign ©).
Whichever the case, in most such US-website situations (with a few exceptions)
Kate Aspen products are extremely popular and are found both "within" dozens of Canadian websites or as stand-alone "Canadian label" Kate Aspen web-stores. On of the options they offer is pre-payment of customs. Careful! Not "included" customs, just "pre-paid", on their website's checkout. Presently the fee is $20.95 which is added to their shipping rates (by FedEx), meaning that you don't have to pay it on delivery. Kate Aspen bulk ships to Canada once a week, with delivery arriving within 3-10 days, depending on your location.
Warning #3 (Kate Aspen): If you find a Kate Aspen item listed for a very low price in an "independent" website, be very careful. Make sure the item is current and has not been since dicontinued. Try to find it in one of those "Canadian-label" Kate Aspen websites (eg. Bridalicious) - their products are by definition always up-to-date. Linda receives too many calls each year from brides who have ordered from a website based on price but never receive their order. Kate Aspen is taking steps to control this situation.
Traditionally, just about anything one ordered online from a U.S. website, was shipped with UPS, or perhaps Fedex (very rarely, via U.S. Post). But during the past few months you will notice new shipping companies, like IshopUSA and Bongo International (for real, that's their actual name: "Bongo Int'l", lol) which have partnered with some of the U.S. web sites, as their exclussive international international shipping company. So, if the website you are browsing uses one of those two for international shipping, some slightly different rules (and better options!) may apply: