'GMA' Investigates Perils of Online Wedding Dress Shopping

"GMA" ordered three dresses from Chinese-based websites that have received poor reviews.
3:36 | 05/21/15

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Transcript for 'GMA' Investigates Perils of Online Wedding Dress Shopping
Now, on the "Gma investigates," just as wedding season really gets going, for brides the right dress is one of the most important parts of the big day and Mara schiavocampo is back as a word of warning about dresses that turn out to be disasters much what's this about, Mara. Reporter: A lot of brides finding their big day is ruined with 9 average cost of a gown more than $1300 a growing number of brides are seeking a bargain online but what they're finding is that looks can be deceiving and sometimes you get what you pay for. ? it's what nearly every woman hopes will be her dream day, not a nightmare. I was crying, I was hysterical. Reporter: To save money and time in planning her wedding new mom Sara weber ordered her dress online. Here's what she wanted. A beautiful lace gown, but when it arrived just two weeks before the wedding she says it looked nothing like the picture. There's black dirt on the bottom of the dress. Strings hanging out the bottom. It's heartbreaking when you want something to look so beautiful and it just is a hot mess. Reporter: There are tons of website, many based in China selling wedding dressing and bridal party attire some customers have found to be subpar. On site jabber thousands of complaints and Facebook has pages devoted to dress disasters. These dresses smell like fish. Reporter: "Gma investigates" ordered three dresses from Chinese based websites with complaints to see what would happen. We sent exact measure many, one of our producers standing in for a bride and bridesmaid. Two had real problems. We can't zip this shut. This won't stay up. It didn't arrive totally clean. A lot of the edges are unfinished. Reporter: But it's not just brides getting a bum deal. Some sites are outright stealing designs offering designer dresses at a fraction of the price even taking photos from designers' websites but what brides get is often far from the real deal. The problem so bad the American bridal and prom industry association just released a public service announcement. I've been hearing a lot of horror stories. Reporter: We visited martin Thornburgh, head designer for David tutara wedding gowns to see how different the fakes are from the real thing. How does it feel to you when you see the counterfeit of your design? It's very upsetting. You would almost call it a Halloween costume. Reporter: He ordered these dress, rip-offs of his own designs from 1 of 1100 counterfeit dress websites that a federal court ordered to shut down. On this dress, you can see they've used all plastic stones. That's why these look black. Reporter: The fakes cost less than $320. His real designs are nearly a thousand dollars more. Thankfully for Sara she found a new dress at David's bridal and got rush alterations. Spend a little bit of extra money because in the long run, it'll be worth it. Now, aside from some of the smaller details one of the big issue is fit where a bride will notice if her dress is slipping down or can't zip it up. If you have a question where to find an authenticated retwal go to the designer's site. One is fake. One is real. The issue is -- Really that. That's going to be the biggest problem. You don't want to do this all day. No. As you said you get what you pay for. Absolutely. All right, Mara, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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