A Bridal World is celebrating 20 years of serving the Triangle with beautiful and affordable bridal and prom gowns. Here are some helpful tips and hints when shopping for that perfect gown!
How did you get into the bridal business, and what made you want to open A Bridal World?
I worked as a manager for Thalhimers in Crabtree Valley Mall for many years. I gained a lot of experience, but I also knew that advancement opportunities were limited. I also knew I wanted to be my own boss, open my own store, and make a positive mark on other people’s lives. I started out opening a shop in the then relatively new field of consignment. Through that store I had the opportunity to work with several bridal shops, including the well-known store A Bride’s World, which inspired me to want to specialize in bridal. I felt I could become an affordable choice for bridal wear in the Triangle area, working to find the best deals and then pass the savings onto our brides.
What do you feel is the most important area a bride should allocate more money towards?
Definitely the bridal gown. If you have a limited budget and need to be careful where to allocate your money, the last place you need to shave funds from is on your bridal gown. This is your day, the one day that will stand out as the most important day in your life. Your wedding gown is an expression of your love and your dreams of a beautiful new life together. Not only will all eyes be on you on the day of your wedding, but you’ll be looking at pictures of this one dress for decades to come. You should be able to look back at how incredible you looked and felt in your gown & how perfect it was for you, because you chose the right one.
When shopping for bridal gowns, what tips can you offer?
Shop early. Just about every decision you make about your wedding will hinge on the bridal gown you choose, including your wedding colors, your flowers, your bridesmaid’s gowns, and the formality of your event.
My second tip is to stop shopping for a dress once you find yours. Really! We’ve seen brides that created unnecessary stress and confusion for themselves because they found another dress after buying the first one. It wreaks havoc on a budget when a bride says yes to a second dress. Often their first dress was purchased because of the price, even when they weren’t really in love with it. Had they allowed some flexibility in their gown budget, they would have actually saved money by buying only one dress – the right one!
What is your advice to brides-to-be when searching for that perfect gown?
Have some idea of what you’re looking for. We certainly don’t buy wedding gowns every year, but we do have our likes and dislikes of styles and fashions. You’ve probably already bought some wedding magazines and spent some time pouring over styles; so go thorough your magazines and gather pictures of what styles you like. Then when you’re describing your dream dress to your consultant, she’ll get a better idea of the big picture.
Also, have an open mind. Be open to suggestions from your consultant about silhouettes and colors. Your bridal consultant has years of experience in finding the right gown for the right bride, and you may fall in love with a style or gown color you never would have considered.
How far in advance should a bride choose her wedding gown?
Your minimum should really be six months. There’s never such a thing as shopping too early. Yes, there are brides with considerably less time to shop for their gown, and we can certainly accommodate them with our extensive off the rack selections. But if you choose to order your gown, you’ll need to allow time for the creation of the dress, shipping time and alterations, as most bridal gowns need some form of alterations performed to fit perfectly. If you’re having bridal portraits, you’ll need to have your dress ready to wear for your pictures.
Are there any "secrets" about wedding gown shopping that we may not know?
Wedding gowns tend to run one to two sizes smaller than your normal clothing size. Most bridal and bridesmaids gowns do not have spandex, so they do not stretch, are more fitted and are less forgiving. Also, it is normal for your bridal gown consultant to assist you when getting in and out of gowns. Wedding gowns are delicate and can be challenging to get in and out of, and your consultant’s assistance should be seen as pampering.
What are the top three things to look for in the perfect dress?
The first thing would be the silhouette of the gown you want to wear. Do you want to show off your curves with a mermaid style, or are you looking to minimize trouble spots with a flattering A-line cut? Once you decide on the silhouette, you’ll want to get more specific with the rest of the gown construction. What kind of neckline, waist and skirt? Thirdly, focus on the detailing of the gown. Do you want beading, crystals or rhinestones? Lace, embroidery, ruching, or a sash for a splash of color?
Who should a bride bring when she's searching for her wedding gown?
Just a few trusted friends or family – her mother, sister, or a trusted friend. We’ve frequently witnessed that when a bride brings a large entourage, she’ll get too many personal opinions that don’t often match her own tastes, and then she has a much harder time making a decision.
What is an emerging trend in wedding gown shopping?
Unlike brides of the past, where the only place to shop was at local stores that mostly carried size 8, the modern bride has so many more choices – virtual catalogs on the internet, local bridal shops, internet shops, and dozens of bridal magazines. But now brides are becoming overwhelmed with choices. Often brides feel the need to try on dozens of gowns at every shop they can find, to weigh every option before making their decision. While this may seem like a much better scenario, having too many choices really ends up confusing brides, delaying important decisions, and causing brides to run out of time to order their dress. Statistically, a bride more often than not will choose one of the first three gowns she tries on; that is why bridal consultants are so valuable in finding the right dress for you.
When it comes to the day of the wedding, what advice can you give brides?
Make sure you have someone to help you get in and out of your dress, and if you have a bustle for the reception, that they know where to look to fasten the bustle points. But most importantly, relax and enjoy your wedding!
Do you have a memorable bride story?
We had one bride who came in tears because her dress was delivered to the wrong church and could not be located in time for the wedding that day. Her friends and family all pitched in so she could find another dress in less than two hours. Not only did we find her a dress that fit her beautifully, but she was able to get matching accessories and make it to the church on time. Her dress was going to need alterations, but because the skirt had layers we were able to remove the last one and the hem was perfect!