Beginning of a new start up bridal shop

Hey all,

First of all Congratulations on your engagement as I am sure you are probably using this website as a guide for planning your wedding. I have started this thread as I am in the process of setting up a bridal boutique in Northern Ireland. I have only experienced bridal shops while out helping friends search for their perfect dress and although this has gave me some insight in how you are treated in a bridal shop, I would be so grateful on some real life experiences of bridal customers during the process of purchasing their wedding gown.

I have vast experience in luxury fashion along with a business MSc, but I love attention to detail and would really appreciate hearing what made you leave your bridal store feeling pampered and happy and why did they win you over. I would also be interested in hearing if you purchased your bridesmaid dresses in the same shop or did you want to look elsewhere? I would love to hear your WOW moments, was the interior inspiring, did you need to request an appointment or did the sales assistant appear knowledgeable?. 

Thank you so much for your time already in reading my post, any information would be gratefully appreciated. I am excited to hear your feedback. 

Kindest regards,

Kerry 

Posts

  • Welcome and congratulations on your new business!  

    In my opinion, although the dresses are the most important thing, the service you receive is the next most important.  After this nice surroundings, large changing rooms and space for your 'helpers' and a glass of prosecco doesn't go amiss when you find the one!  

    I appreciated honesty and forthright service when shopping, e.g. Questions about what I liked so far, and what type of venue I was having, what bits of my body I wanted to highlight etc.  Rather than "tell me about your H2B" etc.  

    The shop I bought from asked me for a picture of my dream dress on my phone, took a couple out that suited, let me pick a couple more, then I actually found my dress and was paying the deposit within 15 minutes of being in the shop! 

  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride

    Letting us take photos, when shopping for my sisters dress 2 out of 3 stores let us, it was a massive help in comparing the dresses side by side.

    Large changing areas. One of the ones we went to (the one she bought the dress from actually) was one big beautiful room with one end curtained off she she had a whole part of the shop to change in.

    Preferably only one bride in the store at a time but if it was large you could do 2 at a time at a push (but only if you enough staff for each bride to have their own staff)

    Drink. Water, tea/coffee and prosecco. Always appreciated.

    Clip the bloody dresses back haha 2 of the 3 store used these big clips to bring the dress in so we could see what they would look like when altered but 1 (the same one that wouldnt let us take pics) said that this damages the dresses (the others had no issue with this obviously??) and refused so just held it, but obviously 2 hands can only hold a dress in so many areas so was hard to visualise.

  • Tanya128Tanya128 Posts: 1,993

    I'd say a very large dressing room with mirrors everywhere is a must. I also think on occasions it would be nice to have a light robe to slip on in between dresses, I know the assistants have seen it all before but sometimes when they pop off to fetch another dress you can be left standing in your undies and i did wish I had a short robe I could pop on!  A large enough area to walk so you can get the feel for the dress. Make sure your seamstress is friendly that has been the worst part of my dress experience in that she doesn't feel approachable. I was talking about it with my BM yesterday she got married last year and we both said we were uncomfortable with commenting on how we want the dress altered, and felt like we were being awkward, but it's the most expensive outfit you buy so it's essential to get it fitted right, so a seamstress who doesnt think she's doing the bride a favour by altering her dress, we pay heavily for that service so let's make it pleasurable too, not just the purchase part!

    Ive got a thing about pedestals I think they give a false illusion of how the dress looks, ditch them they are unnecessary. Definitly allow photos it really helps Brides make decisions. Have comfy chairs for the Brides helpers, although I don't think prosecco is essential, it's a nice touch, but having water available is essential, dress shopping is hot thirsty work! Don't do those offers that if you put a deposit on right now you'll get x amount discount let that run until the next day to give the bride the chance to sleep on it, it makes a bride feel pressurised into making a hasty decision and I can't see that allowing say 24 hours would make any difference.

    i think that's my tuppence worth! Lol good luck!!

  • HailsHails Posts: 2,455

    I always found the bridesmaid dresses very old fashioned, typically bridesmaid (sash round the middle, strapless) in all the shops I visited and never even contemplated buying my bridesmaid dresses there.

  • Aimee73Aimee73 Posts: 96

    Most important for me was taking photos. I went away and rebooked in two weeks (mostly to try and get my MIL to come along) but it really helped being able to reflect on the dresses.

    After that a nice big mirror, with one behind aswell so you can see all aspects of the dress. 

    Definately clips or pins to shape the dress and give an idea of how it would look. 

    And the offer of a glass of prosecco is always well received :) 

  • SammykateSammykate Posts: 3,352 New bride

    I would have loved to buy my BM dresses from the same shop as my dress, but bridal stores tend to stock expensive BM dresses- like £200+. If you could stock a range of BM dresses for £80 and under I'm sure that would be a success, but I don't know how viable that is from a business perspective. When people have 4 or 5 bridesmaids it's a big ask to spend the kind of money bridal stores are asking for! I also agree with having a trendier range of BM dresses- they can be boring satin affairs a lot of the time.

    The one thing I really like in a bridal store is an owner who knows her stuff, both about her dresses and about what's right for the bride. I went to one store where I tried on 5 dresses and hated them all, but every single dress it was 'oh you look amazing, that looks perfect on you'. Um, no, it looks awful! I know it's a matter of taste but I don't just want you fawning over every dress on me even if it's clearly wrong for my shape. A brides body language will tell you if she loves or hates the dress. And talk to me about what I want so you can understand what would be right for me- maybe even better than I can myself!

    The bridal store where I got my dress from, the owner actually picked it from the rack for me after I had tried a few others as she knew I'd like it. She clearly understood my taste and what would suit me rather than just throwing anything at me and claiming it looked amazing.

    One last thing, don't charge for appointments- ugh. I avoided any store that does this, it's so cheeky. I know they let you redeem the charge against a purchase, but how do I know I'll find my dress there?! I'm not paying you £25 just to look!

  • LizzieBHLizzieBH Posts: 196

    Agree with all the above; a store owner or assistant who’s knowledgeable and honest is invaluable. As is a natural and confident manner when helping you try on dresses – it’s an intimate process, and if anyone’s awkward it immediately puts you on edge.

  • I see several of you are say that photos are important.  For myself I didn't take any pictures.  I wanted to remember how the dress made me feel, not how I looked iykwim?  

  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride
    TeamJamiesonLowe wrote (see post):

    I see several of you are say that photos are important.  For myself I didn't take any pictures.  I wanted to remember how the dress made me feel, not how I looked iykwim?  

    Obviously how you feel is important, but I think if it comes down to 2 dresses you love then comparing images side by side helps :) and obviously my next statement is very shallow but what it looks like is what guests see and what is shown in photos haha but I do agree how it makes you feel is no.1.

    In fact OP, asking the bride how dresses make them feel, as opposed to 'how do you think that looks?' is probably a good thing to say/think about/use a focus for customer service beliefs :)

  • HailsHails Posts: 2,455
    TeamJamiesonLowe wrote (see post):

    I see several of you are say that photos are important.  For myself I didn't take any pictures.  I wanted to remember how the dress made me feel, not how I looked iykwim?  

    Christ no! I thought I'd found the one until I looked at a photo and saw how saggy my bust looked! 

  • Mrs17Mrs17 Posts: 775 New bride

    Ooh I like this question. In order of what I was looking for in a bridal store...

     A large selection of both dresses and designers

    Friendly, knowledgeable and helpful assistants (the second store I went to, the assistant came back twice because she couldn't remember the drinks orders - it was only me and my stepmother!! That gave me no confidence)

    Large changing rooms with lots of natural light. I bought my dress in a shop with 6 changing rooms, but they were all larger than double bedrooms, with a curtain across so that you could change in privacy before opening the room up and showing your entourage. Temperature was important to me too! I went to one shop where it was far too warm and just felt uncomfortable trying on dresses. I'd rather be cold.

    Being offered a drink and allowed to take photos. If a store had stopped me taking photos I'd have gone elsewhere....

    I made appointments with every store I visited in advance. The store I bought my dress from charged a £20 deposit for primetime appointments (evenings and weekends) but this was refundable upon arriving for the appointment - so to deter timewasters or no-shows. It didn't bother me at all - had it only been redeemable against a dress purchase, then I would have been put off.

    Hope this helps!

     

  • Hails wrote (see post):
    TeamJamiesonLowe wrote (see post):

    I see several of you are say that photos are important.  For myself I didn't take any pictures.  I wanted to remember how the dress made me feel, not how I looked iykwim?  

    Christ no! I thought I'd found the one until I looked at a photo and saw how saggy my bust looked! 

    Hails, that is kind of what I mean.  I would have been looking at the pictures and picking apart my lumpy bits!

    I took pictures during my fittings and didn't really think I looked that great, but I loved my wedding pictures and felt incredible on the day. 

  • Mimi8Mimi8 Posts: 314

    The above posts have covered most things that we liked , from your point of view the bridesmaid dresses are not going to sell well unless you can compete with the retailers like little Mistress who are producing really nice dresses at great prices ( under £80) , likewise shoes and other assessories.  The prices charged for these are often extortionate in bridal shops so you either don't look at them at all or fall in love with something on display which you won't buy because you know you can do much better Price wise . 

    Experienced staff who really know the stock are invaluable as they can pick out suitable dresses from the brides wishes and requirements , my daughter's dress was the assistant's pick ! 

     

  • HailsHails Posts: 2,455
    TeamJamiesonLowe wrote (see post):
    Hails wrote (see post):
    TeamJamiesonLowe wrote (see post):

    I see several of you are say that photos are important.  For myself I didn't take any pictures.  I wanted to remember how the dress made me feel, not how I looked iykwim?  

    Christ no! I thought I'd found the one until I looked at a photo and saw how saggy my bust looked! 

    Hails, that is kind of what I mean.  I would have been looking at the pictures and picking apart my lumpy bits!

    I took pictures during my fittings and didn't really think I looked that great, but I loved my wedding pictures and felt incredible on the day. 

    I know what you mean but i loved my dress I eventually picked when I saw it on photos. There were others I thought looked good in the mirror but they were not so flattering on camera

  • Kerry154Kerry154 Posts: 3

    Thank you to everyone that has provided me with feedback. All advice and shared experiences are benficial towards market research.

    I love the idea of the robes being given to customers trying on as it means they can sit and discuss on the sofa with family and friends without changing multiple times. Also great advice for allowing to take photos. I would be happy for customers to take photos in the store as its hard to remember which dress came from which store after trying so many on. 

  • Helen225Helen225 Posts: 861 New bride

    Ha ha pretty much everything on here is what I didn't have 🙈 No drink offered in any of the shops I went to, no photos allowed, no clips, no appointment so it was like a cattle market. But I found my dream dress so I think you can overlook a lot if you find the one. 

    What ive found really useful and no one has mentioned this yet is in the shop I bought my dress from, all the sales women are seamstresses and so they can't sell you something that isn't possible. They also do stuff on the fly cos they know what they're doing and you don't have to make an appointment with alterations cos they are there already.  

  • MrsNH17MrsNH17 Posts: 524 New bride

    -offer of drinks and enough comfy seats

    - nice decor/lots of mirrors/ finishing touches - I felt like i had a nicer experience in the shops who bothered with small details like candles and flowers, accessories and veils to hand etc

    -dressing room and changing areas to your self. Even if there are a few then shops who have different areas seem to work best rather than brides lined up in changing rooms like topshop. Shops who did sole bride appointments were my fave though.

    - staff who know their stuff. The place I bought my dress from also gave me most confidence, the owner had owned the shop years and ran a few others and was also a seamstress so I always went when she was in as she was so knowledgeable. And though I thought you what when she said she was ordering me a size 6 (not my usual size I can tell you!) and had heard you should order the dress bigger and alter it etc she was 100%. And she was right, I needed no alterations at all to fit, only length (which was always going to be the case) because she knew the dress and how my body type would work.

    - photos - definitely. It helped me so much!

     

  • Giraffe888Giraffe888 Posts: 678

    I personally wouldn't use a robe as I'm a bit fussy on cleanliness/hygiene!

    a main thing for me was a podium or something to stand on. At only 5,2" all dresses were far too long even with heels on and it's hard to see what a dress actually sits like when it's far too long. Only one shop I went to actually had one, another gave me a chair to stand on! X

  • gill17gill17 Posts: 568 New bride

    I went to a few in northern Ireland (where I'm from, but live in England) and i struggled to get anyone to cater for my mums needs. She has limited mobility and cant manage to walk too long or go up stairs, only one i tried had a lift and parking was a problem too. Small things were also an issue as in she needs a proper height chair with arms, not a pretty cream sofa that is about an inch off the floor! Yes these are specific things but i mean think about practicalities too, signage, seats, and parking and stuff. 

    I was only offered prosecco once but i was driving so I couldn't say yes, so alcohol free sparkling stuff would have been nice

    I didnt like pushy follow up emails, i didnt like not being able to look at dresses myself but wait for recommendations, i didnt like being pressured with 'if you order today I can give 10% off, but if you leave the shop then the deal is off'. I preferred to be asked my budget while booking appointment rather than in the middle of the shop. 

    Rest as above really, spacious and light, knowledgeable assistants and have accessories like underskirts and a bouquet to hand to complete the look, even if they arent for sale. I went to one in Portadown and they had a tiara, shoea, veil and silk flower bouquet - the works! 

  • gill17gill17 Posts: 568 New bride

    I went to a few in northern Ireland (where I'm from, but live in England) and i struggled to get anyone to cater for my mums needs. She has limited mobility and cant manage to walk too long or go up stairs, only one i tried had a lift and parking was a problem too. Small things were also an issue as in she needs a proper height chair with arms, not a pretty cream sofa that is about an inch off the floor! Yes these are specific things but i mean think about practicalities too, signage, seats, and parking and stuff. 

    I was only offered prosecco once but i was driving so I couldn't say yes, so alcohol free sparkling stuff would have been nice

    I didnt like pushy follow up emails, i didnt like not being able to look at dresses myself but wait for recommendations, i didnt like being pressured with 'if you order today I can give 10% off, but if you leave the shop then the deal is off'. I preferred to be asked my budget while booking appointment rather than in the middle of the shop. 

    Rest as above really, spacious and light, knowledgeable assistants and have accessories like underskirts and a bouquet to hand to complete the look, even if they arent for sale. I went to one in Portadown and they had a tiara, shoes,  veil and silk flower bouquet - the works! 

Sign In or Register to comment.