Bridal Boutiques… how you want you wedding gown shopping experience to be?

posted 3 years ago in Dress
Post # 2
Member
1432 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I loved mine! i loved that I had my own area to try on dresses and my entourage had a nice big couch. I wouldn’t like to be squished in with other people or to feel like people were watching me. It was just a gorgeous boutique, very modern with big windows. Nice flattering lighting. of course, the selection was also very important. 

Post # 3
Member
636 posts
Busy bee

I think it’s the personalized service that really makes a difference and builds a reputation… And selection too. As a customer I’m not super interested in going to a place with very limited selection.

Time and time again, I see good staff helping to make a business successful. Everyone, from the receptionist to the consultants, will help you build a good name for yourself, so hiring the right people who care about your business will be absolutely key (and likewise, removing staff who aren’t going above and beyond for your customers). That should be the standard – all your staff should find a way to “wow” the people who walk in the door, whether they buy something or not. I think nice aesthetics help too but it’s less important than service… I know it can be hard to compete with larger businesses who have large renovation budgets. But a creative eye and creative decorating/sourcing can help save a tonne of money when you’re opening. Sounds like a really fun adventure and I wish you the best! If you need decorating ideas in your newly leased space (or need help judging which space would be best to lease) hit me up, this stuff is sooo fun for me! 😀

Post # 4
Member
636 posts
Busy bee

Oh, and for the love of god, please don’t be one of those boutiques who don’t allow photos or who cut the tags out of dresses!

Post # 5
Member
89 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

Mrs_Harmer_to_be:  At the boutique I got my dress from they had champagne and mimosas, which was fantastic. I also liked that there wasn’t a limit on how many dresses I could try on. I got to go through the dresses with my consultant to start and then as I started to try dresses on she continuously updated the selection as we narrowed in on the look/feel I was liking most. Also, there was a lot of room for my group and so they had room to feel comfy and share their opinions without it being super public. Most of all, I really liked that the consultant was honest with me. Everything was not beautiful on me or amazing and had she tried to tell me they were I would call shennanigans and not trust her at all. I loved her for her honesty.

Also though, I’ll share what I hated about another high end boutique we went to. We went to one that has dresses ranging from $3,000 – 20,000ish. You would think they would have their act down. It was depressing to be honest. The people were nice but it had a somber feel to it. In addition, the lighting was poor and all dresses were bridal size 6, so no matter what I put on I felt like a fat cow. I feel like that on a daily basis anyway, but feeling that way in a wedding dress was horrid. I saw this other girl who was a plus size and they were putting dresses on dress forms for her and explaining what it would look like on her… because they had no dresses in the entire store that she could actually try on. Awful.

I think the dress default at the store I purchased at was bridal size 14 so easy to cinch or wear for a lot of girls, and they seemed to have larger ones as well judging from seeing other girls trying on gowns.

Post # 7
Member
1888 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

Be welcoming to walk-ins!  Even if you’re booked and can’t actually personally help them, I hated when I’d wander into a boutique and the fact that I didn’t have an appointment got me dirty looks and the statement that obviously I wasn’t serious.  Above all: be realistic about the information you give out, ordering time frames, costs of alterations, etc.  I’d rather have a good idea up front rather than having that ‘surprise!’ later down the road.

Offering champagne is great, but if could offer something besides water to customers who don’t drink that would be amazing!

Post # 8
Member
774 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2013 - Dalhousie Castle

Mrs_Harmer_to_be:  I liked the giant changing rooms and having a sales assistant that actually helped you into the dress. I also liked the fact that they had giant price tags on all the dresses so nothing was a surprise. 

Post # 9
Hostess
10870 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

Mrs_Harmer_to_be: The decor makes that first big impression on me followed by the selection of designers. I enjoyed the customer service I experienced I was made to feel very special as I’m sure they try to do to all their brides.

Post # 10
Member
122 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

Kazza:  +1

I think customer service is probably the most important, along with photos and no surprise pricing (all things you’ve mentioned and looked at). Also as PP have mentioned, decor is really important for first impressions… if I walk into a store and it looks like someone doesn’t care enough to take care of it, it makes me wonder what else will someone not care enough about (my order?).

Post # 11
Member
25 posts
Newbee

I think having at least 90 min per appt is important. Even the the best sales girls will lose some of their customer service skills when they feel pressured to finish in time for the next appointment. Honestly it takes so long to get in and out of each dress that 1 hour just isn’t enough. I like it when salons allow you to browse all the dresses in addition to helping you pre-select.

I also appreciated salons where the samples were in good shape. One salon used a little piece of fabric to protect the dress in the back where the dress was clamped. They kept the beaded dresses separated from the others so they didnt snag. Also important to me was how knowledgeable the salesgirls were. If I’m dropping thousands for a dress, I expect them to know what other colors are available, what customizations the designer allows, etc. The good salesgirls also knew how to clamp me in without giving me a stomach pooch!

The worst salon I went to had:

– Dingy carpet! Hardwood is a must

– Terrible lighting – highlighted every lump and bump because it was overhead lighting

– plastic bags over their dresses. Even the salesgirl couldn’t tell which dress it was without opening the bag

Post # 12
Member
2302 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

have real changing rooms – i went to a boutique that had great staff, awesome gowns etc BUT the changing rooms were pipe and heavy drape ‘walls’ – very cool and industrial looking, but it made me uncomfortable. 

also – have zones that you can set each group up in so that there’s some privacy. even if the space is a giant rectangle, you can create groupings with furniture etc to give a more private feel. I felt awkward saying ‘i really don’t like the sleeves/lace/ridiculous train’ when the girl 2 feet over had a similar thing on. also – i could hear their group, so that mum was saying how ‘matronly and old’ sleeves looked – while i was trying on a dress with sleeves. 

smiles and good customer service cost nothing and will pay you back ten fold. look for employees who have worked with large companies who likely have customer service training and standards – those companies have trained your new employee for you, that’s valuable. never say ‘no’ without offering an alternative. 

Post # 14
Member
1275 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

I like all of the advice given so far, particularly champagne/mimosas (or white wine) and LETTING THEM TAKE PHOTOS jeeeez haha.  One place I went had cucumber water in the cooler!  Tasty.

I had a horrible experience at one bridal salon because my consultant was SO fake.  I could have told her our wedding was dog shit themed and she would have squeaked and said “I WISH I COULD GET MARRIED AGAIN JUST TO DO THAT WHAT A LOVELY IDEA OH MY WOW <33333333”

I wanted to murder her about two minutes into the appointment.

She also didn’t help me get dressed, which I felt was so awkward.  She put dresses in the room then it was up to me to step into them and get as far buttoned up as I could, then step out and she finished.  I hated this!

At the other salon I went to, the consultant was in with me the whole time.  It sounds awkward to strip down to skivvies in front of a stranger, but it was actually really nice.<br />A) I didn’t feel rushed or like I was taking too long, since she was in there with me not just waiting<br />B) It gave me a great opportunity to talk to her privately about the budget and who was paying, etc<br />C) I didn’t ever see the dress only partway buttoned or anything like that.  I only saw the final product.

One place asked me this huge like fifteen-minute long questionnaire about the details of my wedding.  I liked this so the consultant could get a feel for my style, but I did NOT like that she asked the wedding’s overall budget in front of my family and friends?!

Also, my dad was absolutely livid that they didn’t budge on price.  I was kind of embarrassed that he was haggling, but he was trying to pay them in cash for the dress in exchange for a discount (like 10%) and they would not budge.  They also wouldn’t give me a discount for the sample.  It was fine, we could afford it, but my dad was pretty displeased with the whole situation because the management (not my consultant!) was really not receptive to his suggestions

Post # 15
Member
479 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I went to a few places and the one that stands out to me as the worst was because the consultant didn’t know the dresses well at all.  I wanted to see a specific dress by one of the designers they carried and she didn’t know what it looked like, disappeared for awhile, came back asking about the style number, which I didn’t remember off the top of my head (it’s easier to remember the name rather than the number!).  My sister pulled out her phone to google it and the consultant said she already tried that.  Really?  Because if you google “Designer” “Dress Name” the style number comes right up!  She disappeared for awhile longer and then said they didn’t have the dress.  The store also didn’t allow photos and was one of those places where I couldn’t browse the racks myself.  Oh, and I specifically said I wanted a lace dress with no or minimal beading and everything she pulled for me was covered in beads and crystals!  Listen to the bride and stick to her budget and the style she says she wants!

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