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

posted 6 years ago in Dress
Post # 16
4815 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

Mrs_Harmer_to_be:   I wanted to be able to take pictures, to have GOOD LIGHTING – not pink or blue fluorescent bulbs – and to be able to make up my own mind.   It’s nice to hear encouraging remarks, and kind words, and helpful guidance.   What I did not like was the flattery-bombing I got at some of the salons.  Assume the customer knows her product – don’t tell me you don’t know the designer when I do!!  

Best of luck to you, I hope all your dreams come true with your store!!  

Post # 17
122 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: March 2015

Ok this is going to be hard to describe but I’m going to try! This past weekend I went to a a salon where I had a great experience. Their layout was *genius*

Most stores have samples on the floor hanging up and they have a stock room where everything else is kept, so when the consultant goes to fetch more dresses from the back, you (the customer) is kept waiting for like 5-10 minutes for them to come back.

Well, this place had the changing/fitting rooms surrounding the stock room… so each room had 2 entrances: 1 to the main part of the store (with a door) and 1 entrance with a curtain opening DIRECTLY into the stock room. So my consultant would just pop in and out of the stock room to pull me more dresses. It was fantastic and I feel like I got to try on more dresses at that place than I have at other places. Downside: you could hear voices in other rooms, which didn’t bother me but I could see how some people wouldn’t like that. Also :

  • AIR CONDITIONING. Even in the winter, because trying on dresses get hot.
  • light switches on a dimmer… so you can dim the lights and see how the dress looks at night
  • letting customers take photos   
  • bottles of water for the brides 
Post # 18
2297 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

oh also – i hated when the consultant would say ‘…this could be the one!’ or ‘this looks like the one!’ when all i’d said was ‘i like it’ – it was awkward to have to say like, ‘i don’t think so’ when i’d been enjoying it a second ago. it made me have to pump the breaks constantly because if i so much as smiled and said i liked it, suddenly they were all ‘omg we found the dress!’ 

let the bride dictate the appointment, if she thinks this is THE dress, she’ll say so!

Post # 19
219 posts
Helper bee

How exciting for you! Here is what my ideal boutique would have:

  • Seating for whoever comes with the bride-to-be (nothing worse than having your family and friends standing around awkwardly, or worse, sitting on the floor, while you spend an hour trying on dresses)
  • Good lighting, as well as good natural lighting
  • Not changing the name of the gowns – one store I went to re-named all of their stock so I had to explain/show pictures of the dresses, rather than just saying the designers name for the dress
  • Not necessarily alcohol, but offering some form of drink
  • Prices clearly marked on dress tags
  • Long appointment times, particularly for first time shoppers (an hour was barely enough to go through 5 dresses once all the politeness and info-gathering was finished, and 5 dresses is often not enough to even gauge what you like/don’t like in person)
  • Allowing pictures where possible – if one designer won’t allow it, no reason why they can’t still photograph those that do
  • Changing rooms that are large enough to actually fit 2 people and some dresses, rather than pushing against the curtain/door half the time
  • Mirror in the change room, so you can decide if you want to go out in the dress or not
  • Pre-matched accessories for each dress – obviously not set in stone, but the sales staff should know which veil, head piece, necklace, etc match best with each dress, at least as a guide for the bride-to-be

Hope that all helps!<br /><br />

Good luck!!!

Post # 20
90 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

Love this topic!

One thing I REALLY appreciated—which was true at only a few of the salons I visited—was being able to indicate my price point/budget on the registration form (by either a checkbox or writing down a number). Nice and discreet. My consultant could just see it on the form and pull dresses based on that, without a public conversation. Because while my parents and I had agreed on a number beforehand, I really didn’t care for EVERYone including Future Mother-In-Law, Future Sister-In-Law, aunt and sister to be in on it.

On a similar subject, I liked salons that had mirrors in the private dressing rooms so I could try dresses on for just myself, my family/friends and my consultant. I don’t know if other brides enjoy the process of walking out and having the entire store see them, but I wasn’t crazy about it.

At one salon, the owner himself was there and helping guide/reassure brides through the process. I’m sure it isn’t always possible, but I loved that personal touch! And I wound up purchasing my dress from there 🙂

Being able to take photos was great. Made the process so much less stressful.

And I agree w/ PPs that it does make a huge difference when the salon itself is a beautiful and tastefully decorated space. Lovely Bride and Mark Ingram (both in NYC) were my favorites.

Post # 21
1150 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

I agree with PPs about lots of the advice here, but what I have to add is:

At the place where I bought my dress, they didn’t allow photos (annoying!). However, they did provide a longline bra and a slip for me, which made changing in front of everyone much less awkward. I’m not super prude, but it was still nice- and I imagine it would be very much appreciated by girls who are uncomfortable with changing in front of other people. 

Post # 22
3220 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

Accessories! I would at least want access to some sort of sleeve, so if you have lace tops to try on with the dresses, or boleros, that would be awesome. Also shoes, as not everyone figures those out first. If you have a variety of heel heights and sizes that would let your customers be able to hopefully gauge the height of heel they would want with the dress.

Post # 23
213 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

More variety!  If you’re opening up a boutique and competing against (god-awful) places like David’s Bridal (brides trying on at your store for the experience and then buying cheap knock-offs at Davids) and super high end like Kleinfelds – I’d say indie designer variety.  A friend of mine opened a boutique and it’s high-end.  She carries the usual suspects: Vera, Monique, Oscar… but I wish she carried the good indie designers- the ones you can’t knock off for cheap – Samuelle Couture, Krikor Jabotian, Berta, Karen Willis…. Inbal Dror!  Carry something no one has and no one can replicate!  (just my two cents 😉

Post # 24
6254 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2013 - The Liberty House

My favorite salon atually took the pictures of the dresses you liked best FOR YOU on a dslr and emailed them to you after your appointment! It was awesome because I wasn’t worried about my mom getting a blurry picture or my friends not actually giving me the photos.

Post # 25
415 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

To echo a poster above me, having variety and a larger selection is a MUST. With the internet, ladies can’t be bothered to go to a boutique that only has a handful of choices.

Also, this is weird, but I really don’t like when consultants try to give me style advice of any sort. There are probably some girls that want that advice, but I dislike it.

Post # 26
4891 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

I will have gone to 6 bridal salons by the time I pick my dress… which I am hoping to do this weekend!

So far, my favorite was the second one I went to which was a small boutique and I worked with the owner directly. She only carried a few lines of dresses, but I was able to find a couple that I really liked. Unfortunately, the dress I’m leaning towards is not from that shop, but I would refer anyone to check it out. Plus, they do carry other things like jewelry, MOB dresses, accessories, etc. so I may pay another visit for that stuff.

My biggest pet peeve with 2 of them is that they don’t allow pictures until you buy the dress. To me, I am unable to go back and visualize what the dress looked like on me so when I try others on at places where they do allow for pictures, I can compare. One of these places also cuts ALL the tags from the dresses, so you can’t even look the dress up to view it online. Although the dress I loved at this store was over what I wanted to pay, I would have still maybe splurged on it had I been able to take pics.

The place I’m getting my dress at is one that doesn’t allow pics, but I managed to take some in the dressing room with my phone… so that worked!

A place I went to in a larger city was a good experience, but compared to what their Website offers (and allows you to purchase from), their selection of dresses IN store was not that great. So, that was a let down. If someone says you carry a certain designer, I would hope you have more than just a handful of dresses in that designer – or indicate on your Website which ones  you carry in store and which ones you don’t.

Post # 27
486 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

Although it’s not the “fun” part of dress shopping, make sure you make all store policies clear to the customer before they purchase.  What happens if they have dress regret and want to return it?  What are your alterations pricing?  etc.  I went to a place that had a flat alterations fee.  You knew what you were getting into and I’m guessing it all evened out for the salon at the end (some girls just need a hem, others, much more.)  Spell everything out so if/when a customer has an issue they know what your policies are.  And on a similar note- be willing to budge (to an extent obviously- you can’t sacrifice your business).  When you are dealing with brides, especially close to the wedding ,some are emotionally on edge.  Do what you can to fix whatever it is they need to be fixed.  And be willing to admit when the shop made an error.  There is nothing worse then when something is, for example, ordered wrong (an easy mistake to make) and then to have the shop insist it was somehow your fault and “too bad”.  I appreciate when a business says I’m so sorry we made this mistake, but don’t worry we will make it right.

Good Luck!

Post # 28
3875 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

I think I had a pretty good experience looking for a wedding dress, only because I came away with a really gorgeous dress. Overall, there were several things that could have been helped. Here are my suggestions based off of my experience:

  • If you require appointments–stick to that rule! A girl came in right before I did without an appointment and they took her right in, backing up my appointment by twenty minutes
  • Offer some type of beverage (coffee, water, tea, champagne)
  • Offer as wide a range of dress sizes as possible. (I know I felt terrible not being able to fit into the size eight [the only size of my dress] properly. The saleslady had to hold it behind me and kept getting “tired.” Also, it made me feel as if I was bigger than I was.) Offer some 20s, some 16s, some 14s, and some 10s. The dresses can always be synched in, but not out.
  • Have dressing and viewing area be somewhat private, but definitely comfortable. (I was terribly embarrassed to be walking from the dressing room to the viewing area with the dresses wide open and my panties and back showing. It made me feel very self concious and it took a long time to get me into the groove of dress shopping). My mom and one sister was comfortable in the chair, but they only had two chairs for my viewing area and the other sister had to stand.
  • If you don’t allow photos, make sure you allow the name and style of the designer and dress to be readily available
  • My shop allowed you to take photos as long as you deleted them after. If you purchased your dress you could take as many photos as possible.
  • Schedule enough time for several, several dress viewings. (My saleslady made me feel as if I was getting on her nerves after I was there about thirty minutes. The first time I felt excited about a dress she kind of announced that that was it, I had found the one, no other dress could compare–until I asked to see one last dress, which ended up being MY dress.)

I hope this helps!

Post # 29
2080 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

Mrs_Harmer_to_be: Sounds like a exciting adventure!

When I purchased my wedding dress, what stuck out to me the most in a salon was how I was treated. Was the staff friendly and knowledgeable? Could they give recommendations based off my size and budget? Were they available to assist when necessary?

The salon I ended up purchasing my dress from didn’t have the dress I was initially looking for in stock but carried the designer name. So, they ordered the sample dress for me. Unfortunately, it did not work but I still purchased a different dress from them. Since I purchased my dress, shoes, and bridesmaids dresses from them, they gave me my veil for free. They also gave us a 10 percent discount off the bridesmaids dresses. They were very friendly and accomodating to our specific needs. They also had an excellent seamstress who was very reasonably priced.

Post # 30
737 posts
Busy bee

Allow customers to look through dresses on the racks.

Comfortable dressing rooms with good lighting.

Awesome staff with the terrific customer service.


Good luck 🙂

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