Dress Shop Secrets by Brandi

This weekend I had the most exciting chance to "work" at a local dress shop, A Perfect Bride, in Rocky River, Ohio.  I had previously filmed a news special at the shop and after a glimpse behind the scenes, I wanted to know more.  Thankfully the owner of the shop, Cathy Kuhn, was open to the idea of having me come in, phew, and I had a great time.  Now that I've seen the other side, I've got some tips for you before you go dress shopping and even some behind the scenes "secrets" that I'm going to share!
Here we go-

Tip #1- Get pretty! Wear makeup and do your hair for your dress shopping trip.  You will be so much happier seeing yourself "sparkle" in your dress.  Wedding dresses are overwhelming and without a little extra going out, the dress will drown you out.  The girls that came in, that were styled, had the most fun trying on dresses.

Tip #2- Answer the questions. Things to immediately tell the sales associate when you walk into the store, not because it matters to them one way or another, but because it will make your shopping experience easier and more enjoyable.
-Your budget.  They don't mind if it is low or high (they really don't) just let them know so they can find you the right dresses.  They really do not want to have you try on a dress you can't afford and then be disappointed with the dresses that fit in your budget.

-What style you like.  They can get to the racks and start pulling ideas for you.  Bring in pictures and have a style that you can start with, but don't be afraid to try on different ones as well, but if they have an initial idea it will get the ball rolling.
-When you are getting married.  This will help them move along the process and to know whether to help you finish the sale or to know that you'll be moving along to more dress shops after this trip. (and truthfully, they expect you to go to other shops) Some dresses take longer to get in, some might not be available after a certain date, that way you don't get stuck loving a dress you can't get. 
-If you are planning to buy today or not.  I know, I know, everyone wants to just say they are "just looking" when they walk into a shop but if you KNOW you are not buying, let them know.  If you can't buy without your mom around, then you know you aren't buying today, just tell them.  That way they will avoid trying to close the sale and the experience will be more casual then if you are set on buying a dress that day.  Also, if you aren't planning on buying that day, then try to limit the time you spend with them.  It isn't fair, to take up four hours of an associates time, if you KNOW you are not going to buy. 

Tip #3- Tell them all the dresses you are looking for. Let them know if you are buying bridesmaid dresses and a wedding dress.  They offer discounts if you buy all your dresses at the same time!

Tip #4- Schedule an appointment.  This way you'll have someone ready and waiting for your arrival.  If you walk into the shop without an appointment, you may get stuck waiting a bit for a dressing room or for an associate to help you.  You can always change, delay or cancel the appointment, but if you at least set one up, you'll get in quicker and get more personal attention. 

Tip #5- Tell everyone what to expect.  Wwhen your bridesmaids, family and friends come in, they will be doing a whole lot of sitting, staring and waiting.  Make sure they are prepared and are expecting this.  Nothing is worse than people complaining about being bored, or having somewhere to go.  The typical dress appointment takes anywhere from 2-3 hours.  It isn't easy to get in and out of those dresses, and if you find a few you like, you'll want to try them on more than once.

Tip #6- Tll them how "shy" you are.  If you are not comfortable having an associate in the room, assisting you in and out of dresses, just let them know ahead of time.  They plan and are used to being in the room to assist you, so if you aren't sure, just let them in and know that it is what they do everyday with clients and it shouldn't be too uncomfortable for either of you.

Tip #7- Wear comfortable clothes.  You aren't going to spend much time in what you came into the shop in so be cozy.  Wear things that are easy to get off and on and try to bring some undergarments that will work with the dress style you like and that cover enough of your body that you are comfortable in them.  Try to bring in heels as well so you can see what it will look like and how you will feel. 

Tip #8- Be open to new ideas.  The sales associates will bring in dresses that you like and dresses that meet your style and they might also find a few that they thing might work, be open to those.  You never know what will work on you and sometimes they will pick up on details/styles that you never even thought of. 

Tip #9- Be open to coming back.  Quite a few clients that came in, decided to head over to lunch to think it over.  Every one of them came back for the dress.  Just because you walk out the door, doesn't mean you won't walk back in.  The sales associates know that this is a big decision so they won't be offended if you need time to think. 

Tip #10- RELAX.  Don't be intimidated by the store or the associates.  They are happy to help you, happy to find you a dress and happy to be there for whatever you need.  They do this each and every day and they are doing it because they LOVE it, so have fun with them.  Let them help you in any way you need and don't be afraid to ask questions or to give your opinion.  HAVE FUN!!!!

Side Tip #11- If you aren't comfortable or aren't enjoying experience at the store, leave.  Don't try to make it work, don't make excuses for people that are being rude to you, just get your stuff and go.  One of the most enjoyable experiences during the wedding planning process is dress shopping, don't let ANYONE ruin that for you!

I had an amazing time at the store and it was really exciting to see a different side of the wedding experience.  I think I might be there again, maybe we can combine wedding planning sessions with dress sessions at The Perfect Bride.

Happy Planning,