Fittings and Sizing. Myth v. Fact

imageThere is almost always a long period of time between when you are initially measured for your gown to be ordered and when it is time to be fitted for your gown. Measuring and fitting are two separate things that we try to coordinate as closely as possible. Most gowns are ordered 6 months before the time of the event and in many cases, more than a year. Realistically it seldom occurs that the gowns fit the customer perfectly when they arrive. At the time that the measurements are taken, it is the bridal consultants goal to order the size gown that will be the closest fit to the customer. Because we come in all shapes and dimensions, it is unrealistic to believe that a dress will fit perfectly because we are not all perfectly in sync with size chart measurements. In addition, measurement can also change over time. In our experience we have witnessed 100’s of pounds and/or numerous inches (and this is an understatement) lost and gained due to diet, stress, exercise , pregnancy, weight loss surgery, illness and some things we’ll refrain from writing about. The bottom line is, we all want the same thing in the end. A dress that fits as closely to your body as possible given the design of the gown and your body type. One of the most proclaimed myths that I have heard repeatedly is that bridal salons intentionally order gowns bigger to make money on alterations. I cannot see how that would ever benefit any salon. We offer alteration services as a convenience for our customers. There is not a single benefit to having a gown come in that doesn’t fit our customer as closely as possible. The truth of the matter is the more time and the more complex the alteration, the more money it costs to us. The reality is that the closest fit possible creates the easiest experience for all. There is nobody that feels the pressure more than a seamstress who has to perform extensive and often miraculous alterations on a gown that does not fit. Our commitment is to service our customers, however, so our alterations department are equipped with the tools and the skills required to make any situation work, regardless of whether the gown fits perfectly, won’t zip or is falling off. So unless they start making gowns out of bathing suit fabric or woman that are made like boxes, our team will continue to adjust the fit of your gown to make it fit the proper way.

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Shoe Trends

sandys shoes

Shoe Trends
It wasn’t that long ago when dyeable shoe stores were thriving. Within the last 10 years the only consideration when choosing a shoe for either the bride, her mom or her maids was one style for all, dyed to match the bottom of the dress. If the bridesmaid’s dress color was teal, a swatch was cut from the gown and brought to the expert shoe dyer to mix, match and hand paint the shoes of each girl in the wedding, perfectly. Nowadays, the sky is the limit on shoe options. Creativity is apparent as brides wear anything from hot pink stilettos, to glitter adorned sneakers, cowboy boots or a color carefully selected to match the color of the bridal party. Last week we saw a glittered , 4″ pair of New York Giant shoes, intricately crafted sporting rhinestones and sequins in the blue and red NY Giant tradition. The NY giant logo an exact replica. The shoe was intended to be a surprise for the groom who is arguably the NY Giants #1 fan in history. Still there is the more traditional bride, and the styles prancing along the alteration platform have been gorgeous. From platform to pumps adorned in satin, lace and matching beading. It seems that we have not seen any cost cutting taking place in the shoe department as we have seen shoe spending exceed $1000.00 in a few cases this year, nearly the cost of some gowns. Silver has been the most popular color for the rest of the bridal party usually in a style chosen by the individual herself. Silver is not only a good coordinate for almost any color gown, but it eliminates the the uselessness of the shoe following the event. Nowadays a maid can truly reuse her selection for future affairs. Style and practicality all packaged into one. So if you are looking to show off your personality and personal flare, you can do it in your step. There, as with anything in this day an age, an over abundance of selection and if you include internet shopping there is a seemingly endless number of sources.

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How It Feels to be Voted #1, A Personal Reflection

We worked extra hard this year.  Last year, too.  Our staff believes as if we are # 1, and they perform and behave as if it’s a matter of fact.  I am proud and blessed to walk into an atmosphere where everyone is giving it their all.  We have an amazing chemistry and everyone on the team plays a part.  We are like a chain.  If a link is damaged, we lean on one another to strengthen it for the common purpose of providing the best possible experience for our brides, moms, maids, prom girls and attendants.  The concept is simple but the application requires great effort.

So when Doris took the call from the Long Island Press this morning, we all kind of held our breath in anticipation of the results of the six week long vote for the Best Bridal Store on Long Island in which we were one of 12 stores nominated.  I didn’t want to know, and I did, like covering your eyes with an open hand during a scary movie. I could stand it no longer so I headed to her office where she gave me the biggest smile and held up one finger.  Emotion rushed through my body and my eyes welled with tears.  I think when a blessing is made so clear and more importantly that I recognize it as a blessing, I become so infused with gratitude that it just takes over.  Andrea and Tamy were there to receive the news, and their reaction was priceless.  Carole jumped up and down as texts returned from Antonella, Annie and Maryellen leaped through the screen.

I don’t really think the victory was simply the glory of winning a contest that our loyal customers for over 45 years took part in.   Although I am proud to come in ahead of chain stores and multiple location stores,  I don’t think that was the main cause for the burst of emotion, either.  I think that when you follow your heart and do what you believe is right no matter how much effort is required; and you work side by side with an amazing team with the same goal; and sometimes you let go of control and listen and put it in the Hands; and after all that, someone affirms this by telling you that what you believed all along is what others believe too; that’s magical!

I would like to thank our wonderful, dedicated and loyal customers for voting for us.  I would also like to thank the best staff, not only in Long Island, but anywhere, for thinking it and seeing it through.  Voted #1!

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How to say “yes” to the dress!

For some brides, finding the right dress is easy.  Often times, their observers can see a noticeable difference in a bride’s behavior or her body language when she puts on a gown that she loves.  Something has changed in her facial expression, where she places her arms. The air feels a little lighter, her smile becomes bigger and everyone knows.  Sometimes mom cries.  Or that special someone that the bride has brought for their opinion,  just reinforces the energy that the bride has created when she walks out of the dressing room.

If her bridal consultant has done her job and makes a connection with her and tunes in to her vision, she can help her select what she thinks will truly capture her personality on her wedding day.  Too often, brides become overloaded.  Options for dresses seem to be endless. There are so many designers, added to so many styles created by that designer, with lines that come out 2 times each year.  Add that to the internet information and put it all in the bride’s brain coupled with finding the wedding venue, limousines, tuxedos, invitations, favors, choosing the bridesmaids dresses, organizing the rehearsal dinner, writing the wedding vows, and so on… it’s no wonder the term “bridezilla” has been coined.  Can you blame her?  So sometimes, less is actually more.  A big key to lighten the wedding burden is to accept help from an experienced and caring bridal consultant.  Let her do her job and she will listen to who you are, what is in your heart and how you see yourself on your wedding day.  Narrow down the body type that looks best on you and combine that with the neckline you would like.  If a fit and flare just isn’t showing off your incredible waistline, maybe you should keep your search to basque or traditional waistline style dresses.  There are only a small handful of shapes that a gown can contain, even though there are so many different styles to choose from.   Perhaps you dreamed of strapless but a v-neck looks remarkable.  Stick with it.  It is better to eliminate what isn’t working and proceed from there.  When you find the body type and neckline, you can key in on the detail.  Don’t second guess what you are feeling.  If you’re feeling good, your energy will transcend in the room.

It is not necessary to go to every bridal salon from Great Neck to Montauk.  Too often this is the reason for overload and the joy of bridal gown shopping too often becomes a chore.  Allow the quiet voice in your soul to be heard.  What is your heart telling you?  If you can’t hear it, take an extra breath in the dressing room, relax and let it happen.  Enjoy this experience of finding your gown.  Stay in the moment, keep it as simple and pure as possible and in no time, you too will be able to say “yes” to the dress.

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What is a Bridal Trunk Show?

You come across an ad that says “Maggie Sottero Trunk Show this weekend.”  What does it mean?  Basically, a trunk show heightens the experience of selecting your bridal gown.   Many designers have offered this option to salons in order to show more of their dresses on any given weekend, for that time only.  Often times, it’s a sneak peak of what will be shipped for the upcoming season, an exclusive “preview”.  You get to view and order from the designer’s brand new collection before it even hits the stores.

When a bridal salon carries a designer, it is not likely that they carry every style they offer.  A trunk show is an opportunity for the salon to offer you an extended inventory from a particular designer for that short time period.   An added bonus is usually a discount on these gowns that is offered exclusively during the dates of the trunk show.  Since some designers prohibit discounting, waiting to purchase a gown during a trunk might be worth the wait.

A trunk show might even offer the designer in person.  You may get to meet Madeline Gardiner from Mori Lee or David Tutera from Mon Cheri.  When the designers make a special appearance at a trunk show, they share their knowledge and answer questions about anything; from their inspiration, why they chose a certain fabric, to what might be the best fit for you.  While the bridal consultants should be skilled in this area, it is an added bonus to hear this right from the top, from the person that carefully designed each stitch of the most important piece of clothing you will ever wear.  So if you are looking for a wedding dress from Allure Bridals that you cannot find anywhere, you may very well find it at the next trunk show.  Or if your gown budget was $900 and the Casablanca dress is $1000…then the trunk show might be right for you.

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In Your Own Back Yard

Long Islanders are often extravagant when it comes to planning a wedding.  Most facilities, whether the bride and groom choose Lessing’s, the Lombardi’s, the Scotto Brothers or almost any other wedding facility on the island, demonstrate that our distinction of weddings here on Long Island is second to none.  There is however, something that fewer Long Island brides undertake.  That is planning a wedding in your (or perhaps another family member’s) own backyard.   Recently, two brides whom have decided on this very location to commence their life with their partner, shared some thoughts.

A few weeks ago, heartening Erin Keffeler revealed some of her wedding detail.  The reception and ceremony would take place in the back yard of the groom’s mother.  Erin’s sense of imagination and personalizing the event was extremely apparent.  The biggest element that stands out was that this bride, with some help from her groom, decided to cater her own wedding for about 50 guests, in the personal setting of the backyard.  Grilled salmon, steak and chicken would serve as the main course with sides, salads and appetizers aplenty. Think about the week of your wedding for a moment.  Last minute details abound, securing the tuxes, flowers, final gown fittings, music selection, center pieces, wedding favors… and then imagine preparing the entire meal from appetizers to desserts for every guest (while being the center of attention) including but not limited to the magnificent wedding cake.  Now imagine preparing it well.  It is certain that the guests of Erin and Jeff (groom) will certainly remember the particulars at this wedding.  They have chosen to leave their personal mark with all its extra efforts.

More recently, bride-to-be, Edie Springsteen, was shopping for a wedding gown that she will wear to her Spring 2012 reception being held on the grounds of her Ridge home.  Excited about the dress she chose so appropriately for the occasion, her vision continues to unfold.  Her enthusiasm is easy to detect.  There is often a down to earth, easy going nature about these backyard wedding planners even though there is often much more to plan than would normally be taken care of by a catering hall.  Edie stated that she was getting married in her home …”with my horses (5 of them)”.  When asked if she would be riding on the day of her wedding she said, “Originally, we were going to have the ceremony on horseback, but then we ruled that out.”  She has nearly a year to work out her major and fine details.  But her nature indicates that she will enjoy every moment of it.

There is something to be said for the lavishness of a LI wedding venue, but it is different from the planning that is placed on creating the backyard affair.  While the catering facility can offer many options to personalize the affair there are certain limits.  At the same time, there may be obstacles to overcome when planning the backyard affair that might be taken for granted when signing with a facility, like the size of the kitchen, the bathroom amenities, the lighting, or the weather, to name a few.  If you are up for the challenge, however, the magic of turning this familiar and comfortable surrounding into the wedding reception location and then opening your hearts and sharing your personal space with all that have meaning in your world, offers a extraordinary way to begin your new chapter.

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Gown Shopping Misconceptions and the Practice of Being You (Part Two)

This  blog is Part Two; view the first part here Gown Shopping Misconceptions and the Practice of Being You (Part One)

Misconception # 4:  I need to get the approval of…

This trend seems to be growing.  I believe that too many “approvals” can create confusion and setbacks and they tamper with the “wow factor” that should be reserved for the wedding day.   Wedding gown shopping is an intimate experience.  It is an honor that should be awarded to a select few.  Think about whom has had the most influence on your life and share the experience with that person/people.   Who has honored you in your life that you can honor now?

Misconception # 5:  “I just started looking”  “I have only been to one store”.

I truly believe that our consulting staff has amazing taste.  I also agree that, like the brides, we have individual tastes.  When it comes to buying our bridal lines, we involve our entire staff.  They are the staff with years of experience.  They watch the models, listen to the designers, follow the trends and listen to brides every single day.  They pin girls in, hook girls up and, in the end, work with the seamstresses on achieving the proper fit.  They live the life of bridal styles and trends day after day.  It is with this knowledge that our girls go out and choose the upcoming line.  I make this point because I truly believe that all styles and tastes and trends are represented in the hundreds of dresses that we sample.  On the rare occasion that we feel that something is brought to our attention that we may have missed, we honor the request and try to get the sample for the customer.  With a huge selection, combined with the knowledge of the staff and as long as you feel complete, one store is all that is necessary.

This is your wedding.  There really are enough rules in life.  Selecting what style you choose to wear on your wedding day should does not come with a set in stone list of guidelines.  Keep it fun.  Keep it simple. Allow space inside to just be you.  Choosing your wedding gown should be a wonderful experience!

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Gown Shopping Misconceptions and the Practice of Being You (Part One)

Finding a perfect wedding gown is really quite simple.  Did I really just write that?  Combine the mood of the bride and the energy of the occasion with the expertise of the bridal consultant in a room full of amazing and intricate dresses that you will be wearing just once and that should equal exciting and uncomplicated.   Multiply this scenario with choice overload; too many opinions; recorded wedding messages from outside sources playing over and over in your head.  That’s when finding “the one” becomes a challenge.  I must admit, entering a bridal salon to a sea of white elegance classified into individual styles can seem a bit overwhelming.   There are tulle dresses on the left; pick ups straight ahead; destination styles on the right; some with sleeves right over there; lace dresses around the corner; couture dresses over here.  All this after you have spent hours, maybe days, looking at styles on the internet.  How do you narrow it down?  Add that to all of the voices advising the bride on what they “should” do and you may get swallowed up, but only when you stop listening to yourself.

When it comes to wedding gown selection, every personality is unique.  All cliché’s do not work for all.  There is no universal “sign” or formula that can be applied to every bride.  Every bride does not just “know” when it’s the “right one”.  Every mom does not cry.  Every family member present for the process does not always agree on the same style, and everyone does not need to gain approval before making their choice (although it would be convenient.)  The truth is we have different tastes.

The following are a few hasty ideas that I experience over and over again that I cannot help but to disagree with.  While there is no black and white answer, there is certain truth that each bride that walks in to our salon, deserves the support to be herself.  Our bridal consultants try to communicate the importance of this not only to the bride but also those that come to assist with the gown selection all in the spirit of honoring and supporting the bride’s unique and individual qualities.

Misconception # 1: You know it’s the right one when you cry.

It is true that we see a lot of tears.  It is also true that a certain moment or dress triggers this emotion.  It is not true that it happens to everyone.  We all have different ways of handling different situations.  Some people cry at graduations, hallmark cards, baseball games, funerals.  Some people don’t.  We are all made unique (how amazing is that?).  Some people arrive at decisions and some people know right away.  We all know people who dive right into a cold pool and we all know people who put their toes in to feel the water.  There are even some people that don’t go in the water at all.  Some people feel emotion when trying on wedding gowns.  Others do not.  Embrace your personality and how you are wired and be yourself.

Misconception # 2:  Everyone present should agree.

It is easiest to choose a bridal gown when everyone present has the same taste and agrees on the same style.  This, obviously, cannot always happen.  What happens when mom and daughter come in to the showroom and it is obvious that they have two different tastes?  What would be ideal to happen is that the mom recognizes how happy a particular style makes her daughter feel and the difference in tastes pales in comparison to what her baby girl is feeling.  Sometimes, onlookers get wrapped up in thinking that it is there job to make the choice for the bride, help her so strongly so she does not make a bad choice.  The truth is that the job of the “support” team, meaning those the bride has chosen to be a part of the process, is to honor the bride and her experience.  If she likes a style, support her opinion and be a true friend.

Misconception # 3:  I have to try on every dress in the store.

It is not important to try on every dress, but it is important to nail down your style.  On my occasional shopping visits to Nordstrom Rack or TJ Maxx, I am sometimes drawn to a gorgeous top that I absolutely love.  Years of experience has taught me that the style is great… for someone else.  I must refocus and remember that there are styles for everyone.  We all have different bodies.  There are certain cuts that work better for certain bodies and there is no point in trying to make myself look good in this style when I know that style will make me look and feel better.  This is especially true in bridal wear. We are all unique.  There are thousands of beautiful dresses.  What is the body that suits you?  Being unsure is okay.  Usually it becomes apparent by trying three different bodies, as guided through the knowledge of a good bridal consultant.  From there you can eliminate and cater to what direction works best.  Stick with the good feeling styles and enjoy the ride.

I will have more misconceptions posted in our blog next week.

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Reality Wedding TV

The wedding rage is upon us.  It has been for some time.   Back in 2006, on a Sunday in July, WE Television ran an episode of “Bridezillas” that ranked as one of the networks highest rated original TV series in the network’s cable history.  This, just 3 years after the premier of the show.  Wedding reality TV has become somewhat of a craze.  There is rarely a customer who walks into our showroom that doesn’t use the term ‘bridezilla’ in some context.  “I’m not a bridezilla” or “She is a real bridezilla.”  And without question we all know what the word means whether Webster recognizes it or not.

I switch channels and walk through the showroom.  I over hear “I feel like I’m watching ‘Say Yes to the Dress’” from a customer who has accompanied her daughter on her wedding dress excursion.   Because I am not a wedding reality TV regular, I sometimes feel as though I am missing something, as my customers and employees chatter about last night’s episode.  I have to remind myself that we are actually the reality.  But still I am curious.

So I find myself waking early one morning.  I scheduled a date with youtube.com to check out what all the chatter is about and ironically, to see if I could possibly by missing something that I think I live.  I wonder if I will learn something.  I wonder if I, too, will become an addict, and admittedly I wonder if they could possibly have one up on us when I watch “Say Yes to the Dress”. I park at the computer and begin watching.  I feel the addiction start to tease me.  I challenge myself.  I know which dress is right for that bride and I want to tell her.  I do not even have to look at the dress.  I just need to see her face.  I get heated and want to speak through the TV… “you can’t have everyone’s approval… you cannot let a 5 and 7 year old choose your dress…    and you look so beautiful your eyes lit up when you put that on.”  Then I decide to save it for the showroom.  I feel proud, in a sense, because I am confident in the expertise we possess as an established and reputable bridal salon.  I am reassured that my staff is amazing.  They council, they guide, they listen and they lead.  It is a gift that I am grateful for.  In some of the situations I say to myself, Tamy should be helping that bride, she would understand her situation… or Maryellen would know what dress to pick.  So in the end, I decide, I am not missing out on the reality TV wedding craze.  My showroom is the reality.  Though, I can relate to the obsession.

In the end, I decided to research the available wedding television shows available just to insure that using the word obsession or craze was justified.   I was quite surprised to find 24!!.  This does not include the newly launched prime time show  “Shedding for the Wedding” that airs at 9/8c every Wednesday night on CW network.  I peruse the titles and realize that I do not have the time to watch every one.  The titles alone are enough to intrigue me and put a smile on my face.  Who knows, maybe I’ll start a new blog series and critique them one by one?  But first, I have a business to run.  Oh and for your viewing pleasure, here is the list of shows that I came up with… just in case you’ve missed one!

“Amazing Wedding Cakes”, “Bridal Bootcamp”,“Bridezillas”, “Buff Brides”, “ Bulging Brides”, “Engaged and Underage”, “Four Weddings”, “Get Married”, “I Propose”, “Married Away”, :My Big Fat Fabulous Wedding”, “My Big Redneck Wedding”, “My Fair Wedding”, “Platinum Weddings”, “Rich Bride Poor Bride”, “Rock the Reception”, “Rules of Engagement”, “Say Yes to the Dress”, “Shedding for the Wedding”, “The Real Wedding Crashers”, “ The Wedding Bells”,“ A Wedding Story”, “Til Death”, “Wedding SOS”, “Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?

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October 2010

This is the time of the year in the bridal industry and specifically for us at Bridal Suite of Bay Shore, that lends itself to the season. As the leaves begin to change, it is important to take some time to sit back and reflect on what is changing, and how we can see the beauty in those changes. There is a choice to make when the colors rain down to the ground and the chill enters the air. Do we see the opportunity to take a walk in the woods and bake something yummy in the oven or do we moan about the chill in the air and complain about the winter coming? We have a choice on how we view everything.

I often bring this this season of change into the bridal salon and harvest the opportunity to make improvements. As the holidays approach us our traffic dwindles just a bit. It is a time when myself and the staff get to fall back and reflect. What did we do this year that was right? What can we make better? How can we be the best choice for every customer walking through the door and truly identify with what they are looking for? The truth is, we are up against challenging times. People feel slighted. People want “something”. We want to feel as if they can get that “something” here. The changes can be simple. They have to make a difference, however. We thought that a good way to begin our reflection was with something as simple as a thank you, as often as we can. We now send thank you cards to all of our customers; those that have chosen to purchase with us, and those who have not yet decided. We include a “token” of thanks to all of our parting brides, as well. Thank you for being a part of our family, for choosing our service, for being here.

Have you noticed that smiles are harder to come by these days? Who would have ever thought that it would be difficult to make someone smile? A personal goal for me is to make more people smile and see the good in everyone. I think about the job my staff is doing. “Look at Antonella, her warm welcome made that customer feel at home.” or “Monica went out of her way to tell that customer how beautiful she looks.” or “Andrea offered only positive comments and solutions today.” I can find something positive in any of the staff. It is a choice. I feel really blessed with this staff (or I can choose to point out the negative.)

A physical change we made just this week was to lower our prices. Times are uncertain for most of us. I know we all worked harder this year than ever. My employees were amazing. Nobody made more money. They just reached deeper and worked harder. Lowering prices took some work. In working closely with our manufacturers, we were able to lower many of the prices on our bridal gowns offering the lowest prices allowable by our contract with them. When you combine this with the service that we offer, there isn’t much of a better offer.

We will never be finished reflecting. Falling leaves and the change of seasons will repeat itself time and time again. As long as we make the choice to honor the season and put forth the changes to just “be better” and to “better serve”, our mission is worthwhile. And “Thank You” for reading.

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