I love sparkle! I’ve always loved the sparkle— whether on a dress or in the eyes of a mesmerized bride. I also really enjoy learning what goes through a designer’s mind right before she touches her pencil to the paper. But most of all, I’m a sucker for a love story. So I combined all of these great loves and I ended up at a job interview for Solutions Bridal. I pretty much thought I knew almost everything there was to know about the wedding industry. After all, I’ve probably watched more bridal shows than anyone you’ve ever met in your life… Times three. But I suppose, much like anything else, you can’t understand the ins and outs of a thing until you jump right in.
So, I’m making a list of all the things— from old and new, to borrowed and blue— that I never, ever knew about bridal fashion.
1. Experience over transaction.
I guess I just always associated buying a wedding dress with exactly that… buying! Since I started working at Solutions, I learned how much of an investment this life-changing decision really is. It’s more than just “a dress I’ll only wear once.” I mean, these photos are going to be hanging all over your house for the rest of your life! When we stop focusing on the dollar sign, and start to hone in on the goal we wish to accomplish— from princess ball gown to sexy fitted and anything in between— we start to really enjoy this moment. And that’s what it’s all about— Remembering the day you said yes to your dress with a smile on your face instead of a knot in your stomach.
2. Every dress tells a story.
Your gown is your statement. It tells the tale of a girl who fell in love, and it reflects the vision of how you want your special day to be. When you think of a romantic, small wedding on the sands of a private beach at sunset, what do you see? When you imagine a large ballroom at twilight, with crystal chandeliers and a big, inviting dance floor, what dress goes along with it? Your dress is an echo of all of the little details you’ve been planning since you were five, so whether it is simply classic or intricately extravagant, your dress tells the story of you.
3. The smaller the entourage, the more confident the “Yes.”
Don’t get me wrong, I come from a big (and I’m talking BIG) Italian family, but I learned this lesson within my first few hours of working at Solutions Bridal. When you are finally facing the task of saying “Yes” to your dream dress, you’ve got to be totally sure, right? We’ve learned since the early stages of our lives that no two people are ever alike. For example, my best friend loves bananas and I absolutely think they are the most repulsive food on the planet. But I adore purple and my mom is more of a fan of red. My boyfriend enjoys dramatic movies and I really just want a chick-flick I can cry my eyes out to while I’m watching. The list goes on and on and on. So now I’m about to purchase my wedding dress, and I’ve got my mom by my side, but also my aunt, my other aunt, three cousins, grandma, four closest friends, and future mother-in-law all crammed into one little show room, anticipating me coming out of the dressing room in the dress they have envisioned me in. I’m behind the curtain, loving what I see in the mirror, excited to show them, I come out and their reaction is… Flat. There is no guarantee that even two or three people will get that same feeling upon seeing a bride in a gown, so how can we possibly expect ten people to agree? Stick to those one or two in your life who you’re closest to, make your decision, then schedule a “Dress Reveal” to include your other loved ones, without having to settle on something you just like instead of love. You’ll be beautiful on wedding day either way, I promise you.
4. We must embrace the “pops” in life!
When the love of your life gets down on one knee, we call that “popping the question.” When your baby bump starts to grow, we say your belly “popped.” These are both HUGE moments in a woman’s life, so it’s only right that you should POP champagne when you say “Yes” to your dress, isn’t it? At Solutions Bridal, we’ve got you covered—it’s always a happy celebration when you make this monumentally important decision, complete with that charming little Pop, Fizz, Clink!
5. Your dress should look like you.
Yes, look like you. Not in that odd way like when they say people start to look like their dogs after a while, but more so in the sense that you don’t necessarily have to step so far out of your box (or your price point, for that matter!) to complete your wedding day look. Think of the time or times in your life when you felt the most beautiful. What did you have on? How was your makeup? What did you do to your hair? I’ve learned that your look on wedding day should be a jazzed up version of the look that you saw in the mirror all of those other pretty days before.
6. A little creativity goes a long way.
Chances are, when you imagine your wedding dress, you want a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Strapless, but sweetheart… Lace cap sleeves with a beaded sash… Fitted through the hips with a dramatic flare… Low back… Buttons… Pearls… Silk… Oh, my! My advice to you: Don’t get too attached to any one image of a dress that you formulated in your head. Find a blank canvas, and create! The keys to the dress of your dreams are an open mind, a creative stylist and a talented seamstress! With this in mind, you will be one-in-a-million on your day.
7. Don’t run your own appointment!
I’m all about picking a few things I think I’ll like off the rack and running into the dressing room at Bloomingdale’s to quickly try them on and get out of there. But this is one day of shopping you should dedicate some time to. My few weeks of training here at Solutions were really focused on taking my time—and I’m from New York so I’m always in a rush!—but wedding dress shopping should be the exception to that rule. Embrace the fact that you walked into a salon that capitalizes on providing you with your own, personal stylist, and let her fit you in the gowns. Enjoy it! Have a mimosa. Let the professionals guide you to your perfect gown.
8. You are the leading lady of your love story.
Don’t let the fuss of seating charts and song requests and cake tastings and linen options steal your joy during this special moment. Everybody knows that as much as a wedding is about two people who fell in love, it’s also about the dress. You are the star of this show, and you deserve to shine in the spotlight. I never really understood this until I saw photos of real brides who found their dresses at our store. Even if you’re the most selfless girl in the world, try to dedicate this one day to the beauty of YOU!
9. Men know what they want even less than we do.
I can’t tell you the number of times I tried to add a “groom’s pick” into my appointment, only to find that it stuck out like a sore thumb compared to the dresses the bride picked for herself. I always like to ask, “What do you think your fiancé would like to see you in?” because I know, of course, every bride wants her groom to be amazed when she walks down that aisle. But trust me, he will be amazed whether you take his advice on the dress or not. It’s possible that he scrunches his nose to lace because it makes him think of his grandma. But he doesn’t know the kind of lace you’re going to slip on, and once he sees it, grandma’s wardrobe will be the LAST thing he’s thinking of.
10. Trust the mission statement.
Every business should take the time to create one of these. When I first started working here, I noticed a simple sentence printed on the wall of our employee lounge. “Our mission is to restore pure beauty and regain self-love.” Pretty powerful, huh? The higher-ups at Solutions Bridal locked themselves in a board room for three straight days to come up with this mission statement, and they dedicate every day to making sure the staff follows through. The bottom line is no matter who you are, no matter what dress you choose, you should know that on your wedding day, you’re the most beautiful girl in the world. Not just the kind of beautiful you see from the outside, but the pure kind, the raw kind, the kind you were the first day your parents held you in their arms. Think of that little beautiful girl—because she’s still in there somewhere!—and be confident that this beauty is the best kind in the whole world.
Store photos by the talented Kristen Weaver Photography