I have the supreme honour of being friends with a bridal expert. My friend Carrie-Ann, who I’ve known since middle school, has worked as a consultant at one of the hottest bridal shops in the city for the last seven months and she’s also a very talented seamstress in her own right. I sat down with her to ask some questions about the second-most important ‘yes’ a bride-to-be will say: to her dress!

And she gets to try on dresses all the time. Come on!

How did you become interested in dresses and bridal gowns?
Clothing has always been a passion of mine, and with bridal gowns being the most important article of clothing a woman will wear in her life, I quickly turned to that direction. Every woman wishes to find the perfect wedding gown. Something that will make her feel beautiful, confident, and comfortable on her special day. I want to fulfill that wish.

What’s your favourite part of the job?
My favourite part of the job would have to be bonding with the brides as she find her dress. I love getting to know her throughout the appointment and being able to know exactly what she wants by the end of it, pulling the perfect dress. The moment she walks out in the dress that you just know she’ll love, and her entourage all have a look on their faces like “this could be it” and when the bride looks in the mirror, you can see her picturing herself walking down the aisle in this dress.

Every bride will have a different reaction when they know it’s the one. Some cry, some scream while jumping up and down, and some stand quietly taking it all in before simply saying “This is it.” Every reaction is just as amazing as the next, and sometimes she’ll turn to you and says something like “I can’t believe you found my dress!” It’s just so amazing to know you helped someone with the most important dress they will wear.

What’s the most common concern that a bride has during an appointment? How do you overcome it?
The most common concern a bride has during an appointment, in my experience, has been budget. She wants to find the perfect dress, and most of the time has a set amount to spend on it and doesn’t want to go over. I make sure to find out what that budget is right at the beginning and make sure not to pull any dresses over budget. Sometimes members of the bride’s entourage will pull dresses over budget – not on purpose, just didn’t see the price tag – so when that happens I tell the bride the price so she can decide whether she would still like to try it on or not. It’s all about communication, it’s my job to make sure everything is running smoothly with nothing being hidden.

What’s something brides can do to make their experience (and yours!) easier?
Something brides can do to make the appointment easier for everyone is to do a bit of research. By that I mean go on the store’s website, find the designers we carry, and look at the designer’s websites to get an idea of the styles we have. Note that we won’t carry every dress in the designer’s collections, but we will have a great selection. Brides should also find out the price range of the designers they like online if they can, or call the store and simply ask the price ranges for the designers. 

There have been many occasions where a bride has come in with a picture from the internet of her dream dress (usually off of Pinterest) and we don’t have anything like it. This starts off the appointment with disappointment, and usually they can’t get this couture wedding gown out of their mind, finding everything else falling short of expectation. Getting ideas from websites like Pinterest is a great start, however looking at the designers we actually carry at the start of the appointment will avoid heartbreak.

How big is too big for a bridal entourage to come to an appointment?
Try to keep it at 3-5 people (including the bride) as we do have limited space. The fitting area can get crowded very quickly, making it difficult for everyone to maneuver around to see the bride and talk to her. It also gets loud with all those people in there, making it difficult for the bride to even think about the dress herself. Too many people can mean too many opinions as well, causing confusion or hurt feelings. Some stores offer private shopping appointments, so if you’re looking for a more private experience with more of your friends, ask if the store will hold an after hours party for you, and keep in mind there’s usually a cost.

Is there anything else you want brides to know?
The bride should know that all we want is to find her the perfect dress in the most stress-free way possible. We don’t want her to feel pressured while making this huge decision. We want her to have fun during the appointment, and whether she leaves with the dress that day or has to sleep on it, we want her leaving with the greatest shopping experience. Weddings can be stressful, so I think it’s very important to relieve that stress wherever you can. The bride should remember that at the end of the day it’s her wedding, and her decision on what she wears.