• JP

Transparency & Honesty in Bridal Stores

It’s well known that I started H&W after my own journey as a bride, I have based the store, the vibe and the brand on everything I learnt as a bride. This doesn’t mean that I went around stores stealing ideas or thinking ’wow’ this is the most amazing job in the world.

It’s quite the opposite, I spent nearly two years trying to find my gown, because I fell in love with a gown on Pinterest - I had no idea, not a clue about something called ’exclusivity’ - do you? The average normal person getting married wouldn’t have a clue, right? Well, this is what I discovered ‘designers’ want their brands to be in stores that are reflective of their brands (this isn’t true about all designers - but most), they also don’t want to over commercialise their brand by being in too many stores - this means price wars etc and loss of desirability when the gowns are ‘everywhere’ (Again this isn’t true of all designers). So in a nutshell, I couldn’t find this gown anywhere but a very exclusive, designer store in Mayfair...I mean I should have have known better BUT here’s where I started to really learn ‘how I would do things differently if I owned a store’, you’re hopeful as a bride, right?! Dreamy, wistful, ever positive that the gown you have seen is in your price range, who knows what a good price range is?! I had never shopped for a bridal gown before, not even a ball gown or evening wear, I had no clue about how much I should be spending!

So I booked an appointment, I went to the store (by the way, I paid £50 for the appointment and I was totally miffed about why I had to pay,and now I get it, opening a store means I get it. In my first year of business you wouldn’t believe how many didn’t turn up and you also wouldn’t believe how many people would book an appointment and once in store, tell me they were not engaged or just fancied a day out................).

I tried ‘my’ dress on, I LOVED it, I loved all of the gowns but I had my heart set on that gown. Until the end of the appointment when they told me the price; started at £6500 and you had to use their seamstress etc - Eeekkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

Now, this gown and designer is worth it, I get it, but this price meant I couldn’t afford the gown and started a long joinery which included sample sales, second hand gowns and visits to many many stores. This blog isn’t about all of those experiences but about one thing in particular, all the boutiques I visited (and it was a LOT!) were doing this;

“It’s always been done this way” this meant;

  • websites only showing a selection of the gowns, so I had no idea what else they had

  • little or no social media - this has changed now (this was in 2011/12)

  • No online booking, you had to call or request an appointment by email

  • Interior/Exterior of the shop was overly traditional and hadn’t been updated in years - I know this sounds harsh but I felt like the shops just were not me, and if they didn’t care to make the shop look nice, would they care about me??!

  • No prices on the gowns on the website or in store?! This means that you try something on, fall in love with it and find out you can’t afford it, and then spend more than you have or want.

  • Sizes; this is a difficult one, because I know I can’t afford to buy more than one size for the store and no matter what the press says ‘there isn’t an average size’ everyone is different. Certain designers attract certain sizes mainly because of their vibe but also the designs of their gowns, so for example the relaxed style gowns tend not to have any support built in meaning that they may not be suitable for someone who has a large bust or wants the gown to give them a particular shape. Also the other confusing thing is, that one designers 12 is anothe