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Bridal Shops and What They Provide
The whole purpose for bridal shops and menswear shops is to provide professional locations for brides and grooms to go, that stock bridal attire in every color and variation, and are knowledgeable about the products they sell.
For most of these locations, an appointment is required before showing up. A personal attendant is automatically assigned to the customer(s) when they arrive to help with trying on clothing, choosing items for purchase or rental, and answering questions along the way. The attendants provided usually have a great deal of experience in assisting customers with their bridal attire, and can make educated suggestions to help speed along the process.
For brides, the attendant (or bridal consultant) first assists the bride in completing a simple bridal registry form, which helps the attendant to get a sense of her personal style and the ideas she’s already put together for her wedding plans. She will also show the bride the four traditional gown silhouettes and briefly explain some of the different fabrics and construction of the wedding gowns she will try on. The appropriate undergarments are found and a dressing room is assigned.
Brides may get to initially walk around with the attendant to point out some of the dresses that she likes, but brides, wedding planners attending with them, friends, and family members will typically not be allowed to choose dresses for the bride after that. The attendant would then be responsible for listening to the bride’s opinions and bringing in more dresses that she might like. Watch “Say Yes to the Dress” for an idea of how this works.
The bride would then schedule an appointment on another day for her bridesmaids to attend with her and choose bridesmaids gowns. At this appointment, the bride and her girls would peruse the offerings of the store to choose colors and styles. When a few were chosen an attendant would bring dresses to each of the girls to try on, and you know how the rest of this story goes.
If you’ve ever gone shopping for clothing, especially with a group of girls, you know that it is simply a cycle of trying on and coming out to admire and offer opinions until the right ones were chosen. Measurements would then be taken, sizes would be decided, and the dresses would be ordered to pick up a few months before the wedding. For both the bride and her maids, alterations and fittings, typically right there at the bridal shop, would then ensue. Anywhere from one alteration to many might take place after this.
If bridesmaids are coming in from out of town, I suggest the bride choosing a chain bridal store, not necessarily the same place where she chose her wedding gown, like David’s Bridal or Alfred Angelos, which are located all over the country. This way the bride can simply have their choice of bridesmaid dress saved in the computer for access from any store anywhere. Bridesmaids can then go in at their own convenience to get measured and order their dress. By using a store in the bride’s area only, measurements and ordering can take place, but it would be very difficult for pickups and alterations to happen.
For grooms, this experience is probably more like going to a department store. Men’s Wearhouse, for example, will offer their customers tons of suits in a variety of styles and colors. Customers are allowed to walk up and down the aisles and choose suits that they like to go try on. At smaller shops, they may offer a number of generic suits to try on, but mostly men just look through the books that they offer to find what they like best. Measurements are then taken and the suit is ordered. It is the same for a tuxedo.
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Groomsmen would then simply send in their measurements or go into the shop to be measured, and the suits (or tuxedos) would be available a couple of days before the wedding to be picked up. If the attire was rented, they would then be returned within a few days after the wedding for no charge. They would to need to be cleaned first. If the groom has groomsmen coming in from out of town for the wedding, I highly recommend choosing a popular chain store like Men’s Wearhouse, or Jos. A. Bank, that are located all over the country. This way all of the groomsmen can go into a local branch to get measured and pick up their suit. If the store in the groom’s area doesn’t actually take the measurements themselves, they will likely not be responsible if the suit comes in wrong.
As you can see, bridal/menswear stores are not just great for brides and grooms. They also stock plenty of selections for bridesmaids and groomsmen, as well as parents of the bride and groom. Parents most likely would not schedule and appointment though. The mothers would probably go in and pick out their choices in outfits to purchase on their own, and fathers normally just turn in their measurements with the groomsmen and go along with the rest of the guys. Some shops, like David’s Bridal provide wedding accessories, invitations and other wedding stationery, and even offer other wedding services, like photography, flowers, and catering. No kidding.
Other Products and Services Offered
Wedding gowns, suits and tuxedos, bridesmaids’ dresses, and nice outfits for moms are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what these types of shops can provide.
With bridal shops branching out into other areas to better provide brides with just about anything they could need for their weddings, you’d be shocked at what you can find.
You can find shoes, veils, headpieces, lingerie, jewelry, sashes and other cover-ups, gloves, garters, and even handbags. For the wedding ceremony, they offer guest books, flower girl baskets, ring bearer pillows, unity candles, aisle runners, wedding programs, and ceremony decorations.
For the wedding reception, they offer cake toppers, toasting flutes, serving sets, napkins, place cards, escort cards, and even table numbers.
Next to bridal attire, one of the top sellers for bridal/menswear shops is wedding invitations and stationery sets. These types of shops have turned into a one-stop shop for just about everything weddings. Some even have relationships with wedding photographers, DJs, florists, caterers, and many other wedding vendors.
I have always had a mantra about businesses trying to take on too much. There’s no way, with so many balls in the air, that they are able to juggle them all successfully. I would be wary of any kind of company trying to offer so many different types of products and services.
There are many great bridal shops out there that are in business to help brides and grooms find exactly what they are looking for at reasonable prices, but like every other wedding vendor you’ll hear about, it will be important to do your research ahead of time.