Wedding Dresses & Style

Advice from the “Say Yes to the Dress” Bridal Consultants

posted: 05/14/10
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"Say Yes to the Dress" is TLC's hit show about brides searching for their perfect wedding gowns.

The staff of Kleinfeld Bridal, the world-renowned salon featured on TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress," makes it seem so easy to pick the perfect wedding dress. But the process of choosing a gown is anything but simple! What bride hasn't been disappointed to discover that the gorgeous gown she saw in a magazine fits her like a sack of potatoes? There's more legwork aside from gathering inspiration from magazines and Web sites; you've also got to set a budget for the dress and choose the boutiques you want to shop at. Then, you've got to pick lingerie, shoes, jewelry and a veil and get the gown altered to ensure the best fit. And this all has to happen within months of the wedding. Hyperventilating yet?

Breathe easy, brides! Kleinfeld's owner, alterations specialist and consultants have some tips to guide you toward the most beautiful, figure-flattering dress out there. They've got your questions about underwear and shoes covered -- and they'll even share some insider tips on how to make an ordinary, off-the-rack dress look like a million dollars. To dispel your confusion about alterations and how far in advance to order your dress, start here and let Audrey, Camille, Keasha, Mara, Nitsa and Sarah explain everything. They'll even share some gossip about a few outrageous customers and a brush with royalty!

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Audrey, Bridal Consultant

Audrey shares her bridal shopping tips and dishes on her most outrageous bride.

Q: What information should a bride be prepared to share with a consultant when shopping for a gown?

A: She should share the location, theme and vision for the wedding, as well as her gown budget and color and fabric preferences. Bring photos of gowns you like from magazines, Web sites, etc.

Q: When is the best time to go shopping for a bridal gown?

A: You must order six to nine months ahead of the wedding. Shopping during the week is usually preferred, since weekends are often very busy.

Q: Who was the most outrageous customer you've ever had?

A: I had a bride come back to try on bridal gowns 14 times, and she called me twice a week for two years. She came to browse every weekend during trunk shows. She always came alone or with her mother. She loved a Kleinfeld Exclusive designer from Italy, Amelia Casablanca. She also started calling the designer in Italy requesting more and more big ball gowns and even considered flying to Italy.

One of the last times she came shopping, she brought her mother and father. Her father got so fed up in the fitting room that he threw the credit card at her and said, "Get what you want." When she came back the 14th time, she still could not decide and said she changed the wedding date a few times.

A year later, I saw her in a local store. She ignored me and told me she didn't remember me.

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Camille, Bridal Consultant

Dealing delicately with brides comes with the territory when you're a bridal consultant. Just ask Camille.

Q: How do brides usually respond when you tell them that the gown style they had their heart set on is not the most flattering for their shape?

A: I may ask her to try on a style I think would be more flattering on her, and let her see the difference.

Q: Who was the most outrageous customer you've ever had?

A: My most outrageous bride came with her mother and grandmother to buy a dress. Grandma was paying for the wedding and the dress. She envisioned her granddaughter as a traditional Old World bride.

When the bride got undressed and started to try on gowns, her grandmother was not prepared to see the 2-inch-high tattoo that read, "I love Anthony." The bride wasn't marrying a guy named Anthony! Grandma started screaming and left the store saying she would not pay for the wedding! The appointment ended abruptly, but the bride and her mom came back a week later to purchase the gown.

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Keasha, Bridal Consultant

Keasha offers a budget reality check and recalls working with a very special bride.

Q: How should a bride calculate her dress budget?

A: Normally, 12 to 15 percent of the wedding budget should be reserved for the wedding gown.

Q: How can a bride on a budget save money on a gown?

A: Sample sales and trunk-show promotions/discounts.

Q: How can a bride make an off-the-rack gown unique?

A: With additional trims, beading and accessories, such as a special heirloom veil.

Q: Who was the most memorable customer you've ever had?

A: I had a very special bride who was a survivor of September 11. She came into my dressing room and was unable to stand; she was in a wheelchair and had undergone over 30 operations.

I recall having to dress her very quickly, because her legs couldn't hold her up. She could only stand for a brief eight seconds to see herself in the gown in the mirror, and then she needed to be seated. My heart went out to this bride. She and I worked together to find her dream dress, which ended up being the first gown I put on her.

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Mara, Co-Owner of Kleinfeld

Who should you turn to for the dress of your dreams? Mara talks about picking the right bridal boutique and selecting your undergarments.

Q: What should a bride look for in a bridal shop?

A: Brides should look for a reputable bridal shop that offers a large selection of gowns, complete services such as alterations, and one-stop shopping - for veils, shoes and accessories. They may also want to ask friends for recommendations.

Q: What are the advantages of buying in a bridal shop over having a gown made or buying online?

A: Knowledgeable staff and bridal consultants to guide you and answer all your questions. It is important to purchase from a salon that has great customer service and quality control.

Q: What store policies are important?

A: "By appointment only," to ensure you will get all the time and attention you need.

60 percent deposit to order: Do not pay in full until your gown arrives at the store.

Read the contract carefully, and be aware of the cancellation policy.

Q: When should a bride choose her undergarments and shoes?

A: The undergarments can be chosen at the first fitting; the shoes need to be selected by the first fitting.

Q: What gown fabrics are most likely to reveal undergarment seams or lines?

A: Bias-cut silk charmeuse.

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Nitsa, Director of Alterations

Nitsa gives tips about bridal gown fittings.

Q: How many times will a bride have to return to a boutique for fittings?

A: Depending how much work needs to be done, at least two to four fittings.

Q: Is there a point after which a bride should try to keep her weight constant?

A: After the first fitting, the bride should keep her weight constant.

Q: Are last-minute adjustments possible? If so, are they more expensive?

A: No bride leaves here until her gown is perfectly fitted to her body. There is a one-time fee for alterations; no additional charges apply.

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Sarah, Bridal Consultant

Read what Sarah says about picking shoes, and read about her brush with royalty.

Q: What are the rules for picking shoes to go with a gown?

A: The most important factor is comfort!

Q: Who was the most outrageous customer you've ever had?

A: A Nigerian princess!

The appointment started like any other Saturday appointment. We began to talk about her wedding, although she was not really giving me much information about the details. After a while, I guess she felt comfortable with me and so she began to talk about her wedding. She told me the guest list was expected to be over 1,000 people, and the ceremony was going to be televised. That is when finally I had to stop and ask, "Who are you marrying?" She paused for a minute and said, "the president of Nigeria's son." I then fully understood the importance and grandness of this dress.

We clicked right away; she was a really sweet bride. She ended up buying a beautiful Pnina Tornai two-piece ball gown with an amazing train. She truly looked like a modern-day princess for her fairy-tale wedding.

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