I often get asked by my brides who they should bring with them to their initial appointment. This is always a tricky one because I would advise bringing someone you trust but also limiting numbers. Firstly, you have to remember that too many opinions can be overwhelming. Also your fabulously flamboyant friend will most likely have a different style and taste to you so often she may pull out the dresses that she loves but that perhaps don’t suit your wedding or personal sense of style (not on purpose but because we are each individually drawn to what we are drawn to).
Another problem with bringing lots of people with you is that the boutique is so petite. I’ve designed my boutique to be very one-to-one and intimate in the experience I offer. Because of this, when there are more people it can feel very loud and crowded and take away from that personal and special experience.
I do get quite a few brides who come to me solo to choose their gown and that’s absolutely fine, it gives me a great opportunity to get to know the bride on a very personal level. However, most brides bring between one to three people with them which I would say is a great number.
Who they bring usually varies but it’s most often a mother, best friend/Maid of Honour and/or sister. This provides the perfect balance of advice and support in equal measure and just a handful of people means we can keep the experience intimate and the bride receives honest advice from the people who know her best. This is key. I am skilled at offering advice on body shape, style of gowns and materials, but there is nobody that will know the bride like a close friend or mother.
Children is a tricky topic because often a bride wants her children involved or sometimes it’s just not possible to get childcare for the day and time of the appointment. Although many boutiques don’t allow children, I’m more than happy to welcome them but I find it can distract from the bridal experience. As a mother myself, I know how wonderful children can be but I also know that they are all-consuming and if there is one time a woman should feel free to think about herself and feel amazing, it’s dress shopping for that once-in-a-lifetime gown. It can be hard to concentrate when children are present because 90 minutes is a very long time for a child (especially a toddler) to stay put.
I would advise perhaps for those brides who want to involve their children or perhaps their bridesmaids that in order to keep the entourage manageable and the overwhelm minimal, why not invite the bridesmaids and your children to the follow-up appointment to either help choose accessories or to show them the dress at your first fitting. You could then make it a special event that won’t be too time consuming (for tired tots) and can be followed with lunch or cocktails somewhere special.
At the end of the day, it’s your bridal experience and it has to be right for you. Perhaps for you, having your seven cousins there means everything and if that’s the case, we’ll make it work one way or another! However, in my experience and advice, I always recommend, keeping it petite and personal, making it exclusive to those that you trust the most so that you have time to take it all in, to breathe, to try different styles, re-try the ones you love and listen to your own feelings, because that is what matters most at the end of the day. It’s about taking your time, trusting your entourage, feeling relaxed and tuning in to yourself.
I’m more than happy for photos to be taken should you want to show others after your appointment. Many boutiques don’t allow photography because it doesn’t show the bride in a dress that fits her properly, the lighting isn’t always good and usually she is totally make-up free so it’s not reflecting her at her best. However, I don’t mind photography at all and think it can help as often brides try so many gowns that they can forget how they looked in each one. But as I always say, a photo will show your friends and family how you looked, the fit and the fabric, but it won’t convey the most important thing… how you felt. And that is what matters most.