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TWD owner, Beth Chapman’s Tips for Wedding Gown Shopping in Martha Stewart Weddings

TWD owner, Beth Chapman’s Tips for Wedding Gown Shopping in Martha Stewart Weddings

Newly engaged?!  Be sure to pick up the Ultimate Wedding Planner issue of Martha Stewart Wedding!  TWD owner, Beth Chapman is featured in an article discussing tips for wedding gown shopping.  Below is the article and Beth’s advice. 


Shopping at a boutique:  What type of person is best suited to shop at a boutique dress store?

I always recommend that brides shop for their wedding gown in the type of store where they shop for their everyday clothes.  If you prefer a smaller, more intimate environment with specialized attention and specific and unique inventory, then a boutique is the right fit for you. If you are a department store shopper and prefer a large selection and one on one service is not important to you, than a larger bridal store might be your best bet. 


What does a boutique dress store offer that other options don’t?

A boutique style dress shop is going to offer a more intimate experience for the bride. They will provide individualized attention and a smaller, more focused selection.  Depending on the size of the boutique, you may be the only bride in the store while shopping.  


 How do you recommend brides-to-be prepare for their appointment?

Brides should visit the website of the bridal boutique to see if the selection of the designers that they carry matches the aesthetic that you are looking for and to ensure that the price point of the gowns works within your budget.  Your should contact the boutique at least a week in advance in order to schedule an appointment.  When you go for your appointment, you should have your Pinterest board or fashion inspiration available to show the sales associate.  You should also inquire with the boutique if they offer shoes and undergarments to try on with the gowns.  If not, you should bring your own.  It is important that you have your wedding date and gown budget secured before beginning the shopping process. It is nearly impossible to select your gown if you don’t know the time of year when you will be getting married and can’t envision yourself in your wedding venue. You want to select a gown that reflects your personal style, but that also emulates the overall look and feel of where you will be getting married. 


Can you provide a play-by-play of what to expect with a bridal consultation at a boutique?

Every boutique is slightly different. In my boutique, The White Dress by the shore, brides and their guests are offered drinks and welcomed into a private fitting room where they will have their appointment. They are provided a profile form to fill out so that the stylist can learn a little more about the details of the wedding and what the bride is looking for her in her gown.   Their dedicated stylist will review the profile form with the bride and offer to take the bride through our collection or will pull gowns herself based on what the bride is looking for.  During the hour and a half appointment, the stylist will assist the bride in trying on gowns and pairing them with accessories, helping her to narrow her selection to the one that works best with the her body type, venue and overall wedding aesthetic. 


General tips for dress shopping:  How far in advance of the wedding day do you recommend shopping?

I recommend that a bride begins to look for her gown 7-12 months in advance of the wedding.  Gown shopping is generally the next step after the wedding venue is selected and the date is set.  The gown will set the tone for all of your other wedding decisions.  Most of your venues will inquire about what your gown looks like when you have your initial consultation with them.  Brides often get nervous about committing too soon to a gown for fear that they will no longer love it when the wedding rolls around.  I like to compare saying yes to the gown to saying yes to your fiancé.  There might be other men out there are charming and good looking, but you don’t want to marry them!  When you commit to your gown, it should be a gown that you would want to wear today, tomorrow and in 20 years! 


What advice do you have on who to bring to your bridal consultation?

Bring a select group of people (no more than 3) that truly understand your personal style and your vision for your wedding. Too many opinions can be detrimental to the decision process.  If you feel the need to share your gown selection with ALL of your bridesmaids, then have them attend one of your gown fittings, or bring them along when you select your veil or accessories. Selecting your gown is a very personal decision and you should share it with a select few whose opinions you cherish the most. 


How do you recommend people come to bridal appointments? (Any tips on hair/makeup?)

It is important to take a little extra time getting ready when you set out to shop for your gown.  It is nice to style your hair in a similar fashion to how you think you will wear it for your wedding. It is much easier to envision how you will look on your wedding day if you hair is styled and your make up looks great! 


What questions should you ask about the dress during your appointment?

You should understand the lead time of the designer so that you can ensure that you have enough time to order the gown without any rush fees.  You should also ask if any customizations can be made to the gown.  Often brides want to add buttons, change a neckline or add a strap.  Ask if that is something that can be done by the designer or if it should be done during the alternations process. Note that customizations almost always incur a fee.  You should inquire with the boutique if they perform in-house alterations and understand the days and times that these are offered.  Be aware that alterations are almost NEVER included in the price of the dress, so be sure to include room in your budget for alterations. If they do not perform in- house alterations, ask about their referral list.  


Any other tips to share?

Enjoy the shopping process. In this day in age of online shopping, having the experience of shopping in a bridal boutique with a dedicated, knowledgeable associate is a luxury.  This experience is nostalgic.. It is something that your mother and your grandmother experienced and now it is your turn! Don’t be drawn to online retailers who sell wedding gowns on the internet.  No bride should have their wedding gown delivered the same way that their groceries are.  Let yourself be pampered and enjoy the intimate, memorable experience that a bridal boutique has to offer to you! 

Beth Chapman’s Tips for Wedding Gown Shopping in Martha Stewart Weddings


How to Style a Tulle Skirt

I am often asked about what I recommend to pair with our tulle skirts. Below are some of my favorite looks from a photo shoot that I styled when we launched our new skirt collection, followed by some new arrivals that I am currently loving! *PS- for a limited time, we are offering 10% off all in stock tulle skirts!






Photography: Carla Ten Eyck |  Styling: Beth Chapman |  Makeup: Jennie Fresa | Hair: Amy, Catie & Amy

The key to the perfect top to pair with a tulle skirt is simplicity. Clean and classic is best. The skirt is very full, so it is best to go with a top that is tailored and fitted.  I always love a classic white shirt with a skirt.  It is such a classic look.  For me, Ann Taylor is my go-to for the perfect shirt (of course, I am a little biased based on my long history with this fabulous company.)

the perfect shirt-anne taylor

Ann Taylor ‘Perfect Shirt’, $69.50

Our brides are currently loving long sleeve lace and so are we!  This lace body suit from Revolve Clothing is a clean and sophisticated look and it is guaranteed to lay beautifully under the skirt thanks to it’s bodysuit construction. 

Ella Moss ‘Trello lace bodysuit, $158

Cashmere is a wardrobe staple! I adore this classic short sleeve cashmere tee shirt from J.Crew.  It is a season-less look to compliment the flirty skirt!


J.Crew Collection ‘Cashmere Short-Sleeve T-Shirt’, $119.99

Who doesn’t love a little sparkle?  If you are looking to take your tulle skirt up a notch, pair it with this sequined tee from Nordstrom.

Adrianna Papell ‘Sequin Mesh Top’, $145

If you are looking for a truly fashionable look, I am loving this sequined polka dot (because I can’t resist anything polka dotted) tee also from Nordstrom.  Take note that this is definitely a flirty look and I think would look even better with the tee altered to be slightly cropped!

eliza j-polka dot popover top

Eliza J Sequin Polka Dot Popover Top, $108 

Now go put on your party skirt girls!

xoxo, Beth

Ask the Experts: What Is a Trunk Show?


Image: Jeremie Barlow Photography 

Over the next several months, we will be hosting a variety of trunk shows! Lately, we have been receiving a lot of questions about what a trunk show actually is. Fortunately, owner Beth Chapman has the answer! Scroll below to read her article “Tackling Trunk Shows,” which has been featured on numerous blogs and in various publications.

Trunk shows can provide the perfect opportunity for a bride to find the gown of her dreams. But what is a trunk show, and what are the benefits for the bride to be?

Beth Chapman, owner of The White Dress by the shore, provides this explanation: “A trunk show is an event hosted by a bridal boutique where a broader representation of a designer’s collection is sent to the store.” According to Chapman, “There is often a representative from the company present or in some instances the designer themselves attend the event. There is almost always some type of discount or special incentive that is provided during the course of the trunk show if a purchase is made at the event.”

Store owners are generally not able to purchase a designer’s entire collection. A trunk show allows an extended version of the collection to be sent to the store, and often times, designers will send new styles to the event that are not yet available in stores. One of the primary benefits for a bride is that she is able to work directly with the designer or company representative to learn about the intricacies of the line and make custom changes to create her own, one-of-a-kind gown.”

The designer benefits from the trunk show as well. They are able to watch brides try on their gowns and listen to their comments. It is an excellent opportunity for them to get direct feedback from brides that they can apply to future collections.

Chapman notes, “Trunk shows are not recommended for a first-time shopping experience. In order for a bride to fully benefit from a trunk show, they should come into it knowing the types of silhouette that they are looking for. Having this knowledge will allow them to receive the benefit of a possible discount and the opportunity to work with the designer to customize their gown.”

If there is a particular designer that you are interested in, a trunk show will allow you to see the full breadth of the designer’s line and allow you to purchase one of their gowns while receiving a discount or special offer. But, be sure to book an appointment early. These exclusive events book up quickly!

Check out our Events page to view the upcoming trunk shows! If you are interested in attending one, give us a ring at 860.669.4596 to schedule your appointment!

xoxo, TWD

Preparing Your Wedding Gown Budget

PARIS_TWD_2013_C10_-1151-Edit (1)Photography: Carla Ten Eyck, Planning: Jubilee Events, Styling: Beth Chapman | The White Dress by the shore

One of the most exciting parts of planning your wedding is selecting your dress!  Before you begin shopping, here are some tips for preparing the budget for your wedding gown.

1. Set your overall budget

Before you determine how much you plan to spend on your wedding gown, you should sit with your fiancé and set your overall wedding budget.  According to Conde Nast research, generally, your wedding gown, accessories and day of wedding beauty should represent approximately 10% of your overall wedding budget.  This of course can vary, depending on how important your wedding gown is to you.  For some brides, the gown is not the most important detail.  Others recognize that their gown is the focal point of the day and it is the most critical element of their wedding.

2. Select your venue

The look of your wedding gown helps to set the tone for your entire wedding.  It is difficult to determine what type of gown you are searching for until you select your wedding venue.  After your venue has been chosen, you can begin to search (and budget) for a gown that embodies the essence of your wedding location.

3.  Do your research

Often brides don’t know where to begin when setting a budget for their gown, as they don’t understand how much wedding gowns cost.  Visit websites like  and , find designers that you like and research their price range.   Also, don’t be shy to chat with your recently married girlfriends about what they spent on their gown.

Before shopping, be sure to research the stores that you will be visiting to ensure that the price range of the gowns that they carry fall within your designated budget.

4. Identify what is important to you

When determining what you are looking for in a gown, identify the gown qualities that are important to you.  Is it necessary for your gown to be silk?  Are you interested in a lace gown?  Are you attracted to gowns with beading?  Is it important to you that your gown is manufactured in the United States?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, keep in mind that these factors will increase the price of your gown.

Generally speaking, if you are looking for a lace gown that is manufactured in the United States, you should budget a minimum of $2500 for your wedding gown.

5. Don’t forget the extras!

When budgeting, don’t forget to include additional items like your undergarments, alterations, veil, shoes and accessories.  When factoring in the price of alterations, don’t underestimate this very important process and what it costs.  As with anything in life, you get what you pay for!  Good quality alterations that are done within a bridal boutique will generally cost you a minimum of $500.  You may pay less by going directly to a seamstress; however, be sure that you have thoroughly researched the individual and ideally, have seen the quality of their work.

After all of your research has been done and your budget is set, take a deep breath and enjoy the shopping process!

xoxo, TWD

How to Avoid Fashion Emergencies on your Wedding Day!

One of the best ways to avoid fashion emergencies on your wedding day is to hire a Bridal Dresser.  A Bridal Dresser is essentially an insurance policy against fashion related crises! She will come equipped with her own ’emergency kit’. If you cannot hire a Bridal Dresser, stylist and TWD owner, Beth Chapman has put together a list of fashion, health & beauty, and emergency essentials for your big day.

DIY bridal emergency kit

Beth recently appeared  WWLP’s Mass Appeal chatting about the benefits of a bridal dresser! View the segment here.

xoxo, TWD

Ask Beth: What are the different types of laces?

We adore lace wedding dresses.  Brides don’t realize that are all different types of lace and each one has unique attributes that can change the aesthetic of your wedding dress.  Owner, Beth Chapman defines the differences below and answers the question, “what are the different types of lace”?

Romona Keveza Legends L6139


Q: “After doing a ton of wedding dress research online I have found I love lace – I’ll see you at the Lace Event! But with that said, I feel a bit confused by all the different types of lace out there. How many lace options are there and how can I tell the difference?”


A: Megan, great question! With the ever increasing amount of options and our Lace Event fast approaching we are sure you aren’t the only bride out there with this question! Below we have broken down each type of lace with a short description for each. Of course there are many different variations but these are the basic categories:

Chantilly Lace

photo 3[2]

Chantilly lace is a handmade bobbin lace named after the city of Chantilly, France, in a tradition dating from the 17th century. Chantilly lace is known for its flat, outlined pattern, and abundant detail. Brides who are looking for a soft, romantic lace pattern will love Chantilly.

Alençon Lace

photo 2[4]

Alençon lace or point d’Alençon is a needle lace that originated in Alençon, France. It is sometimes called the “Queen of lace.” There is a raised cording throughout the pattern of the lace, and the cording follows the lace pattern underneath. Some but not all of the edges of the lace have “eyelashes”. Brides who truly want a traditional lace gown should look for Alençon !

Gupiere Lace



Guipure lace (also called Venetian lace) is a firm, stiff lace with no net background. The pattern is made by a series of closely packed embroidery stitches and works well for the bride who LOVES texture.

Cotton Lace

photo 1[3]


Cotton Lace has a soft, less formal feel than more traditional lace styles. Perfect for a spring soiree or wedding on the water.

Laser Cut Lace

photo 4[2]


Laser Cut Lace is a unique and modern take on the traditional fabrication. It is perfect for a bride who loves the tradition of lace but has a more modern style!

Point d’Esprit Lace

Point esprit lace (2)

Point d’esprit lace is a bobbinet or tulle with oval or square dots woven in an irregular pattern. This lace is more spaced and airy than a traditional alecon lace.  This is the perfect lace for the bride who thinks she does not want an allover lace gown.  Point d’esprit lace has a vintage feel and is perfect for a farm or barn wedding. 

xoxo, TWD

Beth Chapman’s Bridal Gown Shopping Tips

Did you know that we recommend purchasing your bridal gown 9-12 months in advance of your wedding? 2017 brides, it’s time to get shopping! And September 6-10, we are offering 10% off of all bridal gowns $2500+ during our Get Shopping event. 

To make your life a little easier, TWD owner, Beth Chapman, has put together a list of bridal gown shopping tips to assist you:


Selecting a wedding gown is often one of the first steps that a bride takes as she embarks on the journey of her engagement. Finding the perfect gown is an exciting, but often daunting task. Following are tips that will help to make the experience memorable, enjoyable and lead to the gown of your dreams.


Before beginning to shop for your gown, you should have your wedding date and venue secured. Your decision will be much easier to make if you can envision yourself wearing your gown in the setting of your wedding.


In creating your wedding budget, be sure to include a realistic budget for your wedding attire. Your budget should include an allocation for not only the gown, but accessories (bra, veil, jewelry and shoes), alterations and gown cleaning and preservation after the wedding.

It is very important to articulate your budget to the sales associate when shopping for your gown. You do not want to fall in love with something that does not fit your budget.


Prior to beginning to shop, research salons that carry designers that meet your taste level and budget.

Evaluate the stores in which you like to shop for your everyday clothes and be sure that you select the correct shopping environment for you. If you are a department store shopper, a larger bridal salon with a large selection of gowns may be the right fit for you. If you prefer to shop in small boutiques, then a smaller, more intimate bridal store would most likely be best for you.

Visit the salon’s website before calling to set an appointment to ensure that the selection and price range meets your needs. It is also helpful to read the bridal blogs to find out what other brides-to-be have to say about the stores that you plan to visit.


Call to schedule an appointment a minimum of one week in advance. By scheduling an appointment, it allows the salon to provide you with their undivided attention and have a sales associate dedicated specifically to you.

Keep in mind that it takes approximately 4-6 months to produce a wedding gown. You should begin shopping for your gown a minimum of 9 months in advance of the wedding to allow enough time for alterations once the gown arrives.


This is a momentous and joyous time in your life, so naturally you want to share it with your family and friends. Be careful, however, of bringing a large group with you to shop for your gown. Too many opinions can be detrimental to making a decision.

If you have bridesmaids or family members who insist on being part of the process, a suggestion might be to shop with 1-2 very close family members or friends who understand and respect your personal style. Once you have finalized your decision, then you can bring back other people to show them the gown that you have decided on.

The key is to remember to take opinions into consideration, but ultimately you know yourself best. Your opinion is truly the only one that matters. It is your day and you are the one wearing the gown.


Bring photographs of styles that interest you and articulate your vision and budget to the sales associate with whom you are working.

Don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t like something. Who knows – perhaps there is something that can be done to the gown to make it perfect for you!

Before making the final decision on your gown, be sure that you understand the policies of the salon at which you are purchasing it. Ask about their policies for gown deposit and alterations.


Don’t use your wedding day as the day to make a fashion statement! Your gown should flatter your best physical assets, reflect the formality and overall aesthetic of your venue, and most importantly, reflect your own personal style.  You want to still look like yourself on your wedding day…just an enhanced version!


Trust the sales associate with whom you are working. If they are good at what they do, they will listen to your vision and make suggestions of gowns for you to try on. Even if you do not like the way that a gown looks on the hanger, TRY IT ON!! It could be the gown of your dreams!


Bridal sizing is different from ready-to-wear sizing. In some cases, a bridal gown is 2 sizes larger than what you would wear in your every day clothes. Once you have selected your gown, the bridal salon will take your measurements. Those measurements will be compared to the designer’s size chart and the appropriate size will be selected for you. Keep in mind that a gown can be altered up to two sizes. Even if you are planning on losing weight, it’s best to go with the size that you are measuring at the time of purchase and alter the gown once it arrives. Never order a size based on the size that you plan to be!


Undergarments are called foundations for a reason! The proper undergarments truly make all of the difference in the fit of the gown. After your gown is purchased, take time to select the perfect undergarments. It is best to shop in a location that specializes in foundations so that you are sized correctly.

While selecting your undergarments it is important to take into consideration several factors:

Select a bra or bustier that has a lower back than that of the gown so that the bra cannot be seen.

Ensure that if your bra has lace, texture or boning, they are not visible through the gown.

If your gown is a column silhouette or made of a light weight fabric, ensure that your undergarments provide you with enough support and that there are no noticeable seams or panty lines.


Alterations are truly a process. It will take time to sculpt the gown to fit your body perfectly. When purchasing your gown, you should factor in a minimum of 2 months for alterations.

There a generally a minimum of 3 alterations involved in perfecting the fit of the gown. When purchasing your gown, you should inquire about the salon’s policies on alterations and their fee structure.

It is imperative that you have your shoes and undergarments selected when the alterations process begins. It is impossible to ensure a proper fit without those elements.

If you are planning on losing weight, you should not begin the alterations process until your weight is stable.


Selecting the perfect accessories to complement your gown is almost as important as selecting the gown itself. The accessories can make or break your wedding day look! You should take time in this process and schedule a separate appointment to choose your accessories.

When selecting you wedding day garnish, ask yourself if you want the accessories themselves to be the statement or if you want them to simply complement the gown. Either way, ensure that they reflect your personal style and the overall aesthetic of the wedding.


Although your gown is something you will wear only once, it is a precious garment that holds many memories, and it is should be properly cleaned and protected after the wedding. Research companies that specialize in gown cleaning and preservation – don’t simply rely on your local dry cleaner. Be sure to use a company that provides an anti-sugar treatment while cleaning and uses acid free materials in their preservation box. These processes will allow for maximum longevity of the fabric and ensure that it will not discolor or deteriorate over time.


The most important tip is to HAVE FUN!! How often in life will you be able to try on beautiful gowns and be treated like a princess? Enjoy every minute of it!

The key is to make sure that you are working with a bridal salon that maximizes your bridal shopping experience and allows you to feel comfortable in your buying decision.


Owner, Beth Chapman’s shopping tips have been published in Simple Stunning Bride by Karen Bussen and Wedding Bible by Sarah Haywood.

xoxo, Beth

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