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Ask the Experts: Beth Chapman’s Bridal Gown Shopping Tips

Bridal shopping season is in full swing. No need to stress, though! To make your life a little easier, owner, Beth Chapman, has put together a list of bridal gown shopping tips to assist you:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 8 months in advance of the wedding to allow enough time for alterations once the gown arrives.

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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.

communicate

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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

creating_the_look

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.

protect_your_investment

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.

enjoy_the_experience

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.

HAPPY SHOPPING!!

xoxo, Beth

 


2014 Resource Guide

For over a decade we have been committed to providing our clients with exquisite style and an extraordinary experience. This e-zine serves as a way to illustrate all of the services we offer here at The White Dress by the shore!

xoxo, TWD


{Tis the Season} Wedding Fur Rental

change furs to thisimage by Carla Ten Eyck, styling  by Beth Chapman, beauty by d.d. Nickel

And be sure to ask us about our fur muffs for rent! 

xoxo, TWD


Introducing: Reinvent the Veil

You may have heard of our fantastic service, Reinvent The Dress, where one of our expert seamstresses takes a vintage family heirloom and creates a modern masterpiece that fits both your shape and style.

Our former manager Alicia, in her mother's wedding gown, re-designed as a short reception dress for her 2011 wedding to husband, Enzo.

Our former manager Alicia, in her mother’s wedding gown, re-designed as a short reception dress for her 2011 wedding to husband, Enzo.

Recently, we have seen a greater shift toward setimentality in weddings,  and more and more of  our beloved brides are presenting us with heirloom pieces that they would like transformed for their wededing day.  In addition to vintage gowns, many of our brides have embraced the idea of  incorporating a vintage or heirloom veil into their upcoming nuptials. That  is how our ‘Reinvent the Veil’ service began to bloom.

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Penny, our head seamstress, is a true gem and designs a great deal of the boutique’s custom veils, right here, in her in-house studio. She has the skill set to take your family’s vintage veil and repair and transform it into something you never would have imagined it could become. This could simply be replacing your mother’s 1970′s ‘Juliette’ style capwith a more reasonable (less distracting) option, or going as far as transferring the lace from your grandmothers gown onto a new veil of your choosing.

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It is possible to change almost anything about a vintage veil- the comb, the shape, the volume at the crown, or the entire style. We can re-use vintage elements in a way that makes your veil look entirely your own, or just make a few slight repairs on a piece that you would never want to change.

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There is something so special about a vintage veil. They are intricate, detailed, delicate and above all, a treasured family heirloom. When you wear your ‘reinvented veil’, you will know that family members (present or in spirit) are a big part of your big day.

To set up a consultation with Penny, please ring the boutique at 860.669.4596.

xoxo, TWD

*Please keep in mind, that depending on the complexity of the design and the volume of alterations at the current time, this process may take anywhere from 1 to 4 months.

**We also offer services to clean and restore veils through Orange Cleaning and Preservation. Prices are quoted individually and range depending on the services chosen and the level of difficulty. Please inquire for more details.

 

 


Our unique and extensive bridal alterations process

As one of the many services that we offer at The White Dress by the shore, we provide in-house alterations for brides and mother of the occassion.  We have three talented in-house seamstresses who are true artists!

Some may be surprised at the amount of work and level of artistry required to alter a wedding gown.  The video below by in WHITE member, Vintage Cinema,  is a glimpse into our unique and extensive process.

xoxo, TWD


TWD stylists suggested itineraries for a shopping experience at The White Dress by the shore

We are so fortunate to draw our clientele from not only all parts of our home state, but also from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island!   We recognize that we may not be the closest boutique for our clients to visit, but we think we are well worth the trip!  Not only for the experience that you will have with us, but also for the incredible things that the Connecticut shoreline has to offer!

 Our thought, is if you are traveling a distance to get to us, why not make a day of it?!  Below, each of our stylists offers up their suggestions itineraries for a shopping experience at The White Dress by the shore.

Beth Chapman | owner:

I feel that the bridal shopping experience should be unique and memorable- which is exactly why I created The White Dress by the shore.  I think the ideal shopping excursion for our brides would include an overnight stay at the historic Bee and Thistle Inn in charming Old Lyme, Connecticut.  You can enjoy my favorite- a basil martini-  in the garden, followed by a mouth watering meal at their award winning Chestnut Grille, while strolling musicians entertain you.  After a leisurely breakfast and perhaps a tour of the Florence Griswold Museum next to the inn, you can join us on Sunday for a White Carpet Appointment. These exclusive appointments offer the entire boutique to you and your guests.  They can browse our curated collections of gowns while sipping champagne and enjoying nibbles from a local caterer (perhaps even the Bee and Thistle!).  The entire experience will be captured on film by a photographer.  You will leave your appointment not only feeling pampered and hopefully having found the gown of your dreams, but with a SWAG bag filled with a bevy of treats, including a bouquet in the colors of your wedding.

Jillian Sandrey| stylist/marketing coordinator:

I am a resident of Guilford and think it is one of the most quaint towns in Connecticut.  My vision for the ideal shopping day would include an appointment at The White Dress by the Shore, followed by an afternoon of shopping on the historic Guilford Green. There are so many charming shops!  My favorites are Kimberly for fashionable finds,  Lulu’s  for cozy pjs, pretty intimates and amazing bath products and Mix Design Store for an eclectic ‘mix’ of gifts and home décor.  If  you are all shopped out,  you can treat yourself to a massage or facial at Rituals SpaAnd at the end of a long and pampering day, be sure to grab a glass of wine and a panini at Ballou’s Wine Bar.

Rachel Renzetti | store manager:

I consider myself to have two ideal itineraries, one that speaks to my childhood on the shore and the other, my years working in fashion in NYC. I grew up on the CT coast so I am a beach girl all the way…so, any ideal day for me includes a trip to the beach!  Fortunatley, we have one of the most glorious beaches in the state just a mile up the road from the boutique.  My ideal shopping day would begin with an appointment at The White Dress by the shore followed by an afternoon at Hammonasset State Park.  After soaking up the sun, there is nothing like a cold margarita.  I would end the day at Donahue’s Beach Grille for one of their infamous cocktails!

If you’re interested in a day of pampering on the other hand, you just have to take the short walk over to our neighbor, Jennie Fresa. This skincare and makeup boutique has just added a blow dry & styling room which opens later this summer,so thrilled for an NYC luxury in our own quaint shoreline town! If you ask me, nothing feels better than a scalp massage and an expert blowout. While you’re there you can also indulge in some of Jennie’s other services- spray tanning, brow sculpting and a menu of incredible spa facials. She carries amazing beauty lines including Stila and organic facial care lines like Tata Harper and Dr. Alkiatis.

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Jesse Daniels | stylist :

We are blessed to be located in an area of Connecticut so rich with history.  Our boutique is situated among some of the best antique shops in the country!  My ideal shopping day would include a bit of ‘antiquing’ at a few of my favorite spots, followed by an afternoon of gown shopping at The White Dress by the shore.  Here’s the inside scoop on my favorite antique stores:  The Clinton Antique Center (for a little bit of everything), Old Beautiful Antiques and Art (directly across from The White Dress by the shore),  Miriam Green Antiquarium offering all sorts of “distracting curiosities”- from books to jewelry. My favorite spot for vintage books is The Clinton Book Loft- it has rooms and rooms filled with books from every genre and era.  If you are a lover of vintage clothing, than Tova’s Vintage Shop in Old Saybrook is a must!

Shana Hull |  stylist:

I am a die-hard shopper, so for me, the perfect day is all about shopping! And if it happens to involve a bargain, even better!   After purchasing your gown at The White Dress by the shore, I say head on over to the Clinton Crossing Outlets , just a few miles up the road from us.  While there be sure to hit my favorite stores:  Kate Spade, J. Crew, Saks: Off Fifth, Micheal Kors and Tahari.

Holly Magnan| stylist

Right up the street from our boutique is Chamard Vineyard. It is an absolute gem on the shoreline and a must visit!  My ideal shopping day would include finding the gown and accessories of my dreams at The White Dress by the shore and then heading to Chamard Vineyard for lunch in their bistro and a wine tasting.  Friday and Saturday nights they offer live music and a selection of food trucks.What fun would it be to celebrate with wine and delicious food after having purchased your gown?!

Kelley Winter | stylist:

I am a ‘foodie’, so I always think of the best places to eat, wherever we go!  My recommendation is for brides to visit us for a morning appointment, and then head right down the street to Lobster Landing, a hidden gem on the shoreline. They offer THE BEST lobster rolls you will ever eat!  The building itself is over 100 years old and the location boasts incredible views of  The Long Island Sound.  It is a TRUE New England experience!

To schedule an appointment to shop  in our boutique, ring us at 860.669.4596.

 xoxo, TWD

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