Liz Curette from 125 Bridal Boutique of Plaistow, NH tells us all about when brides should start shopping for wedding dresses, and what she sees as the most popular wedding dress styles in New England today.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher, and welcome to our series of podcasts with wedding vendors for The Essex Room, Woodman’s wedding and function facility on the north shore of Massachusetts. Today I’m here with Liz Curette from 125 Bridal Boutique. Welcome, Liz.
Liz Curette: Hi. Thanks.
John: Sure. Liz, can you tell me a little bit about your business. What do you sell, and what are your specialties?
Liz: We are primarily a bridal gown retailer, but we also sell bridesmaids dresses, mother of the bride and groom dresses, we rent tuxedos. During prom season, we do prom, and pageants. Pretty much anything you could wear to a wedding, we’ve got you covered.
When should I start shopping for a wedding dress?
John: At what point in the wedding planning process should a bride come to you to start talking about trying on dresses?
Liz: We highly recommend starting as early as possible, but the best point to start is a year in advance.
John: It takes a while to go through that process, and then to order the dress, and make any adjustments to it, and things like that?
Liz: Right. It takes about six to nine months from when we order a dress for a bride until when it comes into the store, and then we recommend three months for alterations. That’s the most time it can take, and sometimes it takes a little less, but if a girl wants to get the perfect dress, and have it tailored exactly the way she wants it, it’s better to start exactly a year in advance.
John: If people don’t have that much time, and they’re planning a wedding that’s much quicker than that, are there some options for a bride like that?
Liz: Definitely. We really try to take care of any bride that comes in the door. I’ve worked with brides who they come in, and they tell me, “All right, I’m flying to Antigua on Tuesday, and I need to have a wedding dress,” and we’ve helped them.
We can sell off the rack, and we do also carry our discontinued dresses, and those are a great option for brides with a shorter timeline.
John: How do you help a bride‑to‑be choose her perfect dress?
Liz: We are a closed‑concept salon, which means that in order to see dresses, you meet with a consultant like myself, and we do all of the “shopping” for you. You want to come in with kind of an idea of what you’re interested in.
You want to look at Pinterest, or things like that, and then we would sit you down, put you into our bridal suite, talk about what you like, what kind of fabrics you’re thinking, if you want something a little more formal, a little more casual.
We talk about your venue, and of course, your budget, and timeline. Then we pull a number of dresses, and help you try them on. It’s a very personal experience.
John: How does what the groom, and the groomsmen, are wearing factor into a bride’s decision? Or vice versa, does the bride usually pick the dress first, and then you kind of tailor the groom’s outfit to that?
Liz: Typically, since it takes so long to get a wedding dress, and that’s what most people think of when they think weddings, the bride usually chooses first. To be honest, I’ve had brides come in and say, “All right, he’s only going to wear khakis, and a button‑down, and a tie, so I don’t want to look overly dressed up next to him.”
Usually it’s bride first, and then the groom, but I’ve seen it done both ways. These days there are a lot more options for groom attire, and less rigid rules for formal dress, that the grooms have really been getting into it lately.
John: There’s a big trend toward themed weddings, or maybe more casual, or rustic types of weddings. Do you find that people come in and already know a little bit about their style, and they say, “Hey, this is not really a formal thing. We’re going to be a little bit more informal with the way that we’re dressing, and I’m looking for a dress that fits with that.”
Liz: Absolutely. Again, Pinterest has been really big lately, and a lot more brides and grooms have a clear idea, or they’ve seen a picture, and they want to imitate it, than, maybe, perhaps in the past. You didn’t really do any “shopping” until you came to the store.
We have definitely seen an upswing in the popularity of barn weddings, and rustic weddings, and vineyard weddings, but definitely there’s still the classic, traditional black‑tie, and we do a fair trade in that.
What are the most popular wedding dress styles?
John: How have the trends in wedding gowns changed in the last few years? What do you see as popular trends in wedding dresses this year?
Liz: Sleeves have made an enormous comeback. They’re definitely not for everybody, but I had a lot of brides say, “I want sleeves. I don’t want strapless.” Ball gowns are really, really popular right now.
Lace is, I think, kind of always going to be there, but ball gowns are huge right now.
John: What about for bridesmaids’ dresses?
Liz: Bridesmaids, the big thing right now is to have the bride choose a color, and a fabric, and a specific designer, and then all the bridesmaids choose their own particular design within that spectrum, which is very different from the past, where most brides would choose a dress, or two dresses, and everyone in the bridal party will wear that dress, in the same color.
I’m more of a traditionalist, so at my wedding, all of the bridesmaids are going to wear the same dress. That’s me. I wanted to do what I saw in the past, since I work in bridal all the time.
John: Like you said, there is a little bit of a trend toward wanting to give the bridesmaids a little bit more of a personal choice of their own, so that they could potentially use that dress after the wedding, maybe pick a style that would sort of fit with their body type, or something like that.
Liz: Yeah, that’s definitely in right now.
John: What about mother‑of‑the‑bride dresses, or even flower girl dresses? What are some of the popular things?
Liz: We’ve seen a lot of mothers not wanting to look…They don’t want to look like they’re not fashionable. They still want the more useful styles, and the more current trends. It’s nice that a lot of brides are bringing their moms in, and saying, “Hey, I want her to look amazing. I don’t just want her to be a wallflower. I don’t want her to wear beige.”
That’s been really cool for a lot of brides and their moms, and then the mothers of the grooms to be able to be a little more on trend, and not just wear what their mother wore.
John: Why not have your mom feel really good on that day, too, and just make it really special for her, as well? Are there any interesting bridal accessories that are in style this year?
Liz: We’ve seen a lot of headbands. Birdcage veils are enormously popular, particularly with the rustic themed weddings. The classic, long veil is still holding strong.
John: What would be your recommendations for a newly engaged couple, when they’re deciding on outfits for their big day? How do you work with them to find their style?
Liz: My best recommendation is think about what you want to see on your mantelpiece for the rest of your life. It may be a really popular trend right now, but if it’s not you, or you don’t think you’re going to like it in 10 years on your mantelpiece, don’t do it.
My best recommendation is always to go a little more classic, but if you want to stand out, and you want to be right on trend, then I say more power to you! Just do what’s right for you. We’ve had girls come in, and say, “I’m getting married in a barn. Everyone’s telling me I can’t wear a ball gown, or I can’t wear something super‑sparkly, but that’s what I want.”
The bride needs to steer the boat. The groom needs to steer the boat. They need to know what they want to look like. As long as they’re happy, then I’m happy.
How to stick to a budget when wedding dress shopping
John: Wedding gowns can obviously be very expensive. How do you help brides who are on a budget find a dress for them?
Liz: I touched on it a little bit before with our discontinued dresses. We’re able to negotiate the price with those a little more, because they are discontinued, and we can’t order them. They take the dress, as‑is, on the rack.
We also do a semi‑annual, we call it the “Sprinting of the Brides,” and we mark down our prices considerably. We don’t do it in our typical one‑on‑one bridal consulting style, it’s more of like a true sale, where brides can come in, and shop the racks, and they might be able to walk away with a really great deal.
We do also carry an enormous selection, as far as price goes. We carry a number of different designers. The best part is that most of our consultants, or all of our consultants, I should say, are really familiar with the inventory.
We know, when a bride says, “I can’t go beyond $1,000,” we’re not going to pull a dress that’s $3,000, we’re not going to have them fall in love with something that they absolutely can’t afford. We’re very respectful of when a bride says, “This is my budget,” that’s what we pull.
John: That’s great. How can a bride looking for her wedding dress get in touch with you?
Liz: We can be reached by phone to make appointments at 603‑382‑4511. We’re located a 37 Plaistow Road, in Plaistow, New Hampshire. We moved last summer, and I think that still throws a few people off, but we’re still on 125.
John: The website is 125BridalBoutique.com, is that right?
Liz: Yes, it is.
John: Thanks again for that information, Liz, and I appreciate you speaking with me today. Thanks.
Liz: No problem. It was fun. Thank you so much.
John: For more information about The Essex Room, and tips on wedding planning, you can visit The Essex Room website at EssexRoom.com, or call 978‑768‑7335.