Weddings are a once in a lifetime event. When I meet with my couples I often hear this statement, “I’m not sure… I’ve never done this before”. Of course! That’s why surrounding yourself with vendors who will not simply show up and do their job but who have experience, knowledge and are passionate about being a guide for you so that your wedding day runs as seamlessly as possible is SO important! I LOVE meeting other wedding professionals that are passionate about loving their couples and going above and beyond and Stephanie is just one of those people! I met Stephanie at a Rising Tide Tuesdays Together meeting months ago where I learned that she is the owner (and a Fairy Godmother 🙂 at Mirror Mirror, Inc. a bridal boutique in the heart of Baldwinsville, NY. After wedding season slowed down for me, I started thinking about all the issues that I run into regarding wedding dresses on the day of. So I gathered my questions along with some other questions that I thought would be helpful to brides everywhere and Stephanie and I had a chat! So whether you have yet to shop for your dress or you already have it, here are some no stress wedding dress tips from an expert!
Getting to Know Stephanie
Question: How did you get started in the wedding dress industry?
Stephanie: I started out at the University of Connecticut and double majored in Theater and Costume and Set Design so I have a lot of experience in sewing. I took a look at the fashion world and the home design world and figured that I would have more opportunities if I pursued interior design. I then went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and got a degree in Interior Design. After college, my husband and I decided to go on an adventure so we moved out to Denver, Colorado which was right about the time of the housing market crash in the early 2000’s. Because of that, no one was hiring people for interior design because everyone was upside down on their mortgages.
So I walked into David’s Bridal and said, “Hey, I need a job” and they were more than willing to hire me because it was January.
I didn’t realize at the time that January is “Bridal Christmas” because so many people get engaged Thanksgiving through New Years. So I really got my start in the wedding industry at David’s and became a nationally ranked sales consultant. I didn’t stay at David’s forever and was able to gain managerial experience at other non wedding related businesses later on. I did end up moving back to New York to be closer to family and put everything I had into opening up my own shop. Working bridal is my favorite job that I had every had. Someone once told me that “once you get the taste for weddings you just need more and more and more” because it’s such a magical industry. I love making people feel happy… like glitter is exploding inside of me!
(Side note… Stephanie and I both agreed that if we couldn’t work for Disney, then the wedding industry was really the only other industry for us!)
(Side SIDE note… Stephanie has run 10k’s and half marathons at the Disney Parks… something that I would just LOVE to do some day!). Ok back to the good stuff…
I’ve really focused on working with smaller boutique brands when choosing which dresses to carry in my shop. I prefer this over working with larger companies because I don’t want to call in and talk to a rep, I want to call in and talk to the designer themselves. This gives me a one on one relationship with them and that’s why we’re able to make so many custom changes in my shop. The designers that we decide to work with, just like you would pick your friends, are those that have the same kind of values that we have. Most of our designers we’ve been with for the full 7 years I’ve been in business and I know that each and every one of my designers truly, truly care about who’s wearing their dress. They never loose sight of the fact that there is going to be an actual human being on the most special day of their lives wearing something that they created. It’s truly an honor to be a part of their wedding day. We work and work to make ourselves worthy of that choice that the bride and groom make to include us on their wedding day.
I think one of the biggest misconceptions of the wedding gown industry though is that we exist in this pretty, sparkly, frilly little world.
And what we actually do every single day is help girls find the confidence to stand up in front of everyone that they know on their wedding day with their head held high and feel beautiful.
For all of us, it’s difficult to look in the mirror and honestly feel beautiful. That is something that each one of the consultants in my shop hold very deeply inside of them… it’s a very important value to us.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wedding Dresses
Stephanie: Yes! There are a handful of questions that we get asked over and over. Sometimes it feels like we have the same conversations multiple times a day. Two similar questions that we get asked at lot are:
How long does it take for my dress to come in?
When should I start shopping for my wedding dress?
Our dresses take between 4 to 6 months to come in because each dress is custom made for the bride ordering it. When you order your dress, you’re essentially “getting in line” to have them make your dress. Most people don’t realize that if they need it faster and want to pay the “rush fee”, they’re essentially paying to “skip the line”, or in Disney jargon, they’re paying for a “Fast Pass”.
Side Note: Did I mention that I LOVE that Stephanie loves Disney!? Ok, just had to say that. 😀
We also buffer that time frame with an additional two months for shipping and alterations so you should start shopping at a very minimum of 6-8 months before your wedding. However, a lot of times brides will want to have their dress picked out before other things can be planned such as bridesmaids dresses, decor, flowers, etc. Ideally we suggest you start shopping for your dress about a year and a half before your wedding date to give yourself lots of buffer and planning time. That is my first no stress wedding dress tip!
How will I know I’ve found “the One”?
Stephanie: There’s a common misconception in American culture, largely due to TV shows that convey the idea that when you put on “the One”, you will have a magical moment… your eyes will fill with tears and you’ll just “know”. And for some brides that can happen.
You have to know yourself and your personality… you may not have a super emotional moment in the dress shop.
If you’re particularly a facts based, analytical person, you may not see the heavens open or hear the angels singing. If you’re someone who is a decisive person in every day life, you may know it’s “the one” the moment you see it. But if you tend to take time to mull over your decisions on a daily basis, don’t expect yourself to know which dress you love immediately.
But let me assure you, if you don’t have your “magical moment” when looking for your dress, you WILL have that moment at some point. I didn’t have that moment when I found my dress but it did come on my wedding day when my dad saw me for the first time in my dress. He started to get teary and then I started to cry and it all became real in that moment.
Side Note: I literally cannot help myself but jump in here and say for myself, (Hannah) that I DID fall in love with my dress the moment I saw it! I had tried on a handful of other dresses previously but when I was looking through the racks of dresses and saw “my” dress, my breath caught, I pulled it off the rack and said, “Mom! Look!” With its petite flowers embroidered along the neckline and hem it was PERFECT for my floral, fairy tale wedding day! Ok, back to Stephanie!
I tell brides that they’ll know it’s the right dress when it feels comfortable, like home to them. You should feel like yourself in the gown… only fancier!
And there’s my no stress wedding dress tip #2. Having realistic expectations of yourself when heading to dress appointment can save you a lot of stress.
Does This Dress Bustle?
The answer is yes, every dress can be bustled. What a lot of people don’t know (and I (Hannah) didn’t either!) is that dresses don’t come from the manufacturer with a bustle. Its actually up to your personal tailor to sew a bustling system into the train of your dress. There are multiple ways to sew a bustle into a dress and you should ask your tailor to pin it up to show you the different ways it can be done. And if you’re a particularly energetic dancer that does a good amount of jumping or spinning on the dance floor, let your tailor know so they can be sure that your bustle is a strong one!
I’ve definitely seen bustles break on the dance floor and the bride have to carry them around all night!
Another no stress wedding dress tip is to make sure you take multiple people with you to your final dress fitting so they can learn how to bustle your dress and lace/button up the back of your dress.
So whoever you’d like helping you with those details, whether it’s the Mother of the Bride or your Maid of Honor or Bridesmaid, make sure they come with you to that final fitting. The longer and heavier your train, the more complicated your bustle is likely to be.
And let me jump in here as well and 100 percent echo what Stephanie said about bringing someone along to help you with the bustle and the back of the dress. Issues with lacing/buttoning up the back of the dress tend to be a little less stressful because we’ve built buffer time into the Getting Ready portion of your day. Rarely does the bride plan in time during Cocktail Hour to have her bustle done up. While you, as the bride, may know how to bustle the dress, there’s only so much you can do to help since you’re the one wearing it. So when you ask your Maid of Honor to figure out the eight different colored ribbons on your bustle it will probably take her a while to figure it out and if you’re running low on time because the reception needs to get started, it can cause you a lot of stress.
Here’s my (Hannah’s) day of tip… plan enough time to have your bustle done up well before your introductions into the reception!
Who Should I Bring Wedding Dress Shopping?
Stephanie: I suggest inviting a select few friends or family members that are supportive and loving. I wouldn’t go overboard bringing a huge group of people, especially if you’re a bride that doesn’t love being in the spot light. You may end up with the feeling like there are “too many cooks in the kitchen”. Its understandable that you want to be inclusive and don’t want to offend anyone but if you only bring one or two people with you, your friends should understand.
Stephanie’s Day of Tips
Purchase a handheld steamer to smooth out any last minute wrinkles in your dress
You can get them at Walmart, Target or Amazon and shouldn’t cost more than $30. It can really be a lifesaver.
Make sure you have an emergency kit
Having an emergency kit with you on the wedding day can really save a lot of stress. You can google “wedding day emergency kit” for a list of things to put in it but it should have things like a small sewing kit, Advil, Tide pen, bobby pins, hair spray, etc.
As Stephanie and I were chatting, I got all excited, ran across my office and quickly retrieved my own Team Hawkins emergency kit that we bring to weddings for our couples to use! So I agree with Stephanie… have an emergency kit but if you don’t remember to put one together, Andrew and I have you covered!
Wear your comfortable shoes for as long as possible before putting on your “fancy” shoes
Most of those pretty, glittery wedding shoes are NOT comfortable. While you’re getting ready, wear your comfy shoes as long as you can get away with it!
Have your mom use the rounded end of a bobby pin or crochet hook to do the buttons up on the back of your dress
If your dress has lots of small buttons up the back with the elastic loops, this trick will save you a lot of time. Another thing that can happen is that if your mom or Maid of Honor is wearing regular nail polish, it can rub off on the dress as they’re trying to button it up. So if you don’t have either of these tools to help you with the buttons, make sure you either wear acrylic or gel nail polish so it doesn’t come off on the dress. We’ve had polish rub off on plenty of our dresses in the shop!
And while this last point doesn’t have anything to do with the bride, it IS one that will save the bride a lot of stress and that is…
Make sure the groom and groomsmen try their tuxes/suits on BEFORE the morning of the wedding
At my wedding, one of the groomsmen literally flew into Syracuse for our wedding, picked up his tux the morning of the wedding and drove straight out to Turning Stone with his tux that he’d never tried on before. Luckily for him, (AND ME!) the tux fit him well but if it hadn’t, I don’t know what we would have done!
So there you have it! I had SO much fun chatting with Stephanie about her no stress wedding dress tips like shopping for your gown, FAQ’s and day of tips and being able to share them with you to help make your life easier! If you’re getting married or know someone who is, I’d highly suggest checking out Mirror Mirror Inc.’s website and then plan a time to visit Stephanie’s shop in downtown Baldwinsville, NY. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram! There truly is something so important about working with wedding professionals who have experience and who can offer you so much extra help above and beyond what you’d expect, and Stephanie is one of them!
I’d love to know what tips you found most helpful in this blog! Or maybe you have wedding dress tips from your own wedding (or maybe your friend’s experience) that you’d be willing to share with me in the comments below! Until next time friends!…