How to find the wedding dress that makes you say, “Yes!”

We Asked! Vol. 6: How to find the wedding dress that makes you say, “Yes!”

Being a bride is one of the happiest times of your life. But let’s face it, in the months and weeks that lead up to your special day, there can also be a few stressful times too. There are so many details, people and personalities to consider and coordinate. But finding your dress should be a joy. So, we went to two #downtownkelowna wedding dress experts to get a few tips on how to find the dress you’ll love, and have a fantastic stress-free time finding it. Get ready to say yes to the dress.

Please tell us who you are, where you work, and what you do here?

I’m Shilo Verhaegen, I’m the owner of Ashbury Bridal. And I sell consignment wedding dresses.

I’m Rosemarie Gottschalg the owner of Ten Fashions Bridal Boutique. We’ve been Downtown Kelowna since 1980. We custom order gowns and dresses for the entire bridal party and their guests.

Can I just drop in and try on dresses? What’s your process?

Shilo: We are a full-service boutique so we do require you to make an appointment ahead of time. Because If you love it, you get to leave with it. There’s no ordering.

Rosemarie: Absolutely. We welcome everyone, but appointments are preferred as brides come from all over B.C. to shop here.

Who should I bring with me to help me try on dresses? How many?

Shilo: You don’t want to bring too many people with you. Bring people who will be open and honest. It can be an overwhelming experience, and it’s ok to come by yourself the first time and narrow it down, and then bring some people a second time to look at your favourites. I’ve had as many as 18 people here at one time, but I think 3-5 is a good number because then you’re not overwhelmed by so much input coming back at you.

Rosemarie: I would bring your best friend or your mother, as few people as possible. It can be very hard on the bride to have too many opinions. To try on a gown should be one of the most exciting experiences of your life and you want happy, positive people around you.

How do I find the dress style that’s right for me?

Shilo: Try on a few different styles, but at the end of the day it’s going to come down to what you feel comfortable in. Some people come in with a real understanding of fashion and body shape. As soon as you understand how different styles work for your body shape, it becomes very easy to work out what works for you. Some ladies come in, and wearing a dress is very foreign to them, so that just takes a bit of trying some things on to find out what they’re going to feel good in.

Rosemarie: That’s where we come in. We are the experts. We usually know exactly what style of dress we’d like to show the bride. We look at figure type, height and shoulders. Fabric also plays an important role in fitting the dress to match your style and personality.

Naming no names. Do you have a Bridezilla story?

Shilo: You know, I’ve never had one. I’ve had some Momzillas. We’re very full service in here, so you can’t go through all the dresses, and some moms come in and they want to have a big day of trying on lots of dresses, but because we don’t order our dresses, we can’t have them all handled by every customer. And some moms are not a big fan of that. But as soon as I explain that we have to protect our dresses a little differently because we’re consignment, they’re very understanding.

Rosemarie: Over the past 37 years we’ve had one or two unhappy brides, but we do our absolute best to give everyone a very positive and happy experience.

What kind of budget should I set aside for my dress?

Shilo: Set one you’re comfortable with. You don’t want to walk out feeling nauseous. It can be very emotional, and you can be surprised by how much more you’ll want to spend. So you should have a very open conversation with your fiance about how much money you want to spend. Some moms or grandmas pay, but regardless of where the money comes from, you want to come in with a clear idea of what you want to pay. But also be realistic that it is ok to pay for quality.

Rosemarie: It’s very tough to say. It depends on the income of the bride. Nothing in our store is over three thousand dollars and we have dresses as low as five hundred dollars. But it’s a tough question. It really depends on what the bride can afford.

How long in advance do I need to order my dress?

Shilo: We’re consignment here, so there’s no ordering. It’s instant gratification. And also eco-friendly. You can come in and leave with your dress.

Rosemarie: We suggest at least four to six months. It depends on the designer. Some are much faster to ship. It also depends on how busy the season is. Some of our brides buy their gown up to a year in advance of the wedding date. Most gowns will need some addition alteration time that should be considered.

What do you think about that whole wreck the dress thing?

Shilo: It hurts my ears. It was a bigger trend 4-5 years ago. But people didn’t know what else you could do with it. But we are all becoming more eco-friendly and environmentally conscious so people are selling their dresses. It’s nice to see people rethinking things. You don’t hear as much about it anymore.

Rosemarie: Well, it’s fun and can make for good pictures. Some brides buy a second inexpensive dress to wreck.

I don’t want to just put my dress in a closet after I wear it? Are there other things that I can do with it?

Shilo: Well, there’s consignment, of course. But some people dismantle it and make it into another dress or use it for their daughter’s first communion if they’re religious. There are lots of things. Some people make a baby blanket out of it.

Rosemarie: It depends on the style. Number one, we always suggest you keep it and bring it out for every anniversary as long as it fits you. Keep it for your daughter. Keep it for your granddaughter. Or for a relative. And then depending on the style, you can shorten it for a ballroom gown, or use some of the fabric to line a bassinette. Some people make pillows out of it.

Have you seen the movie Bridesmaids? How many times?

Shilo: Yes. A million times! I will put it on just as background filler.

Rosemarie: Yes, I have! But only once.

If you’ve said “yes,” it’s time to get out there and find that dress. So start with Ashbury Bridal and Ten Fashions Bridal Boutique in #downtownkelowna. There are 3 bridal boutiques in Downtown Kelowna. For a complete list, look here.

Interviews have been edited and condensed by the Downtown Kelowna Association.