Confessions of a Bridal Consultant: I Make Women Cry for a Living

The best part of my job is the fact that I get paid to make women cry. No, I’m not some super sadistic bridal consultant that gets her kicks making bridals feel bad about themselves. I am the one that gets to cause the happy tears that come from finding the wedding dress of your dreams. I get to share in the tears, the hugs and the endless thank yous. This is why I do what I do. Not for the money, but for the warm feeling I get knowing I had a special part in helping them plan the happiest day of their lives. I have had every different type of bride you could imagine. I’ve had the bridezillas, the sweet brides, the vocal brides, the shy brides, the emotional brides and the emotionless brides. Each one has left their own mark on my selling experience for good or bad.

Last weekend I had a wonderful bride who came in with her mom and future mother-in-law. She was a beautiful woman who was there to find the perfect dress. We went over the things she liked and I picked a few gowns while her family and David's Bridal A line Chiffon Split Front Overlay Wedding Dressher picked a few. She had one of the best problems a girl could have. She looked amazing in everything. She had a fantastic figure and as my seamstress said, “you could put a bed sheet on the girl and she would look amazing.” Some brides are blessed and look great in everything. She was loving all of the gowns I put on her but when we got to “her” gown it was different. She came out and took a good look at herself. After she said how much she loved it and watching her body language I decided to put on the veil. After I did she took a look in the mirror and the tears started flowing. She couldn’t believe how much she loved it and how perfect it felt. We tried on the last one or two she had but nothing topped that gown. I got her back into the gown, veil and all, and she gave me the look. The “this is my gown” look. She chose a chiffon A-line dress with a split front overlay. The dress has optional beaded cap sleeves which was actually her favorite part of the dress. My favorite part is the beautiful, long beaded train. I paired it was a beautiful beaded veil that matched the bead work of her gown perfectly. (One of the best parts of it all was that I was able to get the last veil of its kind in white in the entire company. I had to call and get a special authorization code and the woman informed me that I was incredibly lucky and in five more minutes it could have been gone.) There are few things my brides do when they find their dress: 1) they call it theirs; 2) they have this incredible smile on their face; 3) they “pet” the dress; or 4) they cry. If you are lucky they will do them all, and she did. To make everything final we have a special tradition where the bride makes a wish and rings a bell when she finds her dress. When she rang the bell she cried again. The tears were streaming and the tissues were flying. It was perfect. As we were getting everything ordered and paperwork squared away, her and her family thanked me repeatedly for everything I did. I shared the news about the veil, which made them even happier. I was so happy that I was able to pull off the perfect look for her and get her everything she wanted.

Today, I had a sweet bride who was quite petite. At 5′ nothing, she was adorable. She was a bubbly girl with such a happy demeanor. She was very excited about trying on dresses again, as today was her 3rd stop in her search for the perfect gown. She originally came in with the idea that she wanted a simple, minimalist gown with a dropped waist. For petite brides, drop waist gowns can be really tough as they tend to make you look shorter. She tried a few simple drop waist gowns and David's Bridal Petite Mermaid Wedding Dress with Side Bow Accentwasn’t impressed. After she realized that what she originally wanted wasn’t going to work out, we explored a few other options. The next type of gown we tried was a gown with an empire waist, which is one of the styles that works for shorter women. She didn’t feel like the style flattered her and drew attention to the areas she was most self-conscious of. My next recommendation was a mermaid style gown. It was a hit! She fell in love with a beautiful satin mermaid dress with a sweetheart neckline, empire waist with beading, bow detail and bubble hem with a chapel train. Although the sample was not in a petite it still looked amazing on her. The best part was how amazing she felt. She was grinning ear to ear. We had 5 more dresses to try and as we put on each of them she just kept saying she liked the other one better. When you start comparing everything you put on to one particular dress, you know that’s the one. We went through everything and ended the appointment back in her favorite. We dolled her up with the veil and the tiara and she was just so excited. She kept petting it and calling it “her dress.” We rang the bell and then she spent another 15 minutes admiring herself in the gown. Her smile was amazing. Her mom and her sister loved the dress too. It was perfect. When we went back into the fitting room she gave me a big hug and thanked me.

I have shared many emotional moments with my brides and their families. Knowing I have been able to help so many women select such an important piece of their wedding really is the greatest feeling in the world. We start out a strangers and over the course of an appointment I become their confidant, their friend, their therapist and a resource for advice and ideas. My job is to make women feel beautiful and special. Who wouldn’t love a job like that?

Our store in Warwick, RI is hiring for our holiday season so if you are interested, fill out an application or let me know if you have any questions!

-AB

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16 Things Your Bridal Consultant Hates

Aside from working for an IT company, I am also a part-time bridal consultant for David’s Bridal. This is my fun job that I work nights and weekends for extra money. It’s not much, but it helps build my emergency reserve fund that I tend to need more often than I’d like. I worked the closing shift yesterday. I tend to do a lot of closing shifts with my availability. I typically work Tuesday and Thursday nights 6-9:30 pm and the weekends, any shift. during our slow times May-December I work one or two days a week, but during our busy season January-April I can work every available day I have. One of the perks of the job is closing at 7 pm on the weekends. It allows me to continue to have a social life on the weekends. Just kidding. I don’t actually have one of those.

After the day I had yesterday I knew I needed to write this post today. I think every one should be forced to work retail at least once in their life to appreciate what a retail worker goes through. Here are 16 things your bridal consultant absolutely hates, but will never tell you.

  1. When you say “I’m not actually planning on buying today.”
    Bridal consultants work on commission so our time is more valuable than you think. Immediately saying you don’t plan on buying means we know that we are wasting our time. We have a productivity goal that we must reach and if we do not consistently make that goal we can lose our jobs. Fortunately this is a second job for me, but some consultants rely on this job to put food on their table and take care of their families. If you don’t have the right person with you to make the decision today, please wait. If you are trying to get ideas on price, browse our website first. If your wedding is two years away and your starting to get ideas, just wait, these dresses won’t be around when you’re actually looking to buy anyway. Please come in with an open mind and don’t tell us you’re not going to buy.
  2. When you only want dresses with corsets or buttons.
    This might seem like a silly one, but the corsets and buttons are incredibly tedious and take forever. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE buttons and corsets are gorgeous, but we dread the woman who only wants dresses with one or both.
  3. When you walk in half an hour before closing.
    Please do not walk in with half an hour left before closing and expect a full session. Bridal appointments are typically an hour and a half. It make thinks very stressful for your consultant and you. Rushing is not the way you should be buying your bridal gown. This is a big decision and requires time. It will also almost guarantee that the store staff has to stay late to clean up from your visit. After a long day the last thing we want to do is stay any later than we need to.
  4. When you argue with us on size.
    My job is to make sure you look good in your dress. Size is just a number and does not define who you are. David’s Bridal runs small, I’m not just trying to make you feel better so don’t be offended when I tell you that. I do this for a living and I’m really good at it. If I say you are a 10, don’t insist on trying on a 6. You’re only going to frustrate yourself and your consultant.
  5. When you show up with a huge entourage.
    Everyone has an opinion and the more people you bring the more opinions there will be. Leave your brother’s friend’s sister’s cousin home. Does it really matter what they think? Are they paying for the dress? Didn’t think so. As consultants we see this a lot and it never goes well. You will either end up trying on 40 extra dresses you hate, your voice gets lost in the noise, you will leave without a dress or all of the above.
  6. Pinterest.
    Now I am a Pinterest girl through and through. I have a wedding board and spend hours pinning ideas. Coming in saying “I want this one” is not realistic. They are usually $30,000 dresses from Paris shown on a -3 sized photoshopped model. I encourage using Pinterest to find ideas on elements and silhouettes you like. Open back, lace, buttons, corsets, mermaid, ballgown, tulle, satin, etc. Do not come in with a dress and say that is exactly what you want. Odds are we are all going to be disappointed at the end of the appointment. As long as you understand you will never find a Pinterest gown we will be ok.
  7. Say Yes To The Dress.
    Again, I am a HUGE fan. Just ask Josh. We watch religiously every Sunday morning while he makes breakfast. I am even watching it as I write this. It is a great show but also paints an unrealistic picture about the experience. At David’s Bridal we try to make the day as special as possible but we do not have Monty or Randy, we don’t have large beautiful dressing rooms,  there are no camera crews, I don’t have thousands of dresses, there are no comfy couches, it can be a little crowded at times and I may have to help multiple people at the same time. I will do my best to make the experience everything you could hope for but please do not come in thinking you will be starring in the next episode of Say Yes To the Dress.
  8. When you are closed-minded. 
    Probably 9 times out of 10 my bride’s walk out with something they never thought they would get. You will come in with a slew of ideas on what you want but that usually changes once you see it on yourself. Things look great on photoshopped models. When you immediately come in and say you will NOT try on anything with_____, and start listing different elements, you really start to limit the options I have for you. With brides that know what they want (or think they do) I will start with their picks. My job is to watch your body language, listen to the things you say you like that the ones you don’t like and build you the perfect dress. I am limited by the dresses I have in my showroom. If I could run in the back and whip up a custom dress for you I would, but I can’t. Be open-minded. I do this for a living and I’ve been told I’m really good at my job. Try on something you normally wouldn’t try. I can almost guarantee that you will be pleasantly surprised.
  9. When you let someone tell you what to do or what to get.
    Who’s wearing the dress? Who’s day is it? Who needs to be comfortable in it? You. Not mom, not dad, not your bridemaids, maid of honor, sister, brother, friends, cousins, aunts, grandparents, cousins’ friend’s brother’s mother’s dog. You do. Make sure you are happy. I know the opinions of your friends and family matter, but in the end you need to love it.
  10. When you have an unrealistic budget.
    Having a beer budget and champagne taste always causes issues. It is ok to have a small budget, just please understand that you cannot get a $1,000 look for $200. Sometimes we will have a kickass sale and you may get lucky, but probably not. We have some great options to help afford a higher priced dress like the David’s Bridal Credit Card with 6 or 12 months of no interest, layaway and special order reserve. Consider your options. You will look back on these wedding photos for the rest of your life, make sure you get the dress you really want. I’ve even had brides cut back on centerpieces or other parts of the wedding to get the dress they want. We will do our best to work with any budget we are given but sometimes its unrealistic based on what you are asking for in a dress.
  11. When you come in less than 6 months before your wedding.
    We work miracles everyday, but sometimes we are limited to what we can do. That includes ordering a dress. Unfortunately some dresses are cut to order and can take 27 weeks to come in. Alterations need to be done at least 2 months before the wedding so you cut your time by that much right off the bat. Some people choose to buy a sample dress which is fine, but having a nice new dress is definitely better. I’ve fitted brides for a dress with two hours to the “I dos.” Some days my team just rocks. But when you fall in love with dresses I can’t get delivered in time everyone is disappointed. Don’t wait! You should be picking your dress out at least 1 year in advance. I might sound like such a long time but it really isn’t if you fall in love with a cut to order dress. Same goes for bridesmaids. These dresses can take even longer to come in than wedding gowns so order those asap too.
  12. When you and your family start pulling a million dresses off the racks.
    I like to let my brides look through the racks themselves. David’s Bridal does not recommend it for this very reason. If you have 3 other people with you and they all pull gowns, between you, me and all of them you might have 15-20 dresses. Statistics show that brides who try on five or few dresses are much more satisfied. The experience can be overwhelming to start, so trying on 15-20 dresses can make things much more confusing. Anytime the family pulls dresses, they also pull the wrong sizes or dresses out of price range. So go ahead and look. If you see one or two you absolutely love, that’s great, otherwise please let your consultant pull them.
  13. When you bring children that can’t behave.
    I’m sure any retail associate will agree with me on this one. I understand that sometimes you can’t get a babysitter, or you want to also fit the flower girl, but bored children can be the worst. I’ve had children knock over racks and mannequins, run face first into the mirrors, fall off the platforms, break things, knock over chairs, trip people, step on dresses and give the consultants and other customers one hell of a headache. If your children can’t behave for an hour and a half, please do not bring them with you. The bride should be the center of attention during the appointment, and children will take that away. It is incredibly hard to make such an important decision when you are too busy wrangling and roping children. Sometimes we have some great kids in there. Give them an iPad and they are set for hours. Sadly, most kids are little hell raisers and ruin appointments.
  14. When come in as a self-proclaimed “Bridezilla.”
    There is nothing funny or amusing about that. The bridal consultants, your family and your friends are not your slaves or your punching bags. We are here to help you and support you so do not be rude, nasty and demanding. Without my help and theirs you probably wouldn’t be having such a special day. Be nice, please.
  15. When you have no idea what you want.
    It is ok to come in and say you are not sure what you want, but please have some sort of ideas on stuff you might like to try. We need a place to start. Brides who have 0 ideas are just as bad as brides who have too many ideas. Give us just a little bit of help.
  16. The know-it-all friend or family member.
    There is usually always one person in the group that thinks they know everything there is to know about wedding gowns. They are usually the ones rattling off the types of fabrics, silhouettes, grabbing veils, sashes, accessories and shoes. On the incredibly rare occasion they actually know what they are talking about, but usually they are wrong about everything. They are pulling veils that don’t match, putting sashes on dresses that shouldn’t have them, and just spouting of things that don’t make sense. A good consultant will be nice and let them talk nd do but always make the right recommendation without offending anyone.

I have had some of the most amazing brides, and some of the worst. If you and your entourage are nice, fun and understand you are the center of attention I will go above and beyond to make sure you have the most amazing bridal appointment. I will do everything in my power to make sure you walk out of there with a beautiful dress and a big smile. I am a bridal consultant because I love it, not because I need the money. I genuinely want you to find the perfect dress, whether or not that is at David’s Bridal. I will not try to talk you in to something because I will make more money, I talk everything very personal and if I can’t make you happy I will be disappointed in myself. For those of you that are going to be wedding dress shopping soon or anytime in the future, whether as a bride, bridesmaid or supporter, please take into consideration your bridal consultant and her time as well as yours.

Tradeshow Freebie Hunters

Promotional Products

Some promo products hanging out on my desk right now. Aflac seems to love me seeing as how I have 2 screaming ducks.

Yesterday I was up in Boston representing my company at The Small Business Expo. I’ve done quite a few different tradeshows and expos since starting with my company, but all of them have one thing in common. Freebies. Who doesn’t love all of the free little tchotchke. Pens, cellphone holders, totebags, stress balls, ice scrapers, magnets, tape measures, candy, cups, you name it I’m sure someone has it. I’ve gotten some pretty cool stuff from tradeshows over the years and I’ve also seen some stupid stuff. Quite frankly I’m tired of the drawstring backpacks but I will take a reusable insulated cup any day of the week. As a vendor though, you see they different strategies and tactics people use to collect the goodies. I have come to realize that there are 5 types of freebie hunters you will see at every show.

    1. The Hoarder. These people go booth to booth squirreling away all of the freebies they possible can. They take the pens, the cell phone holders, the stress balls. They have tote bags – from other booths, of course – full of freebies. They come right up to the table, start grabbing one (or even multiples) of everything you have and then run off. They don’t make eye contact, they don’t say anything. I often times wonder what they actually do with everything they take. Do they have 40 cell phones that need holding? How many hands do they have to squeeze all of those stress balls?
    2. The Faker. These people are still only interested in your giveaways, but they will entertain a conversation to make it seem like they don’t just want to take their stuff. I am not sure if they think they are slick, or if they are just trying to quiet a guilty conscious of some sort, but pretending to care is annoying for everyone. It wastes my time that I could be talking to legitimate prospects. I would much rather people tell me straight out that they just want my cell phone holder and be done. That brings me to my next type.
    3. The Tell-It-Like-It-Is. These people happen to be passing by and see something cool on your table. They come over, tell you straight up that they just want your cool gadget and they move on. You never know when or where your customers will come from so having your name on someone’s desk is a good thing. I am ok with the people who want our freebies and just tell me that. The honesty saves everyone the trouble of a pointless conversation.
    4. The Tag Team. These people usually come around in pairs. One person will engage you with questions while the other walks over and raids the table. 9 times out of 10 they just think they are crafty and tag team your freebies but on occasion you might get a real lead. But usually it’s just a tag team of freebie snatchers.
    5. The Repeat Customer. These are the people you will find at your local shows that you attend annually. It’s usually the same crowd that comes year after year. At these shows you get those people that recognize you and of course your freebies. This happens with our cellphone holders. People come running over and say something like “my co-worker has this one her desk and I love it, can I take one?” or “I got one of these last year and l loved it but I lost mine, can I have another one?” I mean, with cool stuff I can see some office jealousy and obviously there is some logo/brand recognition so I guess we’re making an impact with our stuff? That’s what freebies are about, right?

After all of the freebies are gone, the marketing documents depleted, and the booth is broken down, the one thing that matters is the quality leads you had come through. If you can generate business out of the freebie feeding frenzy then it was worth it (and the 2 hour drive in and out of Boston).

-AB