Tuesday, July 13, 2010

a unique perspective

WUHAN, CHINA - MARCH 6:  People talk behind we...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Yesterday evening I went with a friend, Erin, to try on wedding dresses at David's Bridal - she is getting married in August 2011.  Even though my own appointment for dress shopping isn't until next week, I think it's important to share my experience as a neutral friend (I'm less biased since I am not related to the bride, nor am I a member of the wedding party), and I'm sure it will be a very different experience when I am the bride.

Her appointment was at 6:00 PM, but we all arrived around 5:30 PM.  The staff allowed Erin to begin trying on dresses early, and ultimately I feel that this may have been a poor decision - but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I don't know if it was because David's is in the midst of the famous "$99 sale" or if the store is always like this, but when I first walked in I was completely overwhelmed.  There were racks and racks of bridal gowns to my right, 20 or more mirrors straight ahead of me, and tons of racks of bridesmaid dresses to my left.  People were moving and bustling about everywhere.  I saw Erin, her mother, and her sister and when I approached them she explained that the consultant helping her told her to go through the racks and pull 3 or so dresses that she wanted to begin with.  At first we couldn't figure out where the sale racks were, we couldn't figure out where her size was, and it is extremely difficult to decide if you want to try on a dress when it is covered in a thick plastic garment bag.  After we had been aimlessly milling around for a few minutes, a different consultant finally helped us find where we needed to be looking, and after several more minutes the four of us had found 6 or so dresses to begin with.

The next step was to stand at the end of the racks holding ridiculously heavy dresses and wait to be helped again.  This time a third different consultant helped us get Erin into a changing room - where her own consultant finally began to help her.  It turns out that her consultant was in the middle of helping another girl with dresses at the same time.  I suspect that this may have been the result of allowing Erin to begin trying on her dresses before her actual appointment.  I wish that she could have had the devoted attention of her consultant right from the beginning.

As time went on and more women left the store, Erin was given more attention, which significantly improved the experience.  My favorite part was when Erin's consultant went on break and we had a different girl working with us for awhile.  I can't even describe how much better she was than the first woman.  At one point during the first consultant's break - when Erin, her mother, and her sister were all in dressing rooms and I was waiting for them to come out - the substitute consultant sat down next to me as I flipped though the catalog and discussed the dresses that I want to try on next week.  It wasn't even my appointment right then and she took the time to talk to me while I was waiting alone.  Now that is going above and beyond!

In the end, Erin found a beautiful dress in the David's Bridal collection and actually purchased it.  None of us were sure if it was the right thing to do - buying a dress during the very first shopping trip - but it was clear that Erin was in love with the dress and she looked absolutely beautiful wearing it, so I don't really see how she could go wrong buying it.  One more negative comment about Erin's consultant and that's it:  She told Erin that this particular dress was being discontinued, and also that it used to cost twice the price that was currently on the tag - which put a lot of pressure on Erin to make a decision about buying it right then versus waiting a month and trying on more dresses.  I did a little searching on the David's Bridal website afterward and found out that the consultant was full of baloney.  The dress is marked "NEW!" in big red letters on the website, and she was right about it being on sale - but it's only on sale by $50, not half the price.  I feel that was kind of a used-car-salesman action and I'm not too impressed by that move.

My final words...
While the disparity of skills between consultants at David's Bridal was glaringly obvious - almost to the point of being humorous - I can say that all of the dresses there were well made, excellent quality, and mostly affordable (if you stick with the David's Bridal collection and stay away from the major designers).  I would recommend the store to brides at least in the beginning - for the experience of a big gown retailer, if nothing else - and I am looking forward to my own appointment next week.

To the random bridezilla who asked one of her bridesmaids, "Could you not wear that color nail polish on the day of the wedding?" - chill out!

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