While listening to her talk at the David Tutera Experience, I was immediately fascinated by Beth Chapman's warm personality and professionalism. Her boutique stocks wedding dresses I love and can easily imagine my brides wearing them both in Italy and locally in New England. I also know that a stylist’s expert advice can bring a whole new level to the dress shopping experience. It can also help any bride to find or refine her style and to truly love the results. I asked Beth to answer a few questions for my clients, and she agreed.
Please introduce us to your business.
I founded The White Dress by the Shore in 2004. After a career in fashion retail in New York, I decided to take my love of the bridal and create the ultimate wedding shopping experience for brides. Shopping for your wedding gown should be an intimate and memorable experience – one that is everything you've dreamed of but nothing you would expect. Styling brides is my passion, and there is no greater joy for me than creating the perfect look for each bride.
In addition to assisting brides in finding the perfect gown in my bridal boutique, I also provide styling services: I assist them in selecting their wedding fashion wherever they may be shopping and, along with a team of stylists, provide day of wedding dressing services through my company, Beth Chapman Styling.
We know that wedding dresses are usually classified by shape, length, cleavage, sleeves, etc. Are there any other details often overlooked by the brides, i.e. dress material, layers, and, yes, weight? Some dresses can be pretty heavy. Can you comment on this?
There are many factors that brides should consider when selecting their own. Silhouette- it is best to select a gown silhouette that is flattering to your body type and that you can be comfortable in throughout your day. Fabric- the weight of the fabric should be considered when selecting your gown. You should of course take time of year and the location of your wedding into account when selecting the fabric. That said, you don't need to shy away from a ball gown if you are getting married on a beach. You just want to be sure that the weight of the fabric is appropriate. I would opt for lightweight fabric, like silk organza, or a lightweight lace, like Chantilly lace. That way, you can still have a dramatic silhouette but with an appropriate weight for your wedding location or season.
Sleeves are very popular right now. Again, you don't have to avoid sleeves if you are getting married in the summer or in a warm climate. Again, consider the weight of the fabric of the gown or look into a gown with a detachable sleeve. That way, you can have one look for your ceremony and another for your reception.
What kinds of assistance or services would a bride receive at your store? How many brides know what they want precisely when they walk in?
At The White Dress by the Shore, it is our goal to make our brides' shopping experience as memorable as the day that they wear their gowns. We work to get to know our brides in advance so that our dedicated stylists can curate a collection of gowns for brides to try on that will reflect their personal style, the look and feel of the wedding, and that will flatter their figure. We spent 90 minutes with our brides trying on gowns and narrowing down the selection to find THE GOWN that exceeds all expectations. It is then our job to assist in finding the finishing touches that complete the look!
We encourage brides to do their homework before joining us for an appointment, including selecting gowns from our site to try on. Because of that, we do have many brides that come with an idea of what they want. That said, fashion has a way of taking you by surprise sometimes, so our stylists are there to make suggestions and provide some unexpected options that sometimes turn out to be THE ONE!
Many of my brides are planning their destination weddings in Italy. What advice can you give them?
When selecting your attire, ensure that you are keeping your destination in mind. If you will be walking on cobblestone streets or a beach for photos, ensure that your shoes and gown are maneuverable. Also, consider how your gown will travel and ensure that you have someone reliable at your destination to steam your gown. If you are traveling with a large gown that will not easily fit into a suitcase, consider vacuum sealing it before putting it into a suitcase. You will be amazed at how resilient the gown is and how wrinkle-free it will be on the other end!
When traveling with your gown, always try to carry it on when possible. And never, ever ship the gown!
In addition to the bridal boutique, you offer styling services at Beth Chapman Styling. Can you elaborate on this?
What are your three main pieces of advice for newly engaged brides starting their wedding planning/ dress shopping?
· Set your wedding date and select your venue before shopping.
It is very difficult to select your gown (or even try to determine what you might like) if you can't picture yourself on your wedding day. In order to have the most efficient and enjoyable shopping experience, have your wedding date and venue selected before shopping...otherwise, your options can be overwhelming!
· Do your research. Be sure to set your gown budget before beginning the gown shopping process and then research stores with the aesthetic you are looking for and gowns that fall within your budget. Don't just rely on word of mouth to select the stores that you will visit. Make sure to visit the store's website and social media to ensure that their aesthetic aligns with your vision and that they offer the type of shopping environment and experience that you are looking for.
· Limit your opinions. I know you don't want to leave anyone out on this momentous occasion but having too many opinions can lead to confusion and frustration. Limit those that shop with you to the people whose opinions matter the most and who truly understand your personal style and your vision for your wedding. You can always bring back the rest of your bridal party for a reveal after you have purchased the gown...or better yet, let them be wowed with a big reveal on the wedding day! At the end of the day, the only opinion that truly matters is yours!