For the Atlanta bride, one of the most exciting slivers of the wedding planning process is . . . choosing the dress of course! Bridal appointments are to be shared with family and friends while sipping on refreshments and hunting for the very dress you’ll say ‘I do’ in. This week we went behind the scenes with a lovely Atlanta bridal shop, The Gown Collective. Walking into this shop you feel right at home and it couldn’t be more breathtaking. The Detailed I Do’s team, Carrie Joy Osborne, and Margaret Snider, made some magic at the shop, with gorgeous bouquets from Dianthus & Co. Alix, store director, shares the Gown Collective’s backstory, 2019 trends, and insightful tips about bridal appointments. So, without further ado, here’s an interview you don’t want to miss!
How did The Gown Collective get its start?
Gown Collective is the result of ten years of bridal experience, culminating in the creation of an experience that’s perfect for today’s bride! Our company was originally founded in Charleston and has gone through changes and expansions through the years as we’ve gotten to know who we are as a brand and what’s truly important to our brides!
We re-branded from Fabulous Frocks to Gown Collective earlier this year and, with the re-brand, we’ve refocused on the values of our company and our brides. We sell designer sample gowns, meaning we give our brides the opportunity to get high-quality gowns at 30-70% off the original retail price! Because of our unique model of store, we carry a broader range of styles and designers than most boutiques can carry, which makes us a great place for one-stop shopping.
We saw a need in the industry for a shopping experience that’s tailored to the modern bride.
Studies are showing that brides are choosing to have shorter engagements, but the bridal dress industry is still catching up to this trend. It can take months and months for a designer dress to arrive after it’s ordered and, while there are stores that offer quicker turn around, it usually means sacrificing quality or going with a mass-produced dress (or possibly even a trending style that several of your friends have also worn!).
By selling samples, off the rack, we’re able to work with any timeline, offer unique styles, and still give our brides incredible, high quality gowns.
We offer a one-on-one styling experience that starts by working with our consultants even before stepping foot in the store. And we combine the incredible prices of warehouse or mall bridal stores with the personalized experience and designer options of a boutique.
What drew you to work in bridal fashion?
I was originally drawn to bridal fashion because I was looking for an industry that would give me a chance to work closely with people and to build relationships. Fashion is very individualized because what we wear says so much about who we are, but bridal fashion is even more personal!
My background is in marketing/event planning and I loved planning my own wedding, so having a role in one of the most important events in someone’s life seemed like a natural fit!
I love that every time a bride walks into our store, I have an opportunity to get to know her. Being engaged is such an exciting time in life. I love when brides bring that energy with them into the store and want to share about their fiance, relationship, and how their day will represent who they are as a couple! My favorite appointments (and the brides I’ve kept in touch with after their initial appointments) are always the ones with a focus on their relationship who know the dress is important, but it’s the cherry on top! When brides ease up on the pressure they’re putting on themselves or on the dress and they truly enjoy the season they’re in, they just light up! Being around these gorgeous women who are radiating their excitement and love is so inspiring to me!
What excites you most about bridal appointments?
Because of my passion for relationship, we put a lot of emphasis on emotional education during our process with our brides. Lots of brides start the shopping process with very little idea of what they want and think they’ll figure it out as they go or that they’ll just know when they’ve found “the one.” This does happen for some brides but, more often, it leads to feeling the need to shop A LOT or to being confused because there are so many gorgeous styles! We like to ask our brides questions like “How do you want to feel on your wedding day?” and “What words would you use to describe your vision for your wedding day?” We try to help them stick to dresses that feel like them instead of trying on anything and everything. After all, we think you should feel like YOU on your wedding day, not like you’re following a trend or playing dress-up!
The thing I get most excited for is seeing our brides’ faces when they have an “ah ha!” moment about what’s really important to them. Sometimes that happens when they’re in the dress they fall in love with, but it’s more common for it to happen before they actually find their dress! We hear all the time from brides in our store that they felt free to be themselves in a way they didn’t experience at any of their other appointments and that always makes me incredibly happy!
I love that every bride who comes into our store is looking for something different because each one is unique and special and different. I see it as an honor to help match a bride with the perfect dress for her!
Who is your FAVORITE gown designer? ( We know this is a tough one!)
You’re right! That’s a very tough one!
I can appreciate nearly every dress and designer for the artistry and design that goes into what they’re creating and putting into the world. Even when we receive dresses that aren’t my style, I can see the beauty in them and I get excited for the right bride to come in and fall in love with them!
But if I had to name a favorite for me, personally, I’d have to say Claire Pettibone. I love her laid-back, vintage aesthetic and that she’s doing something so unique that other designers can’t possibly replicate it.
Based on the trends you’ve seen this season, what types of styles do you anticipate for 2019?
I see a lot of our brides moving back towards classic styles. For the past few years, bridal has been all about the boho look – flowing silhouettes, no structure, non-traditional colors and patterns. I think a lot of brides are reacting to that by realizing they prefer a timeless look. We regularly hear our brides say “I don’t want people to look at my wedding pictures 20 years from now and know the exact year I got married, based on my dress!”
Lately, we’ve been hearing requests for silk fabrics and clean lines or soft, romantic laces. Many are preferring dresses with structure. I hear lots of requests for what I would describe as “classic with a twist,” meaning brides are looking for a timeless look but with a little something that differentiates their dress from others they’ve seen. I think we’ll see these trends continue into 2019.
If you could give a bride one tip before going into her bridal appointment what would it be?
I think the most important thing a bride can do is to get clear about what feels/doesn’t feel like her before putting on any dresses. We live in a Pinterest and Instagram age where it’s so easy to question our decisions because we’re bombarded with seeing what other people have done the second we get on our phones. Knowing yourself is the first step in avoiding FOMO or the comparison game.
Ask yourself: What are my priorities for my day? How would I describe my every day style? What are my non-negotiable?
Many brides want to try on everything because we want options and we want to have fun! But the trouble starts when a bride tries on a dress “just for fun” that she knows she would never consider wearing and her family or friends have the biggest reaction to that dress! *cringe*
We provide an awesome, free style guide on our website that brides can download and work through. I highly recommend grabbing that guide, pouring yourself a glass of wine, maybe inviting over your bridesmaids for their input, and making it a fun event that’s part of your process!
One other tip I would give is to not make more than 1-2 appointments in a single day and to be open to finding your dress at every store. It’s common for brides to assume they’ll have to go to many stores prior to finding their dress but there are gorgeous dresses at every store and it would be unusual not to find something you love anywhere you go! The more you shop, the more possible options you give yourself and there are plenty of studies that have shown that the more options we have, the more it leads to dissatisfaction with the choice we ultimately make!
If you’re not finding anything you love at your first couple appointments, it could be for a couple reasons. First, every bridal store has a different vibe. Make sure you’ve thoroughly researched your stores and that their styles fit what you’ve already determined feels like you! Secondly, it could be because you’re not sure what you’re looking for! Re-visit the questions above or our style guide to help guide yourself and provide a clearer direction.
Shopping at too many places is the quickest way to feel overwhelmed and to reach bridal burnout. Remember, this should be a fun experience that’s ultimately about feeling beautiful and confident on your day!
Dressing It Up
Alix, thank you so much for sharing with us! Your insights are not only helpful to the Atlanta bride, but to us as wedding planners! Gown Collective is truly a unique experience where bride’s can feel comfortable and free to make decisions. Our vendor team had the best time creating with you! Stay tuned for next week’s post where we’ll be sharing more on our collaboration with the Gown Collective.
Photography By: Carrie Joy Photography
By: Rachel Hegner