Friday, October 30, 2009

Even more Wedding Dresses!

So I went half way down the N11 last time I toured the bridal circuit - this time I went all the way to the end of the road to find some frills sans puffs 'n' meringues.

First up was Marianne's Bridal in Wexford Town, a tiny shop on Selskar Court (near the Redmond Sq. end of town). Met with Marianne herself on a rainy Saturday morning - she's a lovely lady. Her shop is a little small so there is really only room for one bride & (just) her mum at the one time. Even when it came to getting me into some of the more intricate gowns (ribbons & corsets - you need a scissors to get out of them!) - she was tying me in, in the middle of the store, in front of the shop window. I didn't care at that stage - I'm so used to getting prodded into gowns by now that I didn't bat an eyelid but a more shy B2B may get a little uncomfortable. The shop floor, because it's so cluttered, is rammed full with dresses. Marianne does a lovely collection of formal wear in addition to the wedding dresses - debs dresses and gorgeous bridesmaids. The shop wasn't really my cup of tea and her selection wasn't great - although excellent value for money. I couldn't fault Marianne herself for enthusiasm! They also didn't have a loo, she said they got rid of it to make more space(!) which was a bit of a pain - I always find that after I've been shoved into gĂșnas too small for me that know...need to go. It's the little things in life... TMI? Sorry!

Second on the list was Eden Bridal in Enniscorthy. Hilda & Co. used to have a shop in Gorey but it got too cluttered - so Hilda built a custom designed wedding-heaven on land in Clohass, just outside Enniscorthy. Bring a map, or borrow a GPS! Because I kid you not - it's worth it. You buzz in, electric gates open, up the driveway you go to be met with a fountain. To the right of the fountain you abandon the car and venture into what can only be described as an Aladdin's Cave of delight. You are met at the door by a handful of friendly smiling staff and are escorted to your private viewing area. From the reception you walk into a brightly lit airy spacious room (such a contrast to Marianne's, bless her she didn't stand a chance against these guys). The central area of the room has a large guilt edged mirror. Beside that is a large bay window with a display of one or two gowns a groom's attire. Off that central area are 4 different sections. Each section has a long, well lit rail with a lot of dresses on them; each one has enough space so that you're not pulling it out from behind another three. So that's - count 'em - eight long rails full of fun. One is dedicated to the grooms, so that's 7 rails of wedding dresses. Now I will say this - there is almost too much to choose from. But the most amazing thing is - they were apologetic that they could only give me a two hour viewing on a Saturday. Seriously? 30-45 mins in Dublin during the week and Hilda & the girls apologising for only two hours on a Saturday... Ladies, head AWAY from The Pale if you are looking for quality of service... Needs must, I do appreciate, but seriously...

Anyway, about the dresses - they have many. If you like lace - their San Patrick range is expansive and simply lovely. Note: all the dresses are clean and a pleasure to try on. Not grimy and rammed into a tiny rack unsuitable for large gowns. They do The White One, Paloma Blanca, and I can't even remember the rest, there were so many. I had 2 girls in the changing room with me (and there was room for about three more - how refreshing) and they were well turned out, pleasant and very helpful on what styles would suit etc. They are very aware that there are a lot of dresses to choose from, so when you like a particular aspect of one gown, they zoom off and find a similar one to see if you like it. When I walked in I liked the look of one dress on a mannequin in the bay window - by the time I was taking off my runners, it was on a hanger beside the changing room. I hadn't asked them to do that, they just spotted me looking at it. Amazing sales skills on these girls!

Anyway I had a lovely time there, was offered a sample of wedding cake, a glass of champagne or tea/coffee/juice/water - more than once throughout the 2 hours - they also have a lot of information on local florists, etc. if you are getting hitched in Co. Wexford. I left thinking it would be nice to give them the business, as they deserved it the most after all the people I had met.

Last up for Co. Wexford was Glamourize Bridal in Gorey. God bless them but the three sales girls were running about the upstairs shop following me as I was looking around, putting every dress I touched into the changing room so that I could try it on. I didn't even like half of them but they were so enthusiastic I felt obliged. Two of the dresses were nice and had potential, but the samples were grimy and torn, and the shop assistant didn't really have a clue about styles that suit certain shapes or anything at all. Hilda in Enniscorthy, Marianne in Wexford Town, and the three ladies I met in Co. Wicklow were all very helpful in guiding me into dresses that suited me. The girl in Glamourize clearly just wanted to make a sale - she was lovely, but I wouldn't recommend the shop at all. Sorry ladies. She tried very hard, the accessories were nice...I'm trying to find nice things to say because they really didn't do anything wrong, it just didn't suit me at all!

So they are the results from the Wexford Jury. Lots of fun was had with my mum, we had a lovely lunch in Gorey after all that and we departed for home soon after. Gorey is so nice to visit, now that it has been bypassed by the N11. It's much easier to cross the road! And I'm glad to see the town still bustling with business.

Monday, October 5, 2009

More dresses

Yes, the dress hunt has continued in earnest over recent weekends. Boss relaxing the panic measures also means I can plan the occasional afternoon off to view a few goonaz in the capital, reserving the weekends for far flung dress shops.

This weekend was spent in one such selection. Last month saw me go a little further south - to Wicklow - for some inspiration. I visited Antonia's in Blessington who don't seem to have a website but I've linked to a decent page about them. Anneliese is a lovely, lovely person. Patient and fun, insistent that you have a good - relaxed - time in her shop. There isn't a huge selection, but what she has is very nice and it's not a bad place to start for the clueless bride. The prices are very reasonable and the dresses are clean. She makes you feel good about yourself when you stand up on the box!

Next up was Anne Gregory in Newtownmountkennedy, whose website is pretty terrible! I was only given 30 mins there but that was because they were fitting me in at the end of the day so that was nice of them in fairness. Realistically you wouldn't need any more time than that; their selection is not great. The dresses are ok but you are not given much time and I had to ask to actually look at their full selection - they just brought me what they thought would suit. That can be a great service if that's what you're looking for - less confusion! But I just wanted to see what else they had. What I will say as a big plus is that they take care of their dresses very well. You could perhaps even buy one of the samples, they were that clean and looked after. Each one is whisked back under protective plastic before you are into the next one!

Thirdly from Wicklow I visited the lovely Marie McElheron. Marie is a dress designer in addition to stocking a number of labels at her gorgeous - small - studio in Arklow. What I really liked about this visit, in addition to the peaceful calm surroundings, was Marie's gentle advice. I took my time viewing the rack which although not extensive, seemed to have a stronger range than Anne in Newtown. I picked out four dresses to try, and on seeing me in the first couple, Marie made a couple of subtle suggestions which turned out to be really great advice. I began to narrow down the style of dress that suited me, and different small details that would enhance different aspects of my figure. Which she assures me I have, beneath all the wobble I can't stand! She believes the role of the dress is to make you feel comfortable and at ease on the big day, as well as being a statement! She helped to calm me down a lot, which is half the battle I guess. Other shops try to pressure you into talk of deposits and lead times, whereas Marie's opinion is - if you have three weeks, there's a solution out there. If you have three months or three seasons to plan your wedding, don't panic, it will all come together. Great advice.

This weekend I ventured further south into Wexford to see what I could find. Again I went to three shops (I really can't handle more than that in a day, I was exhausted after almost 5 hours of being whooshed into corsets and boleros and straps and halters and...)

I promise to give you the full low down on those three stores in my next post...