added November 2009
First, Thanks very much for all the helpful information on your website. I refer to it quite often. It’s been a great sounding board and I am always pleased to find someone else thinks like me. Your policies read very close to mine.
Looks like you are located in Cincinnati? I am 50 miles south in Carrollton, Kentucky.
I have a bride that’s asking me to alter a straight across neckline into a sweetheart neckline. I’ve not been asked to do that before so I’m just not sure I want to commit. The dress looks like this:
into sweet heart neckline. The beading is a concern. What do you think? She’s a small gal – if I remember right from her prom dresses about a size 4.
She wants the collar removed too so that should make it more doable, shouldn’t it?
added June 2009
added August 2007
I have a problem saying no. I always squeeze people in and then I get stressed. Then it seems the ones you go out of your way for are the ones that complain. I just had one bridesmaid today. She had a fitting before and we were going to take the dress out in the bust. That was the only alteration it needed. Well, she comes back for a fitting, pregnant, and it is now my fault that it doesn’t fit in the hips! She told me she wasn’t paying for alterations because I did such a shoddy job. I told her the money didn’t matter to me, but I didn’t want the rest of the bridesmaids coming in expecting free alterations because she threw a fit. Yes, I could have held onto the dress until she paid, but it wasn’t worth the whopping $12 I was charging her.
Sorry, didn’t mean to start complaining. Just when I was thinking how I’d only had happy brides lately, then I have to deal with bridesmaidzilla! I have more problems with bridesmaids and moms than I do with brides. I had one mom that kept having a fit because the dress still touched the floor after it was bustled. I don’t know about you, but most brides I work with, do want it still sweeping the floor in back. The mom kept yelling “It can’t touch the floor!”. Now mind you this is a garden wedding for which the train will be down, but it is not allowed to touch the floor during the reception. Oops, there I go again.
Well, happy sewing!
Wow, she got pregnant and it's your fault. Golly, some people! I have a new rant on my site about women letting themselves get pregnant and then claiming it was something that happened to them, like they had no choice in the matter. I can be a real hard case when it comes to ladies pulling stuff like that on me. I do not let them walk on me. I do good work and I know it. So do they. They are simply pulling this sh!t to get at you because they don't want to admit they are truly responsible.
Hang in there, Lynanne, and don't let them get you down. I know how hard it can get. I'll make you a deal - You are welcome to write any complaints here any time, if it's ok that I can write some to you too.
added October 2004
I own a bridal store. A plus size bride bought a gown for $600.00. She later brought in a friend when we were swamped, along with a large bridal party. They also purchased from us bridal gown and maids dresses. The bride was upset that the $98.00 dollar gown was going to cost her more because she was a plus size. Her fiance came in a few days later to complain how we hurt her feelings and made her cry. We were dumbfounded. We wrote her a note of apology, absorbed the cost and treated her and three other guests to a breakfast buffet at an elegant restaraunt. For her four bridesmaids, the suggested retail was $160.00 we charged $135.00 and gave free jewelry valued at $29.95. Two of her girls wanted to diet because they didn't want to pay the plus size fee. One measured size 22 but wanted size16. I ordered a 16 & 20, just in case. The other measured size 26 but wanted a 22. I ordered a 22 and a 24. I showed the ladies the charts in advance and the prices that were additional. I don't pull extra charges out of the air but I do curb them in cases like these. She felt that I did a poor job in measuring since her girls needed alterations and that they needed an apology and retribution. The dresses were late due to a new staff member at P.C. Mary's who screwed our order up and the company backs us up. I gave my home phone number out and offered to come out after store hours so they could pick up their dresses, which they weren't anxious to pick up. I feel I went above and beyond what would you do? Kathy
A bride bought a gown from you that cost only $98.00 and had the gall to complain? And then had her groom complain too??? You got taken. I'm against shop owners treating brides poorly, but it goes the other way too. It's sometimes better to let some customers walk than to worry about the money you are loosing. The customers in this party were not worth your kindness and I bet you had many nights of headaches for your great efforts in pleasing these silly women. They are not the type to give out any recommendations to friends, and if they do you really don't want more of this type of customer. I would have advised you to stand firm on the prices at the beginning and if the customer doesn't like it - let them walk! It keeps the question on the prices and doesn't give them an opportunity to effect you personally. Trying to explain and teach them doesn't usually help matters. They get to thinking you are simply making stuff up to save yourself the trouble of doing it the way they want.
That's one of the reasons I started the Bridal section of my site. To educate brides before they go to the store so the store can do a better job for them. There is so much brides don't understand about the processes of getting their gown. It's so very different from buying other clothing that it's hard for a first time bride to know what she is getting into.
You did everything in you power to please these ladies. Aside from the trouble your supplier gave you, you should be proud of the fine service you provided. Orders often come in late even when no mistakes are made. Brides need to chill about stuff like this. Just remember that your desire to please your customers needs to be balanced with making the profit your business needs to survive. It's sometimes a hard choice to make, but by what you have written, I think you have what it takes. Some customers will never be pleased no matter what you do for them.
"You never get a second chance to make a first impression." How true this is when dealing with a bride. Understand that she is already worried about everything from her floral arrangements to convincing her Mom-in-law-to-be that hot pink is not a good choice for her complexion. She could really use a trustworthy/ professional person caring for her precious gown, and you could really use that trust to make your job easier.
To insure that you get things off on the right footing, sometime during the first phone call, ask the wedding date and check your calendar for conflicts. I keep a year-at-a-glance calendar for just this purpose. Explain that you are careful to make plenty of time to take care of a bridal customer's special needs. It's my policy to keep brides at least two weeks apart. This may be impossible to do for many of you, but I am only one person and I do have other obligations than just my brides. The point is that I do have a policy and it shows to the new bridal customer that I understand the importance of her occasion. If I do have to schedule brides back to back I'm going to block out a 2 week buffer in front of them.
This means I may have to say "No" sometimes. That's much better than overloading yourself. But I don't like to leave the bride with no alternatives. I do my best to keep up with sewing professionals in my area. I keep up with what kind of work they do and what services they offer. By giving a confident referral, you not only help her, but start a good first impression for the referee.
Your first phone call impression should also give her the sense that you are in control of all the things she might not have thought of yet. It may help to make a list of points to discuss with a new bride and keep it by your phone. One of these should be to ask her about her shoes and undergarments. If she has already thought of these things praise her for her foresight. If she does happen to ask you something you have not put on your list, discuss it with her briefly and tell her you will make a note to figure it out with her in detail when she sees you for her first appointment. Then be sure to bring up the subject at the appointment.
Brides are not your normal customers. Give the sweet little girl next door a ring and a date and she is all starry eyed because her dreams are coming true. Until she walks into your alteration salon with the most important garment of her young life. How quickly dreams can turn into nightmares for the both of you.
Luckily, there are a few easy things you can do to get off on the right footing with your new bridal customer. I've been making these a habit and they have served me well. Dealing with the "Princess for a Day" doesn't have to leave you tearing you hair out. Something as simple as the right mind set can save you and her a lot of headaches.
I don't want to imply here that brides are the only important customers you have. Certainly all your customers are individually important, but brides just need a little extra attention. I'm sure you want your reputation to show that you treat every garment with care and do your very best job on even a simple hem. But as far as personal attention goes, you need to realize that a bride will automatically take up more time for everything from fittings to talking on the phone.
Once you have the proper bridal care mind set, you can start to understand how to handle all the challenges that will inevitably face you. Hopefully, you won't be facing everyone with every bride you see, but they will all crop up from time to time. After awhile you won't be so surprised when they happen and will have gained the finesse to handle each with patience and grace.
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