All That Glitters Is Not Always Gold
From the Desk of "Goldilocks"... Bride AND Vendor:
I’ve peeked behind the curtain and…. Hum, I was really really disappointed. To what am I referring to you ask? In the bridal world, especially on the East coast, there is one spot that is a hands down wedding institution, a place that is a bridal rite of passage for dress shopping: I would say the name, but I don’t want to get in trouble with the ringmaster, so please use your imagination. For now, I will refer to it as “The Institution”.
Now, a few things of note before I head down this rabbit hole of a story. “The Institution” was not actually my first stop on my dress adventure & a possible reason why my time there seemed considerably more pathetic & sad, yes, pathetic just you wait and see. My first stop was to the now defunct Priscilla of Boston & my experience there was what every bridal shopping experience should be. Wonderful, attentive sales associate who not only knew the dresses in her shop, but could sift through my, what I like BS, getting me directly in dresses that worked. I was directed to my own large well decorated soft beigey-pink dressing room, handed a silk dressing robe & asked if I wanted a strapless corset bra for fittings. Beverages were handed out & off we went. I was on cloud nine and felt oh so pretty and that’s exactly how its supposed to be….right?!
As it turns out, I found ‘The One’ right there at my very first stop at POB. I literally could not believe it possible to have happened so fast & honestly told them that that made me a touch nervous and that I wanted to shop around just a bit yet, you know, to make sure. A very good GF that I was with suggested “The Institution” & their epic number of styles that they carried. If I couldn’t find my dress there, then the one I had just found was for sure, ‘The One’. I booked my appt at “The Institution” for that coming Saturday, completely still on my bridal high.
*I want to also note at this point, before I get into the meat & potatoes here, that I actually myself am in the industry (did not mention this to either POB or “The Institution”), which only makes the below that much more annoying and clear to me how craptastic my experience was.
Come Saturday I happily trot into “The Institution” to be confronted with what I can only liken to a cattle round up. I think I know understand what those poor cows stuffed into a tight corral awaiting something, must feel like. I immediately went from feeling special, so standing at a deli counter, number in head, simply waiting. I somehow managed to nab some couch real estate & sat watching as other groups of brides & their entourages got their numbers called. I can honestly say, brides, your rolling in with WAAAAY too many people, but we’ll leave that for another post.
Eventually, in what felt a small eternity, I was called…. by a lady who could all but grunt my name and take off. I was left to question if I had actually heard my name. When no one else had moved, I deduced that it must have been mine and heading into the main showroom. I then caught a last second view of the woman who had apparently called my name, round a corner into a hallway of dressing rooms. It felt so very Alice in Wonderland chasing the white rabbit to me. Not the experience you want. All the hand holding nicey nice I had gotten not 5 days prior became painfully clear to have not been industry standard.
When I finally caught up to her, she motioned for my friend & I to head into a shoe box size dressing room, where she then proceeded to converse with a co-worker about how she was leaving in a few short hours for her Jamaica trip and how she simply could not wait to get out of there. Hum, well it showed lady. Like BIG EFFIN TIME. Eventually, and I do mean eventually as she spoke with this co-worker for a long time, she walks into the dressing room, drops herself into a chair & in the least magical, energetic, happy way possible, asks me what I am looking for.
I begin to tell her about how I found a dress a few days ago, but couldn’t really believe I had found it so quick, when I started to realize she was about 1/3 listening & 2/3 half already drunk on tropical drinks laying on a beach in Jamaica. I shit you not, rather than ask me ANY follow up questions about dress design, she literally straight out dead pans asks me: “Then why are you here?” Hum, I’m sorry? Not sure I had heard her right, and beginning to wonder if I actually walked into a place that was indeed interested in selling me a dress, I repeated myself and for flavor, on my own, tossed in some things I liked about dress design and was looking for. Where did this get me? Dumped off in the back room of wedding dresses….left ALONE. I kid you not, she grabs the 2 of us and proceeds to walk us into the backroom that literally looks like the most jam packed dry cleaner you have ever seen. Both our jaws simultaneously dropped & we literally froze in I don’t know what the fuck to do or where to start, terror. While perhaps being in a room like that under different circumstances would certainly be fun, I didn’t realize looking for a wedding dress was hide’n’seek in these parts.
We rolled up our sleeves and literally started slugging our way through these heavy ass dresses only to be happened upon by… “the ringmaster”. He was a bit taken a back to find 2 random girls riffling through their wedding dress stock (can’t say I blame him!) asked exactly how we came to be there in a very diplomatic way, I explained, all of it, to which, I shit you not, he then asked me: “Then why are you here?” I was seriously beginning to question if “The Institution” wanted to sell me a dress at this point! He escorts us back to our private shoe box, finds our MIA associate & they brain storm about the plan of action which feels a lot like humoring me, versus trying to help me actually find a dress. They walk back in with 3-4 dresses, to which the associate in quite possibly the laziest possible fashion ‘helps’ me into the sample. She barely clips the sample on to give me any kind of shape in the dress & asks what I think. Well I think you did a shitty job getting me in this dress, that’s what I think. Grrrr…. I stand about in the mirror trying to sort out if I was being punked when she is called away and literally leaves us to our own devices.
I turn to my friend and we both seriously can’t believe our experience at this must stop institution. My friend then helps me out of my dress & proceeds to help me in and out of the other remaining dresses, none of which even come close to working. At this point I just get myself dressed, as this is simply a hot mess of a time, when the associate walks back in. What I find truly amazing here is that she doesn’t even bulk at the fact that I am back in my own clothing, nor question if I even want to try the other dresses on! I voluntarily give up that I tried on the other dresses to which she has the reaction of an iceberg about. At this point its all I can do to not run the fuck out of there, flippin the bird as I go. “The ringmaster” then walks in to check on things, to which the associate tells him nothing worked (like she would know, ugh) to which they both, I swear in efffing chorus, again say to me: Why are you even here?
At this point I am gobbsmacked. Look, I get the industry, I get how wonky & fickle a lot of brides can be, but I genuinely turned up at “The Institution” to possibly find a better dress. Was telling them the fact that I had indeed found one dress already but only had my eye on, such a giant mountain for them to climb that it wasn’t even worth their time to try and sell me a dress I liked better!? And I get that we all get to go on wonderful holidays that we get so excited to be on and count down every second leading up to it. However, don’t you dare ruin my once in a life time bridal experience because you simply don’t give a shit I am not a walking Pina Colda. I mean seriously. Lets just consider a surgeon already mentally on his African Safari while he is operating on you just before he leaves. Yeah yeah, I know, not exactly the same thing, but I am being dramatic to get my point across. I was literally on bridal cloud 9 walking into that disastrous appointment to only get freezing ass cold water slapped across my face.
The cattle corral effect from the very beginning sucked, setting the tone & everything there after just confirmed my awful experience. I had money in my pocket, burning a hole, ready for gown purchase & they dropped the ball. Not just that, they took away my bridal bliss and for that, I say wake the fuck up “Institution”. I know it can become day to day gray for you guys, but seriously, this is a BIG and what should be fun moment for every girl and you have no right to crap on it. I walked hurriedly out of the store and I kid you not, on “The Institution” doorstop, rang up POB & told them I was heading over to purchase the dress and that’s exactly what I did.
PS-The Cattle Corral thing, you guys really need to find a way around that. It makes you feel the complete opposite of special and is no way to set the tone, it sucks.