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Saying “YES” to the Dress – Find a Dress that Sparks Your Interest | Interview with Laura Alfred | Wedding Secrets Unveiled! Podcast

Saying "Yes" to the Dress: interview with Laura Alfred of Sparks Bridal in Cranston RI on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

We’re so excited about this week’s episode of Wedding Secerets Unveiled! because we’re talking about one of the most fun parts of wedding planning: finding your wedding gown! Laura, one of the co-owners of Spark Bridal Boutique is taking us on an honest journey into all things wedding gowns.  We can’t wait for you to hear her tips and experiences running her bridal boutique with her mom. This is a great episode for all of you brides out there – so let’s jump in! 

Meet Laura.

In 2015, my mom and I opwned Spark Bridal Boutqiue. The business is about six years old. We serve brides who are looking for a wedding gown – no matter the size, style, age – we’ll find a dress for them! While we specialize in bridal gowns, we also have accessories for every bride to complete her look like veils, jewelry, and other items.

How do you start the process of looking for a wedding gown? 

I think this is one of the things that brides feel a lot of pressure around. But, the first thing to do is to start getting an idea online of styles you like. Check Pinterest, Google, our website and find the shapes that draw you in. The shape is the thing you want to nail first when it comes to your wedding gown. When they come in for their appointment, this can help give us a starting point on what they like and what we can pull. 

After that, it’s really about trying on gowns and finding what you actually like. Many brides are surprised to find that what they originally thought they wanted is not what they wind up picking! It’s super normal for that to happen. 

Saying "Yes" to the Dress: interview with Laura Alfred of Sparks Bridal in Cranston RI on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

What are some of the current styles and trends you’re seeing? 

Good timing on this question! I just got back from the New Jersey bridal market! Square necklines are making a comback! There were a lot of those at the market – so in the spring, expect that to make an appearance again. The sparkle dresses with layers of sparkle and sequins are still pretty popular, they were big last year and seems like they will be again.  It also seems like the colored layers – like a champagne or blush pink will continue to be in style going into the next year. 

Can you sahre some tips about how to have a successful dress shopping appointment? 

Yes! Your dress shopping appointemnt is SUCH an exciting time! It’s easy to want to bring your whole bridal party, your mom, grandmas, and cousins. But, I urge brides to think carefully about who they bring to their appointment because it really sets the tone of the day and time in the shop. You want to bring the people that are important to you, of course, but also the ones who have your best interests at heart. It’s important that the people that you bring also know what you like and don’t. 

As far as what to bring, don’t stress about it! You don’t need to bring too much. You won’t need to bring a special bra because most gowns have built in support for you. Don’t bring shoes because many of the gowns you try on will be too long and you own’t even see them yet. Those are great to bring for fitting appointments but not your initial one. The only thing I would really consider bringing is shapewar if you’re planning to use it for yoru wedding day. 

I also encourage brides to bring photos of the dresses and styles they like. Even if it seems like they’re all over the place, we can narrow down a LOT just from those photos. You’d be surprised how quickly my staff and I can catch what’s similar in the photos.  And remember, it doesn’t matter if you’re getting married at a VFW Hall or OceanCliff… if your dress reflects your personality and your style, if you love it and it makes you feel confident and beautiful, that’s it. That’s your dress.

Saying "Yes" to the Dress: interview with Laura Alfred of Sparks Bridal in Cranston RI on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

What are the timeframes for ordering and alterations when it comes to bridal gowns? 

With COVID-19 still impacting factories, brides should factor in a little more time than they usually would for ordering and alterations. When the pandemic hit, factories, warehouses, and companies were shut down. But, shipping companies have also been impacted too. So at this point, the biggest thing that’s hurting delivery times is shipping. One of the biggest companies I sell said they have 32,000 pieces waiting to ship! So, I would say between 6-8 months before the wedding is ideal for ordering. It may take us 3-4 months to actually get it in, but then we’ll have time for alterations and fittings. And honestly thse days, even doing your appointment a year from your wedding date really isn’t unherad of. 

As for alterations, like many of us in the industry, they’re just getting through the tsunami of couples and brides who had been rescheduled. So right now, they’re honestly a little over booked and worked. All of that to say, this is why you want to order ahead of time so that you have time to get on their schedules for alterations and your fittings. 

Saying "Yes" to the Dress: interview with Laura Alfred of Sparks Bridal in Cranston RI on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

How much does “the dress” really matter in the grand scheme of the wedding?

I want to put a disclaimer before anything I say here because I don’t want anyone thinking I’m just trying to sell a dress. But, in my opinion, it’s SUPER important. I just got married in June and and it was a top priority for me. And I find that it really is a top priority for so many brides as well.  This is such a huge day and milestone for you. You’re going to want to feel beautiful and confident all day long. There’s nothing wrong with that. For the rest of your life, you’re going to look at portraits from that day and see what you were wearing. It’s what you’re going to remember. So to me, finding a dress that makes you feel confident, comfortable walking out to meet your spouse, dancing during the party… all of that makes it a top priority to me. 

What do you think about the “two dress” trend where brides have different outfits for the ceremony and reception?

Honestly, I encourage brides to find one dress they truly love and don’t want to take off all night. Wedding days are short. 8-10 hours often times and so I want them to find something they fell madly in love with and felt connected with to wear all night long! Now, if the couple knows they’re going to celebrate somewhere after the wedding – maybe go to a party or something, I think it’s common for them to have a going away outfit. Those used to be really popular with brides! Now that they weear something more comfortable to begin with, they aren’t as common. But you do still see them. I know I changed out of my massive ballgown and into something sleeker before we went into Newport to celebrate… but it was later in the evening.

Saying "Yes" to the Dress: interview with Laura Alfred of Sparks Bridal in Cranston RI on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

What did you wear for your wedding day?

I have such an emotional attachment to my dress! I still get excited talking about it. That’s what I tell my brides to look for – that emotional moemnt they know they’re in THE dress. Anyway, I have a super classic style – along the lines of Jackie Kennedy. And so I needed to be true to myself with a little twist, but when I saw this ballgown, I just knew it was the one! 

Saying "Yes" to the Dress: interview with Laura Alfred of Sparks Bridal in Cranston RI on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

Wrap Up Question

What are some key points that brides should be asking bridal boutiques when they are inquiring to make sure they have the ideal experience when looking for their perfect gown? 

Timeframe: Ask what their timeframe is on getting dresses in ordered so you know that you can work within your schedule. 

Price range: Does the boutique offer the price range you need to stay in? Be honest with the consultants upfront about how much you plan to spend.

Personalized service: Do your research upfront and see what reviews are like for the boutique. Is it really a personalized experience or not? It’s also a good time to ask about their policies and procedures so that you know what to expect (particularly around COVID compliance). 

Saying "Yes" to the Dress: interview with Laura Alfred of Sparks Bridal in Cranston RI on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

Links Mentioned in the Episode

You can find Spark Bridal: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Visit Spark Bridal at 1591 Cranston Street, 401-464-4000. 

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