We may be in the middle of a pandemic but wedding bells are still ringing. With quarantine and social distancing measures in place, the wedding process looks a lot different. Brides may be lost as to how to find the perfect dress when it’s not safe enough to browse in stores.
That’s why Gamberdella, a bridal salon in Towson, has created their virtual bride program, an innovative and fun way to shop for a wedding dress without having to go in-person.
“We actually started doing this a while ago in case family or friends couldn’t make the appointment, but still wanted to be involved. So when the pandemic hit and girls couldn’t come in at all, we created a full virtual program and it’s worked out really well,” says Mary Gamberdella, founder and owner of the salon.
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Here’s how it works
Brides can sign up for the Bridal Ready program on Gamberdella’s website and within 24 to 48 hours a staff member will get in touch with them to set up a pre-interview. This gives the bride a chance to talk about what they’re looking for and share pictures so that the consultant can get an idea of the dresses that would best fit the bride’s interests.
The consultant will then pull four to five dresses and sets up a zoom appointment so the bride can see the different options. With their floor-to-ceiling screen, the bride gets a full view of the dresses and can have them moved closer or farther to get every angle and detail. The dresses are normally displayed on a mannequin, but Gamberdella can also have one of the staff members model a dress.
“My virtual fitting was simple and quick. While I was a little nervous, putting on my dress after the alterations blew me away.” —Aimee Chapdelaine
One of the best parts is that anyone can be invited to join the Zoom, so mothers, grandmothers and bridesmaids can all share in the experience with the bride.
“It’s a way for them all to come together without actually being together,” Gamberdella says.
Milan meets New York
It also gives the salon the opportunity to provide dresses for brides in different cities and states. “We had a girl who couldn’t get out of New York City, but was looking to get a dress from an Italian designer based in Milan,” Gamberdella explains. “So we set up a Zoom, and had her and the designer come on so they could talk while looking at the dresses we had.”
And for those brides that are comfortable coming into the store, Gamberdella can set up a Zoom and have bridesmaids and family on the screen while the bride tries on dresses. This way the bridal party can still be involved in a memorable moment. And brides don’t have to completely sacrifice the fun experience of swishing and sweeping in a gorgeous gown to the “oohs” and “aahs” of family and friends.
Once the dress is picked out, an in-store appointment for the fitting can be scheduled. All employees and customers wear masks and have their temperatures checked, and hand sanitizer is placed around the shop.
“We’re constantly in flux but we can react to whatever the bride wants to do. We’ve been doing this a long time and our focus has always been to make the girl happy,” Gamberdella says.
Before You Shop:
Do some research
To make the process easier for you and the consultant, do some research beforehand so you can get a feel of what you like and don’t like. Visit sites, look at magazines, or create a Pinterest board so you can share pictures and give the consultant an idea of what you’re interested in.
Start looking early
With the uncertainty of the world right now, it’s best to begin your wedding dress search early. “We don’t know what the next six months are going to look like, so we can’t guarantee everything,” Gamberdella says. “We carry dresses from companies in other countries, so if they’re forced to shut down it’s going to be difficult to know when those dresses will be available again.” For that reason, the salon encourages brides to start planning earlier and make a decision sooner rather than later.
The most important advice Gamberdella gives is to have fun with this. “Our goal in the end is to make you happy and have a good time. Plan whatever you have to plan, and we’ll make it happen for you,” she says.
Times may be confusing and nerve-wracking, but you still deserve to enjoy your wedding experience.