Olivia Bowen Bridal
Sierra Lee was looking to provide beautiful options for both when she opened Olivia Bowen Bridal in Downtown Melbourne in 2015.
With more than 15 years in the high-end fashion industry with companies such as Dolce & Gabana, Elle magazine and Ralph Lauren, Lee said she wanted to open a store that would bring a “city vibe back to my hometown, while offering laid back bridal fittings in a beautiful and fresh space in historic downtown.”
Lee, a young mother to three young boys, works the shop on an appointment-only basis, giving her time to care for her children and still dip her toes into the creative waters of managing a wedding dress business and all that goes with it, such as buying trips, guiding expectant brides towards fabrics and dresses that suit their whims and budgets, and working in partnership with other wedding professionals for referral business.
Inside the shop, Olivia Bowen Bridal has a distinctive vintage vibe and stocks a selection of dresses from $1,000 to $5,000 from notable (and not-easy-to- nd) designers, including Willowby by Watters, Wtoo, Watters, Made With Love, Julie Vino, Pronovias, Calla Blanche, Musat Bridal and others.
Lee carefully selects the dresses with the intention to o er brides in Melbourne and Brevard beautiful, accessible options. “Modern brides no longer have to go to Miami and Orlando to nd their dream dress or that ‘pin-worthy’ gown for their big day,” she said.
For the fashion industry, wedding dress sales are hard to calculate because sales of the gowns are usually not separated from formal and other cocktail dress sales. However, the average cost of a wedding dress across America is about $1,500, and trends are easy enough to follow, especially with the uptick of social media sites devoted specifically to weddings and brides such as e Knot (www.theknot.com) and Wedding Wire (www.weddingwire.com).
To see the Latest Trends According to Sierra Lee click here!
Sierra Lee of Olivia Bowen Bridal urges brides to consider the following when searching for a wedding dress:
Usually brides have a pretty good idea of how they want to look on their wedding day, so bring examples (pictures or wedding advertisements) ready to show. (Pinterest is an incredible source for this; www.pinterest.com.)
This is crucial, Lee says. “Don’t go into an appointment and expect to try on $4,000 gowns if your budget is $1,500. is is a bridal NO-NO. Not only is it unrealistic, but it knocks you o track during your appointment and creates unrealistic expectations.”
Olivia Bowen has sample gowns, which can be purchased o the rack, but most gowns in this shop typically take 4 to 9 months to arrive after ordered. Finding out the ordering window ahead of time might save you from heartache and disappointment.
Know “Who” to Bring to Your Dress Search
“All too often, I have seen negative people turn appointments into a downward spiral of tears and frustration,” Lee warns. She suggests appointing someone to provide a “rules of the day” pep talk if you decide to have a large party attend your fitting.
Say “Yes to the Dress” and then stop looking!
Pinterest can be a good starting point for styles…but once you say “yes to the dress” stop looking. Remember: Pinterest has a lot of good ideas, but many of the ideas are highly-stylized photo shoots and can lead brides to unrealistic expectations trying to replicate the feel and vibe.
Finally, Lee’s recommendations for bridal parties and bridesmaids:
Explore online options such as Rent the Runway (www.renttherunway.com), Show Me your MuMu (www.showmeyourmumu.com) and BHLDN (www.BHLDN.com, the wedding site for Anthropologie) are great options for brides who want something unique (and she contends bridesmaids are more likely to get on board with shelling out for fashionable, fun and wearable dresses).
Lee notes that prints are particularly fun and “nothing says beach wedding like a tropical print. ey are fun and colorful and add an element of dimension to your party and look amazing in photographs.” For the more traditional bride, “Mix and match,” where bridesmaids are (for example) given a color and style – such as Royal Blue Daytime Maxi Dress – and each buys according to their own taste and t – is another fun option.
Something New, Something Pre-Loved
Francine’s Bridal and Formal Wear
At Francine’s Bridal and Formal Wear in Indialantic, new and “previously-loved dresses” are available for purchase, most below $500.
Francine Kalish, a practicing attorney who specializes in probate and wills, opened the shop in December 2016 after her own experience shopping for wedding dresses left her dissatisfied.
She says while shopping for her own dress, the level of customer service was very disappointing.
“This is the biggest day of my life and I just felt like [some of the salespeople] could have done a much better job of helping me figure it out,” she said.
Kalish offers a selection of styles across a wide spectrum and rst sourced her pre- loved collection through online searches. “Now, though, I have more than plenty and have to turn people away who want to sell their dresses,” she said.
Kalish works with a seamstress, who she calls in when needed, and suggests brides don’t go too far out in time if they are purchasing a dress that’s ready to take home.
“Two to three months at the most, allowing a few weeks for a fitting, is fine,” she said. Waiting until this time, she explained, brides can stay up to date with changing trends, and not have to worry about excess fittings due to weight gain or weight loss.