Dress storage is an issue that came to the fore with so many weddings postponed or delayed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Is space something you can offer up and even make money from or is your boutique space limited? We have seen all kinds of systems and rails in the many boutiques we have visited, so we thought we would ask our boutique hub friends to offer up their bridal storage solutions…
Q : What's the average amount of time you hold dresses for?
Laura Daly, Bellissima Weddings: “It depends on when the dress has been ordered and when the bride needs it. I distrust sitting on orders or deferring delivery - I like to have all my ducks lined up, so as soon as a bride places an order with us we order it - and the delivery time will depend wildly on the designer. Whenever the dress is delivered, we call our bride and ask her to come to check it over and then choose to either store the dress with us at a monthly charge or to take it home and return it for her alterations.
Rob Pearce, Creatiques: “The average is four weeks but if it is longer there is a charge because the gowns go in to storage after that.”
Amy Mann, Dress Me Pretty: “We have limited storage, and our brides are always happy to see their dress as soon as it arrives with us. The anticipation and excitement are often too much for them to wait!
Q : Does this come at a cost to the bride?
LD: “If we store it, yes. Once the balance has been paid on a dress, the ownership passes to our customer and therefore to store and insure it costs us more, so it makes good business sense to charge for this service.”
RP: “Yes, it’s £35”
Q : Do you have off-site storage or do you have the space in-house?
LD: “Oh gosh no - we store everything in our air-conditioned, beautiful storage area upstairs.”
RP: “We use a facility off site when we have a number of gowns that we have now space for.”
Q : Do you have many brides who take their dresses to store at home/themselves?
LD: “A few yes, but the vast majority (around 95%) choose to pay us to keep it safe for them.”
RP: “70% of our brides will take their gowns when they arrive, but we also work with our in-house seamstress who then will see the bride as the gown arrives.”
AM: “Our brides usually book their collection appointment within two weeks and take their dress with them at this appointment. Most brides prefer to take it home (or often to their mums or a family member’s house). They then take their dress to the seamstress for their first alteration appointment, usually around six to eight weeks before their big day.”
Q : Do you have a special storage system?
LD: “Yes, we do! Once a dress arrives at the boutique we press and check it, change all the bags that it came in and store it in our acid-free bags until the bride comes in for her pre-fit. Once the pre-fit has happened if our bride has paid for us to keep her dress, it goes back upstairs for another press and check and any marks or makeup that may have found their way onto the dress at the pre-fit are removed. The dress is then hung in alphabetical order on our specially designed rails in a pristine bag and logged back into our system; it will be checked each month or so to ensure that it's still in perfect condition and will stay there until the fittings start.”
RP: “We use a local cleaning company that packs each gown with tissue; these are then given back to the bride to take home until we are ready for all fittings.”
AM: “The seamstress offers storage and charges a minimal fee for this. She also offers, packing, boxing and cleaning.”
Q : Do you rely on the bags from the manufacturers, or do you have your own bags?
LD: “We have our own bags but always pass on the manufacturer's bag as well – I consider this to be part of the bride's designer purchase. With Morilee we have a partnership whereby our bags are co-branded to say ‘Mori Lee at Bellissima Weddings’.”
RP: “We use our own branded bags.”
AM: “All our brides’ dresses go out in a specialist bridal bag. Some designers provide these or they come in a branded ‘Pretty Bride’ dress bag.”
Q : Do you offer packing and or boxing for brides marrying abroad?
LD: “We do - and again there is a charge for this, but it includes a video with the person who packed the dress explaining how they are packing the dress, what’s in the box and also a full front and back film of the dress so that our bride can be sure that her gown is in pristine condition. We only pack our own bespoke travel boxes.”
RP: “Absolutely! Our brides love walking through the airport with our branded box! Rob lovingly packs each gown in tissue!”
Q : Anything else you can think of that we haven’t?
LD: “We like to think that at any stage of our operation, a bride could request to visit her dress and we would be proud to show it to her, whether it was being pressed, altered or stored.”
RB: “We steam every gown prior to the wedding – we do charge for this service because it takes time to press each dress to perfection.”
Thank you so much to Amy, Laura and Rob for your help with this feature. If you have any questions you’d like to ask in our Boutique Hub panel or would like to contribute towards its content, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org We would love to hear from you!