If you got engaged over the Christmas period or if 2020 is the year you’re planning on tying the knot, you’re probably thinking about those important wedding purchases right now. For many brides, their dress is the most important aspect of the day (after the vows, obviously) and they can spend a considerable length of time searching for the perfect gown. Although it’s incredibly exciting, it can also be quite a stressful time for some. Finding a dress to complement your body type and trying on countless gowns in the presence of strangers can seem quite daunting. Many bridal shops have a somewhat formal and unfriendly atmosphere too, which doesn’t help the anxious bride who is about to spend vast amounts of money on something she will only wear once.
Mandy Abramson owns Cinderella’s in Skipton and offers a more relaxed service for brides searching for their dream dress and bridal accessories. Friendly, helpful and an absolute whizz on the sewing machine, Mandy goes above and beyond to make her customers feel at ease and ensures their chosen dress is as perfect as it possibly can be.
We spoke to Mandy to find out more about her business in Skipton…
Mandy, what led you to open Cinderella’s?
I started out as an alteration / made-to-measure business called Stitches (in Silsden) in March 1999 and I was asked constantly for wedding and bridesmaid dresses, so I pretty much went with the flow!
How long have you been trading in Skipton?
I moved to Skipton in September 2000 and realising I would be buying gowns to sell rather than making them in the future, I changed the business name to Cinderella’s at the same time.
You have a second business, could you tell us more about this?
I offer an alteration service, specialising in ladies formal wear from wedding and bridesmaid gowns to prom dress alterations.
Trying on wedding dresses can be really nerve-wracking for some brides. What do you do to make this a relaxed experience?
I am very mumsy which tends to make brides feel more comfortable. I also dress like the average customer as I find it off-putting being met by someone dressed to kill in designer wear. I am happy to chat over numerous visits if a girl doesn’t feel ready to try on yet, though most try dresses on during their first visit. Plus I am prolific on facebook, answering questions and comments as well as filming myself both talking about dresses and occasionally appearing in front of the camera just to say hello. Most girls come in to the shop feeling like they already know me, and I like that.
How long before the wedding date should a Bride To Be order her dress?
Realistically 7 months allows us to order the dress, allows for a couple of weeks delay (generally not needed, but the volcano erupting a few years ago caused delivery chaos!!) and alterations.
What bridal accessories do you stock?
I stock tiaras and hair accessories, veils in all lengths, bridal belts and of course, flower girl dresses.
Lace and vintage style dresses have been popular recently. What do you think will be the next big bridal trend?
Lace is still popular but the latest trend is for shimmering fabrics and lots of sparkle. Hollywood glamour is really starting to come back into fashion and plain satin gowns are becoming very popular again. Big skirts and showstoppers are very on trend at the moment. Buying off the peg gowns is definitely losing popularity and there’s an obvious shift back towards ordering a more exclusive design.
You’ve been trading in Skipton for many years so have no doubt seen many new openings come and go. What would you say are the biggest challenges faced by independent shop owners in Skipton?
Definitely high shop rents and rates. Also, internet shopping makes it really hard for a lot of shops to compete.
In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in brides ordering their wedding dresses from China due to the ridiculously low prices. What advice would you give to someone considering this?
Very few brides order their wedding gowns from China now. Thankfully, that died out about 3 years ago. The phrase ‘you get what you pay’ for is simply that and with lots of girls having disasters it’s made people more cautious. It was killed off mostly by the outlet stores, where if you want to go and buy a cheap mass-produced dress you can go try those on.
Second-hand gowns and shop sample sales purchases are more common from brides on a tight budget now. Adult bridesmaids are still mainly bought online though. Just don’t forget that if you want a brand new dress, you need to order one in. Outlet stores are just the same as buying an ex-sample from a boutique – it’s likely to have been tried on multiple times. Don’t forget to look for dirt and damage and factor that into your alteration budget.
Shop around for alteration quotes as some of them are ludicrously high! Most importantly, DON’T pay for anything in full to do with the wedding unless you are taking it home with you that day. Be especially wary of “pay in full now and I will give you a discount” deals as they are more common from businesses in financial difficulties – you don’t want to lose lots of money if they go bust!
Most of us will only wear our wedding dress once. What’s the best way to store a wedding dress?
Have it cleaned as soon after the wedding as possible, then store in acid free tissue paper, or in a vacuum bag away from daylight.
If you would like to view Mandy’s extensive bridal gown collection, you can do so by popping into her shop on Chapel Hill. Mandy offers a walk-in service so there’s no need to book an appointment or phone in advance. You can also view available dresses on her website – dreamdress.co.uk
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