Friday, September 17, 2010

Copycat websites

I was scanning an article in this month's issue of Vows Magazine about knock-off websites. The article has lots of great information that I would like to share with everyone but today is a really busy day getting ready for the weddings this weekend. So for now I will just pass along some websites that are known to be knock-off sites with very poor quality merchandise.
These companies have been known for:
1. Taking money and sending no dress
2. Sending a different gown than the one pictured
3. Sending a gown with different fabric and/or beading than the one pictured.
4. Sending a different size than the one ordered

I personally know some of the designers that have ordered gowns from these websites to pursue lawsuits against them to not use the designer's pictures to make knock-offs. I know these knock-off companies do not produce quality products.

As always, don't do business with someone you don't trust.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Say Yes to the Dress

Over the past month, I have watched Say Yes to the Dress a few time. I have learned some things and I think brides can learn so much by watching other brides' experiences.
The one reoccurring theme that keeps coming up is that someone the bride brings to the appointment is trying to talk her out of the gown she really loves. It ranges from the mother, mother-in-law to be, the maid of honor, best friend, fiance, and the list continues. The show that I watched last night even had a person who works in the store looking for a gown. She is aware of the problems that others have had with bringing the wrong friend but stated that she just didn't think it would happen to her.
I think this is always what the bride thinks. My friends, mother, so on, are so close to me that they will automatically like the same thing that I like. Well, sometimes weddings are different. So here are some things to consider when deciding who to bring to the salon to try on gowns.

1. Mother- Although your mother is usually the first choice be aware of how the two of you shop together. Do you always agree on clothing styles or do you disagree. If you do not agree on everyday clothing, chances are you will also not agree on wedding attire. But if Mom is holding the purse strings, she will definitely want to be a part of the shopping experience. Just be ready for some tough decisions if you are not in agreement.

2. Newly married friend (or any friend)- Chances are that someone in your wedding party is newly married if this is your first wedding. Beware! Although they may not have been pushy or bossy in the past, somehow planning their own wedding makes them an expert on all weddings. Some ex-brides want to try to fix everything that went wrong with their own weddings or do things they were not able to do in their weddings through someone else. Other just don't want someone else to have a "better" wedding in their perspective than they had. I had kept a couple of secrets from my bridesmaid until the day of the wedding. Just before going down the aisle, one of them stated to me, "You always did have to be different and better than anyone else." Ouch! Was I shocked. Luckily, that was the worst of it.

3. Fiance- The owner at the Atlanta store, Lori, has a strict southern policy that the groom should be nowhere near the store while the bride is trying on gowns. In this modern age there are many couples that do not put much stock in the old superstitions but just remember that if you are having a difficult time trying to make a decision, maybe it is because he is there. Are you still thinking that it is bad luck for the groom to see the bride in the gown before the day of the wedding? Also are you thinking about the wow factor when he sees you coming down the aisle? Maybe it really does make a difference to you.

So just remember that you do not need multiple people helping you to decide on the gown of your dreams. Be very selective on who to invite to the salon. I have worked with brides who come in alone or with just one other person. Sometimes they will want someone else to see the gown before making the final decision which is also okay. I have also worked with much larger groups that have been really great. The key is finding the right combination for you.

My final advice:

A. As always, don't give your money to someone you don't trust. If you are not happy with the salon, find another one.

B. Don't be pressured into buying something by someone. This includes someone from the salon or your friend, mother or fiance.

C. If you don't find the gown of your dreams on the first visit, that is okay. If at anytime during the appointment, you are uncomfortable, ask to end this appointment and make a new one. I would much rather have a second chance with a bride than to have buyers remorse later. If the problem is someone who came with you, don't ask them along the next time. If the problem is the consultant, ask for a new one the next time. If the problem is the salon, go to a different one.

D. And the final thing to remember is that, it is YOUR day. Well,the groom can share a little bit, but even most grooms feel that the day is for the bride. Don't be afraid to stand up for what you want in a gown. (This also applies to the bridesmaid gowns. They are a part of YOUR day. They should be willing to sacrifice for what you want.)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tuxedo Rentals

Tuxedo rentals are one of the trickiest parts of a wedding for most wedding professionals. There are many late Friday afternoons and early Saturday mornings that someone enters the shop with a problem on a tuxedo rental. Many of these problems come from other stores who will not fix the problem they created. If you do not want this last minute headache, then read this post to avoid this much unwanted situation.

1. When to order tuxedos?
First of all, you need to understand that when a tux is ordered, has nothing to do with when it will be shipped to the store. Tuxedo suppliers like Jim's Formalwear, need to rent these suits almost every weekend to have cash flow to keep the inventory fresh and updated. So they will not be sending a tuxedo to someone who does not need it for 2 or 3 weeks. Here is a sample scenario:
A. Store measures customer and places order with supplier.
B. The Monday of the event (yes, only 5 days prior to the wear date), the supplier will start
putting the pieces together of your order.
C. Tuesday, the supplier will box orders to ship. Some will use UPS while others have their
own delivery van service. In certain cases, UPS will pick up the same day but
sometimes it will be Wednesday.
D. Wednesday, the order goes out for delivery. If the company uses it own van service, the
store will receive it the same day. If UPS is used, the delivery could be 1 to 2 days.
E. Late Wednesday or Thursday, the delivery arrives at the store. The wedding
professional will check the delivery to ensure proper delivery, then call the customer to
let them know the order has arrived.
F. Depending upon the guidelines of the store, the customer can pick up the tuxedo
between Wednesday and Friday. I will explain more about this later.

2. So why do you need to order a tux 6 weeks in advance of the wedding?
With technology today, all tuxedo suppliers are run on computer systems. The computer keeps track of all the orders and will let the supplier know when a certain style or accessory is booked for a given wear date. So if the style of coat or vest that you would like to have for your special day is really popular, it will book up fast. This is especially true during prom season. So the sooner the order is placed with the supplier, the sooner your styles and sizes are placed on hold for your special occasion.
I often tell people that I can have a tuxedo in 2 to 3 days but it may not be your first choice of color or size. Therefore, I recommend having your measurements taken and the order placed at least 6 weeks before any special occasion. If you don't have that much time, just remember to be flexibly with the styles you are considering. You may need to have a second choice in mind, just in case your first choice is booked.

3. How do I know if the tuxedo that comes to the store will fit me?
This is a matter of trusting the individual taking your measurements. Tuxedo measurements will NOT be the same as most regular clothing. If you are a business professional and wear suits on a regular basis, the measurement should be very similar. But they will not be the same size as your Levi's. Just to give you an example: My son wears a 38 waist jeans but for prom I ordered him a 41 waist pair of pants and they fit perfectly. The waist is the hardest part to fit.
So when considering which shop to place your order, ask some questions. Find out who takes the measurements and how long they have been working there. Learning the tricks to measuring for a tuxedo takes some time. If you feel the measurement are not correct, have them checked by a manager at a later time.
Also ask about the store policy with items that do not fit. What happens if you pick up your tuxedo on Friday afternoon and the pants are too long, the shirt too tight and the shoes do not fit? What will the company do? This is very important. Some store will just tell you that nothing can be done. Others will go out of their way to make things right. This is important to know before the pick up date.

So here are some things that I do at my store to make renting a tuxedo as painless as possible.
A. I have 14 years of experience measuring for tuxes. Almost 90% of my customers are measured by me personally. This adds up to over 5500 measurements. If you are not measured by me, I check all orders and personally place them with the supplier. So if something does not look right, I will call the customer to ask them questions or have them return to the store to be measured again.
B. If tuxedos are delivered to me early, I get them to the customer early. I do not want to wait to know until Friday afternoon that something doesn't fit. Many stores have a strict policy of not notifying customers until Friday for pick-ups.
C. If there is a problem, I can make adjustment until the close of business on Friday. Actually, I can go even later if I am notified at home. My supplier is only 45 minutes from the store. So I can leave home about 7 am on Saturday morning, pick up any replacements needed and return to the shop by opening time at 9 am. This is not an option some stores have who do business with a supplier that is several hours from their store. They must place replacement orders by Friday afternoon for Saturday UPS delivery and pay a hefty UPS fee. Some stores simply will not do this for customers.

And finally, here are the two biggest things to remember about planning a special occasion:

NEVER do business with someone you do not like or trust. There are plenty of great wedding professionals out there who will treasure your business and treat you right.

And, NOTHING can be done to fix the problem on Monday after the fact. If you do not let someone know about the problem, they cannot fix it. If the business is not willing to fix the problem, refer back to number 1 and let all your friends know who not to do business with. BUT if you did not ask to have the problem fixed, do not blame the wedding professional.

Although planning a special occasion can and will be very stressful, find friends, family and business professionals to make your dreams come true as painlessly as possible. Happy Planning!!