An Interview with Marilyn Peters, owner of Simply Elegant Bridal Boutique
● By Kimberly Boney
An Elegant Dream
By Kimberly Bonéy
What did you do before owning the shop?
My background is in nursing. For the last 10 years I was the regional director for a large non-profit helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The boutique has been open since April 2014.
What inspired you to open the shop?
It was a passion of mine growing up, but I had put it in the back of my mind and forgotten about it. A friend that I had grown up with reminded me of the dream I had as a girl. Working in bridal goes back to who I am as a person. I had the opportunity to work in obstetrics when I was a nurse and loved that it allowed me to nurture people. Working in bridal gives me the same feeling. I absolutely love helping brides find that perfect dress. It’s such an important time in a bride’s life and I like being able to be a part of that.
What types of products and services do you offer?
We have more than 400 bridal gowns, bridesmaids’ dresses, mother and grandmother dresses and tuxedo rentals, in addition to bridal accessories, veils and jewelry. We also carry other formal wear, including prom dresses. I try to carry sample sizes 4 to 32.4.
We’ve heard that bridal gowns in bold colors are trending this year. Have you had any of those requests from brides at Simply Elegant?
It typically takes a little longer for the trends to hit this area, so we haven’t seen the true pops of color or texture here just yet. We have a few dresses that have a bluish tone and we’ve had some brides interested in them, but mostly, they’re coming in for off-white, blush and sand colored dresses. Champagne colored dresses with ivory lace overlay are still very popular because it makes for a softer, more romantic look.
What is trending at your shop as far as bridesmaids’ dresses are concerned?
We see a lot of monochromatic tones as well as mixes of several colors within a chosen color palate. Some brides are giving their bridesmaids the option to choose from a few designs. It gives the bridesmaids a chance to find something that works well for their body type.
What about for the mother of the bride or groom?
I find that a lot of times the moms tend to dress down a bit. They are afraid to go too bold. I always say to them, “You’re the mom! Don’t be afraid to dress up a bit, because you are part of this.”
What are the most popular looks for grooms and groomsmen?
There are lots of options – from a classic tuxedo to a suit to a vest and tie with jeans and cowboy boots. The colors vary based on the time of year. A tan suit works well for the summertime, but navy is good for any season. The groom may have a different color tie and vest that sets him apart from the groomsmen. Their vests and ties will coordinate with the bridesmaids.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in trying to provide service to a client?
The biggest challenge is making sure I have a range of dress sizes that will work for everybody. It breaks my heart to think of a bride coming in, falling in love with a dress and not being able to try it on because I don’t have her size. All brick and mortar bridal shops have this challenge. A big part of what we do every day is making sure we serve as an advocate for the bride. We are always Team Bride. We don’t allow any body shaming of any kind – even from the bride herself.
Tell us about your most joyful experience assisting a client?
It’s still very raw to me. We lost our home in the Carr Fire and had to close our doors
that Friday. On Saturday, I had to go to work... I had another bride who had lost her dress in the fire. She needed a receipt for insurance purposes. The designer from the warehouse in Europe heard about what happened and physically delivered the replacement and gave it to the bride.
What’s the wildest request you’ve at the shop?
We sometimes have brides that need a dress within a couple of days. We’ve been able to help because we carry about 300 dresses that we don’t have to order.
What are some of the biggest challenges a bride faces in trying to select her gown?
Shopping online for a bridal gown is a huge risk for a bride. There are so many counterfeiters out there. They will pull images from a designer’s website and claim they will customize a dress that looks like it for $300 – a fraction of the cost of the real deal. What they order and what they receive are often two very different things. They are getting plastic beads instead of glass ones and glued-on appliques instead of sewn-on ones. I’ve had brides say they ordered a dress that they have never received. I try to educate them without making them feel pressured.
Ordering online also doesn’t give the brides a chance to enjoy that moment with their family and friends. We encourage them to try on dresses in every style. More than 90 percent of the time, we hear brides say, “I didn’t expect to buy this style!” There’s a particular feeling a bride gets when she puts on the right dress. That isn’t a process that can happen with online shopping.
Brides don’t often realize the time frame it takes to buy a dress. The process can take four to six months. In cases when they don’t have that amount of time, they can choose something off the rack, but it’s best to begin the search for your dress eight to 12 months in advance.
Why is it so important for a bride to be particularly aware of her budget when trying on a dress?
We are always very respectful when it comes to a bride’s budget because if you try on a dress outside of your budget and you can’t afford it, you’ll spend a lifetime comparing every dress to that one. That can bring on the sad tears. I’ll cry happy tears with you all day long, but please don’t make me cry sad tears with you!
What is the best advice you can offer to brides as they are trying to say yes to their perfect dress?
Always keep in mind that it’s your dress and your day. There are a lot of influences from friends and family, but you have to love your gown. You have to value yourself enough to invest in what’s important. There are two things you shouldn’t skimp on: your dress and your photographer. You can’t go back and get a better dress and you can’t go back and get a better photographer. This is your chance. Put on a dress that makes you feel beautiful. You’ll look at these pictures for the rest of your life. Yes, it’s one day, but it’s your wedding day. •
Simply Elegant Bridal Boutique
1746 Churn Creek Road, Redding • (530) 319-3399