What Makes Bridals by Madison Different?

    Starting around September of 2017, when this was all just a concept, I started getting asked, “What makes Bridals by Madison different?”. And to be frank, I was stumped. I always came up with something, “Oh our gowns are designed in the Netherlands and Europe!”, “Oh, well no where else nearby carries these gowns!”, “The brides will get to work directly with the owner!”. While these things are true, it really wasn’t what made Bridals by Madison any different. Tons of boutiques have gowns from Europe, or an exclusive line, or has the owner (or family of) there. The truth was, I had no idea what would set me apart from anyone else. I only knew who I was at other boutiques and stores. I knew every in and out of the places I had worked. I knew a lot about bridal and the wedding industry as a whole, but I had no idea of my role in it. Yet.

    Now, what makes Bridals by Madison different? You. My brides. You are what makes my boutique different. You are what sets us apart. You’re unique, but timeless. You’re whimsical. You’re romantic. You see and feel the difference in quality in the gowns. You come in and laugh, and cry, and make memories with us. You have made my boutique into far more than just another boutique that sells pretty wedding gowns. You have made it an experience. A Bridals by Madison Bride wants to be a Bridals by Madison Bride. I have had the absolute BEST experience with all of you. You’ve turned a boutique into a lifestyle. You’ve taken a moment where you feel your prettiest, your happiest, your best, your most YOU, and ran with it. No where else that I have worked, have I gotten to witness anything like this. I can now say, because of each of you, Bridals by Madison is the place to feel like the best version of you. At the end of the day, when its all said and done, what made Bridals by Madison into Bridals by Madison is each of you. You want to be a Bridals by Madison Bride, and we want that too.BBM1 (1)

 

Bigger Than Me

That pit in your stomach when you wake up. The way your heart feels like you just chugged a Venti Starbucks double shot on ice with an empty stomach. You’re out in public and someone just looks in your general direction and all of your self esteem vanishes. Nothing even happened, but then again, nothing needed to.

Hi, for those of you who don’t know me yet, my name is Madison. I am a co-owner (alongside my parents) and the manager of Bridals by Madison. I am 23, an Aries, not married (yet) hint hint Chris (jk), a lover of animals but not reptiles or insects (sorry not sorry), and of course a lover of all things bridal. However, something you probably don’t know about me is that I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and depression. You probably don’t know this, mainly because I don’t like to talk about it. Usually. It’s uncomfortable, I’ve worked really hard on my confident cover-up so I don’t have  to talk about it, it’s super personal, mental health is super stigmatized, and mainly no one cares (or at least that’s what depression tells me and anxiety backs it up, seriously, I’m sitting at my desk crying even typing this).

I’ll be real honest with you. I was never popular. I’ve never had a lot of friends. I was bullied my entire k-12 life. I was “the fat kid” in elementary school, in middle school they found something new to pick on me for when I lost my childhood fluff, then in high school I was labeled a bitch because I didn’t talk to anyone. But, the truth was I didn’t talk to anyone because the cruelty of my peers left me afraid of my own shadow. I think the turning point, when I decided I didn’t need anyonewas when I walked over to my childhood best friends house to hangout after school and even she turned me away. She had just reached the inner circle of the cool girls in her grade, and I simply did not make the cut.

While I’m super proud of how far I have come, it would be a lie to tell you I don’t think about these things on a regular basis and they have no lasting effect on me. I was in shambles for weeks before Bridals by Madison’s anniversary party. I could already see it, it was a childhood birthday party all over again. I’d be there with my cake and balloons ready to pop the champagne alone. The vendors who came to set up at the event would be angry because they wasted their time setting up for such a flop. But that didn’t happen, people came, the vendors I work with are so kind and supportive, and I am so grateful for them.

Owning a business (or at least being the one making a lot of the big decisions) is really hard for me because it wholly opens me up for scrutiny. From my business partners, from vendors, from other bridal boutiques, from the lines that I carry, from brides, from everyone. It’s especially hard with anxiety and depression because anxiety tells me “All eyes are on me, make the right move” while depression whispers in my other ear, “No one cares, remember? You are alone”.  When I go days, sometimes weeks, without a yes to the dress, it reaffirms my fears and takes me away from my store because of that “whats the point” feeling. I am a failure. This is why no one liked me growing up. I really am bad at everything. But that’s untrue, and the same goes for you.

I work really really hard. I haven’t worked less than two jobs at a time since I was 19. I hustle. I give more than I take. I care. My gowns are beautiful and special. Just like each of us. I strive for better. I’ve hustled my butt off, and continue to do so, to provide this safe space for anyone who needs it. If there is one thing I’ve learned this past year; Alone is no way to live.

Recently my mantra is “It’s bigger than me”. This whole job is. This career. This industry. This LIFE. It’s all so much bigger than me. It’s about giving others, just one second, one place, where they can feel the absolute best version of themselves. When you walk in our doors, I want you to feel welcome. At ease. At home. Please, if you need anything, reach out. If this process scares you, if you are anxious, if you are down on yourself. I am here to help. I’ve been through a lot, we all have, but that doesn’t make your insecurities, your demons any smaller than anyone else’s.

From this day on, anxiety and depression do not control me. I will not let them keep me away from my dreams. Away from you guys. Because It’s bigger than me. I am here for you. To make your bridal dreams come true. I can’t take away your anxieties and insecurities, but I can assure you that you are loved and cared for. You are somebody’s everything.

So, for those of you who didn’t know me, now you do. And for those of you who did, now you know me better. My name is Madison, I’m 23 and my mental health will not define me. I am a lover of love, animals, all things bridal, empowering women, and an advocate to erase the stigmas that do come with mental health. And, I am here to help you find the gown of your dreams whatever that may take.

If your anxiety is giving you anxiety, it’s okay. I’m a master at playing distraction, I give good hugs (while I do tend to be stingy with them), and understand random crying. If you’d like to shop with us, we’d love to have you. If you need someone to talk to, you can always come to me. When you say Yes to the Dress at Bridals by Madison, you get a very special hand picked gown and a friend for life. Please come in. Come as you are. If you wanna be a Bridals by Madison, we want that too.

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What to expect when you’re expecting…. to buy a wedding gown

YAY! You’re engaged! You and your pinterest have been dreaming of this day since… well… forever practically! And, you are ready to dive in! Here are my best tips and advice for your wedding gown shopping journey:

Don’t start until you’re ready to make that purchase:

You’re excited, and we totally get it! We’re excited for you! But if you’re planning a long engagement, and aren’t getting married for three years after he pops the question don’t run straight to your local bridal store. Here’s why: First, styles change a lot in three years. Second, you could change a lot in that time. Babies, families, sickness, a new healthier lifestyle, a lot can change in three years! Third, what happens when you do fall in love with a gown and you’re not ready to make that purchase? Chances are, by the time you come back for it, it will be long gone. What you don’t want is to fall in love and that be the gown that got away. Fourth, if it’s a smaller boutique that runs on an appointment based schedule, you’re taking that appointment potentially from a bride who needs a gown! If you’ve got a while, start really honing in on your style online with tools like the knot, Zola, and pinterest!

Don’t wait too long to come in:

On the flip side of the above verbiage, do NOT wait until the last minute to start your hunt for the gown. Gowns typically take 5-8 months to come in depending on the designer! I know, I know that seems like forever away and you’re planning on losing another 10 pounds but trust me on this one… You will want to have your gown purchased 8-10 months prior to your wedding. Then, you’ll have ample time for alterations and there wont be any last minute anxiety attacks about your gown arriving on time!

Do look through your various local bridal stores’ social media beforehand

Don’t waste you and your bridal party’s time scheduling 37 appointments in the greater metro Atlanta area without looking at their social media and selection online first. You’ll learn a lot about the store, their gowns, their vibe from their online presence. If you’re wanting an all sparkle dazzler of a gown and you book at some niche boutique that specializes in vintage all crepe/satin gowns… you, your guests, and your stylists will be locked in the world’s longest awkward-eye-contact-stare-off until you hour and a half appointment is over leaving you all feeling defeated. Okay that might be slightly dramatic, but it does get overwhelming for all involved when you have something in mind, that’s not what that store carries or specializes in, you still tried on 30 gowns and are just now exhausted and hangry quite possibly. You can make your search a lot easier, your stylists job a lot more fun, and it’ll be a lot easier for your guests to work a one-two day trek into their schedule than a month long parade around Georgia.

Do ask what forms of payment are accepted/price range of gowns before you go if budgeting could be an issue

If you’re boutique shopping, it is not uncommon to have to pay the entirety of the gown up front. Some larger chain stores do have payment plans or have actual loan programs to borrow the full or partial amount of your gown. Typically, most stores take cash (in the exact amount as most boutiques do not have cash registers because this is the least common form of payment), check (if it is a sample gown they will likely hold the gown until the check clears), or card! Don’t start shopping until you have the funds to purchase your gown. If you find a sample gown that you love, but don’t have the money to buy it that day, chances are they will not hold it for you and it will be gone by the time you get back in. If you’re a bride on  a tighter budget do ask the price range of gowns before coming in. The average amount spent on a wedding gown in the USA as reported by The Knot is $1500. If you schedule a bridal appointment at a boutique who’s price range is $3000-$15000, but have a budget of $1500 it could end up being an honestly hurtful experience. It is better to know upfront what to expect. Also, be honest about your budget while shopping! There is no shame in the game being a budget bride! Just don’t tell your consultant more than what you actually want to spend or she will pull in that full range of what you had told them.

Do be selective when choosing your “I DO CREW” 

On your journey to the perfect gown, you’ll want your most supportive people in your life there that day. I know you may want everyone you’ve ever met to see how gorgeous you are in that blush pink L’Amour gown you’ve been stalking… but there is such thing as too many opinions. Having too large a group or the wrong mix of people can make the happiest bride the most miserable bride when it turns into a squabble-fest instead of a celebration of you and your SO’s love. Same goes for your bridesmaids. Select the people who will only be there to make your day better. No ulterior motives here.

Don’t be afraid to say Yaaaaas to the dress on your very first trip (but don’t get pressured into it)

Okay so your best friend for life Becky is with you. You love Becky. We love Becky. Becky is fine. She’s awesome. Buuuuuuut…. your wedding is starting to become Becky’s wedding. And you’ve found the dress. It makes you feel the way you felt the first time your soon to be hubby or wife told you that they love you. You love the gown. But Becky went to 8 million stores to try on gowns before she bought her gown. Well that’s all well and good for Becky, but you are not Becky. You are you. Do NOT let your friends or family push you into show-ponying for them. It’s like when you found your partner; when you find the right one, you need to stop looking. Especially if you are someone who is easily overwhelmed. This should be a fun joyous experience for you. Also, don’t let your consultant push you into buying that gown if you didn’t get that feeling. Your consultant should have your best interest at heart, they should want you in whatever gown gives you THAT feeling even if it’s not one of theirs. So, if you’re a bride who tends to lean on the people pleasing side, this is the time that the only person you should be concerned about pleasing is you.

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