This interview is published on Wedding Ideas Magazine
I interviewed Jessica Letheren at ‘Allison Jayne’ bridal boutique in Clifton, Bristol. Besides running ‘Allison Jayne’, Jessica is studying business in Swansea.
Allison Jayne is my family business, which was started forty years ago in Swansea. We are all from Swansea. Twenty years later they opened another shop in Cardiff. Then we opened on the triangle eighteen months ago.
What are the best bits of being in this business?
The selling is the best bit without a doubt. In this business you are always dealing with happy brides. Developing the customer’s trust is also hugely rewarding.
What are the hardest bits?
What is hard is having to chase things up under time pressure. Some clients only come in a few weeks before the wedding and leave things until the last minute. So dealing with close deadlines is stressful. It is a lot of responsibility.
On average people try on about ten dresses, although for some people it can be the first one or go up a lot higher. The most someone has tried on is 25! Occasionally people try this number on over a period of a few visits.
Do most people have a clear idea of what they want when they come in?
About 80% of customers come in thinking they know what they want or have a clear idea of what they are looking for. Though they often change their minds – I get really into the process and show them many other dress types, which they would never have considered otherwise.
Do many people want to make modifications?
Most people only want to change or add small details to their chosen dress, such as sparkles, a zip instead of lace.
Which style of dress is most popular at the moment?
At the moment the most popular styles include lace, fishtails, high necks, some sleeves – but high necks are more popular after Kate Middleton’s dress. Her dress was an absolute classic, she looked really lovely.
The most popular colour is diamond white. It is an off-set of white because white itself is too stark. Other colours are ivory, champagne. Ian Stuart does lots of different colours.
Tips about choosing and wearing a veil?
I love veils, they are very romantic. Long veils are fashionable. Other options are bird cages with netting worn to one side. Popular accessories apart from the veil are of course shoes. Also, side pieces rather than full tiaras are popular. You can wear them with the veil but they are also a nice detail to still be wearing after you have taken the veil off.
Who is your favourite wedding dress designer?
My favourite dress designer is Ian Stuart, I always like something that is a little bit different. Though my favourite does often change.
Are most people buying or hiring dresses at the moment?
Most people are buying dresses rather than hiring. They want to feel it is theirs, and it is such a special day that only happens once so people want to have the dress to keep.
Do men come in and help choose dresses?
We have had some men coming in, who are mostly the dad of the bride-to-be, though you occasionally get the odd fiancé also coming in. Fiancés want to be involved and the bride-to-be wants to know that they like the dress! More often though it will be the mums, sisters and daughters that come in to help.
What are people most worried about?
When people come in, they are normally most worried about the fit of the dress. We say trust – you have got to trust the person fitting you.
If people are dieting before their wedding, when should they aim to buy their dress?
If people are dieting before the wedding, we still say to get the dress at the size they currently are as it is easy to take the dress in later rather than the other way round – it is always harder trying to make something bigger. This helps to take the pressure off with dieting plans. We always say, that if you love the dress now you will love it even more later! People tend to lose weight naturally during the few weeks prior to the wedding due to the stress!
Alison Jayne puts on designer days. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
We have several fun designer days. They held in the shop and we set up catwalks so people can see the dresses from a close range. We are waiting for a date for the next show in Bristol, though there are more in Swansea.
Do you advertise in wedding magazines? Do you find they help your business?
When we have advertised or featured in magazines, we do find it helps our business. It attracts different customers and reaches a wider audience. We are not currently on Facebook as we like to be traditional, though we haven’t ruled it out.
Do you get many thank you or people sending photos of the day and letting you know how it has gone?
We do have couples sending in photos from their day. It’s very nice. It is always good to see the groom after hearing so much about him! Seeing the bride and groom together is great.