A Day with Ivory & Beau: Savannah's Full-Service Bridal Boutique
Nicole Mason is a Savannah-transplant and the owner and visionary behind Ivory and Beau, the only full-service wedding boutique in the Coastal Empire. Nicole fell in love with wedding planning after attending a cousin’s wedding, but she found it hard to gain the experience she desired after moving to Savannah in 2011. She landed a position at David’s Bridal, and her passion for helping brides find their dream wedding attire grew from there.
Starting Your Dress Search
In starting the search for a bridal gown, Nicole and her team had three tips:
Have a budget in mind.
Have an idea of the style you like.
Arrive with an open mind.
Styles of Dresses
“It’s easy to fall in love with a dress you see on Google or Pinterest, but if that particular designer isn’t within your budget, keep an open mind about trying on some similar dresses by a different designer,” says Nicole. “One of my favorite designers that we carry here at Ivory & Beau is Willoughby; however, Maggie Sottero is another great designer that we sell a lot of.” While there are some general rules of thumb about body types and dress styles, Maggie’s line of bridal gowns is made for all body types. They come in a large range of styles and affordable prices, from ballgown to A-line to Mermaid and beyond. Remember, a dress on the hanger looks quite different than it does on the body. Be open to trying on a couple dresses that your eye might not notice initially.
Determining Your Budget
While there is a good selection of wonderful wedding gowns around $1,500, raising the price point to $2,000 or $2,500 will certainly give you a wider selection that is less limited. Prices of dresses also differ depending on the location of the store or the location of the manufacturer. A larger city like Atlanta or certainly NYC will have a wider selection of more customized boutiques, but with that variety come higher price tags. Additionally, while some US designers are thought to have shorter shipping times, the costs of materials and labor are much higher in the United States; therefore, gowns made in the US often run $3,000 - $5,000.
Tips to Save
One of the best ways to save on a gown is to be open about buying off the rack. “Sample sales are great for anyone size 6 or up because stores typically carry larger sizes in sample dresses,” Nicole explains.
If you can find a dress at a Sample Sale that is close to your actual street size, you can save hundreds in alterations. Ask about additional discounts and bundles. Some boutiques offer bundle deals for the dress, veil, and accessories, so purchasing everything under the same roof can also keep you in budget.
Orders in Que: When to Purchase
Ideally, 8 to 9 months out is the best time to purchase a wedding gown. This ensures that there is no rush during the process. Wedding dresses are often put into a que that could be three or four months long, so once a dress is ordered that does not mean the manufacturer starts on it right away. It could be twelve weeks later when they get to that dress design and then they will cut all those patterns at the same time. That being said, “there is a selection of dresses we can get within four to six weeks because some designers and styles are very popular, so they keep a certain number of them in stock,” says Amy, a stylist at Ivory & Beau. “We will often pull some of these ahead of time if we know our appointment that day is on a shorter timeline to purchase.”
A Flawless Appointment
Taking your prized entourage to watch you try on wedding gowns is indeed a celebratory moment! Whichever stores and boutiques you decide to visit feels the same way, and the staff wants to provide you with the best of service during your time there. We polled the team at Ivory & Beau to get their tips on how to ensure a flawless appointment for you and your loved ones.
Arrive at your scheduled appointment time. If you are early, the appointment(s) before you may still be finishing up and the store could be crowded. If you arrive late, your appointment time may be cut shorter due to other appointments after you. If you are running behind, call ahead to update your consultant.
Be honest about your budget. Your consultant desires to find the dress you have in mind, but being dishonest about the budget can cause him or her to pull gowns that are out of reach and they certainly do not want a bride leaving upset by something that could have been avoided.
Be courteous and understanding. Like any established business, rules are in place for a reason. If a boutique only allows so many guests to come along with you, please understand that this number ensures you get the best care and the most attention during your scheduled appointment time. During the busiest of times, such as Saturdays, they may have to require only a certain number of guests on the showroom floor also which ensures the proper care of their gowns.
For any brides currently effected by COVID-19, many boutiques are open for virtual appointments, and it is a great alternative if you are not able to travel to try dresses on. With a virtual appointment, you will submit your wedding date, budget, size, style and top 10 dresses from Ivory & Beau’s Pinterest page ahead of time. The staff will pull three dresses at a time for you to see on mannequins. If you wish to see the dress, on a model, you can choose to do that as well. You can also borrow three dresses at a time for a four-day period to try them on in person. They ship directly to you, and upon return, you could borrow more. It is a great way to still try on your favorite dresses while hosting a viewing event for your bridal party!
Whether you are local to Savannah or getting married here or both, think about shopping small businesses. Local shops like Ivory & Beau will take care wonderful care of you, and you will be happy supporting a small business. Stop by their corner store at 2111 Price Street in Savannah, visit their website at www.ivoryandbeau.com, or give them a call (912) 200-4794.
Tell them Rustic to Ritz sent you!