Whilst sat slurping my Pret green juice last Monday evening at Kings Cross station, I came upon an interesting piece in a trade magazine written by the owner of a popular bridal boutique about how she will be introducing a fee to brides who wish to book an appointment at her store. I also read this piece by Emma Meek of Miss Bush Bridal in Surrey with interest recently. The feature talks openly about how owner Emma will be introducing fees for Saturday** bookings, and why.
When I was planning my wedding the thought of having to pay for an appointment to try on some wedding dresses would have seemed a complete extravagance. Why on earth would I have been happy to pay simply try on some dresses? Surely that potential business transaction is the role of the shop owner to woo me over, not for me to have to pay for?
I see things very differently now. Bridal boutique owners are trying to run legitimate businesses. They have business costs, overheads and exhibiting fees, and staff salaries to pay. Just like the rest of us they are trying to survive in a competitive world, and just like the rest of us, they want to offer the best possible service they can.
When Emma lays out her reasons for introducing a fee here, it makes complete sense to me. Imagine dedicating over an hour of precious business time, shutting off part if not all of the shop to other potential customers to dedicate an hour purely to one customer. Sharing hard earned expertise and knowledge with that client, and allowing expensive sample dresses to be tried on with a free glass of bubbly. All things, I hasten to add, provided willingly and lovingly – only for that client to turn out to have absolutely no intention of making a purchase? If you were that boutique owner you’d be wanting to look at how to help reduce this pointless waste of time and activity and replace it with a more positive, purposeful experience for a bride with a genuine intention to commit to a purchase, right? A win-win for all concerned.
It’s my understanding that in pretty much all cases, if a bride goes on to buy a dress from the boutique where she paid for an appointment, that appointment fee is deducted from her final overall bill. I consider this more than fair. Having read the trade magazine feature, in all honesty, I’m only left asking why bridal boutique owners haven’t done this sooner?
I’m keen to know what you think. As a bride to be or industry professional or simply a casual observer – is charging for bridal boutique appointments fair and appropriate? Brides – are you willing to pay a fee for an upcoming appointment? Boutique owners – are you happy to introduce a fee and how much will you be charging? Do you have any reservations or do you consider this a pretty fair way of ensuring that appointments are managed more effectively, meaning that brides with a genuine potential to commit to buying a gown have less time hanging around on the appointment waiting list.
Both boutique owners who inspired this piece run highly successful wedding boutiques using business models that many others look to emulate. If these two industry leaders are set on introducing wedding dress appointment fees, there’s one thing for sure – there will be plenty of others looking to follow suit. Many London based boutiques in fact already do.
** Editors note: in my original piece, it wasn’t clear that Miss Bush Bridal is introducing fees for Saturday only, that will be fully redeemable against the cost of the dress. I offer my full apology to Emma Meek and her team at Miss Bush Bridal for this oversight. I have also by request removed the public access link to the trade magazine article that inspired this feature. I have the greatest admiration for boutique owners who manage to run very successful businesses, maintaining excellent and hard earned reputations in customer service. Miss Bush Bridal have my full support and understanding in deciding to charge for Saturday appointments. Thanks so much to all of you who have commented so far.