For many of you who follow me on Instagram you will know the topic of charging for appointments came up in Winter 2021 and like many Bridal Shops, in January 2022 we made the decision to start charging for appointments.
It's probably one of our most asked questions re why we charge so I thought a little blog post might help our Brides understand in this ever changing climate why we decided to start adding a fee.
I think a common misconception is that Bridal shops operate in the same way a retailer would and it seems unreasonable for a boutique to charge for Brides 'just to look at dresses'. The reality of this is actually very different. Bellamme Bridal is an appointment only boutique and what that means is when you book your appointment you get the whole boutique to yourself and your bridal party. This means the moment you enter the store unlike some bridal stores or the big outlets we lock to door and the space and dresses are yours for a whole 90 minutes. Plus a dedicated Bridal stylist to help and support you throughout the time with us.
After a full intro into how we operate all appointment guests will be offered a refreshment and if you book a signature appointment fizz & treats also. Then you will be welcomed to look through the rails of dresses and throughout the appointment we will also support with suggestions of gowns based on your feedback plus styling advice on that particular outfit whether that be a veil or a statement earring.
We will really spend the time to understand you as a person and your wedding & venue and also throw in a wildcard or two. There isn't the chance that you will be interrupted by someone else or have to share the space with another customer.
We also have exclusivity in the area of our designers, designers that we hand pick and that are of the top quality and that is something we really value which means we can give you expert knowledge into our preferred suppliers. As part of giving you this experience we have to replace and refresh the gowns several times through the year and this service is one that is obviously a cost to us. Along with the increases in bills, extra cleaning, storage & caring for the boutique. Whilst we completely respect as a business this is a running cost - we can all see the effects that rising costs are having on our high streets and if we want lovely independent shops and personal experiences we need to support these. Plus we have found more and more no shows, people coming for a day out, customers with no wedding dates booked or just wanting the experience without any real intent in buying. We just couldn't run a viable business this way.
£10 in the grand scheme of things is around two starbucks coffees something which we wouldn't think twice of spending. And for your £10 you will have a fab online platform to book your appointmnet (no phoning back and forth) you will be greeted with a warm welcome, supported throughout your wedding journey and offered beautiful, stunning gowns to try. If we don't have the right thing for you, you will also get some styling advice or recommendations to take away with you.
In saying that probably one of the most important aspects to look at when appointment shopping is researching a little beforehand. Pinterest & Instagram are really good port of calls, which designer styles do you like, what type of wedding am I having, do the dresses I am looking for suit the type of wedding, what is my realistic budget, do these designers fall into that. Then looking at which stores stock which type of designers. At Bellamme we stock beautiful designers that are a bit more modern & unique to some other Bridal shops in the area and we are constantly updating our gowns on our website & social pages to give customers an idea of our style and aesthetic. We completely get that the dress experience is exciting but most of the time Bride that have ended up booking just every boutique in the area become a bit confused and sometimes fed up.So getting a bit of a vibe beforehand of what each boutique is about is a good idea. Looking at someone real bride photos also helps and if in doubt we are always open to any questions.
I thought I would finish by answering some of the common questions we get re appointment charging.
1) How come you don't refund the £10 when we arrive?
So actually most people don't realise that there's a charge every time we take a payment and to top it off there's another charge to refund the fee. So essentially this would actually cost us to do this and we feel there should be a value placed on the time given.
2) Can you not use a deposit system?
Similar to above there's a monthly fee associated with these types of payment systems but also lots of complexity around GDPR.
3) What if I want to go away and have a think - do I need to pay again?
No we offer a 1 hour follow up appointment and this is free of charge. We pride ourselves on our non pushy approach.
4) Other Bridal shops only charge for Saturdays and free mid week?
We decided that if the above reasons were genuinely why we are charging and in reality they are then it wouldn't make sense to only charge for certain days of the weeks and we wanted to be fair to those that perhaps can only come on a weekend and not penalise.
I hope this post gives a little insight into why we and other boutiques may charge for appointments. Whilst we absolutely love what we do and becoming a part of our customers journey is absolutely everything to us - we are a business and the enjoyment alone doesn't pay the bills. In exchange we promise you a fabulous experience and much more than just selecting a dress off the rails and hey! our reviews speak for themselves
To book just head to our online appointments page and pick which package best suits you.