By Sharon Townsend, Owner of Tiffanys Bridal & The Groom’s Corner

Most people don’t frequent bridal salons, so odds are you will walk into your first bridal appointment with little to no experience. However, you will be choosing the most important garment you will ever wear, and you don’t want to make rookie mistakes! Therefore, it might seem like a good idea to bring your mother, sister, mother-in-law and seven bridesmaids to your appointment to help you.

sharon townsend tiffanys bridal grooms corner eliminate entourage dress dopping richmond wedding
Nicole Adele Photography

And, unfortunately, this is your first mistake.

Next thing you know, you are 30 minutes into your hour and a half appointment, and you are looking at a stack of gowns you don’t even like, pulled by your seven bridesmaids, who got overzealous while you were trying on your first gown. They know these gowns are not you, but they just want to “see them on.” And now two of them are making weird faces and shaking their heads to your first pick.

To get the most out of your appointment at any bridal salon (and possibly save yourself the time of having to make a second appointment) eliminate the entourage and invite as few guests as possible. Newly engaged brides often get excited to share wedding-related moments with all of their friends and family. Keep in mind that you will have other opportunities to celebrate with them, and those events won’t involve them offering unwanted opinions about the gown you really love.

It’s about quality, not quantity. Bring your closest friend and/or family member. You may love your best friend, but something about the way she eyed your favorite new sweater made you think twice about inviting her. Go with your instincts. No rule states that the maid of honor must be present, especially if she’s very vocal and opinionated.

Simply tell her you want to make this a special moment between you and your mom, but you’ll definitely need her there when you start your search for bridesmaid dresses.

sharon townsend tiffanys bridal grooms corner eliminate entourage dress dopping richmond wedding
Aniko Levai Photography

Still feeling obligated to bring a potential trouble-maker with you? Perhaps your sister thinks all wedding gowns look like frosted cupcakes, but your mom insists she tags along. Give her a job! By keeping her busy taking pictures or making a list of your favorites, she’ll have less time to contribute her special brand of negativity.

No matter who you end up bringing, remind them (and yourself) that you want to find a gown that makes you happy and compliments your own unique style. They may be asked to contribute their thoughts when you are unsure. However, they shouldn’t offer unsolicited advice based on what they want or what they think you should wear.

Don’t feel like you can say it? Your consultant will act as your ally. She can remind them directly, or she can subtly steer the conversation in your favor, asking them to talk about the best feature of your favorite gown or building the case for a gown you really like before you even step out of a dressing room. Plus, she won’t let anyone bully you into trying on a stack of gowns you don’t like! Happy dress shopping!

Sharon Townsend is the Owner/Manager of Tiffanys Bridal & The Groom’s Corner, a Richmond tradition since 1969. To learn more, go to www.