Ah, wedding season. The phrase alone conjures up images of open bars, sweaty parquet dance floors, cash down the drain, Vince Vaughn, and TRU LUV. But at Kleinfeld Bridal in Manhattan, wedding season means something else entirely: Go time. The storied bridal boutique, which has been around for more than 60 years but reached an entirely new height of fame through TLC's marathon-ready guilty pleasure Say Yes to the Dress, caters to 17,000 brides a year and ends up selling gowns to 10,000. That makes the odds pretty good that you'll be attending at least one Kleinfeld wedding in the upcoming months.
We thought it might be fun to indulge in our/your SYTTD obsession for just a moment and speak with Kleinfeld fashion director Terry Hall about the ins and outs of the most famous bridal salon in all the land--the store that once inspired me to apply for a retail job at a bridal boutique in South Shore Massachusetts (I didn't get it). Below, his answers to all your burning bridal and Kleinfeldian queries.
Fashionista: How many people on average does the bride bring with her to Kleinfeld, and who does the group usually consist of?
Terry Hall: On average our brides bring two to four people with them to her appointment, but we do see the extremes as well. I believe bringing too many people to the appointment can often make the experience chaotic and stressful for the bride… more people equals more opinions. I think it's in the bride’s best interest to be very selective in picking the few people with whom she will share this special experience.
How common has it become for the bride to bring her fiancé along for the appointment?
We do see the fiancé joining the bride for the bridal appointment on occasion, however, brides still mostly love to keep the dress a surprise until her big day.
What's the most common complaint women have when wedding dress shopping?
It’s not really a complaint, but I do see brides often being surprised the first time they try on a dress style or shape that they've fallen in love with in a photo but hate it as soon as they try it on. It’s not until the bride has a dress on that she will know how she “feels” in the dress.
How often do women cry during the appointment?
I see a lot of tears, but not from everyone. Each bride is unique and has different expectations. Not every bride has “that moment” in the dress, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t connect or know when it’s “the dress.”
How often to women come in and purchase a dress, versus those who leave empty-handed?
Brides are very savvy these days with all the information available to them to research online. They come in with a ton of knowledge and direction and are ready to make a decision.
What's more important for most women when trying on a dress: Fit or price?
Every bride wants to look sexy and her absolute best. Fit is everything.
What styles are most popular now, and which have fallen by the wayside?
Brides want to look glamorous… especially considering the influence that Hollywood and the red carpet have had. However, they still want to look like a bride. Current, hot trends are sexy backs, illusion necklines and sleeves, dropped waists, and mermaid silhouettes. The days of the very heavy gown in any silhouette are numbered.
I think it is very important for brides to stay open minded during their bridal appointment and not be afraid to try a few styles out of the box… she just may be pleasantly surprised. That said, I do believe a bride must be true to her personality when selecting a style and to ultimately choose what feels most like her, not what she “thinks she is supposed to wear.”
Scroll down for some fascinating Kleinfeld stats.
Kleinfeld by the numbers:
• 17,000: Number of brides Kleinfeld meets annually.
• 10,000: Approximate number of gowns Kleinfeld sells each year.
• $2,000: Cost of the cheapest bridal gown available to purchase at Kleinfeld. (A small selection is available below $2,000)
• $32,000: Cost of the most expensive dress in-stock at Kleinfeld today, a ball gown by Pnina Tornai (pictured left).
• $4,500: Average amount of money spent by a Kleinfeld bride.
• 1.5: Length in hours of a standard Kleinfeld bridal appointment.
• $695: Flat fee for alterations on a gown at Kleinfeld. The average bride has 2-3 appointments.