Bargains with Dignity

This is a post in which the usually carefree Miss Haute Cocoa takes a break from her tour of great bargain shopping experiences to kvetch about a not so great one: the bridal boutique that shall not be named. It's no secret that Miss Haute Cocoa has champagne tastes on a Martinelli budget. So when she heard about a boutique near Boston that boasts "couture gown shopping at off the rack pricing," she thought, "Sssweeeeet -- that's practically my motto! I've found bridal heaven."

Her experience there was more like the fourth circle of the Inferno.

[The prodigal and the miserly in the fourth circle.  Image source.]

I was already a bit nervous walking into the boutique because, although it's pretty and spacious, it reeked of stale smoke (not so great for a place that sells gowns off the rack). The boutique owner was well meaning (I suppose) but blunt to the point of rudeness. First, when I told her that my ideal dress was a particular Monique Lhuillier, she cackled (seriously, cackled) and told me that I clearly didn't know what I was talking about. "People in the wedding industry know that there's no reason to pay for the labels and that it's all about the materials." Probably true. But that's a pretty harsh way to welcome a customer!  She then proceeded to put me in a number of itchy polyester and crinoline monstrosities that made my butt look so huge it needed a different zip code.  Oy.
[Image source.  Thankfully, they didn't allow photos at the boutique that shall not be named. But I'm fairly certain I looked something like this, complete with the butt pouches and the doubled-over-in-pain look.]

The danger sign in my head started flashing big time when she told me to dismiss the opinions of the two friends who had accompanied me, opining that "everything they are saying is all wrong" (verbatim quote) and that they had "no idea" what worked for my body type. She then basically told me to dismiss my own intuitions about the dress. She put me in a ballgown with so much business going on up top and down below that it was like a multilevel disco in Miami on New Year. After I said that the dress was pretty, but just not "me," she said I wasn't "really seeing" the dress. She then proceeded to roll her eyes at my friend's comments that the dress was too "traditionally bridal." "This is not at all traditional," she retorted, in a tone that made clear that we had about as much sartorial knowledge as Papa Smurf.

The last straw was when she corrected my pronunciation (um, who does that?) of alencon (a-lon-son) lace, insisting that it was pronounced a-len-ce-lon. For realz.

Don't get me wrong: I appreciate the expertise of someone who has been working in the wedding industry for a long time. But it's one thing to share expertise and advice, and another to be insulting. Maybe this type of disciplinarian hard sell works for some, but for me it was a total turn-off. I felt besieged. Sure, there was a lovely Paloma Blanca there that was priced quite reasonably, and the boutique had some beautiful Pronovias gowns as well.  But no discount is worth tolerating this kind of rudeness, right?

Thankfully, this was the only shop I went to that made me feel like I should have to put up with rude service or a not-me type of dress because I didn't want to pay regular retail prices.  I write this post to assure those of you out there who are looking for an affordable gown that bad service is not coincident with low prices, that there are places where you can find a beautiful gown at your budget and still be treated with respect and kindness.  So if you are still looking, don't despair!  And look out for my next post, which will be about purchasing gorgeous couture gowns online.

Did you have a less-than-awesome bridal shopping experience? What happened? Did you walk out or smiled and beared it like we did?  Come, tell your stories of woe to Miss Hot Cocoa. You'll get nothing but sympathy.

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