I’m beginning to feel like the bridal spy.
    In past issues, I’ve told you about my sister-in-law to-be’s engagement and wedding dress shopping experience. Given my background, this process has been interesting to watch because it gives me personal insight in a way writing/editing/researching never can, no matter how thorough.
    And for this issue, the personal insight gets even moreso, as we move on to bridesmaids’ shopping.
    I am one of nine women in Tara’s bridal party, which also includes my sister and nieces (2 and 7). Like many parties, we’re scattered around the nation. Tara and I have spoken regularly, and partially at my urging, she made a bridesmaids’ appointment at a specialty boutique.
    However, and this is the part I couldn’t predict: she ended up starting on a whim one day at a different boutique: a top-notch salon specializing in bridal but carrying maids too.
    Online and via social media this boutique is picture-perfect but Tara left less than impressed. She felt like maids were treated as an afterthought and the consultant didn’t really get her vision, but something else made a bigger impression: She overheard another consultant trying to sell a bride on her gown, both by talking down other shopping options and also pressuring her: “This gown is on sale. If you don’t buy it today it might not be here when you return!”
    Both Tara and her mom felt bad for this bride, who appeared to them self-conscious and uncertain. This stranger asked my future sister-in-law what she thought of the gown and was treated to an answer the consultant should’ve given: if you don’t love it, maybe you need to keep looking. . . if it’s not there later perhaps it’s not meant to be.
    Overall, I’m surprised by how much Tara picked up on that was unrelated to her own appointment and how it influenced her opinion of the boutique. The lesson: A customer’s experience isn’t just about what she is going through but everything happening around her. They notice more than you might assume.
    And speaking of experience: Tara kept her second bridesmaids’ appointment and ended up selecting nine dresses there. She loved the fact they dedicated two hours to helping her put together her vision and treated maids like a priority. She also appreciated the fact the consultant totally knew her stuff and “got” her.
    If you want to see the dress selections, visit the VOWS Instagram page (@vowsmagazine.com).