Exactly three years ago, I took a big business risk and opened The Wedding Dress Shoppe. People thought I was crazy. But I knew that the Wilmington wedding market deserved better. So now, years later, folks ask me: Given the high cost of the wedding market, was it worth it?
For the past three years, The Wedding Dress Shoppe has been styling Wilmington brides (and brides from all over the Cape Fear region), their mothers and their bridal parties. Once, in order to get couture gowns, local brides had to travel out of town to Raleigh or Charlotte. This just didn’t make sense, especially for brides who wanted to go back for fittings and get alterations done. Also, Wilmington does a lot of weddings – why can’t we dress the brides here, too?
As the owner of Perry’s Emporium, I knew brides needed some options. I knew that they wanted a bridal store that could handle all their needs and provide spectacular customer service, and at a location that was only minutes from the historic downtown riverfront.
I also saw a wedding shop as a natural progression from my jewelry store. At Perry’s Emporium, I don’t just sell jewelry, I sell love! I would help young couples create unique engagement rings, and then seal their vows with the high-quality wedding bands I had. The lady needed the best bridal gowns she could find to match those rings.
By opening The Wedding Dress Shoppe, I could now serve every aspect of a Wilmington couple’s wedding: from the first ring to the final dance on the reception floor.
The bridal shop quickly grew, proving I was right. Wilmington brides responded to the high-quality gowns and experience. But I talked to Roberta Danford, the general manager of The Wedding Dress Shoppe, and we decided we weren’t stopping yet.
While brides continued to come in and try couture gowns off the rack while using technology to Skype with relatives from the fitting pedestals, we watched their mothers and bridesmaids.
Within a short time, we decided that mothers of the bride (and groom) as well as bridesmaids deserve as much help and selection when it comes to choosing gowns for the big day.
The Wedding Dress Shoppe loves helping a bride create her “total look,” and her “look” extends to her wedding party!
Just last month we opened our beautiful expanded space. The growth of The Wedding Dress Shoppe has allowed us to increase our bridesmaid’s collection to include four big-name designers, with the intention to expand even more. Today, our collection for mothers features six designers’ work and allows for a large variety of styles. There truly is a dress for all tastes.
Folks, I love this community. I know a lot of people and I hear about all the happenings across the Cape Fear region. When you guys started telling me what you are doing, I made another big decision. I made space in our expansion to sell non-wedding dresses for social occasions (like prom, homecoming, pageant and debutant balls, the Azalea Festival, and military balls). Now, truly I can say that between Perry’s Emporium and The Wedding Dress Shoppe, we have everything.
Seeing you all stunningly dressed from head-to-toe makes me say that yes, the business risk was worth it.
Alan Perry is the president of Perry’s Emporium and the Wedding Dress Shoppe, offering a range of services for couples, from engagement through their wedding day. Perry’s Emporium is one of the largest retail jewelry stores in Southeastern North Carolina and offers exclusive brands and one-of-a-kind estate jewelry. The Wedding Dress Shoppe is a full-service bridal salon featuring distinctive and stylish bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, and mother-of the-bride and flower girl attire. For more information, visit www.perrysemporium.com and www.theweddingdressshoppe.com.
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