Tag Archives: customer service

Best Toronto area bridal shops for wedding dress shopping

16 Jan

That’s me the day I picked up my wedding dress! I am twirling and smiling! My dress was Maggie Sottero’s Virginia

So I went to a ton of bridal shops in my seemingly neverending search for a wedding dress. Seriously, I looked for a long time to find a V neck, only to be told it was out of style and I would never find it. Listen when they tell you what you want is out of style. I was crazy to not believe them, but I don’t believe things until I see them myself.  I kept searching and searching anyway until 1 day before it would’ve been too late to order a dress in time. I ended up going with the third dress I ever tried on :S.

I went to nearly every store in Toronto, no joke. Almost a year later, my dad is still talking about it. He was a saint, patiently driving me around so that I could get a dress I loved. I have seen the good, bad and ugly of wedding shops and here’s the lowdown. This post reviews 16 stores. It’s a long, comprehensive list, but yes, I actually went to all these places over 5 months. It was exhausting. Note, these are all “affordable” places, except for one (of course, everyone’s idea of affordable is different, but I’m assuming $500 to $1,500 and mainstream dresses from the magazines). If you’re looking to spend $20Gs on a dress, I can’t help you.

I would love to read your personal experiences with these stores. Please leave stories in the comments section.

Mona Richie: I really wish I could have bought my dress from Mona, but she didn’t carry dresses from the designer that I ended up going with. Mona is patient and kind, and you can tell that she really cares about her “girls.” I nearly fainted in her store, and she ran to the fridge to get me something to drink and sat with me, even after store closing, until I was ok. That is amazing.  I’d say her store and Amanda-Lina’s are the biggest in the GTA and have the best selections, and Mona carries all the top of the line designers like Pronovias. Go to Mona! It will be one of the nicest shopping experiences you’ll ever have. She is in what I’ve dubbed the “wedding mall” of 4040 Steeles Ave. West in Woodbridge, where there’s about 10 other wedding dress, cake, favours, jewellery, and decor stores in the same strip mall.

Amanda-Lina’s: This store is huge, and has a beautiful selection of what I thought were the most fashionable wedding dresses, mother of the bride dresses, and bridesmaid dresses. They get a lot of the trunk shows early. The fitting rooms are huge and it is definitely magical to go outside into their section full of mirrors and see yourself in a wedding dress for the first time with their soft spotlights on you. You cannot be shy here as the consultants tell you to strip down so they can get you into the dress (I guess they don’t want people to damage the samples, which is fair). This store cuts out the designer labels from the dresses so you can’t come in with a style number — you actually have to bring them a photo of the dress you want to try on. This is where I found the dress I ended up buying but when I came back, they had sold the sample off at their January annual blowout sale so I couldn’t trace the dress but was lucky enough to find it elsewhere again. It worked out because it cost $400 less at the other store!

Superior Bridal: This is a smaller bridal shop in Markham, but the ladies here are a true gem. Vy and Elena (two sisters who are consultants) put up with my request for dress after dress, and never complained and were never, ever rude to me. At one point I got so frustrated that the type of dress I wanted was not in style and unavailable, that I started to cry. Elena took me aside and comforted me. That’s customer service + 1000. They didn’t carry the sample of the dress I wanted to buy, but because they carried the designer, they could still order it for me. I wanted to be sure that these guys got my money because of their amazing service. They charge a flat fee of $400 for alterations which I found rather expensive for mine, considering the size was fine, and all they’d have to do was cut off a bit of the bottom to hem it. They also get the trunk shows earlier than other shops.

Bridal and Beyond: This has two locations (one in Leaside, one in Mississauga). I’ve been to both. I found that the one in Mississauga had experienced bridal consultants and the one in Leaside had teenagers. Pick depending on the experience you want. If you need help figuring out what you want, go to Mississauga. If you want to be left alone to try on a bunch, go to Leaside. I found the prices here in line with the other places, and they were one of two stores in the city that had the sample of my dress (a large one, size 14). They also had the Disney by Alfred Angelo wedding gowns in stock to try on while others didn’t. The nice thing about this store too is that it has stuff like invitations, favours and other accessories, making it a one stop shop. I think they give you a membership card for discounts on other merchandise if you buy your dress here. Ask for Josie at the Mississauga one. They also have a great website that will tell you which location has which dress samples.

Impression Bridal: A warehouse type store in Mississauga that is the home of labels like Impression Bridal and Simone Carvalli wedding gowns.The lighting is super harsh, but the consultant, a fashion student at Ryerson, was very good. She said she had actually done fashion internships in Italy. I actually found what looked like a knock off of the dress I ended up getting. Only difference was the fabric and an extra flower on the belt. And $400. It was cheaper here. Didn’t go with this place because the fabric didn’t feel as nice and it was only available in a harsh bleach white which looked really bad on my pasty skin, but I have no complaints and recommend this place.

Windsor Bridal: This is on Orfus Road. Yes THE Orfus Road with all the outlet stores for cheap clothing . The dresses aren’t cruddy brands though, they have quality labels (I tried on Madison Collection, Mori Lee and Private Label by G) and they had received the new shipments before any of the other stores in the city. Large selection. Lighting is harsh and there can be a long wait for a consultant and fitting room, and customers are not allowed to touch the dresses which are closed up in clear garment bags…a little annoying because how are you supposed to find something if you can’t sort through their hundreds of dresses in racks? A consultant will help you in and out of the dress and you have a maximum of 8 and one hour. Bring a stopwatch. Wanna go back in time? Check out the outlet store next door with dresses out of an episode of Friends from 1994.

Beckers Bridal. This is the oldest store in the city. Consultants were helpful, but the store has a smaller selection than the places in Woodbridge, (which makes sense with Danforth real estate being slim). But it’s across the street from Chester station so probably the easiest of all boutiques to get to. They carry dresses by a particular designer (Barbara something) whose dresses are only sold in 3 stores (in Toronto, New York and Vancouver). They are made of  gorgeous silk and look great, but cost $3,500.  They did have the usual suspects like Pronovias though. And please do me and everyone a favour. The shop is small, so don’t bring your posse with you. One person is enough. I had to try on a dress with a girl’s entire family, bridal party and fiance spilling over into the area and staring at me. Very uncomfortable, especially because I was alone.

The Dress Room: Closed every single time we tried to call them or go there so no clue about this place. My friend got her Demetrios dress here on sale here for 50% off because it was a floor sample and she looked great. This is owned by the same people as Beckers Bridal.

Vogue Sposa: Down the street from Beckers Bridal on Danforth, with an even smaller selection. But had some unique Anjolique brand wedding dresses that I could not find in other stores. Staff was fine. They advertise their in-house designer on their website but those were more asymmetrical dresses that aren’t my thing.

Lowon Pope: These apparently are all designed at the store, which is amazing and exciting and great to support a locally operated business. So I went but turned right around once I looked in the window. This store has vintage style dresses for Olive Oyl (of Popeye fame) skinny things. Don’t bother heading out to Liberty Village if you ever ate a cheeseburger.

White Toronto: This is in Yorkville so make a stop at the bank first to plump up your wallet! Some dresses here go for $10 grand or more. I didn’t have too many dealings with them to judge their customer service. They were very polite on the phone when I called them for an appointment to their sample sale, their consultants were friendly and everyone was pretty civil at their blessed event. But just keep in mind that if you go here, the dresses are more haute couture than classic styles. You will actually find the lopsided, high fashion dresses that look like potato sacks on the models in Martha Stewart Weddings. That’s fine if that’s what you want, but just not my thing.

Chez Jordan: In the same plaza as Mona Richie and Veronica Di Santo (keep walking if you don’t wanna drop $5 Gs on a dress at Di Santo). Chez Jordan had nice sales clerks and an ok selection of dresses, including some really unique looking ones that I hadn’t seen in any other store. From their website it looks like they have an in house designer which would explain this. The sales lady said they also get stuff from European labels. Had a nice selection of mom dresses too.

Royalton gifts and Jewellery: This looks like a wedding favour and decor store but they snuck in some wedding dresses and mom dresses in the back. Ask for Teresa, she was really nice and patient. Has a bigger selection of bridesmaid dresses and had a few “out there” wedding gowns with see through bodices. Watch out in the wedding favour section, the ladies will be all over you so don’t show any sign of weakness. Go with an idea of what you want. My neighbours bought their favours here and they were super nice. This store has no website or I’d link, but its at 4040 Steeles along with Mona Richie.

David’s Bridal: This chain’s first Canadian stores opened AFTER I already bought my dress, so I can’t talk about my wedding dress personal experience there, but I know they do sell dresses for as low as $200 if that’s what you’re looking for, and they do have Vera Wang line that is more affordable. The Scarborough store was big, but the few times we went it was really crowded. My bridesmaids bought their dresses there. Great part was that they had lots of bridesmaids dresses in stock so the girls bought them off the rack.

Ritche: This is arguably the most famous bridal shop in the city, with ads on tv all the time and a wide selection. But they’ve got some pretty rude staff. Takes forever and a day to get an appointment, then you are either told to wait or told to leave. Read about my awful experience with these guys in my previous post. If you do go here, ask for Megan. She was the only nice one and seemed to know what she was doing.

Felichia bridal: Walked past here about a week after I got engaged so I was really excited and walked in to look at stuff on the rack. God forbid. One sales lady was helping someone with an appointment.  But the dude who was sipping a pop and reading a magazine at the front desk told me that no one could help me without an appointment and he looked a little annoyed that I had just waltzed in, even though I didn’t ask to try anything on.  I took that to mean “don’t bother even looking.” So I didn’t bother making the trek back to Yonge and Eglinton for this store. Don’t know how they treat you when you do have an appointment.

Crazy cheap Vera Wang Wedgwood china deal at The Bay this weekend

2 Dec

A place setting from our Vera Wang Wedgwood Lace Gold fine china set

Attention all of you who have a Vera Wang Wedgwood china pattern on your gift registries at The Bay in Canada!

The Vera Wang patterns are 25% off at The Bay this week! And if you go this weekend and use your store credit card, you get ANOTHER 20% off! The only catch is that you can’t use your 10% off registry completion discount, but take what you can get because these NEVER go on sale!

All those discounts mean one place setting that normally costs $179.99 will actually cost you $107 plus taxes. We bought all the outstanding place settings we needed to complete our registry!  And if you use a points card along with your credit card, you almost get enough points to claim a $10 gift card too. Better than buying from Amazon U.S. and being stuck with a surprise expensive duty charge when it crosses the border. Those can add up. Husband once sent me a $50 gift when he lived in the U.S.   The UPS guy held it for ransom until I paid $50 more in duty on it.

Back to the Vera Wang: The lady that served us was super nice and patient with us. The store didn’t have enough in stock, so you can still get this deal if you pay now and have them ship it to the store in a few weeks.

Now is the time for you to buy these at The Bay if you didn’t get them as wedding gifts (or if you still haven’t had your wedding yet, point your family and friends in the right direction so they can save money on your gift). These never, EVER go on sale. Trust me, I’ve checked. The Vera Wang is always listed as the only exclusion when the other china patterns are on sale. So seriously, go and take care of business this weekend on a once in a lifetime sale. Leave a comment if you buy them!

BTW: Our pattern is Lace Gold

More travel agent honeymoon fail: safety issues

27 Jul

Dear travel agent

I told you I wanted to book a honeymoon. You suggest a bus tour. Being crammed on a non-air conditioned bus driving through back roads all night along with 50 other people is definitely my idea of romance. Especially when their aroma (rea: body odor) begins wafting through the circulating air.

But you know, maybe your idea of a relaxing honeymoon is different from mine, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. What I won’t put up with is a travel agent that doesn’t know there’s political trouble in Greece. Have you never turned on the TV/Radio/Internet/Newspaper for the last 4 months?!?!

I don’t care if you accept the gift cards we were given and have no other way of spending. We’re still not booking with you, until you get a clue.

Wedding vendors! Call the heck back!

24 Jun

I am chasing down two wedding vendors, 14 days before my wedding. I have to work too, by the way. I don’t get lunch breaks to go ram down people’s doors.

Collectively, these vendors are costing us $5,000.

Both of them said to call them 2 weeks before the wedding to finalize details. I’ve been calling them for a week. I don’t care if its wedding high season, you should’ve told me to call you before two weeks if you knew you’d be overwhelmed. We still have to organize other crap depending on what you say! We don’t have a wedding planner. We’re not made of money and you took a sizeable chunk of it.

Where’s the customer service?! If someone gave me $5Gs, I’d be making them dinner and shining their shoes to make sure they’d be happy.

You should be ashamed of yourselves for taking money and then disappearing. How are we supposed to know if you’re even showing up at our wedding if you don’t answer your phone?

I chase people down on the phone for a living and am used to people not calling me back, but I have never dealt with anything like the smug, entitled attitude of the wedding industry.  Have some common courtesy and customer service sense. Happy customers spread the word to all their friends.

Fabulous flowers! Forget peonies. Roses + Freesias win

2 Jun

We ordered our wedding flowers and I am very happy. I had originally planned on a peony bouquet, but was doing some googling and came across the most beautiful bouquet I have ever seen. It’s this mass assembly of gorgeousness made of roses and freesias. Fiance’s got competition for my affections.

I took this picture to my florist and I am going to get cream and pink coloured roses with freesias for a little green. I’m really excited.

The bridesmaids are getting carnations and freesias but I can’t find a picture of that combo on the Internets. The dudes are getting cream coloured roses. The moms are getting these cream coloured orchids.

The moms are getting corsages that look like this

Anyway, if you live in Auckland, New Zealand check out this florist’s offerings because she is mega talented. Too bad I don’t live in New Zealand (for more reasons than one, its a great place to visit!) but hopefully my Canadian florist can give me the same glamorous bouquet!

What to do with wedding RSVP cards in case of a mail strike

1 Jun

Canada Post strike is imminent

Girls, I see through Google that you’ve been trying to find out what to do with your wedding invitations or RSVP reply cards if Canada Post goes on strike tonight.

My advice: Haul Ass.

Waiting for replies? Start calling people. Get email addresses. Skype numbers. Look them up on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn. Get their BBM pins. Use Evite. If they’re seniors or someone that doesn’t use a computer, hunt them down at their front door step if you have to.

If you have paper invites, you and your family/bridesmaids/groom’s dudes can deliver them. If you can afford it, hire a courier. If you can’t, and no one can help you deliver them all, hire a neighborhood kid with a bike or a subway/bus pass to deliver envelopes.

If that doesn’t work, hire the lady from “Murder, She Wrote” if you can find her. Seriously, people will do just fine without a “formal” invitation. It’s just gravy. Kick it old school, combined with new school technology and you should spread the word no problem.

If you already have the nice paper invites and can’t deliver them (to people who live far away for example), call to give them details, and then keep a basket of invitations at the wedding for people to take home. Or put the invitation with their favors.

If you haven’t mailed out invites yet, think of the bright side. You’ll save money on stamps.

Personally, I hope the mail doesn’t strike. We still haven’t received all the RSVP cards, and we’re trying to get people to return our calls. We’ve enlisted others to harass them. 

What annoys me the most is that I was so happy to be ordering a bunch of stuff on the Internet because I just click a button and the stuff shows up, with zero stress to me. *Insert strike stress now.* Bleh! Hopefully they use courier like The Shopping Channel will. I’m not going to order anything else online until it is all sorted out.

EDIT: Last time Canada Post went on strike in 1997, the government forced them back to work. Could it happen again this time?

Too many wedding decisions. Brain explodes. I’m decision paralyzed

1 Jun

Decisions are hard for me. They always have been.

I saw a card at Carleton Cards that says brides have to make 277 decisions for their wedding. Do you have any idea what this is like!? Ten decisions are hard. I’m going bonkers.

I am all decisioned out. I can’t make anymore.

Organ or violin and harp combo?

Invite coworkers or not?

Which makeup artist to choose?

I am drowning. With so many decisions to make and only a month to go, I feel paralyzed and I’m not making any decisions at all. I have a long to do list. And I stare at it and don’t know what to do or where to start.

And then I start second guessing things I was very happy about. Like our photographer and our DJ.

Fiance says I should just move forward with the remaining decisions and pick something that makes me happy. Well how do I know which would make me happy if I haven’t hired them yet? What if the makeup artist does a bad job? What if the organ sounds elegant and regal on Youtube but sounds like transylvania in the church? 

Fiance says that I won’t remember the music anyway. And he’s right. So why is it still so hard for me to decide?

I know all these details ultimately don’t matter in the end, but I don’t know how to get over this decision-making slump.

I just googled “too many wedding decisions” and this New York Times article about the difficulty of too many choices came up.

Look at our silly first world problems.

The one thing that I’m not second guessing though is the thing that matters most. I am so happy that at the end of this process that I get a happily ever after with my love.

And you know what makes me even more sure of it? He is looking for a place for us to live and will only let me visit three locations. He doesn’t want me to be even more overwhelmed with the 278th wedding-related decision I’ll have to make in just seven months.