Bridesmaid dresses may not be the first thought on a bride’s mind, but they prove to be important in coordinating a wedding with their color ties to the flowers and the groomsmen suits. Elizabeth Andrei was the first to tap into the bridesmaids market with her store, Here Comes the Bridesmaid, which started in Manhattan as a tiny storefront in the East Village, made its way up to 35th street and then moved out to Bethpage about four months ago.
“I started this business in 1997,” said Andrei. “When I started there weren’t a whole lot of people who did that. Most people didn’t want to deal with the bridesmaids. It’s a big process. You’re not selling $5,000 dresses, you’re selling $250 dresses. I was one of the first to just totally do bridesmaids, so we didn’t really compete with a lot of people. It’s a whole different ball game. You really have to have a lot of knowledge.”
The new store, hidden away near Grumman Studios, is a small, modern style room with white walls contrasting against vibrant dresses in all colors and a back wall lined with dressing rooms for the whole wedding party to try on dresses at once. Andrei and her five employees—stylist Carel Phillip, Eva Klein, Dodjie Garcia, Josephine Farinella and Brenda Vonschischkoff—provide each group of bridesmaids with personalized service.
The bridesmaid dress-buying process begins with a simple phone call to the store about six to eight months before the wedding to set up an appointment. During the call, one of the store’s employees will ask when the wedding is, if there are any specific designers the client likes and if the bride has a theme or color in mind to get a background before she comes in.
“The group comes in and we kind of direct them and help select dresses,” said Andrei. “We take everybody in the back and they try the dresses on. We try to directly work with everyone. It’s a little more direction because it’s an overwhelming process. It’s not like you’re going to buy your gown and know what you like. You’re trying to please everyone.”
After an appointment or two, Here Comes the Bridesmaid coordinates the entire process. The store sends the bride the appropriate forms for each of the bridesmaids and all the bridesmaids have to do is fill out the forms and send them back. Throughout the process, an employee will follow up in order to be sure that all of the bridesmaids have given in their forms and that the dresses will be ordered in time for the wedding. Convenience for the bride seems to be key as the store offers free shipping once the dresses arrive at the store, allowing the bride to focus on something other than picking up the dresses.
“Sometimes, brides find it more comforting that they can go to a place that just does bridesmaids’ dresses,” said Phillip. “Sometimes what happens if you go to a bridal salon, they’ll only carry one or two lines because they mainly do bridal. Brides might not get much help with bridesmaid dresses and they feel like they might get stuck with one thing, so brides do like coming here because they know they have more options and can get more attention.”
Here Comes the Bridesmaid carries designers like Haley Paige, Christina Wu, Alfred Angelo, Dessy, Mori Lee, Bill Levkoff, and Watters & Watters to name a few. Along with bridesmaid dresses, the store also carries junior bridesmaid dresses and flower girl dresses.
“We always go to the bridal shows twice a year,” said Andrei. “We always look for new vendors and new things that are happening. What’s really in are the dresses that don’t look like bridesmaids’ dresses. We have two new lines that don’t look like traditional bridesmaid dresses: Mascara and Ashley and Justin.”
The bridesmaids-only store is looking to expand its offerings, hoping to venture into occasion dresses, prom dresses and destination wedding dresses—anything that can be more fun, bring in different types of revenue and different types of buzz for the company, said Phillip.
“I think what we’re all about is when the brides bring the bridesmaids in, the pressure is taken off the brides,” said Farinella. “We focus on the bridesmaids. The idea is the bride is ready to do some other kind of planning.”
Here Comes the Bridesmaid is located at 15 Grumman Road West, Building B, Suite 1050 in Bethpage. For more information, visit www.bridesmaids.com or call 212-647-9686.