Budgeting For That Special Day
Carol Davis is the owner of Candler Budget Bridal where every wedding gown in her shop is $300.00 or less and she serves brides both near and far, even having brides drive for up to five hours to her location. “The experience with my daughter never left my heart and it planted the seed of having a shop that would be affordable for all brides and I said I was going to do it when I turned 62,” she said smiling.
Carol, or “Miss Carol” as I lovingly call her, went on to raise her children, grandchildren, and work for many years beside her friend of 37 years and business partner, Linda, after her daughter married. Linda and Carol opened Mark’s Buildings and Carports over 15 years ago and built a thriving business. However, when Carol turned 62 she told Linda that she was ready to open her bridal shop. Even though Linda was hesitant and somewhat fearful of the endeavor Carol said, “I wasn’t fearful because I had passion! I wanted to make sure that no bride left here crying because she could not afford the dress of her dreams,” and six years later her bridal shop is booming.
For the first two years after investing the money into gowns, switching offices and moving spaces within their establishment they were slowly growing. Nevertheless, when their third year of business came around it, “just busted loose,” and has been that way ever since. When asked what she felt helped her to become successful she said that word of mouth from happy brides and excellent customer service was what got her there.
Customer experience is the top priority for Candler Budget Bridal above all else. Carol said, “The experience is just as important as the gown and when my clients leave I want them to feel like they have been on a cloud. I don’t care what size they are I want them to feel beautiful, special, and loved.” Every appointment is private and begins with a heartfelt congratulations and introductions to those that bride chooses to bring with her to share in this event. From there the process of choosing the perfect dress begins.
In helping her brides chose a gown Carol believes that there are three crucial factors to consider: 1) Choosing a gown that is flattering to the woman’s body type, 2) the physical feeling of the material for the bride’s comfort, and 3) the emotions that bubble up with each gown and how it makes her feel in a passionate sense. Along with that she says, “It is my job to listen and ask open-ended questions to help guide the bride into choosing the gown of her dreams.”
At the end of trying on all the gowns a bride has selected from the shop, and carefully being asked what she likes about each gown, it comes down to two gowns hanging in the dressing room. When it comes to this point Carol asks her brides what she doesn’t like about each gown; the one with the least negative attributes—if it has any at all—the bride-to-be tries on again. It is at this moment that she asks the family to please be silent and not talk to the bride as they walk to the back of the room. Once in the back of the room Carol takes the hands of the bride in her own and leads her through a visualization technique:
I tell her to shut her eyes, take a deep breath and relax as I gently rub her arms to help her get to that spot deep inside her. In a soft voice I say, ‘I want you to imagine this is your wedding day. Oh my God! It is so beautiful outside, the breeze is gently blowing, birds singing, and the sun is shining. Everyone has arrived and there is an electric excitement in the air. The time has come, and you begin your walk down the aisle, everyone has stood up and is looking at you, but you don’t see them. Instead, you look up and you see him! The man that you are going to marry today, the one that you love, and he is waiting on you. I want you to walk slowly to him, Honey, I want you to open your eyes and walk.’ That is when she walks towards the mirror to stand on the pedestal envisioning her moment, and by then there is rarely a dry eye in the house.
After the bride has been through this entire process it is often clear whether the bride loves the dress or doesn’t. Yet, Carol continues to make sure the bride is 100% satisfied with her choice. Her love of the gown is so important to Carol that if she feels that the bride is not truly happy or if she senses that she is having even the slightest bit of hesitation she will tell her she feels it is time to pause. “Brides frequently are afraid to say no to a gown, especially if anyone that has joined her in this special day says they loved a certain one. I have no problem telling them to go home and think about it for 48 hours and I will hold their top two choices until then.”
Regardless, before any bride walks out of the door of Candler Budget Bridal they will feel validated, empowered, and special. This shop may be small, but it is full of heart which was never clearer to me than watching the tears flow down “Miss Carol’s” cheeks as she told me her story. If you are looking for a personalized experience from people who value you for who you truly are you will not go wrong in coming here to begin your wedding experience.
To find out more about Candler Budget Bridal you can visit them at: 2274 Smokey Park Highway, Candler, NC 28715 Facebook: www.facebook.com/candler.budgetbridal Phone: (828) 670-1871