From the age of twelve, most girls start dreaming about the perfect wedding, but more importantly, how they will look on that most special of days. While we at the Gettysburg Hotel can only offer the perfect venue, we can still recommend to you the ideal bridal boutique to make all your wedding attire dreams come to fruition.
I sat down with Tamzen’s Bridal at Butler Manor to see how they got their start and what makes their shop unique. The first time I went to visit them, I was greeted at the door with a chalkboard on the sidewalk that welcomed me by name. I was instantly impressed. But then, I opened the door to a magnificent shop, full of stunning wedding gowns, huge mirrors, lounge chairs, couches, and every wedding accessory you can imagine. I instantly knew that this was a business we could not only recommend to our couples, but one owned by people we could trust to take excellent care of them.
Tamzen’s husband, Doc, told me the story of how they got into the industry. Before they were married, they both had crazy schedules. Tamzen was a teacher for 29 years and Doc worked in the healthcare industry for 32. As a result, they were hard pressed to find time to spend with each other. On a rare evening spent together, they began discussing what they would do if they could change careers and Tamzen confessed that she’d always dreamt of her own bridal boutique. Once it was verbalized, they started putting plans in place to bring her dream into the real world. Doc offered to leave the healthcare industry behind and instead, use his skills to manage the business end of things so Tamzen could focus on her passion; design.
When they started making preparations, it was important to them to get things correct from the start. They wanted to have a very clear plan of how their business would look from an operations standpoint and began to look at all the pros and cons from other bridal boutiques they were visiting. Did I forget to mention that they were engaged at this time? It didn’t hurt that they were naturally visiting a lot of shops and were able to glean from them the things to do and also not to do!
For example, the idea of having a bride’s name on a board that greets everyone as they walk in came from a high-end private boutique in Cincinnati. Another boutique charged a flat rate for their in-house seamstress fee, regardless of what you needed, which was basically an upcharge to bring more money to their shop. Tamzen and Doc completely disagree with this practice and instead recommend pre-approved seamstresses in the area to help you with any necessary alterations.
Thier ideas also makes them a unique boutique in the area is that they service only one bride at a time. Each bride gets her turn to come in, try on dresses with her friends and family and gets the one on one attention she deserves as she prepares to find, and say yes to the perfect dress. Tamzen said she wants every bride to have the “experience of a lifetime so they feel like royalty when they are here.” Having been through the experience just a little over two years ago prior to their destination wedding in Salzburg, Austria, they know exactly what you’re looking for and how you expect to be treated while shopping for your once in a lifetime look.
Tamzen’s Bridal carries a number of lines, some of which allow her to have design input. That way, your voice gets heard. If she hears from the brides that they’re looking for certain styles or finishes on their gowns, Tamzen can sit down with the designers and make the suggestions based on your thoughts. It’s one of the most exciting things when the next year’s dresses come out and she can see the voice of her brides materialized in the new collections.
The excitement is about to double because Tamzen has just announced is that they have initiated her own private line in the short time they’ve been up and running! I asked her what we can expect and she said the big trends right now are gowns made of satin and Mikado – “Think Jackie O.” She said that dresses have been saturated with lace in recent years and while it’s still a huge trend, styles are shifting to a clean, classic look. “You need to find a dress that you are wearing, not one that is wearing you.” A clean look is great for everyone, no matter your size, shape or height. Trendy is nice, but will you like it 50 years from now? “If in doubt, choose classic over trendy.”
I asked Tamzen what she enjoys most about running her business. “Oh my gosh, making people happy!” was her quick reply. Being an educator for 29 years, she has taken this job and those skills and merged the two together. She tries to educate brides on fabric, style, and care and shows them why there are price differences in gowns. “We have been truly blessed with wonderful customers” and strive to “treat our customers as if they were family.” That’s why they work so hard to take care of brides with military family members, be it the bride herself, her fiancé or one of the parents. Military weddings can be difficult because they often need to plan around someone being able to take leave. This means that sometimes, a dress needs to be purchased off the rack or Tamzen researches companies to see what they have in stock. It takes extra legwork on her end to make it happen, but it’s the most rewarding part of what she does. And as though the extra work isn’t enough, she also offers a 10% discount to those planning military weddings.
I then asked her about the most difficult part of her job and her reply was interesting to me – reality television. Brides watch these shows and see the girls walking out of the stores with gowns, but that’s not how it works for smaller boutique shops. The samples in the store are just that… samples. They are for sale but are not necessarily in mint condition. If you want a brand new dress, you need to understand the time commitment it takes to make it. The whole process takes about 8 months from ordering to processing to alterations to receiving the final product. But, in the end, it’s worth the wait to have the perfect, customized dress that you’ll look back on 50 years from now and still love as much as the day you chose it.”
Just as we were finishing, I asked her what has changed the most and what new things are developing. It turns out at the biggest change is that they are maxed on store frontage as well as square footage. I was happy to hear that they are considering expanding to Gettysburg. Tamzen said they’ve always wanted to retire in the Gettysburg area and perhaps expanding their business to include a shop in our town is just the right way to start making that dream a reality too!
Say yes to the dress at Tamzen’s Bridal.
Keep up with Tamzen and Doc and all things at the shop by following on Facebook.