Monday Meeting: Ava Clara Bridal

Happy Monday! Only one more day until spring, and you know what that means, time to pull out your sandals and sundresses (and "wedding season" is right around the corner!) This week in our Meeting Monday, we are featuring Ava Clara Couture Bridal, one of our favorite unique bridal shops in the Hampton Roads area! You can't officially kick off "the season" without your perfect dress! Ava Clara is owned by Karen Tilley and Alex today's post is a bit different! You get to hear two perspectives into the bridal wear business.

When and how was Ava Clara Couture Bridal established?
Ava Clara opened in June of 2010, after a whirlwind of brainstorming, big dreaming, and some late, late nights!
Karen: I started working in an Atlanta bridal shop after college, in 1996 (so…forever ago!), and the bug never left! Having managed other bridal shops, there was a lot of time to figure out what I would like to do differently, given the opportunity. Alex and I met while Alex was planning her own wedding.
Alex: Frustrated with the options and resources I found during my own wedding planning, I knew there had to be a better way! Why should brides have to be overcharged and pushed through like cattle? This is supposed to be fun! I left my job in the finance industry and started over.

How does a bride’s experience at Ava Clara Couture Bridal differ from other bridal shops in Hampton Roads or around the country?
Karen-First and foremost, we want everyone to have fun. There will be so many other stressors over the course of wedding planning; finding your bridal gown should never be one of them! We've heard so many stories about pushy salespeople, snobby environments…that is so not our speed. I'm proud to think that Alex and I have been able to provide a lighthearted, happy experience without sacrificing the style, quality, or integrity that matters.
Alex- I agree. I love knowing that so many of our clients are not just Ava Clara brides, but have become our friends. That speaks volumes to me about what we seem to be doing right. We also work very hard to offer different designers and styles from any other shop locally. Why should a bride have to leave Hampton Roads for a dress? Why can't we offer the same fashion that they'd find in D.C. or New York? Many of our designers are exclusive to Ava Clara, so brides really get to see some unique styles and fashion.

What are your favorite current wedding trends?
Karen-I love that there aren't as many trends anymore! There isn't one overwhelming style out there right now, so brides can really make it their own style! That being said, I love the whole retro, Audrey Hepburn-esque vibe, and I love subtle color and texture (pale pink Swiss dot makes me a happy girl!).
Alex-Lace! And deep, low backs-I love that classic look mixed with a dash of sex appeal! I also really love the sashes and belts we have. They are the perfect way for a bride to customize her look. The right belt takes a pretty dress and pushes it to perfect!

What tips would you give a bride looking for the perfect dress?
Karen-Don't shop with too many people-one or two at most. That flurry of opinions can be confusing. Be open minded. Bridal gowns fit differently than other clothes, and definitely look different than they do in those photo-shopped magazine ads!
Alex-I think it's important, too, to shop when you're ready to buy. If you're idea shopping or getting your feet wet, you don't approach the experience in the same way. If you find a gown you love but aren't ready to order it, it can be a letdown. Who wants to leave without their dress? Not to mention that prices can change, as can styles. You often end up having to start from scratch later down the line.

Here are a couple ACE clients in their Ava Clara Gowns!
Bridal Gown and Bridesmaid dresses from Ava Clara: Images from Dustin Lewis
Bridal Gown from Ava Clara: Images by David Schwartz
Images Courtesy Tracey Sanders
Image Courtesy David Abel
We love gowns so much we always have an Ava Clara gown in our studio. Image Courtesy Ashley Barnett

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