We talk with Simone Gale, founder of Christobelle's, about the Ultimate Bridal Experience which they are taking throughout the country.
First of all, tell us a little bit about Christobelle’s...
In the summer of 2012 my very best friend got married and although her dress was gorgeous and she looked spectacular, I was really shocked by the price tag. I started researching the bridal market and I found that kiwi brides were paying a lot more than international brides for their dresses. In fact, the average dress here is almost $3000 whereas in America you can get a quality dress for closer to the $1500 mark. So I decided to set up Christobelle’s with the aim of providing luxury dresses at affordable prices.
What was the inspiration for the Ultimate Bridal Experience?
Essentially our inspiration was our customers. We saw that brides wanted the premium selection and reasonable prices of our online boutique, but buying a dress is a big deal and girls really wanted to see their dress in person and have the fun of dress shopping with their mum and bridesmaids.
Why have you called it the Ultimate Bridal Experience? What are you offering that is different from a traditional wedding show?
The Ultimate Bridal Experience is not a wedding show. It is a bespoke experience in bridal fashion and styling. We are taking our whole collection on the road across 8 cities, from Dunedin to Auckland.
Brides must book in as places are limited, but the lucky girls who secure a booking will get a one-on-one consultation with a highly trained stylist. They can bring their mum and bridesmaids, plus we’ll shower them with goodies and even a glass of bubbles. The stylists will work with the bride to find her a dream gown that fits her vision and compliments her shape and colourings.
But the clincher is the deal we will be offering on the day. We’ve called it the Ultimate Bridal Package and I think it is the best deal in NZ. For $1999 girls can choose any gown from our collection, plus they’ll get their shoes, a veil or headpiece, two bridesmaid’s dresses and three bowties or ties. This is easily a saving of $1000 if not more.
Is there an entry fee?
No there’s no entry fee. We love working with brides and we want to show as many girls as possible what we have to offer. So absolutely no fees!
I see that you have partnered with Millennium Hotels and Resorts for the shows - does this mean that brides will also be able to experience some potential wedding venues?
Absolutely. Millennium Hotels and Resorts are an amazing partner to have. They are expert wedding planners, caterers and hoteliers so we are in very good hands. Plus they are bringing some very cool offers to the market, from the Hen’s party, to the reception, accommodation and honeymoon, Millennium have got it covered. Lots of people think that it’s expensive to get married in a hotel, but it’s a misconception. You can actually have a luxury wedding at Millennium Hotels and Resorts for under $10,000. That’s why they are the perfect partner for us - they too strive to offer brides a luxury service at an affordable price.
What are the latest trends that you see in this year's dresses?
Our collection comes direct from Europe and the overwhelming trend is for feminine, unstructured gowns with simple lines. We are seeing a lot of soft, flowing gowns that have exquisite detailing but are easy to wear.
Finally, if you had one piece of advice for brides choosing a wedding dress, what would it be.
I think some universally sound advice is to stop stressing out and just enjoy the process. So many brides I interviewed before starting Christobelle’s told me that they didn’t enjoy shopping for their dress and I guess this is partly because it can be really expensive and partly because they don’t get the advice and guidance they need. It’s such a shame when it should be one of the most memorable and fun shopping experiences of your life. So we really want to bring the fun back and we hope the Ultimate Bridal Experience will do just that.
To find out more about this series of shows, including dates, locations and to book your (free) ticket, head to www.christobelles.co.nz