Starting up.

When I started in bridal in 1990 it was so easy. With more brides (331,500 – down by almost a third to 247,000 in 2014) and fewer suppliers, shows and shops and even fewer magazines (only 2) and no social media it was much easier to start up a bridal business and make a decent living. All you had to do was visit Harrogate once a year, buy a few dresses (with no minimums), find premises, install a phone line, attend a few local bridal fairs and wait for the brides to turn up and the money to roll in. Oh and most of them just came with Mum or close family members and bought first time!! Those were the days!!!

Fast forward to 2017 and, thanks to the worldwide web, social media and the appeal of TV programmes with BRIDE in the title, the bridal landscape has changed and is constantly evolving. We now have almost 100,000 fewer weddings and the days of brides saying “Yes to the Dress” on their first visit accompanied only by Mum are long gone. Thankfully there are thousands more abroad that don’t get accounted for in the official statistics. (View The Statistics) 

If you still want to enter the world of wedding gowns and have discovered that there isn’t “The Dummy’s Guide to Opening up a Bridal Boutique” then read on.

Nothing can help you  more than a person who has done it all before. Having opened 6 bridal shops and managed 13 shop fits there is so much I can offer so that you don’t have to learn the hard and costly way.   Before you open is the best time to get me  in to help you set everything up. These are some of the areas where I can add value:


  • Location and premises – moving 5 miles could mean the difference between acquiring some premium brands or having the “also rans”

  • Sourcing key brands and getting the right mix

  • Analysing your niche and your target bride

  • Considering buying an existing business rather than opening a new business

  • Researching businesses for sale and negotiating the purchase (I’ve both bought and sold so have experience at both ends)


  • Business plan whether for yourself or to get funding

  • Running costs

  • Setting targets and Key Performance Indicators

  • Credit card provider


  • What’s in a name and developing your personality and “story”

  • Branding that attracts “your bride”

  • How to get the right customer through your door

  • Website design

  • Social media platforms

Suppliers & stock

  • Exhibitions and buying

  • Negotiating territory, payment terms, minimums, loan service, start up stock

The Boutique – the fun bit you’ve been waiting for.

  • Shopfit

  • Best layout so you have the best flow and it reflects your brand

  • Practical stuff from hangars to height of rails to bags to dress tags

The Boutique – the boring bits but essential.

  • Terms and conditions

  • Best appointment and ordering systems ie computer systems to make life easier

  • How to set up appointments and what questions to ask to qualify your customers

  • The fitting room tool box

The Bride

  • How to pin (yes, there is an art and I have a PhD in pinning) and how to get a size 20 bride into a size 12 dress and make her feel good and buy

  • How to sell and close a sale successfully

  • How to measure correctly and size dresses in accordance with size charts

  • Alterations – if in house how to make it a profit centre

  • Managing customer expectations

The Back Office

  • How to order the dress so it comes in problem free

  • Financial – from accounts to VAT returns

  • Spreadsheets to keep the business on track from return on investment to tracking sales and conversion rates.

Still with me and want to know how we can work together? You may want help in all of the above or be very specific about a particular area. You choose.

Contact me on 07768 297290 or e-mail ……… for an initial free hour long phone consultation after which we can establish a plan of how to move forward

Maria Musgrove-Wethey is a well-known and respected character within the UK bridal industry – boutique owner, writer, coach and trainer.



I contacted Maria when I initially decided to open my bridal boutique in Donegal, Ireland.

I had a quite a bit of business experience and was looking for some insight into the world of bridal, which I was completely new to. After an initial chat we put a more formal arrangement in place with ‘Maria the Mentor’.

I would honestly say this was the best money I spent when setting out. I found Maria honest, approachable and easy to work with. She has a wealth of experience in the industry and is well known and respected, amoung her peers and bridal suppliers through her multiple bridal businesses and roles in the RBA.

A business owner herself, she is well voiced on all areas of running a bridal boutique from the legal and financial considerations to the day to day dealing with brides. Maria is particualrly passionate about sales training training and she has been an ongoing source of support and inspiration in this area. Furthermore, as Maria currently runs two bridal boutiques, she is up to date and well aware on current issues in the industry, brand performance and everything else in the wonderful world of bridal!


I felt that Maria’s article on Closing that Sale in Bridal Buyer in July 2016 was speaking directly to me.

My background in Bridal is extensive in California and Florida.

Upon my return to Ireland, I have had inspiring coaching sessions with Maria.

Maria is consistent and savvy with a realistic approach to sales and her relationship to the Bride.




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