Handling the Entourage

Why is it that shopping for a wedding gown can often be more about entertaining a big group of friends than focusing on finding “the one”. Every bridal consultant hates to hear “How many people can I bring?” as what is really being asked is “Can I bring everyone from my Mum to my Mate’s mate who needs cheering up as her dog has just died” Seriously I did have someone who wanted to bring in her friend for exactly this reason!!

The bigger the group the smaller the chance of a sale and its more “showtime” than “salestime”. The big crowd creates confusion and we know that those well meaning friends will be running wild, pulling dresses that aren’t what the bride wants and saying “Try it just for fun!” which could easily result in a raised eyebrow or retort from you that will be destined for a One Star Review that reads “The Consultant was a controlling cow complete with a charisma bias and a sense of humour failure”. Ouch that stings if you and your boutique are on the receiving end of that.

We know that more often than not, depending on the squad, a large group can be more confusing than helpful. With comments like “That makes your bum look big/gives you back fat/your shoulders are too broad/arms too flabby” it’s not surprising that before the bride gets a chance to look in the mirror she ends up being deflated. And her dream shopping experience results in a nightmare of negativity with not a chance of a “Say Yes to the Dress” moment but a definite “No get me outta here”retreat in floods of tears. The number of times I’ve had a bride say “Oh I wish I’d taken your advice and not brought so many people”. Good luck to you if you can pull her back after that! But not always as she may well anchor confusion and disappointment to you and your boutique – not because of you but because of her “Happy little helpers” who morphed into Simon Cowell and Craig Revel-Horwood complete with voting paddles and ascerbic comments be-fitting X Factor and Strictly but not your fitting room!

So what to say to her before she comes in to try to decrease that crowd size down to a manageable 2 or 3 and persuade her that “less is more” when choosing a gown. Many boutiques place advice either on their website Booking an Appointment or FAQs page. I would avoid stating “our boutique is intimate and seating is limited” as this may give the impression that your selection of gowns is also limited. She may be so hell bent on bringing everyone that she replies with “It’s ok they’ll sit on the floor or bring their own chairs”. Now get out of that one without a withering review!

Try to educate your bride with a statement like the following that works at the intake/appointment stage or in your FAQs:

Bring the two or three people whose opinions you value most.

When it comes to choosing a dress, more is not always merrier! You’ll want to bring guests who understand your true style, give supportive feedback, and will help you look your best. Hearing too many opinions can be overwhelming for even the most confident of brides, so keep the guest list short and sweet.

If she isn’t to be dissuaded to decrease her numbers then who else to turn to for advice but Randy Fenoli!! In his article “Educating the Entourage” he says that the most common mistake made by the bride is “Not setting the ground rules before she brings in her entourage”. In true Randy fashion he says that direct communication is needed from the bride before she even steps inside your boutique “They should know that her budget is $1000 instead of $10,000—if someone’s pulling a $10,000 dress, they need to put in the other $9000 or don’t pull it.”

He continues with “Purchasing a wedding dress is really a unique experience. I don’t know any other purchase where we invite people in with their opinions on a purchase that is so personal. When you purchase a house or car, you don’t bring your mother-in-law and sister and college roommate to that experience.”

Beyond just the financials, he says that the entourage should be encouraged to honour the bride’s vision and approach the situation with positivity and this is the message he advises the bride to get across “It’s about letting people know that this is a privilege and honour to go shopping with you, and you’re bringing them along because you care about them and want them to be part of this experience. They are there to help you, and not fulfill their vision of what they want you to wear”

Wow I love it – if only I had Randy to deliver that personally to every bride when the entourage she wants to bring is just several short of the entire guest list!!!
The problem with many brides is that they have such a sugar coated idea of what will happen at an appointment and for them it’s all about making memories and not about making rules and contracts for how their tribe should behave at a bridal appointment

One thing is guaranteed – unless those ground rules are set (whether by the bride or by you with the bride’s agreement) there will be little chance of a magical moment with a simultaneous orgasmic cry of “This is the one” with them reaching for the tissues and you reaching for the order pad and everyone living happily ever after!

So what are you waiting for? Go and change your FAQs and if Finoli isn’t free to educate the bride then get your own Randy retort rehearsed for the next time you’re asked “How many people can I bring with me?” Here’s a quick quiz that might help https://www.weddingwire.com/wedding-ideas/how-many-people-should-you-bring-wedding-dress-shopping

Oh and we all know that even when the Entourage has been Educated they still need to be managed and I’ll be writing about that in a future article.

If you can’t wait to find out then contact Maria on maria@pantilesbride.com to get more information on sales training courses and a sales manual or join the Facebook group Bridal Business Owner or contact her on +44(0) 7768 297 290