National Bridal Market Report: Fall 2013

It’s that time of year again – Bridal Fashion Week! Last weekend, I attended the National Bridal Market here in Chicago, where designers converged on the Merchandise Mart to showcase new bridal fashions for the upcoming Spring 2014 season. (To get more of a low-down on what Bridal Market entails, check out my coverage of the Spring 2013 session here!)

Since this was my third time at Market, I knew exactly what to expect, making it much less of an overwhelming experience as opposed to past seasons. As usual, I went with my boss, Krista, as well as my coworker Sarah. The three of us had an amazing weekend checking out all the new, upcoming styles from our designers—not to mention we were extremely productive!

The most exciting thing, though… they allowed picture-taking this year! Which means I actually get to show you all the new trends instead of just talking about them!

So keep reading to see the latest designs from Maggie Sottero, Casablanca, and even new lines such as Aura Bridal by Andrew Adela . . .

(All photos personal. And picture-heavy—you’ve been warned!)

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Mid-Summer Update: I’m Alive!

How is summer already halfway over? It’s crazy to think that I only have one more month until I head back to Chicago to start my last year of college. Time is just flying by; I feel like every time I blink, another week passes.

I am so unbelievably sorry that I took such a long hiatus from this blog! My life has been pretty much non-stop busy since I left Chicago. Between working twice as many hours at the bridal boutique, a few health issues, and frantically scrambling to meet costume deadlines, something was bound to fall through the cracks. I’m just sad that it had to be my blog!

Admittedly, part of the problem is that I’m really frustrated by the layout options for I need to go through the process of transferring over to the hosting option, if only so I can have my domain and much more control over the design of this website. I’m such a visual person so part of me kept justifying my procrastination with excuses like, “Well, your blog is ugly, so there’s no point in updating it until you can make it look good!”

(I’m crazy, I know. No need to remind me.)

But I’ve given myself a kick in the rear, and hopefully I’ll be able to stick with my regular posting schedule from here on out! Goodness knows I have plenty to talk about now that I’m back at the boutique.

I’ll be sure to get into all of that in a separate entry, since it’s a lot to discuss. In the mean time, here’s just a quick rundown of what’s been going on in my life this summer:

  • I have a ton of new responsibilities at the boutique, including a promotion to the Social Media Manager. I’ve also been doing a lot more consulting work, and somehow I’ve become one of the most effective consultants. I’m not quite sure how! But I average about four to six dresses per week.
  • That being said, I’m 100% certain that I don’t want to work on the sales side of bridal fashion as far as my future career is concerned. It’s been fun as a learning experience and a “first taste” of the industry, but I can’t see myself being happy doing this for an extended amount of time. I’m eager to keep pursuing my goal of being a wedding planner, especially for Disney.
  • On a totally different note, I’ve been going through some health problems involving my hormone levels and a possible virus. My doctors have me on a pretty rough hormone supplement, and they also had me switch to the Paleo diet. I’ve been on both for about two weeks now; it was definitely an adjustment, and minus some pretty unpleasant side effects from the drugs, I’m starting to feel a bit better!

Also, I want to give a quick shout-out to the Premier Bride’s blog for the pingback while I was away! They ran a post about choosing your bridal party and included a link to my entry about that topic!

Anyway, I hope all of you have been enjoying your summer so far! Have you done anything exciting, or is there something you’re looking forward to?


The Intern Games

It’s hard to think that there are only four weeks left of school. On one hand, I can’t believe this semester has gone by so fast, but on the other hand, I have never wanted a semester to end so badly!

Between awful group projects and inattentive professors, my spring classes have not been enjoyable whatsoever. I’ve had my fair share of breakdowns over my GPA in the past 48 hours, and I’m positively dreading going to my Entrepreneurship class tomorrow morning (which is the primary source of my stress and frustration because people do not understand the concept of deadlines). Needless to say, I can’t wait for summer!

Aside from not having to worry about homework or group assignments or terrible teachers, there’s another reason I’m excited for this summer: my internship!

I spent last summer working for I Do, Too! Bridal and had a wonderful time. However, it wasn’t an “official” internship; I hadn’t registered it with my coordinator and my learning was focused primarily on my job duties, rather than career development. That being said, I still learned a lot and the professional connections I developed as a result have been vital.

For this summer, I had been interested in looking for an internship in Chicago. We’ll have our apartment until May 2014, so I figured that I may as well look for an opportunity in the city, since I’m already paying for housing. Not to mention, having a “big name” bridal company on my resume wouldn’t be something to complain about.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any luck. I tried working with our fashion internship coordinator, but she wasn’t able to locate anything for me, and I hit continuous dead-ends on my own. I contacted more than a dozen wedding companies in the city, ranging from event planners to caterers to venue hosts, and I heard back from… wait for it… zero.

Trust me, it did wonders for my self-confidence.

That's a lie. I was miserable. (Photo via SmithMag)

That’s a lie. I was miserable. (Photo via SmithMag)

After the thirteenth attempt with no response, I decided that it must be a sign from the universe: I Do, Too! is where I’m meant to be. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not some big-name, downtown bridal company, but it’s the right one for me. I’ve already had so many opportunities to expand my network even though I’ve only been with I Do, Too! for a year. If I started somewhere else, I’d have to start from scratch, so to speak. I’m already familiar with the company culture and systems where I am now, and frankly, I’d rather spend my time gaining new knowledge as opposed to reteaching myself. Plus, there’s still room for me to grow here, and I feel that it would look better if I showed long-term employment on my resume as opposed to sporadic job-hopping.

Prior to Bridal Market, I emailed Krista about registering my summer position at the boutique as a professional internship that I could receive credit for, and she agreed!

We’ve started to fill out the paperwork to make it official, going over things like minimum hours and learning objectives. I’ll be receiving around 4 credits for this internship, so potentially I may be able to take one less class next semester (huzzah)! Krista wants to have my internship focus on social media management, along with more in-depth consulting work and business relations with our sales reps.

Most exciting, though… I’ll have opportunities to design wedding dresses and have them produced! I can’t say anything else for the time being—but just know that I am freaking out about it!

I know that the majority of students at my college bemoan the requirement of completing an internship, but I see internships as something that can be extremely valuable to earning experience within the industry you’d like to work. Moreover, it can help to establish professional connections that you can use to launch your career.

Granted, finding an internship can be incredibly discouraging. Few companies, especially within the bridal industry, are willing to hire students as interns due to all the regulations outlined by colleges. There are minimum hourly requirements, learning goals that must be met, and performance reviews in order to ensure that the student is gaining academic knowledge from the experience. Most employers have no desire to deal with that—which is understandable, but it doesn’t make things easy for those of us who need to complete an internship to graduate.

I’m unbelievably grateful for the opportunity I have to work with the team at I Do, Too! and to have Krista as my mentor. I would be at a very different place in my career without her, and my plans for my future would be much more uncertain. I’m thrilled that I’ll get to return to the boutique for another year, and I can’t wait to see what this summer holds in store!

Just one more month to go… Now it’s only a matter of surviving finals!

Did or does your college require students to complete a professional internship? If so, how did/has yours benefited your career? Do you have an exciting internship lined up for the summer, or did you recently complete one?


National Bridal Market Report: Spring 2013

As someone who attends a lot of them, I can be pretty critical when it comes to conventions. But as far as trade shows are concerned, the National Bridal Market is one of my absolute favorites!

For those of you who don’t know, Bridal Market is a bi-annual merchandise show for the bridal industry. Designers set up exhibits and retailers attending the show are able to view products for the upcoming season. From there, the retailers decide what they want to order for their stores. It’s pretty straight-forward – and also pretty fun.

(Hint: that’s an understatement. It’s unbelievably fun!)

This was my second season attending the show as an assistant buyer with my boss, Krista, from I Do Too! Bridal. Trish, our maids gallery supervisor, also attended this season. Even though the spring show is usually the slower of the two, it’s been a very busy three days for us! I’m exhausted and my feet are screaming after being in heels the entire time, but I’m so excited about what we saw from our vendors.

Legally, I couldn’t take pictures of anything on the showroom floor. That being said, I do want to share some trends that you’ll be seeing later this year, as well as what you can expect from some of the biggest designers! And also a peek at what attending Bridal Market is like, for those of you who are curious!

(All photos personal unless otherwise stated.)


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The Major Leagues

So, why weddings? Why not marketing, or finance, or creative writing? Why not be an editor, a pastry chef, a costume designer, a nutritionist? Why choose event planning over animal behaviorism? All of these are things that I’m skilled at and passionate about. So what is it about the bridal industry that made me fall head over satiny heels?

As I mentioned during my introduction post, working with weddings hasn’t always been something I wanted to do. Deciding on a major (or a career) is similar process to finding The One. You “date” the major by taking a few classes, testing the waters, seeing if the two of you are compatible.

"I knew I shouldn't have been a chem major." (Photo via Glamour.)

“I knew I shouldn’t have been a chem major.” (Photo via Glamour.)

After a bit of experimentation, you can tell if the major or career is a good fit for you. If it’s not, you break up and move on. Or you delude yourself into thinking that it’s the right choice – which is exactly what I did when I started college.

For most of high school, I was certain that I wanted to become a film director, and it wasn’t until the fall of my senior year that I decided I wanted to pursue fashion design instead. Mostly because I did some research and found out how horribly sexist the field of film-making is, and frankly I couldn’t see myself being happy surrounded by that sort of mentality.

Unlike most schools, Columbia requires incoming freshmen to declare their major at the time of application. The choice to major in Fashion Design wasn’t based on a dream of mine to start a famous clothing line or even an interest in design. Mostly, I just enjoyed sewing and putting together outfits, so fashion design must be what I was meant to do, right?


It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my classes or that I wasn’t good at them. I received a hefty four-year scholarship for my fashion portfolio that I submitted with my college application, and at the end of my spring semester, I had a 4.0 GPA and made the Dean’s List. Coming up with clothing designs and collections was fun, and my garment construction classes were vastly improving my sewing skills.

But everything I did felt dispassionate and impassive. There was no heart in my work; I was simply going through the motions.

There was a clear point during my 3D Design class where I just lost motivation and gave up. (Personal photo.)

There was a clear point during my 3D Design class where I just lost motivation and gave up. (Personal photo.)

Before the end of my first year, though, I realized that this was not the field for me. It came to me as an epiphany during my Fundamentals of Fashion Design class, while we were watching a documentary on Nicole Miller. I remember sitting there as the video walked through a day in Nicole Miller’s life, thinking to myself, “I do not want to do that. I absolutely, positively, do not want to do that.”

Immediately after class, I took myself to Starbucks, got a consolatory chai latte, and went to sit in Grant Park as I promptly had my first “Oh God What Am I Doing With My Life” college breakdown. (It was the first of many.)

The thing is, I loved sewing, and I loved designing, but my classes were making me hate both because I felt obligated to do the work, rather than being inspired to do it. Those were my hobbies, things I did to relax and relieve stress, and I didn’t want them to become something I couldn’t turn to for fun.

In the middle of this breakdown, I called my mom, who calmly talked me away from the ledge of dropping out of college to live with her for the rest of my life. Once I admitted that I didn’t really want to become a moocher, she suggested the idea of switching majors.

“Is there anything else you can see yourself doing, honey?” she’d asked. “Think of something that makes you happy.”

I took a moment to do so, and for some reason, my mind immediately jumped to my cousin’s wedding from the previous summer. I’d loved talking to her during the planning stages, helping her figure out a color scheme, and seeing it all come together had been one of the most exciting days of my life.

“Weddings,” I’d said, a little breathless. “Mom, I want to be a wedding planner.”

My mom had sounded all too smug as agreed, as if she’d always known I’d choose this. The next morning, I made an appointment with my adviser and switched my degree to Fashion Business. It’s been history ever since.

I still have the occasional thought of what my life would be like if I had decided to attend Michigan State to major in Animal Behaviorism, but I’m confident that going into bridal is what I’m meant to do. It took a bit of dating, a bit of exploring the fish in the sea, but I know I’ve found the right career for me.

Now, if only finding The One will be just as easy…

How did you decide on your major or career? Did you ever switch, or go into a field different from your degree?