Yes! To The Dress

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - by Ferris Robinson
Allison Brown Howell in a dress from Monica's.
Allison Brown Howell in a dress from Monica's.

The very first yes is to him, of course. To your darling fiancé who you will spend the rest of your life loving and honoring and cherishing.  

The very next yes it to, you guessed it, the DRESS. Immediately after you agree to the marriage, reserve the church and commit to a venue, you must find a dress you can say Yes! to. 

Your wedding is going to be your day. You are the star here, and you are going to stand out in whatever dress you choose, be it billowing white lace or an understated gown, or even a low-key suit. 

It is of utmost importance that your dress makes you feel special and beautiful, and is everything you ever imagined on this important day. Dolores Murphy of Monica's Bridal Salon says she's nothing more than a 'lady with experience.' But clearly she's much more. "After 15 years of helping brides choose their wedding dresses, I've learned a little," she admits.

Dolores gets to know the bride a little bit before the trying on of dresses. She listens to the bride's ideas, gets a feel for her personality and what sort of things she likes. Then Dolores presents her with choices to try, and they winnow down hundreds of choices to a final two or three.  

It sounds overwhelming, but Dolores says it's not as complicated as it sounds. "We basically listen to the bride, and pay attention to what she says. So really almost unconsciously the bride is choosing her dress just by talking to us," Dolores says. 

The styles change in wedding gowns just like the do with everything else, and the 'fit and flare' gown, sort of like a mermaid feel, is popular, as are the ball gown styles. But the strapless bridal dresses are the most popular. "We can add straps to them now," Dolores says. "Maybe just a lace neckline, or netting with a keyhole back." 

Obviously a wedding is a little more important than a cocktail party or a gala, and at Monica's it is treated as such. "I love my job," Dolores says. "I have a tiny picture of the bride when she first walks into the shop, and after I get to know what she likes and what kind of wedding she wants, I feel very involved. Then I get to know the family, the mother and siblings, and the groom and his family.... and well, I get very attached!" 

Dolores gives the bride feedback as she tries on dresses, and helps her choose the most flattering gown for her big day. "You really need to start thinking about the dress as soon as you have the church because it can take five months by the time everything is said and done," she says.  

The bridal gown sets the tone for the entire wedding, be it formal or understated, so everything hinges on the dress. The bridesmaid dresses are the next big decision, and their color affects everything as well, from the bouquets to the table linens to the flowers on the cake to the mother-of-the-bride dress. "I tell my brides to trust their own instinct when choosing the bridesmaid dresses. This is her day. I love the mothers. Their goal is the same as mine; to make sure the bride is happy." 

Dolores orders an extra swatch of fabric from the bridesmaid dresses, and insists the bride carries it in her purse. "You wouldn't believe how many times that material is matched up to flowers and linens and icing!" she says. 

It's that extra mile that makes Monica's special. "We provide turn-key service for the entire wedding party," she says. But clearly it's much more than that. It's personal for Dolores Murphy, and there's nothing she loves more than being part of a wedding. 

(Ferris Robinson can be contacted at

Heather Hogan Phelps in a dress from Monica's.
Heather Hogan Phelps in a dress from Monica's.

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