{review} The Bride’s Closet

The Brides Closet Nanaimo Wedding Gown Shop

If you’re looking for THE dress, there’s a good bet its right inside The Bride’s Closet, Nanaimo

If customer service, selection of high quality gowns and an intimate setting are important to you when buying a gown, you’re going to love The Bride’s Closet in Nanaimo. After speaking with brides who purchased their wedding gowns here, we found owner, Fern, and her team of ladies, know how to make a big impression with Vancouver Island brides. Whether it was their amazing customer service or the fabulous quantities of dresses in stock, The Bride’s Closet is where many brides find THE dress – and so much more. Here’s a sneak peek inside The Bride’s Closet.

The Brides Closet by Element Photo

Taking a peek inside the closet……

The Bride’s Closet is located in an elegant 1893 Victorian heritage house in downtown Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter at 279 Selby Street. Its spaces are filled with pristine gowns set against rich dark hardwood floors, ten foot ceilings and chandeliers.

The Bride’s Closet is owned by Fern along with her husband Leroy, and even after fifteen years in the wedding dress industry, she still makes it her goal to ensure that every bride who walks through their doors is extremely happy, and that when they walk out, they do so with the gown of their dreams.

Fern runs a very hands-on business, where she selects the dresses personally, meets brides and joins in fittings. “I understand the construction of the dresses and know what would make them fit perfectly and what it will take for us to get that look.”

After thousands of bride’s dresses and all the wonderful related drama – what keeps Fern coming in every morning? “Everything is beautiful and it’s a happy time in people’s lives and it’s my honor to be able to share in that. I come into work each morning and there are always new gowns so there is something new to look forward to.  The new trends and looks and then there are all the people to meet.  Often we have brides come in as prom girls, return as a bride and bring friends as they get married. We get to know families very well… You never know who you are going to meet and see. I love my work!” In fact, Fern admits that she goes into the shop, even when she doesn’t have to – something we can attest to since we seem to be able to catch her there, no matter when we call!

While touring through the lovely shop we were thrilled to discover Fern’s ‘basement’ where dresses go when marked down.  What a find for Vancouver Island brides! Dresses of every size waiting to be purchased off the rack. Autumn, a bride who is less than a size zero, needed a gown in for her wedding with less than three months to the date.  “I could not believe that I actually found three different gowns in the ‘basement’ and one of them turned out to be my dream dress!”  Shayna, a July fashionista bride, was looking to be budget conscious. “When I went downstairs I was looking at my bride heaven! I found a gown I loved at the price point I had in mind.”

The ladies of the Closet….

Fern and her wonderful staff are highly valued by their brides. One bride had this story to tell. “The ladies at The Bride’s Closet are wonderful and personable. I went and scoped out a game plan prior to trying on dresses, and I was happily surprised that they remembered my name when I came back to try on dresses. They are helpful, professional and simply a lot of fun. It was an exciting experience”

Brides choose The Bride’s Closet because of the atmosphere of the store, which is very friendly and down to earth. (And the BC ladies don’t hold back with their honest opinion!) Fern feels that making each person feel special is what brings and keeps clients. “Just today, a young lady came over from Vancouver to try on a dress that she couldn’t find there and then she was going to return and order it. But after arriving and trying the dress on, she decided to order it from us!  We feel proud when decisions like that get made, based on our level of service.”

Fern feels that having alterations done on-site is highly important for a bride and has extensive personal experience with alterations and creating wedding dresses. She sewed her first dress at five years of age. There is a picture of her with the dress and her two front teeth are missing!  So Fern is grateful to have Ruth Bard, with her years of experience, as seamstress and head of alterations. “When alterations are done on-site, quality obviously is much higher. A bride’s dress never has to leave our premises until it is ready to go down the aisle and we all feel that the dress is wedding aisle worthy!”

Alison was another bride who bought her gown when she was a long way from home. “I live in Calgary, but was visiting my Gran in Nanaimo and thought it would be fun just to go looking. Fern was wonderful offering input and recommending dresses for me to try. If it was not for one of her recommendations, I would not have tried on the dress that I fell in love with. We could have bought the dress in Calgary, but it was the amazing attention that brought us back to The Bride’s Closet. I truly feel like it was worth the trip.”

Photo: Brawns Photography
Photo: Brawns Photography

Rachael, a November bride, sent her expressions on shopping at The Bride’s Closet. “Thank you so much for your patience and expert advice. Dress shopping was a wonderful experience with you.”

Allison, a May bride, felt the way she was treated was amazing. “I appreciated the service that was offered from The Bride’s Closet. They were so understanding, patient, attentive and knowledgeable throughout the whole process. Customer service is essential in servicing a bride and they did it exceptionally.”

Local wedding experts also like working with Fern. Brian, of Maffeo Salon in Nanaimo, works with Fern through brides, bridal shows and fashion shoots. “Fern Descoteau is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the bridal business. We have created wedding hair styles for many bridal parties over the years that have had their bridal gowns and accessories provided by the Bride’s Closet. We give the Bride’s Closet a top recommendation.”

When we asked Fern to describe her ideal bride, her answer came easily. “Once we get them in the door, they like the way they are treated. We try to find the perfect dress for them by listening. So our ideal bride is every bride!  If you treat a bride right, they are always ideal!”

Gown lines, sizes, styles and accessories

The Bride’s Closet carries a wide selection of gowns, including Allure, Allure Couture, Sophia Tolli, Mon Cheri, Bonny Unforgettable, Callista, Jai International, Elegance and Venus. As well, The Bride’s Closet is the only shop on Vancouver Island to carry Justin Alexander and Madison designs. Dresses are available in all budget ranges, style and size choices. Beach dresses, vintage, glamour and traditional are all waiting to be chosen!  And the selection is phenomenal.  Six hundred gowns, in sizes 2 to 32, just waiting to be looked over.

The Bride’s Closet is very proud to be able to say that they have two Canadian designers on board, Paraezo from Toronto and Anaiss from Vancouver. New gowns are arriving and they are spectacular!

Bridesmaid’s gowns samples are from Allure, Bella Bridesmaids, B2, Belsoie, Mori Lee and Tony Bowls. The Mothers dresses are sophisticated and beautiful. Shawls and wraps as well as jackets can be ordered to match the dress chosen. And the all important variety of bras, bustiers, panties, and body shapers are there as well!

The store also has a wide selection of  veils, tiaras, jewellery,  purses, and hair accessories.  Items for your wedding and reception such as place cards, favours, guest books, toasting glasses, table decorations, and a variety of other items from Wedding Star to help you decorate your wedding and reception.

We loved the amazing prom dresses that were on hand when we visited the shop. The unusual designs and styles could easily be used as bridesmaid dresses for the bride who wants something special.

And don’t forget the serious sale that Fern holds each year in October.

Fern loves to see the styles as they change. “This season it was all lace and more lace! And vintage! The option of purchasing an un-embellished dress and letting your imagination go to town is really fun. Jewelled sashes and detachable cap sleeves are just two of the options now being offered for a bride to personalize her gown.”

The Brides Closet by Julien Photography

Walking you through it with The Bride’s Closet

At The Bride’s Closet, it is preferred if you phone or email to make an appointment. But they welcome drop-ins. Allison Wood, married May, loved her drop-in experience. “We decided to pop into The Bride’s Closet and see if they allowed walk-ins. It was a very busy time for them but Fern greeted me warmly at the door and made space for me. No matter how busy they were with their actual appointments, they tended to my needs in a friendly manner. After sifting through their MASSIVE stock of dresses I had pulled two that really stuck out for me. The first one I tried on was IT! It gave me the butterfly feeling that I was looking for and had all the components of the dress that I dreamed of. It was as though it was meant to be.”

“When I first stepped in I felt welcome and accepted as a bigger bride! The women here are amazing at giving you a laid back and comfortable bridal experience! Not to mention there is soo many beautiful things to try on and look at! Well worth the drive and well worth the time!”  Janelle Tenisco – August Bride

After you have found THE dress, Fern or one of her team of consultants will place the order. Fern cautions that brides should choose and order a dress at least six months in advance. That being said, The Bride’s Closet has a large selection of off-the-rack dresses for the bride in a hurry! These beautiful, discontinued gowns are offered at a fraction of their original price.

Once the dress arrives, the bride will come in for a fitting.  This is often when she will choose her accessories including headpiece or veil. The final fitting is done close to the wedding date – just in case any major changes take place in the bride’s body shape! A day is booked for dress pick up so that the dress can be steamed and ready to go.

With all this care and attention it’s no wonder that Colleen, a March bride, was enthusiastic about Fern’s care. “Thank you so much for helping me to find and fit my dream dress! I felt so beautiful and comfortable on my wedding day.”

Bride Jen says “I could have just purchased the dress and kept it in Victoria with me and had it locally altered but Fern (the Store owner) really understood the vision I had for the dress and was just as excited as I was to get to work on it to make it just what I wanted. I ended up driving to Nanaimo on 4 separate occasions to consult with Fern, have the dress pinned, and hemmed and perfected and I haven’t held a grudge having to make ANY of those trips there as the service, quality, and level of care have been ABSOLUTELY worth it every single time”

Fern had some fun stories of helping bride’s out on their wedding day. She has been known to go a bride’s home to help her dress and lace up.  One bride managed to get grease on her dress while getting out of a vehicle. It was Fern to the rescue with the cleaners and the bride managed to get down the aisle spotless!  Now that’s dedication and customer service!

The Brides Closet by Vivid Photography (2)

A few of our favourite things…

• Fern and her husband are always eager to step up and supply the bridal fashion for photo shoots on Vancouver Island! Thanks to her contributions photographers are always able to have beautiful gowns..perhaps one of the reasons that The Bride’s Closet won the Industy Award at the 2014 Vancouver Island Wedding Awards for industry excellence!

• The Bride’s Closet is big part of the community, attending more bridal shows than any other bridal shop on Vancouver Island. Beckie Ross, of Bridal Exhibitions, works with The Bride’s Closet on a regular basis. “Fern is a joy to work with, very friendly and her fashion shows are always well organized… The dresses are just breathtaking.” So keep an eye out at the bridal shows and you’ll likely run into Fern and her husband!

• Fern’s involvement with local charities – especially her work with the Cinderella Project! If you wish to donate a dress, simply drop it by the Bride’s Closet. Her shop is the headquarters for the Cinderella project where girls are treated like every other client while they choose their dream dress!

• The elegant feel to the shop and the lovely chandelier as you enter! We also love the old world charm as one walks to the front door. As one bride put it, “I suppose that it wasn’t so much that I had consciously ‘chosen’ the Bride’s Closet, as much as it had chosen me.”

Photo: Vivid Photography
Photo: Vivid Photography

Details, Details, Details…

The Bride’s Closet works hard to provide a down to earth feeling combined with champagne taste. So Allison was pleasantly surprised at the value. “I think their prices were quite reasonable. I was thrilled when I saw the price of my dress because I was expecting it to be more than it was. It was a very pleasant surprise to find that it was within our budget not to mention that it was the perfect dress for me.”

Fern finds that the average bride spends somewhere between $300 and $3000 dollars at The Bride’s Closet.  “I realize that’s a big range but we really do have the casual gowns that fit into the tight budget while we also carry  the luxury lines.  We want to have something for everyone.”

Photo: Masika May Photography
Photo: Masika May Photography

Contacting The Bride’s Closet

To find out more, contact Fern at The Bride’s Closet by email at bridescloset@telus.net or by phone at 250-753-4975. They are located at 279 Selby Street in Nanaimo . You can also visit The Bride’s Closet online at http://www.thebridescloset.com.

Rate & review The Bride’s Closet…

Why You Love This Company

Read what other couples & experts have said…