I am a bride, and yesterday, was my first experience of wedding gown shopping. This is my story of how and why La Reine Bridal in Waltham, MA has deplorable customer service, or complete lack thereof, I guess.
My mom, drove 300 miles to be present and 3 of my bridesmaids came from all parts of Massachusetts, to join me in this experience, and what should have been a wonderful day, start to finish. We started the day at a lovely shop in Norwood – Terry’s. I cannot say enough wonderful things about the experience, shop and the owner Terry. she listened to what I was interested in, and based on that and the one dress that I mentioned she pulled several; each more beautiful and flattering than the next. Talk about someone who knows their stuff! I found a dress there that was really fantastic, but had already made an appointment to visit La Reine Bridal in Waltham for later that day and wanted to see what they had to offer before making such a huge decision. I had made my appointment at La Reine a week prior to our visit and they had only 2 time slots available, 3 or 4pm. I took the 3, excited since their website says they have gowns from over 35 designers, with 2 designers of specific interest to me, Augusta Jones and Romona Kevez, both of whom make dresses in my desired style (not the typical strapless/princess gown) and neither are sold IN Boston, where I live. When I called I asked specifically about both designers and was told they had over 1,500 IN-STOCK for trying on and indeed carried both designers, including the 4 Augusta Jones that I mentioned by name.
Upon arriving to La Reine, I was surprised - the area didn’t seem to match their Newbury Street-esque line-up of gowns and the parking was worse than the mall in mid-December (a first impression says a lot). Still excited, my entourage and I went in. We were greeted; they asked me the same questions they had over the phone; what body type/neckline I wanted, fabric, price range, etc. Then the woman said “what has been your favorite dress, it’s 3pm so you’ve clearly been to a lot of places by now today” –this was her assumption since she never asked if I had been elsewhere yet. Then she went to get us set-up in a room… a few minutes later someone else came and asked if we had been helped, then another person asked, again, I said yes, but she asked me all of the same questions anyway. Then this young woman started to show us into a room, she asked if I had tried on anything yet of interest – I told her the designer of the earlier dress and she said “oh they are cheap so we can get you some dresses like that” -the budget I shared with them was relatively high,– the dress we were discussing was more than most are budgeted to spend, so I was surprised, and insulted. This young woman seemed unseasoned, was dressed like a total disaster (slob) and didn’t seem to know much about the industry she was representing since I specifically shared my desired style, as did my friends. When she and I were in the dressing room she asked about my budget again, I shared it again and added that I was flexible for the right dress. She told me that with my budget she’d be able to find a lot of great dresses (this after acting like the expensive dress mentioned earlier was crap). She brought me dresses that were the polar opposite of what I said that I liked, when I mentioned Romona Keveza she looked very confused, as if I had just made up the name of a designer to test her (this designer, especially in an upscale shop, would be like saying Ford while out car shopping – you would have to live under a rock to have not heard her name) then I asked about the specific Augusta Jones dresses, she disappeared and came back with 1 Jones dress, not ones that I had mentioned, but it was nice. She told me they didn’t have any of the Jones dresses that I requested (thought they did say they had them when I called to make my appointment) and didn’t have Keveza (while mis-pronouncing her name).
I wear a size 12, so I know that most sample dresses wont zip up when I’m trying them on, but I also know that almost all places will clip the back of the dress to your bra or something so you can get some sense of what it looks like on, she didn’t. She left the dresses zipped up and told me that I needed to pull them over my head. I pulled up off and told her that wasn’t possible and I would step into the gown; she seemed put off by this and asked me to try again. The dress was an 8, in the bridal world that’s even smaller, so pulling it over my head wasn’t happening. The one Jones dress she brought in that I did somewhat like she didn’t clip, nor did she suggest that I stand on the platform in front of the mirrors so I could see myself or show those with me. The gown wasn’t clipped so I had no sense of how it looked unless I pinned my arms to the sides of my body to hold it tightly on me. She asked what time it was 20 minutes into the appointment, and then stated she should wear a watch. I specifically said that I wanted a gown in satin, and she told me that she didn’t like satin, and that taffeta was much nicer, and more formal. A matter of opinion clearly, but as I’m the customer, should I have said I wanted burlap, she should have tried to sell me just that. While trying to force a small, zipped gown over my head, she asked where I was getting married, I told her in Vermont. She quickly said “oh, I don’t know where Vermont is” -hello, it boarders the State you’re standing in lady! When I was a bit more specific, all while being so incredibly sweet that it was difficult, she started to tell me how she likes to snowboard, blah blah, and had walked away leaving me with my arms in the air and with 5 layers of taffeta surrounding my face suffocating me! Through this entire process people came in and out of the room, getting things for other brides, the woman who checked me in bringing in dresses SO opposite of what I said I liked, and when I said I wasn’t interested in that style, she then came back in with another of the same un-desired style. The girl helping me told me that “there just aren’t any v-neck style dresses out there) while what brought me to their shop were the 2 designers of interest and their several gowns with the neckline/body style I liked. Frustrated and feeling very upset, almost sad/let down, I got dressed again (30 mins into my hour long appointment) she didn’t seem to care. I asked if she could tell me the style name of the Augusta Jones and she told me “no, it in our system for when you come back” when those I was with along with myself quickly questioned her saying “no” she told us “we are not allowed to share that information, our owner would get really mad at me. For $100 we can get you those other dresses that we don’t have if you want to try them on by the way.” We all bit our tongue, shook our heads with looks of disbelief and discontent and left.
I know that my story is long, but I wanted to be sure I didn’t skip a beat in telling it and hope it painted a clear picture of the appalling service and treatment I received at La Reine Bridal in Waltham, MA. I am unsure why La Reine treated me, with such disregard, but I’m assuming their jobs are commission based so I really hope that she did take it upon herself to look up the prices of the gowns I was interested in because she would have made herself one heck of a sale! Even if her commission was $5, their lack of interest in listening to my style and trying to find me more than 4 dresses to actually try on was unacceptable from the consumers prospective and no doubt, in the world of sales.