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Being A Bridal Stylist: A Six Month Reflection

There’s no denying it: 2020 sucked, and 2021 wasn’t a real winner either. There’s been chaos in our world, in our country, and in most of our personal lives.

At the start of 2021 tragedy hit my life, and I kind of went into a tailspin. My job as a social worker for refugee kids in foster care, which I am passionate about, became a burden. There was too much happening in my life for me to be able to fully invest the effort and attention needed to that job.

I was losing sleep, losing my appetite, and I spent 90% of my day worrying about work. It took only a few weeks of feeling like that to know enough was enough – I needed a new job while I worked on healing myself.

My friends and family were taken aback when I told them I was leaving social work. I spent six years and thousands of dollars learning how to be a social worker; how could I leave it behind for something I had no experience with? Truth is, it was easy.

Now let me be clear: I do not have a ‘dream job’. I do not dream of labor. I dream of sunbathing on an island with a fruity, frozen cocktail and a great book. But alas, I was not born a hotel heiress or a celebrity, so I will spend my days working. However, I am a firm believer that if I have to do something for 40 hours per week, I better freakin’ enjoy it. And I really, really enjoy working at Darianna Bridal and Tuxedo.

Working in a bridal store is just as incredible as you’d expect it to be. Most of the time, it doesn’t even feel like work. The energy is always positive, the space is filled with beautiful things to look at, and people are genuinely happy to be here.

From groomsmen excited about standing next to their friend, to moms looking for a perfect dress of their own, to high schoolers shopping for prom dresses, to our gorgeous brides and their maids, we see a little bit of everything and everyone. And it’s the everyone that I enjoy the most.

In my first six months here, I’ve sold dresses to brides that I know from other jobs, high school, college, church, and my kindergarten class! I had even met Daria at a party once in 2009 or something crazy. Growing up locally means knowing the clientele and finding common ground to build relationships on.

Even though being at Darianna is totally a different line of work from social work, I was surprised at how much my social work skills have come into play here. Between analyzing body language and facial expressions to gauge how my brides actually feel, to practicing active listening to fully understand my brides’ visions, and even mediating a few disputes between brides and their groups, there is definitely a lot of overlap.

I am new to the wonderful world of weddings, but I have a working understanding of psychology and human behavior; I feel like both my brides and I benefit from that. And it’s nice knowing my education isn’t going to waste.

There is something truly special and rewarding about working for a family business, too. I went from a nation-wide organization operating in 43 states with a couple hundred branches to working for a local family at one single location. Here, the owners know me and care about me. I feel valued, I feel heard, and I feel genuinely welcomed into the family.

All of my stress and anxieties of my old job have disappeared; I even stopped biting my nails! I am healing. When it really comes down to it, working at Darianna Bridal and Tuxedo is the best decision I’ve made in a long, long time. And you will find me here for a long, long time to come.

Morilee Daniella wedding dress modeled by Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo Stylist Sarah Kline
Sarah modeling a new wedding dress: Daniella by Morilee


Staff Appreciation Spotlight: Suzanne Ardite

It is important to us as a family business that we take care of our staff. Part of taking care of them, I believe, is to highlight how special they are.

All too quickly the days turn into months and it is easy to wonder if those around us even notice our contributions. WE DO. We notice and appreciate that our staff gives 100% all year long and while it isn’t always “easy”, they make it look easy. It isn’t always “fun”, but they do have fun together.

Today I am excited to start our series of Staff Appreciation with Suzanne Ardite.

Suzanne is our Mother of the Bride/Groom Department Manager and made after my own heart.

She runs a tight ship, is controlling as hell over the department (LOVE!), and has a wicked knowledge of brands, fabrics, colors, prices, deliveries, alterations, and pretty much anything related to bridal/MOB. We love this about her.

She also has a wicked sense of humor that I personally have come to depend on.

She is a devoted wife and mother of two (her daughter Kaitlyn is also part of the Darianna team!) which keeps her busy enough, but she is also an active member in the local community theaters.  She still has so much energy in the store – I am not sure how she does it.

A very loyal, incredibly generous, and thoughtful soul, she has become a true friend. We even persuaded Suzanne and her equally wonderful hubby Frank to join the Chaîne de Rôtisseurs, a dining group that we are proud to belong to!

Socializing outside of the store is delightful and having Suzanne and Frank as friends has enriched our lives.

Inside the store, I am able to observe the way she interacts with her moms and brides. It is truly something I know other stores wish they had. She is honest above everything which is really what we are all about. She is not pushy and wants her moms to be truly happy with their choice. And in that regard, she will introduce dresses that they never thought they could wear. When their faces light up I can see how proud Suzanne is.

She is also proud to tell them the price and that they don’t have to “remortgage the house” or “sell a kidney” in order to buy it. She does her research constantly  and brings in beautiful pieces in very good price points.

Also inside the store: Getting along with your staff (I don’t really care for that word, it seems so generic) – team members is critical for a good business! Here is what some some of her fellow team members have to say about her:

Daria: I have learned so much from Suz just from listening to her in the store! She knows everything about bridal (and a lot about everything else) and I’m always so grateful for her expertise and humor.

Sarah: Suzanne not only knows everything about gowns, she generously shares her wisdom with all of us! She can brighten the craziest of days with her humor, and I love that she brings us snacks.

Courtney: I truly love her sense of humor, I feel like I need her in my back pocket to make me laugh throughout the day! I also love how knowledgeable she is about everything, whenever I have a question she’s always there to help out! Love Mama Suz!

Tori: Suzanne is always incredibly helpful, organized, friendly, and understanding. If you ever have a question, relating to bridal or even the outside world, Suzanne is the person to go to!

Joe: Supportive, fiery, and always ready for battle, Suzanne is an amazing coworker and a phenomenal friend. Anyone would be lucky to know her.

So to my fellow Gen Xer, July/Cancer girl, and lover of a good Cabernet, THE BEST gift-giver, hashtagger, and one-liner deliverer, thank you for another year with us, for turning my boring group chats into meme-fests, and for letting me know that “sympathy” is between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.

I love you, we love you, and THANK YOU for being part of our lives!

About the author: Wendy Ianieri-Salerno is co-founder and co-owner of Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo, now in its eighth year in business. In that time the store has grown from a small bridal boutique to a full-service bridal store serving not only Bucks County, PA but the surrounding counties and even border states. With the customer experience in mind, Wendy steers the company by offering the best designers and wedding attire while creating a caring, family atmosphere. A life-long Bucks County native, she currently resides in Warrington with her husband and co-founder/co-owner Franco Salerno, and their two daughters for whom the store was named, Daria and Deanna.

Confessions of a Bridal Consultant

After nearly a decade of being a bridal consultant, I can safely say that I have THE best job ever. Working with brides who have been envisioning this day since childhood bring that vision to life is absolutely incredible.

No two brides are the same and, even now, each one teaches me something new that allows me to help other brides. With so many newly engaged brides reading our blogs to begin their research, I want to best prepare you to start searching for the dress of your dreams!

Here are confessions from a bridal consultant:

Honesty is KEY

Honesty is THE most important policy when it comes to bridal gown shopping.

Being honest with yourself is crucial when planning your wedding and, specifically, dress shopping. Many brides who are beginning the process decide that they want to include their entire squad in the process. If you are a bride who is a little more timid or can become overwhelmed easily, the best advice I can give you is to go shopping either by yourself or with a trusted loved one who will support you so you can be honest with yourself about what YOU like versus your group. Find out what YOU love rather than your family or friends. Listen to your gut, stand your ground, and do not feel bad about hurting feelings. You can bring the whole group back to reveal YOUR dress!

The next person to be honest with is us – your consultants! If you feel that you need to go out shopping alone first and then come back with your group, let us know prior to coming in. We have worked with a number of amazing solo brides and then scheduled another appointment for them to come with their group and acted like we had yet to meet the bride! At Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo, your consultant only wants what is best for you and your day, so make sure to tell us what it is that will best help you.

If you come into our store with a dress to beat, tell us and show us a picture! Do you have no idea what style you want? Tell us! Knowing where you stand from the beginning only allows us to target your appointment that much better. Pictures and Pinterest boards give us amazing places to start to discover your style or to allow you to try on more of the styles you have been loving! Don’t be afraid to be upfront with us – it only benefits you in the long run.

We understand your insecurities

Every woman in the world has insecurities – even your trusted consultant! If you are a bride who has been dreading dress shopping for whatever reason, tell us. We want to know if you are worried about how you may look or if there is something you would not like showing. We have tried on EVERY dress in this store and we know how they fit or what can be done in alterations to make the dress uniquely yours. We know which dresses we love based on our own insecurities, too. We have heard brides tell us countless times how we helped them feel incredible when they never thought they would. Let us help you, too!

We know these dresses like the back of our hands

Tori in a Madi Lane fit and flare lace dress taking a selfie in the mirror at Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo
We try on EVERY dress, our #mirrorselfies are popular!

As mentioned before, there is no dress in this store that one of our consultants hasn’t tried on! Some of these dresses even belong to our consultants for their own special days. We can’t sell what we haven’t tried for ourselves! If you have seen our Instagram, Tik Toks, or YouTube channel, you have likely seen us twirling around the store in them, but more importantly, accessorizing them. We will add belts, tuck or add straps, play with veils, and create new looks to figure out what you can do with every dress to help brides make their very own look! Trust your consultant if they pull something that you wouldn’t choose yourself – we have spent enough time in these dresses to know if we can make a dress fit your vision.

The bride is ALWAYS right

Amazing news, right brides? This is your day and what you say goes! But sometimes you will have a well-meaning relative or friend who makes you second guess your decision. Every now and then, we will see a bride who is ready to celebrate her “yes to the dress” moment until someone says “you should really sleep on it” or “this is only your first time out” and you see the sparkle in her eye go out. When you know, you know. If you know in your heart that you found your dress, don’t let someone take that moment from you! If you have doubts, keep looking.

We have THE best job

Four Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo Consultant Jess, Shannon, Courtney and Caitlyn, holding the I Said Yes To the Dress sign, ready for brides to find their wedding dress on a Sunday Funday
Consultants and friends – Jess, Shannon, Courtney, and Caitlin ready for Sunday Funday! The latter 3 are Darianna Brides!

If you have ever been in our store, you can tell that our team absolutely loves what we do! Most of our consultants are actually Darianna brides turned employees, and we even have staff that we hired on for prom who have come back to us years later as bridal consultants. The entire staff at Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo is a tight-knit group, and we will often work together during appointments to provide the best experience possible for our customers! If you have yet to come into the store, follow our social media to see our staff in action. We have a ton of fun in here which creates a pleasant and fun atmosphere in the store – you can feel it as soon as you walk in!

Bride holding up the I Said Yes To the Dress sign at Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo
Our bride super happy after saying Yes to the Dress!

Our brides are the best brides and become our friends, too. It’s amazing to put on that sash and have brides hold up that sign – what a memory! We really do take care of every one of our customers 🙂

Experience us for yourself! Make your bridal or tuxedo appointment here or call/text us at 215-491-8500.

About the author: Daria Capaldi is the manager of Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo and one-half of its namesake. On the cusp of the Millennial/Gen Z divide, she is uniquely suited for understanding the wedding industry both from a business perspective and a bride’s planning perspective. A graduate of James Madison University and a participant in the Disney Internship Program, Ms. Capaldi upholds the customer experience as key. A Warrington, Bucks County native, she resides in Huntingdon Valley with her boyfriend Jeff and her adorable pup Eva.

Wedding Dress Shopping: Guest Etiquette

Congratulations! You are one of the lucky ones the bride has decided to bring dress shopping with her. As dramatic as this may sound, it is an honor when the bride includes you as a guest in her dress shopping process. This means that you are a trusted loved one whose feedback is important to her!

You may think that your job is just to go and tell the bride what you think of each dress, but there is much more to your job than that. We are here to give you tips and tricks to be the best guest with constructive feedback!

Let the Bride Speak First

This may be the most important piece of advice we can offer. You may be very eager to tell the bride exactly what you think of each dress, and why wouldn’t you? That’s why she brought you, right? That is correct to an extent, but picture this:

The bride puts on a dress and it is love at first sight. She tells her consultant in the dressing room that it is everything she wants and she can see herself walking down the aisle in it. She thinks this could be the one, she’s got that feeling, and she can’t wait to show you! She walks onto the platform and a guest says “I don’t like that one at all!” before she even has a chance to tell you she loves it.

We know you didn’t mean to hurt her feelings, she is someone you deeply care about. But you just told her the dress she loves and thinks is “the one” couldn’t possibly be it. We have seen this exact scenario play out in front of us.

Once the bride admits her feelings, the recovery can be extremely awkward and she is then insecure about herself and her dress vision. Let the bride tell you what she thinks first before you give your opinion. If the bride tells you she doesn’t like it, by all means, share your feelings with her! But keep it centered on the dress itself rather than the dress on her. Keep her happiness and vision in mind as you formulate your feedback.

Be Gentle With Your Words

This falls hand in hand with the last tip. Know your bride and how she responds to criticism before you go into appointments with her! If you have a bride who is a bit more sensitive, saying things like “that’s ugly” or “that looks awful” can make her shut down and even question if you will be chosen to accompany her at any future appointments. There are ways to say what you want to say that are delicate and constructive without hurting feelings!

You may not realize that what you want to say would be something that she would take personally, but comments about body shape or features that the bride cannot change should be thought about prior to being spoken.

If you have a self conscious bride, focusing comments on the dress rather than how the dress looks on her is typically a great way to avoid any hurt feelings. For example, “that dress is cut boxy” rather than “that dress makes you look boxy” is a very easy way to tell her that there are dresses that are more flattering without her feeling insecure about her shape.

Some brides are very direct and genuinely want feedback like that. This is absolutely fine to say if that is the type of comment the bride really wants to hear. There is nothing wrong with brutal honesty ONLY if the bride asks for it and is proven to handle criticism well. Being gentle with your words is really personal to each bride and the dynamic you have with her. Stay in tune to her attitude and emotions during the appointment and adjust your feedback from there!

The Bride Guides the Appointment

Bridal gown shopping is an extremely exciting time and we love when the bride’s guests are equally as excited for her! Sometimes this well-meaning excitement can lead to a little bit of overstepping and the appointment stops being directed by the bride. The bride and her consultant should be the ones who determine what styles she wants to try, what dresses fall within her budget, and other details of her dress.

Every so often, we will have an excited guest who will pull a dress for her to try that is over budget or completely out of the realm of what she is looking for without the bride’s consent. There are also guests who want to take part in dressing her up with veils and belts, even after she has expressed “I don’t want to wear a veil”, is not looking for a belt, or doesn’t even like the dress she has on. If there is something you think the bride should consider, ask her first.

Most suggestions can be formulated into questions to plant the idea you have but to give the bride control over it. For example, rather than saying “try on a mermaid dress just for fun!”, ask her “have you considered trying on a mermaid dress to be sure that isn’t what you want?” This shows the bride that you are interested in helping her find “the one” rather than overwhelming her with the idea that she needs to try on dresses that she didn’t ask for.

As far as pulling something over budget goes, we recommend steering clear of that unless you discuss with the bride. We do not suggest trying on a dress that is out of budget because if she falls in love with it, the dress can be hard to forget about or she will end up spending outside of her means.

This doesn’t mean to hold back from suggestions that may help her, just be aware if she is overwhelmed. Dress shopping, along with every step of the wedding planning process, can be extremely stressful for the bride. Be receptive to see if the bride is looking for guidance or just some extra feedback to support what she feels.  Let her make the decisions and evaluate what she needs from there! Remember to frame all suggestions and feedback in a way where the bride keeps the control of her appointment. This is her time.

Important: Sizes of Wedding Dresses Are Not Like Regular Dresses

Wedding dresses run small, usually 1-2 sizes smaller than normal size. For example, if a bride’s regular size is a 12, her wedding dress could easily be a 14 or 16 depending on the designer and the style. Our dress samples are in sizes from 4-32 so there is a great selection in all size ranges for brides to try on. And really, the size doesn’t matter, until guests get involved pulling dresses that won’t fit.

This happens all too frequently: a curvy size bride is trying on dresses in the 18+ range and looks great! She has a few 16s on that are snug and is being clipped down to size in others. She’s having a great experience and has a few favorites when someone gets up and starts hanging dresses on the rack… in size 6.

Please do not choose dresses that are not even close to the bride’s size, or worse, insisting that she try them on. The bride goes from feeling happy and confident to awful in a matter of minutes. Ask if there is a similar style in a size will allow her to envision a final look. The stylist knows the inventory.

A smiling bride at Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo holding the "I said yes to the dress" sign over her head and wearing a Darianna Bride sash after choosing her wedding dress
An I Said Yes Moment!

Do Not Be the One To Steal Her Moment From Her

After an amazing appointment where the bride has successfully narrowed down styles, she is now standing in her favorite dress and is head over heels in love! She feels confident, beautiful, and ready to say “yes!” to the most meaningful dress she will ever wear. Everyone is telling her that this is her dress, but before she can soak up her moment, one well-meaning guest says, “You can’t say yes now, you have to sleep on it!”

Nothing pops a bride’s balloon like this.

There are few moments in life like this one. A memory of saying yes to her wedding dress is huge. She has the group that she loves around her and she wants to be celebrated. She is so ready to make that memory and savor it forever …

“You have to sleep on it” makes the bride feels as though it’s the wrong dress and that she should second guess the dress she is in love with. Her “yes” moment is gone, replaced with confusion and stress because she feels she’s incapable of choosing. She wanted validation but got the opposite.

What the bride can expect after saying “yes” to her dress is basically exactly what you see on TV. The excitement of her family and friends, maybe some tears, all kinds of goodies, and pictures so she can post on Instagram to tell the world that she said yes to the most perfect dress! Now she can finally envision herself in her dress at her venue – everything falls easily into place after these two major factors are set in stone. She will be over the moon excited and have another check mark on her wedding planning checklist! But now that moment is gone.

Could she come back later to say “yes”? Absolutely! But it’s not the same. The excitement of finding the dress after a great appointment of narrowing down isn’t there. Her reward after a day of uncertainty and hard decisions was prolonged. She will still love the dress and get all of the goodies and pictures, but the entire energy from the initial appointment is different. She brought you there to celebrate with her, but now there is a return trip involved and it’s never the same as saying yes in her moment.

Now I’m not saying that the bride should not sleep on it if she wants to. Every bride is different and some need the time to process! But that is not a guest’s decision to make for her. You may be someone who needs to sleep on things, but this bride might be ready to commit and start celebrating. Most brides know what they want and are not afraid to commit to it when they see it! Don’t take the moment from her, celebrate with her.

A smiling bride with her guest holding the I said yes to the dress sign and wearing her Dariana bride sash after saying yes to her wedding dress
A forever memory

Phrases to Avoid

After doing nine years worth of bridal appointments, we have heard so many beautiful statements of love and encouragement said to brides! The guest support can be amazing, positive, and helpful. We have also heard statements that have hurt brides more than they have helped. Here are some phrases/comments we recommend staying away from:

“You look fat/pregnant”
“That looks horrible on you”
“I don’t like anything you have tried on”
“I always pictured you in a _____ dress so it’s hard for me to like anything else”
“I am paying for the dress so I get a say in what you pick”
“You will need to lose weight to wear that”
“Are you serious? You like that one?”
“Why would you want to wear THAT?”
“(Fiancee) will hate that”

Helpful Phrases To Use

You are almost ready to be the best guest of all the rest!  Here are some great phrases to support your bride through her dress shopping process:

“How do you like/How do you feel in this one compared to some of the other ones you have tried?”
“You look beautiful in this dress! I think some of your other favorites flatter your body better, though”
“Out of your favorites, my personal favorite is _____, but you will be a beautiful bride in any of the ones you have picked!”
“I think the other dress would really fit your venue/theme/color pallet, too!”
“I want you to be happy in whatever dress you choose, and (fiancee) will love whatever you pick!”
“I can see you getting married in that dress!”

Now you know how to be the best guest ever and can share in one of the most magical and memorable moments in a bride’s life!

About the author: Daria Capaldi is the manager of Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo and one-half of its namesake. On the cusp of the Millennial/Gen Z divide, she is uniquely suited for understanding the wedding industry both from a business perspective and a bride’s planning perspective. A graduate of James Madison University and a participant in the Disney Internship Program, Ms. Capaldi upholds the customer experience as key. A Warrington, Bucks County native, she resides in Huntingdon Valley with her boyfriend Jeff and her adorable pup Eva.

“Behind the Scenes” From a New Bridal Stylist

I love when one of our new bridal stylist shares her thoughts.

We have known Jenna for several years and are very proud to have her on our team.

It is most important to us to ensure our staff feels respected and valued, because when we take care of our staff they will in turn respect, value, and take care of the customers. If you read our reviews you will see that is exactly what happens.

In an emotional business like ours and especially during an uncertain time like this, you need to know your vendors care.

Some other behind the scenes discussion that Jenna doesn’t mention is how our stylists refer to their brides as “my bride”. I love it when I hear those words because to me it means our staff forms friendships and cares far beyond a sale. It is even better because our staff is not on commission, therefore we know that the interest and treatment is genuine. They really do love what they do, and it is incredibly rewarding to be part of someone’s wedding day.

But don’t just take my word for it, read Jenna’s:

First, I feel it’s important to share that I am a Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo bride, and got to say “YES to the dress” in my favorite place, long before I became a Bridal Stylist.

There was something so special about my experience and magical moment at Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo. I knew if I ever had the opportunity, I would love to create that magically special moment over and over again for other brides.

So here I am now and I feel so fortunate to be a Bridal Stylist at Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo. It’s such an honor to work for such a prestigious, family owned and operated business. The owners, Wendy and Franco are truly the most outstanding power couple you will EVER meet. They are the perfect balance of fun, friendly, customer oriented, and business savvy; creating the most perfect and family-friendly, welcoming environment that I never want to leave… and our brides, grooms, family members, bridal parties, and other visitors don’t either!!

Every staff member and customer are treated as if they are part of the family. We promise that every time you come in you will be greeted with a smile from a familiar face. This certainly isn’t something you get anywhere else and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Not only is the service five stars (check out our reviews and testimonials), but our gowns are from exclusive top designers from destinations including Australia and Europe including Madi Lane, Kitty Chen, Morilee… and many more!

We realize this is one of the most important decisions a bride will make in her life and that there have been hours of thoughts and fantasizing into this decision of what they will wear when they say I do!

I love that every bride is unique in her personality, style and vibes in her own way. It’s so exciting to go through the appointment with them at such an exciting time and to be able live this moment with them!

I also love that the relationships we create don’t just end at the wedding. Our staff keeps in touch with couples throughout the process with try on appointments, tuxedo appointments, and after the wedding to check in. We also see return customers for future formal events they may be a part of, which is so fun and exciting to have them come back and reminisce on their special day!

We realize the emotions and importance of this and make it so easy for our customers to stay connected that you can even text us at the store, and one of the owners will directly respond! So come on! What are you waiting for? Text the store to make an appointment at 215-491-8500 or visit www.dariannabridal.com for more information. We look forward to serving you soon!