Published February 2nd, 2012

Tucked into the seaport town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Madeleine’s Daughter has helped hundreds of brides choose the right wedding gown over its 35 years in business. The shop carries everything from the affordable to the haute couture, and its experienced staff provides personalized attention in its bridal suite consultations. We talked to owner Elizabeth Dirom for more.

What does Madeleine’s Daughter offer?
I hate to use the “full service” phrase but that’s pretty much what it is. You can find everything you need for the wedding attire here – that’s bridal, bridesmaids, all of the accessories, tuxedoes. We also do alterations and heirloom preservations.

How does Madeleine’s Daughter help a bride pick the best dress?
First and foremost, you have to make her feel comfortable because it can be an intimidating process. We make appointments and sit down one-on-one in our personal bridal suite. Before they try on any dresses, we ask them what they like and, more importantly, what they don’t like. It’s really just listening to what the bride is looking for. That’s what we do for the bride who knows what she wants. For the bride who doesn’t know what she wants, we bring in the four basic silhouettes – ball gown, sheath, A-line, and mermaid – reading the reaction she gives them and what kind of gestures she makes to see which one she likes. Then we go from there.

What kinds of styles and fabrics are popular this year?
Well, because of the royal wedding lace is back, not that it ever left but it’s back full-force. Brides are turning away from strapless gowns and toward more cap sleeves or Sabrina or bateau necklines, something that shows off the décolletage. Any sort of look other than strapless. In fabric, customers are trending toward organza and gauze. It’s all cyclical, these things are just coming back around right now.

What’s the number-one mistake brides make during the wedding dress selection process? What do they need to look out for?

I would say they should trust their instincts and not be swayed by the opinions that they bring with them. I think it’s best when people travel in a small pack as opposed to having a large group that decides the process.

How is Madeleine’s Daughter different from other bridal shops?
I feel that our customer service, comparatively I guess, would be better. We have a genuine vested interest in our customers. We want to make sure that she’s finding the right thing and enjoying the process. From the moment that they come into the salon to the moment they’re getting into the car and driving away from the wedding, we want to make sure it’s a positive experience and one that exceeds their expectations.