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Sarah and Ryan's Wedding-We have been Published in "Style Me Pretty"!
My Favorite PROM Dresses at my "GLAM-MA'S Bridal Boutique


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Bridal Couture

January 2016


"The truth about FREE Alterations..are they really FREE??"

In 2004, when I was 52 years old I opened the original "Collezione Fortuna Fashion Boutique" (as it was known then) and I was scared to death.  I started out selling exclusive evening wear. Prior to that, I free-lanced as a designer for sets, working  runway, designed, and made clothing for boutiques on the Monterey Peninsula using 3 sewing machines, working on my kitchen table after my family went to bed.  I worked long hours from 9PM-5AM every night to create beautiful wearable art, and meet deadlines.  All of my items sold; many to the entertainment industry for movie sets and performers .   I owe a lot to my Grandmother and my Aunts who honestly believed in me and always told me " I had a gift of fashion and design."  That experience taught me a lot about alterations. I owe them a lot, including teaching me to always add value to your talent and knowledge.
Many excited newly engaged  brides have been walking into my store as the 2016 Bridal Season beginsand the question always comes up, "Are the alterations and a free veil included in the price of the dress?"
  My honest answer to that question is, no. Like other successful bridal salons, I always recommend that the bride set aside an extra $200-$500 for accessories, and depending on what is desired, an extra $250-$1000 for alterations.  These prices will vary depending on demographics, the fit of the gown (any changes to the brides shape and size) and fabrication of design.
Alterations on a bridal gown take a lot of skill and talent. Not everyone can pull out a sewing machine and say they can alter a wedding dress or formal gown. It's a dying art.  On top of there being a limited number of great bridal seamstresses around these days, altering a wedding dress is a time consuming process. You know the saying "Time ismoney!", that definitely proves to be true with bridal alterations. You wouldn't do your job for free, right? Seamstresses need be paid just as you would expect to be paid to do your job. If you choose not to have your dress altered through our network of seamstresses, you are free to pick it up and take it to the seamstress of your choosing!
IF, we were to alter wedding dresses and formal wear for free, that expense would have to come from somewhere. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is! If another store is offering you free alterations, I would check to see if you could get a better price on the dress because they are probably marking it up to cover their cost of alterations. You will usually end up paying for it one way or another.
When a bride comes to us and the sample dress that she absolutely loves doesn't fit properly, we will order the wedding dress directly from the designerThe ordering process takes 6-9 months , therefore, it's important to start shopping for your dream gown 9-12 months before the big day .

Before we order your wedding dress, we will measure you to determine the proper size. We are trained to measure our brides to achieve the best fit possible to minimize the alteration costs. Certainly, your shopping for your wedding dress should be completed at a ONE-STOP Bridal Salon that has your dress plus provides the bridal experience for the bride and her bridesmaids.  

Wishing everyone a Happy Wedding Season! Let it rock!

All my best,

© Cathy Montante, 2016, All Right

Business Insights and Forethought-Is Retail for You?

I hear this all the time.."it must be a dream to be in the Bridal Business and selling stunning wedding dresses!

I love my work and I wouldn't be in this business if I didn't.  It's my passion.  To make a business successful you have to me 1000% passionate about working in your business, and love your customers. You have to devote a lot of working hours as the owner, and once you begin, you can't turn back.  Doing your "homework" before you invest thousands of dollars into it is a must.

I am not an expert when it comes to legal matters, but before you venture onto your new acquisition,  I am not the person to go to to give advice.    There are several resources out there that can provide valuable information that do not cost a bundle, and have helped me with my business from legal  issues and finding the right location.  If they can't help directly they will refer you to Professionals, Consultants, Mentors that apply to your business.  It's worth investing into this if you want your business to grow and move with the times.

One of the best resources  to begin your search is S.C.O.R.E.  thru the Small Business Administration:

S.C.O.R.E.   Chapters

The SCORE Association, supported by SBA, is a nonprofit association of thousands of volunteer business counselors throughout the U.S. and its territories.SCORE members are trained to serve as counselors, advisors and mentors to aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners. Here are some of the ways you can connect with SCORE and get free business advice:

  • Email a mentor: Choose a mentor online and get answers to your business questions virtually
  • Visit Your Local SCORE Office: Make an appointment with a mentor for in-person advice or attend a business workshop.   Cabrillo College in Aptos, CA  did provide this service..why not inquire?  At one time, Advisors did provide business counseling by appointment at your place of business. I would check if this service is still available in our area.
  • Online Workshops: Participate in free, online workshops or register for small business webinars
  • E-Newsletters: Subscribe to SCORE‚Äôs e-Newsletters and get free business tips and read interviews with small business experts

For more information contact your local Chamber of Commerce in the city you have your business or follow this link:

Don't second guess or ask people who do not know anything about your business to give you the correct advice. 

Good luck to you and wishing you much success!

Sarah and Ryan's Wedding-We have been Published in "Style Me Pretty"!

We have been PUBLISHED.........

Mission Ranch in Carmel-by-the Sea,  CA  93921 , in December, 2015 was the perfect setting for Sarah and Ryan's Wedding!  The ranch setting with views of the Pacific Ocean created romantic ambiance making this venue a popular destination.

I met with the Bride at her appointment and after trying on a few dresses, she wanted an elegant vintage inspired look in her wedding dress.   After trying on a few, I handed her the very last dress, and she loved it!  It did not take her any hesitation to "say yes" as it was the dress she was actually looking for.

Almost a year went by and I was reading the wedding blog, "STYLE ME PRETTY" ( FYI..it's my favorite wedding blog) and it finally hit me that WE WERE PUBLISHED!!     I am sharing the link where you can read more......

Congratulations Ryan and Sarah!   May you have a beautiful future together!

I am humbled to share the spotlight with all the fine Wedding Professionals who made this wedding a complete dream for the Bride and Groom!

Photography: Ryon:Lockhart Photography | Coordination: Coastside Couture | Floral Design: Fleurish Floral Designs | Wedding Dress: Collezione Fortuna | Cake: Layers Cake | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Donna Morgan | Catering: Mission Ranch Banquets | Makeup Artist: Christina Aguayo | Hair: O Salon | Band:West Grand Boulevard | Location: Mission Ranch


Bridal Salons and Bridal Boutiques  in  select  areas across the country are starting to charge a fee for Bridal Appointments.  With rising costs of operating their stores and inventory costs will this be a new Industry trend in the years to follow?

I have been in this business for a very long time and have seen many changes turn the tide in retail.  At one time one was able to walk into a store  and be helped by very trained sales staff.  They knew who you were, what you needed, and also knew your entire family! 

 As time went by, and large corporate entities bought out "Mom and Pop" stores and the "Mall" came to being,customer service diminished, and so did the sales staff to go with it and we were left on our own to make major buying choices.

The Internet  has changed the way we shop today and is competing with "brick and Mortar" stores.  They have no overhead, or customers to wait on because they don't see them let alone talk to them!

  Many stores on the East Coast big and small do charge for appointments today.  One famous store in NYC charges $250 for a one hour appointment.  If you need to reschedule, charged again for another hour.  They apply these fees to your purchase, if applicable, if not, this amount is non-refundable. This is now called "Professional Fees."  

This trend may take awhile to take hold and appeal to customers.  Will it drive customers away to other Bridal stores who do not charge?   We'll see..there may be justification.

Hearing thru the grapevine, stores are being faced with "no shows" , last minute cancellations with phone calls a few minutes prior to an appointment, especially during prime Bridal season, appointments are in demand, they have been faced with this decision to charge or not.

Here are a few tips to help you keep the "door of communication" open with the Bridal Salon you decide to patronize, and will not take away from your Bridal shopping experience.  Feel free to make any suggestions as we want to hear from you, so we know what to improve to make things better:

1.  When booking your appointment for your wedding dress, when you call, be honest on what you are looking for, your budget, and inquire if they do charge for an appointment.  This should not deter your decision  whether or not you want to patronize that store.   From what I have heard, they will usually apply the appointment fee toward your purchase of your wedding dress or another item.  The appointment fee is usually a guarantee that you will keep your appointment on that day.

2.  Inquire how many people you can bring to the appointment. Some stores are small and may not be able to accomodate  as many as you like to be there for support.

3.  Your Consultant may ask you to complete a Questionnaire.  It doesn't involve anything personal, but some minor questions about what your vision is, budget, what type of dress you would like and budget.  They may also ask if you have another dress you love or attending another appointment.

I hope these few tips make your expectations of what to expect at your appointment a memorable one that will last forever!

Edited, January 8, 2016