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Business Insights and Forethought-Is Retail for You?
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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"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

My Favorite PROM Dresses at my "GLAM-MA'S Bridal Boutique

My Glam-MA has beautiful dresses for PROM 2015 at her Bridal Boutique, Collezione Fortuna Fashion Boutique and Bridals but my Daddy said I am too young and can't go yet!!! Plus, I am too tiny and they don't make these dresses in my size!   I even have a date!!  Daddy says I am too young for that too!

SO, that's why I am having my tantrum....what is a girl to do????

SO, all you "BIG GIRLS" out there, make me happy and go  buy your PROM DRESS at Collezione Fortuna Fashion Boutique and Bridals.   Her address is Su Vecino Courtyard, Lincoln bet. 5th. and 6th., Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921.    Her telephone number is (831)626-1287.   She works hard...by appointment only....so.. hurry up  ,make your appointment and GO!   

I know my Glam-ma has been in Carmel for a very long time, and a lot of people forget about her. Don't forget about shopping there because I KNOW she has gorgeous things and she treats her customers NICE.

Before my Daddy makes me take my nap ( I don't like to sleep during the night because it's fun keeping everyone from sleeping!) I want to tell you the dress I wanted to wear to the Prom this year...These are my favorites at my Glam-ma's bridal boutique by "Panapoly".

I even have a date waiting for me with a gorgeous bouquet of my favorite flowers!!   Daddy says I have to wait to be a "big girl"....so I am tired and I think I will take my nap and dream about it!  When I wake up I will know which dress to wear to my PROM when I grow up!   

(c) 2015 , All Rights Reserved by Cathy Montante, Collezione Fortuna Fashion Boutique and Bridals


Hello Everyone..remember ME...???

I am Layla, Guest Blogger on my Nanna's BLOG on her fabulous Bridal Boutique in Carmel, called "Collezione Fortuna Fashion Boutique and Bridals." 

I am SO lucky to have a "GLAM-MA" who has beautiful wedding dresses for grown up ladies, and soon, she will be carrying darling fashions for "little ladies like ME!   Something is telling me I am going to look
pretty all the time with a lot of little dresses to choose from.

I am 6 weeks old today..I am growing up and soon I will be able to wear everyone of these little dresses.  I think the company is "Sweet Begginings"...I love that name..don't you?? That is a lovely name to called a company that makes beautiful little party dresses for little girls!

She showed me a "sneek-peek" of what I am going to see in her Bridal Salon and hopefully everyone of them on me! I just LOVE my GLAM-MA!!!!  I love these pretty little dresses and so will you:

These dresses should be arriving in her Bridal Boutique soon and they are adorable!   You can pick out your favorite color and design your own special dress.  I know that is what I am going to do and tell all my friends too!

Be sure to call my Nanna GLAM-MA to make your appointment soon! Her phone number is (831)626-1287.  Don't forget because I don't want to be  unhappy!

Time for my nap...until next time!  SEE YA!

(c) February 2015, All rights Reserved, Cathy Montante, Collezione Fortuna Fashion Boutique and Bridals

Welcome Layla, Our Guest BLOGGER !!

San Patrick by Pronovias, HANNS, Spring 2015 Collection, beautiful, Layla's blogHello Everyone,

I would like to introduce myself!  I am Layla, Guest Blogger for Collezione Fortuna Fashion Boutique and Bridals.

Cathy Montante is my "GLAM-MA"....and I am happy to be here!

I love my Nanna's Bridal Boutique.   I can't wait to grow up and wear all the pretty clothes in her store. 

  I would like to show you my favorite "Wedding Dress of the Week " I picked out.   It's by San Patrick BY PRONOVIAS and I just love it because it's different.   It's out of organza with pretty beadwork on the bodice with beautiful hand-made flowers and beads The dress is a mermaid style, and I wish I could wear it now but I am only a month old.   My GLAM-MA is a 'PREMIER DEALER" for San Patrick.  I am so happy she is because her customers don't have to travel out of town to buy all these pretty dresses.

Fit an flair wedding dresses, ivory organza, sweetheart neckline Pronovias, Premier dealer, Collezione Fortuna Fashion Boutiique and Bridals 93921Let me show you a picture of the "Dress of the Week"...I could brag about this dress all day and night!
Isn't this wedding dress gorgeous??   Did you know if you place your order for this dress until February 14, 2015, you get 10% off your veil at the time you place your order!

My GLAM-MA is amazing!   So is her Bridal Boutique in a located little town called Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA in  the 93921 . She loves working with Brides. Go see her and make your appointment by calling (831)626-1287.  She treats all her customers like" VIP Princesses."  I want you to keep that in mind before you shop anywhere else.

I hope I inherited her genes for being artistic and fashion "savvy"...

I will be back soon to show you what I like Mommy's and other GLAM-MA's to wear when their daughter and son's wedding. It's going to be lots of pretty dresses!

Thank you for reading my BLOG...now it's  time for my nap!

(c)2015, All Rights Reserved, Collezione Fortuna Fashion Boutique and Bridals

A Destination Wedding calling "Santa Barbara"...

When we speak of "Destination Weddings"  Coleen and her fiance' selected a beautiful "undisclosed" location for their special day in Santa Barbara, CA.

I met with my longtime friend, Coleen just a few weeks before her wedding  scheduled  sometime around the Christmas Holiday Season.  Living here locally, Colleen's time was limited shopping for her wedding dress and knew exactly  we had the perfect dress for her without going out of town.  The future "Bride to be" had a  special style in mind.  She described what she was looking for and I pulled one dress by CB Couture out of 100% Silk  Charmuese with fresh beaded pearls, sequins, crystals, and  the most gorgeous hand cut silk flowers from Italy embellishing the dress in a beautiful "Champagne Ivory" color.   Coleen tried the "one and only" dress and it fit her perfectly and looked absolutely beautiful with the "Great Gatsby" theme.

I was able to set up an appointment for her immediately with my Alterations team who performed alterations on the dress perfectly and met with Coleen's satisfaction.

The Bride -to -be was relieved that she didn't have to go out of town up to the Bay area and search for her dress, and was able to shop locally here in Carmel  finding the caring Professionalism, and VIP service we are known for here at Collezione Fortuna Fashion Boutique and Bridals.

We don't believe in offering "in house free alterations." Our Brides are willing to pay for the alterations required on their dresses which require perfection and expertise in Couture Bridal which is in a different category from day to day hemming of a pair of pants or dress.  They are aware of the difference and know that alterations are a cost that is expected to be extra and want and deserve nothing but the best!

Colleen's wedding was beautiful, and she looked stunning in her wedding dress  alongside her Groom.  We thank you for selecting Collezione Fortuna Fashion Boutique and Bridals for your very special wedding dress, and wish you all the best in your new future together with your Groom!

(c)2015, All Rights Reserved, Cathy Montante, Collezione Fortuna Fashion Boutique and  Bridals

2015 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips

Wedding Dress Shopping Tips for the 2015 Bridal Season

Congratulations are in order...

Are you ready to shop for your Bridal Gown?   We would like to share a few  tips to make your experience "stress-free" as possible:

 Always make an advance appointment by calling the Bridal Salon of your choice(s).  Limit your appointments to one a day or you will become overwhelmed.  Be courteous and always contact the Salon to cancel/reschedule your appointment if you cannot keep it that day.

Always ask the Consultant you are working with if "photos" are allowed.  Don't assume that they are at your appointment. You may not be allowed to take pictures of every dress you try on; only of the dress you have signed your Contract to order and have purchased. This is not uncommon, and don't act surprised if this occurs.

 Do research prior to your appointment ahead .  Establish your budget for your wedding dress, accessories, shoes, whatever you plan to wear on the day of your wedding.  Alterations are never included in the cost of the dress. Beware of a salon that does.

  Look at Bridal Magazines and online  that are current with the newest fashion trends.  Don't overlook the classic styles either. These are not "old fashioned", and popular styles are always IN fashion. Beware of shopping ONLINE as what you see, including the price is often deceiving.  Shop at "Authorized Retailers" only.

 Familiarize yourself with the fabrics used in the construction of wedding dresses.  There are all kinds of laces, satins, and organza fabrics, including silk fabrics being used today.  The more ornate the dress the more it's going to cost!

  Bring someone you can trust who can help you make your decision to "say yes" to your dress.  An entourage isn't necessary and can be discouraging.  Keep children with a sitter that day.

An exceptional Bridal Salon will stock or can order any accessory, including belts, sashes, jackets, veils that will co-ordinate  with your Wedding Dress thru the same manufacturer.  Don't let them lead you on they cannot.  If you wait too long, those items may become discontinued and you will be "disappointed."  Buy everything you need at the same time.  This saves you time and money long-term. If you loved it then, you will love it later.

Think about scheduling your appointment weekdays instead of the weekends when Salons are the busiest.  If you have a day off during the weekday this is perfect for you!  Take care of your shopping and get it done and move on to the next step..like selecting your Bridesmaids dresses.

 One final tip...shop for your dress when you are ready to make your purchase.  You do not establish your budget for your wedding dress by booking appointments with Consultants .  Have your engagement ring, venue , Celebrant, Priest, Rabbi, ect., Bridesmaids selected, including your wedding date selected, then start looking for your wedding dress. Be organized with your time and start early.

We hope these few tips make your search a lot easier and fun!  
Contact us for your appointment today!

We are here to HELP!

Collezione Fortuna Fashion Boutique and Bridals
Su Vecino Courtyard, Lincoln Bet. 5th. and 6th.
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921

Store hours- Monday, 11AM-4PM, Tuesday, closed, Wednesday-Saturday, 11AM-6PM, Sunday, 11:30AM-4PM


Lisa and Brian's Wedding

Lisa AND  Brian

         Celebrated their wedding on October 24, 2014 on a gorgeous afternoon at the Monterey Plaza Hotel on Cannery Row, Monterey, CA, 93940.

 The wedding setting was ideal!  Their wedding vows to be exchanged on the deck overlooking Monterey Bay with the calming sound of the ocean tide rolling in the background.

   The Bride escorted by her Father with her lucky Groom, Brian awaiting to exchange their wedding vows with family and intimate friends joining.  Lisa was attended by all three of her sisters  including and 3 lifelong friends as her Bridesmaids, including her niece as her Flower Girl.

I met Lisa last January , 2014 at her Bridal Appointment. Like every Bride, she was overwelmed with excitement with the planning of her wedding which was to take place later in the year. At her appointment, we focused finding a wedding dress for Lisa, and mission was accomplished.  A beautiful mermaid wedding dress out of netting and tulle over lighweight organza and satin with beads in ivory was "said Yes" to by the "Kenneth Winston Collection" exclusively found at our boutique in Carmel.   The Bridesmaids dresses were in Navy Chiffon by Bill Levcoff.

Lisa's family was an absolute joy to work with, and her Bridesmaids were helpful and supportive!

Lisa made the most stunning bride and her Bridal Party looked elegant.

The Bride and Groom honeymooned in Bora Bora, which is truly a honeymoon paradise, and yes..they did not want to return home!

My best wishes to Lisa and Brian!   Congratulations and may you share many years of happiness together!