Text by Megan Haynes.
Photos by James Park.
“I think [bridal shopping] should be a very private experience,” says Jasmine Craig, owner of The White Dress boutique in Ottawa (pictured below, right). “Going to a store and having women waiting to grab the dress out of your change room before you’re done is a terrible setting for a woman to buy [a] wedding dress. So that is the exact opposite of what we were trying to do.”
Inspired by the shortage of designer bridal gowns in Ottawa, and with an aim to provide shoppers with a chic boutique feel, Craig opened The White Dress in October 2010.
The store carries designer gowns by Vera Wang, Badgley Mischka, Monique Lhullier and Romona Keveza, and business at the boutique is already booming. Craig’s unique selection sets her apart from other stores in the city.
Craig works by appointment only and serves champagne at her consultations. The White Dress only orders samples: none of the dresses in the store are off the rack, and each one is customized to the woman’s specific measurements. But it’s more than just helping a client, Craig says, it’s about building a relationship.
“[Often], when brides leave, I feel like I’ve made a friend,” she says. “For example, [one of the brides and I] e-mail back and forth about shoes. She’ll send me various pictures of things, asking, ‘Do you like this? Do you not?’ and I’ll send her pictures of cocktail dresses I think will suit her for her reception. I recently sent a picture of this Alice and Olivia dress, which I thought would be perfect for her rehearsal dinner, and she e-mailed back saying, ‘You’re so funny, I just ordered this!’”
Craig says she loves fashion, and chooses all bridal gowns off the runway in New York City herself. Together with her business partner Stacey Price (who runs the wedding planning service portion of the business) and their other partner Danica Redden, Craig plans to make it a tradition to head down to New York bridal fashion week each October, sit through the runway shows, and then come back to Ottawa and decide which dresses they will order. For the upcoming season, Craig is excited for the floral-inspired dresses, with unconventional layers, folds, ruffles and fabrics, such as torn organza.
It’s a very fashion-forward collection, she says, which will match well with her clientele.
“I think the White Dress bride is confident, self-assured, has an innate sense of her personal style,” says Craig. “She’s aware of trends with positive outlooks.” According to Craig, this makes choosing a dress much easier.
“One day a bride comes in and tries on a ball gown, and I’m just so in love with that dress. And then the next day a girl comes in and tries on a sheath for the beach, and I fall in love with that,” she says.
“I think I’ve fallen in love with so many gowns over the years. It is an ongoing joke that I will wear five different dresses, because I don’t know how I could ever choose one silhouette, one fabric, one designer!”
Jasmine Craig and Stacey Price were photographed by James Park at The White Dress boutique in Ottawa. http://www.jamesparkphoto.com/