Certain occasions - weddings, proms and formal balls - are made more special when the clothing participants wear is absolutely perfect. Making sure that happens is the mission of Bridal Visions by LD, 1208 First Ave. S.
Owner LaDonna High launched this latest addition to downtown shopping in Fort Dodge July 9.
Attire for weddings is a major focus, but High said that's just part of the agenda at her new enterprise.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
LaDonna High, owner of Bridal Visions by LD, displays one of many wedding gowns she has available in her shop at 1208 First Ave. S.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
LaDonna High, owner of Bridal Visions by LD, looks over a bridesmaid dress with Mikayla Branson, 16, of Fort Dodge. High offers a complete line of wedding dresses and tuxedo rentals.
"Wedding gowns, bridesmaids, mothers, flower girls," she said, reflecting on the range of apparel she offers. "I will be carrying prom. There's special occasion and tuxes."
The gowns are for sale. Tuxedos are available as rentals, but High said she has vendors that can provide them for purchase if a client wants that option.
Bridal Visions by LD occupies 3,800 square feet of space in the recently renovated commercial complex that also is home to Studio Fusion, Tillies Quilts and Xessorize. It features a large showroom, two bridal fitting suites and two smaller fitting rooms.
High said she was inspired to embark on this new venture because of her employment at a bridal shop.
"I previously worked at a bridal store that closed," she said. "It was the one job that I had that I loved every aspect of it. So I never really considered it a job."
When the owner of that venture told her the store was closing, High said she began to explore ways to remain part of an industry she had come to love. Bridal Visions by LD is the end result of that process.
People preparing for weddings or other special events confront an assortment of businesses from which the attire appropriate to those occasions can be obtained. High said she aims to make her store a place they will find ideal to shop because of the personalized service she is committed to providing.
"I've always given that personal touch," she said. "I had three sons so I never got to do the girlie things. So, each bride, each girl is like my own adopted daughter."
She said her goal is "to really understand what the bride wants and try to fulfill that."
"I know the brides want everything perfect," High said, adding that she finds it challenging and fun to help them achieve that goal of perfection.
And when just the right gown has been identified, the bride-to-be's reaction is especially rewarding.
"Watching a bride turn and look in the mirror at a dress and she starts crying," High said. "When a bride doesn't want to take a gown off, you know you've hit the nail on the head."
High said particularly for the brides, the process of getting outfitted for the big day should start long in advance of the wedding.
"Minimum of a year," she said. "Eighteen months is even better."
The custom nature of most wedding gowns is the reason such early ordering is recommended.
"It is best to get that ordered eight to nine months in advance," she said.
She explained that vendors cut wedding gowns to order. The time needed to achieve that is typically four to five months.
"We add the extra time for turnaround in case there's a flaw or a spot or something that we have to reorder so that there's enough time," High said.
The other wedding attire has a shorter lead time.
"The bridesmaids can be done three months in advance," High said. "They are not cut to fit each individual. They are cut to the designer's specifications for that size."
The selection of gowns at Bridal Visions by LD is extensive. High said the inventory is still evolving as more items arrive, but estimated that she already has 60 to 70 samples on-site and catalogs displaying many more
"I have a large inventory," she said. "I will sell off the rack if a bride is really strapped for time."
Weddings can be expensive. Bridal Visions is geared to address the needs of people with a wide array of budgets, High said.
"I'm trying to cover the full spectrum," she said, adding that she even has some very inexpensive options.
"I have one whole rack that I call my 'one and only.' They are sample gowns that I purchased from a store out-of-state."
High stressed that she stands ready to assist customers as they explore their clothing options.
"Don't think you have to have it all figured out before you come in," she said.
Bridal Visions by LD is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Appointments at other times are also available.