Written on: 29/07/2012
Having never been to a bridal shop before, I couldn't have been more excited about trying on wedding gowns for the very first time.
After spending a fair bit of time on the internet researching dresses/designers I liked, I decided to visit Pantiles Bride in Tunbridge Wells because it stocked several designers and styles of dresses which I liked.
I booked an appointment to ensure I would get all the help I would need and eagerly waited for the appointment to come round.
On arrival at the shop, I was surprised to find a couple of kids running around inside making lots of noise, a scruffy man sat at the desk talking loudly, and the shop packed full of people.
A lady came up to me and told me she would be assisting me, but then disappeared again and left me to my own devices for a while to look at the gowns. Whilst she did reappear briefly, having not been bridal shopping before, it would be nice to have been talked through the different dresses in a bit more detail and recommended ones which would suit my shape, or matched what I was looking for. In the end we got chatting to the other bride who had an appointment at the same time as me, and she admitted she too didn't know what to pick out/do as there was no guidance!
I was then whisked off to my fitting room, and it was lucky that I had researched dresses online because I hadn't seen a couple of them out the front which they said they had on their website and I wanted to try on... and so had to ask for them. The lady said that they hadn't been put back from the previous fitting, which I thought was very poor as it meant you didn't have the full selection of gowns to choose from right from the start, so it was lucky I knew in advance what I wanted to try to be able to ask for them. Who knows, one of the dresses which hadn't been put back might've been 'the one' for the other bride who was trying on at the same time as me.
Anyway, once I had the first dress on, I had to walk out into the main shop in front of lots of other people, including the other bride who still hadn't been taken to her fitting room yet, which I found rather daunting and not at all how I imagined... I was taken to a mirror right at the front of the shop, in front of the windows/door, so I constantly had people from the street staring in at me, and customers (including men) walking in and out right in front of me (i.e. literally having to step over my dress!).
This continued for all 4-5 dresses I tried on... At one point, there was a third bride who was trying on bridal gowns in the same area as me!
Perhaps I've watched too many films, but I believed trying on wedding dresses to be a lovely and exciting experience, with your friends/family drinking a glass of bubbly, whilst you try dresses on in the privacy of your own area of the shop - without other people around/going to and fro, and certainly without men around!
I thought the lady assisting me seemed very nice, but she kept yawning a lot of the time and seemed a bit fed up - I don't know if this was because I was the last appointment of the day, or because she too was frustrated with the amount of noise/people in the shop. She did eventually offer my friends/family a glass of wine, but only as I'd decided to take off the last dress, so what was the point!
My friends/family who came along with me also commented that they would've expected the staff to be more smartly dressed and more knowledgable about the dresses - given their experience in other bridal shops they'd been to.
When I left, both the lady assisting me and the shop owner apologised about all the noise and commotion, but by then the damage was already done.
I was left feeling really tearful and deflated, after what should've been a really happy and exciting experience.
It would seem that Pantiles Bride offers designer gowns but unfortunately the customer service just doesn't match... I won't be recommending this store to any of my friends.
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