If I could change one thing about Brianna’s wedding, I wish we had said “yes to the dress” at another boutique.

Expectations are a funny thing, aren’t they?  We see things, we experience them and then when the time comes, where we find ourselves in the same life situation all the stored memories come flooding to the forefront of the mind, which is when all the “shoulds” become the expectation.

This happened most recently with the purchase of Brianna’s wedding gown.  Our girls have spent a decade watching this show on TLC; Say Yes to the Dress.  It focuses on one bridal store in Manhattan, Kleinfeld Bridal, where since 1999 brides along with their mothers, mother in laws and bridal parties have made pilgrimages to the upscale boutique to find their dream wedding dress.  Two of my three have always wanted to go there to shop, hopefully, with Randy, and find their dress.  In 2014 Kleinfeld Canada opened in the Hudson Bay store downtown Toronto, and our need to fly to New York to find a dress was eliminated.  As you can imagine this mother of the bride was elated when this happened, since the thought of paying duty and taxes on importing a wedding gown, potentially worth thousands of dollars made me physically ill.

When the time came for Brianna to begin her wedding dress hunt we started at Kleinfeld, because, well if you’ve never watched an episode of the show, I suggest you do, they make buying a wedding dress seem like the most important thing in the world.  Now, granted it is only ONE day of your life, and the bride will be wearing it for less than twenty-four hours, and sadly with more than half of today’s marriages ending in divorce, it does seem a touch ridiculous to put so much emphasis on the dress.  But we do, and based on the show it seems like they do too.  Since there is so much importance on this one dress it really “should” be an experience you will never forget.

Let me tell you, Brianna found her dress, unexpectedly on the first day out, at the first store we went to:  Kleinfeld; and let me also tell you, it will definitely be an experience we will NEVER FORGET.  Sadly, not for any good reasons.

Oh Lord where do I even begin??

I suppose at the beginning.  When we arrived, the “studio” fitting area only had two brides trying gowns on it it.  This area of the store is wide open, luxurious couches, lots of space, tall ceilings, large windows, it’s lovely.  Behind this area are the dressing rooms where the bride tries on gowns and then comes out to show family, and wait to be asked; “are you saying yes to this dress?” In the dressing room area there are also couches, much smaller, could possibly fit three people comfortably, we were four, with fewer mirrors, lower ceilings and no windows.  It’s not a very exciting area, more like a private shopping fitting area at a high end luxury department store, than a bridal gown one, certainly one worthy of Kleinfeld’s reputation, as seen on TV. They sat us here.  With winter coats, it was December, four women with handbags, and one father of the bride, it was anything but spacious or comfortable.  Just as I’m known to do when seated at a table at a restaurant that I don’t like, I asked to be moved to one of the many available, expansive areas in the main fitting space.  They begrudgingly agreed, so we moved.

Finally the fun began, we had our shopper, who’s name escapes me, since we only saw her once, on this day, for like one hour, and then never, ever saw her again.  Four fittings, and picking up the dress included, never saw her again.  Which, I don’t know how it goes these days at any other bridal shop, but I recall very specifically seeing my sales woman every single time I went for a fitting, and definitely when I picked up my dress she was there.  Excited to play a part in my day.  This was almost 30 years ago, at a little hole in the wall bridal boutique in the west end of the city, it was no Kleinfeld, my dress cost $2200, which translates to $6500 today with inflation, and yet somehow they cared more.  Which is what I found interesting.  Was it perhaps the cost of the dress that made our experience at Kleinfeld so not important to them?  I mean we didn’t spend $40,000 but we also spent more than $10,000; and even if we had purchased one of the even less expensive gowns they offer, should we have to ask for a glass of cheap champagne while shopping, only to be told; “you only get a glass if you say yes???”

Oh really.  Okay wow, because when I go to Neimans, Gucci, LV in Beverly Hills to simply look, my shopper offers me champagne, for FREE, even if I don’t buy a thing.  But not at Kleinfeld where you’re buying arguably, whether right or wrong the most important dress of your life?  Apparently they don’t.

Okay, fine, who needs to drink early in the day anyway.  We carried on shopping.  Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, Brianna found her dress that day, and so the rest of the adventure began.  The first fitting arrived, the dress is of course far too big, as it should be, it gives them a ton of room to make it perfect.  Which the alteration woman didn’t do, not by the second fitting, not by the third where she got blood on the dress when she nicked her finger with her scissors, also tore the dress at the breast area, and then told my daughter it was her fault because her breasts are so big.

Brianna cried.

I had no idea why Brianna was crying, but looking at her I knew they weren’t happy tears.  I know my daughter.  She wouldn’t tell me in the room what happened so I had to wait until we left the building while we were at lunch, and that’s when she told me why had cried.

Are you fucking kidding me???  Can you imagine any woman telling you at any point during a fitting that the reason something doesn’t look good on you is because of  YOU???  You would give that person a tongue lashing like they’ve never had, and leave that store never to return.  But sadly we didn’t have this option.  The wedding was a month out, the money had been spent, plenty of money, and we had to go back.  So I pulled in reinforcements, my girlfriend’s personal shopper from another department of the store took over.  He brought in the manager of Kleinfeld, who took that alteration woman off the dress, and put the alterations manager, and her number one seamstress on the dress.  From there everything happened quickly, and perfectly.  The dress now fits like a dream, and Brianna is beautiful in it.  Absolutely stunning in the gown.

Thank God.

When we picked it up the other day the weirdness of the experience continued, we were lead to an office, not a fitting area, not even a presentation area where the dress was hanging on a door in plastic wrap.  Not a fabric wardrobe bag with the Kleinfeld logo on it, where a woman we had never, ever seen in our lives, who honestly could have cared less to be presenting Brianna her gown, asked her; “is this the right dress?  Is this your dress?”  She had no emotion on her face while talking to us, I mean honestly the vet assistants at my dogs veterinarian clinic are more excited to see my dogs when they come in for an appointment than this girl, who was handing a bride her wedding dress was!!

Brianna and I looked at one another and said; “ahhhh yes, yes it is.”

She then pulled the plastic back over the gown, took it off the door and proceeded to walk Brianna’s dress out of the store.  I had had enough.  I stopped her and said; “excuse me.  But this is her gown, are you really going to give it to her in the appliance department of this store?  Cuz we’d much rather take it from you inside the bridal boutique if that’s okay with you.”

She shrugged her shoulders and said; “sure if that’s how you want to do it.”

Yeah.  Yeah that is how we’d like to do it, thanks girl with less emotion than a wet paper bag.

The entire experience is a thing that makes me not even go “hmmm” it’s an absolute WTAF is going on over there.  As a first time mother of the bride I couldn’t be more disappointed for my first bride to have had such a lackluster, terrible experience in finding her gown.  Thank God Brianna is so easy going and cares mostly about the end result, and the end result here is that she has the most gorgeous dress, and she looks absolutely beautiful in it.  We will hold onto this element of the experience, and know that without a doubt neither of my other two brides will be stepping foot into Kleinfeld when their time comes to; “say yes to the dress.”

16 Comments

  1. You, my dear, are an awesome Momma Bear! Sure, in the end, it is only a dress, and does not make a marriage, but it is the exciting buildup to your special day! Your first day as MRS. If they treated the daughter of Yannick and Shantelle Bisson this way, how to they treat every other Canadian bride preparing for their special day? If you are in retail – whether high end luxury or not, every customer coming through your door should be treated with respect regardless of a $500 budget or $50,000, Thank you for bringing it to our attention. I do not have a daughter (hopefully a daughter-in -law one day 😉 ) nor do I live in Toronto, but rampant bad customer service needs to be publicized. I hope the wedding day was perfect for your little girl! 🙂

  2. We had a horrible experience at Kleinfeld’s. @ The Bay. I would never recommend them to anyone.

  3. Wow! What a fucking nightmare! I hope you are calling the manager or screw that, the owner., I’d hunt that bastard down until I saw him face to face even if I had to fly to his location. On second thought, I’d make him come to me. How DARE they treat that gown like it was an everyday dress off the rack that they can through a freakin trash bag over. Did that chick not like her job. Dear God, they are dealing with brides, excited to get their gowns, excited for their day! Wow! GF, I’d be on the warpath AFTER the wedding. I wouldn’t want to upset Brianna this close to the wedding. I had my own nightmare with the dress, which I will spare you at this tender time. But, girl, you MUST follow up on this! You cannot allow this kind of treatment to continue!

  4. How rude! Shows that you cannot believe everything you see on TV!
    Cannot wait to see how beautiful she looks.

  5. Hi,

    I don’t think I’ve ever posted on here, but I really enjoy your website.

    I’ve also religiously watched “Say Yes to the dress” and I was considering going out to Kleinfeld TO when the time came to pick my dress.
    It seems that discussing expectations of service can either be applauded or raged against. It seems that unless we have concrete examples of deplorable service, everything else is just whining. And yet, we should hold these places to higher expectations. They set them. Kleinfelds has a TV show saying they offer a certain level of service and that should be everywhere including a boutique in TO.

    I love following the stories of your family on instagram and I actually joined Instagram to comment on one of Brianna’s tutorials that I was enamoured by. So a lot of love to you and your family and I hope the wedding is a smashing success.

  6. Hmmmm, that is soooooo not OK! And I have one thing to say: TRUSTPILOT! These places live off of their customers, and this sort of treatment is NOT okay, and they should know it (as should everyone thinking of shopping there – who doesn’t read your blog).

  7. How appalling!!! I expect to re river premium treatment from a premium shop, as do you. Let’s hope that all else flows smoothly for your daughter’s big day. Wishing you all the best in love and laughter on your daughter’s big day!

  8. OMG What a horrible experience at what should be the Happiest of times!!!!, For that person to bring her to tears is inexcusable, And for this to all start with your initial visit being crammed into what wasn’t much more that a large closet. It is a shame you didn’t have the option to tell them to take their dress and shove it when Briana was so hurt. but you couldn’t start all over,. Thank goodness for your friend’s shopper. That at least got the rest of the dress making taken care of. But then to have the pick-up so botched just says that this is an organization that should NOT be in the business of Bridal Gowns. Or ANY business that requires responsible customer care. We got my daughters at a locally owned small business and my purchase was very modest and yet and we were treated like royalty. As you should have been. So glad you were strong enough to make them get their S..T together I will remember their name for all the wrong reasons and will never use their services.
    But it is now passed and only wonderful things to come in the next several days. Just ENJOY this Special Time

  9. When my wife was being fitted for her wedding dress, the saleswoman brought her one that was somewhat too small on her. When my wife pointed this out, the saleswoman said “That’s incentive for you to lose weight before the wedding.” My wife locked her in a deadly glare, rose to her entire 5 foot one inch of height and said in a voice that could freeze flame “Alternatively, you could stand up, walk back downstairs and get me a dress in the size I told you.” This was not at Kleinfelds, btw, as that store is renown for its politeness here in New York City. I’m shocked to hear of a Canadian store being rude compared to its New York station.

  10. Not one, but multiple ways this ?reputable company let you down is unbelievable. Have you considered sending this essay to the head office in New York with an accompanying letter? It may mean the head of the company will be, at the least, aware of the poor representation of his branch’s wedding gown department in Toronto. At least it may prevent another excited bride having the same awful experience. Happy to read after such trying visits there, the dress is ‘perfect.’ Look forward to seeing a photo of the beautiful bride at some time after the wedding. Wishing her a most unforgettable day.

  11. Our experience at Nordstrom’s was only a little better. They showed her a dress that was their cover story that year and of course it was over budget. Of course, she fell in love with it! She was so happy that another young lady came into the dressing area and said, “I don’t know what I want bit that is how I want to feel!” I enplained that my daughter is an Opera Singer and expressing her feelings is a job skill. She tried to hire her to sing at her wedding.

    Why are designers and seamstresses always surprised by Breasts? It makes me go hmmm. Breasts lead many add campaigns but not clothing! This head of alterations had no real clue what to do. I never did got the hang of sewing but my Mother made her own gowns as a youngster and she knew her way around double and even triple D. She had many tricks and I described them to the folks at Nordstrom’s and was told, “We don’t do that”. Luckily I had a local man who knew his way around a gown and with too little time, he delivered a miracle! The dress fit perfectly with no unsightly armpit bulges.

    What I have always found affirming about your blog is “Moma Bear”. Sometimes you have to be! By the way, the alterations were supposed to be included so I sent Nordstrom’s the bill. They were gracious and did what they should have done. It’s nice to know there are more of us out there. Have a lovely wedding day with your family!

  12. Go find a little hole-in-the-wall boutique for the next one. Perhaps the one you found is still around?

    How sad that the people involved in Brianna’s dress shopping were so terribly rude. I don’t understand how someone working in a bridal shop would not be excited for the bride. Good Lord! Time for new staff!

    As for the plastic bag placed over the dress, consider that your opportunity NOT to provide free advertising for poor service!

  13. Wow! There is no excuse for such horrible customer service. I admit to loving the show, even as I cringe at the prices and styles. I’m not sure about how it would be in Canada, but I would’ve thought that being “Murdoch’s” daughter would have gotten better service and maybe even be on an episode.
    It seems like Brianna has the right attitude – it’s all decoration, the important and joyous part is the lifetime ahead. Best wishes, an Oregon fan.

  14. I hope you contacted whoever needs to be contacted to share this experience, now that you safely have the dress! I got my dress at David’s Bridal, which is basically the Payless of bridal stores, and had a significantly better experience than this.

    With all this behind you I hope your daughter’s wedding is amazing! What a beautiful time of year for a wedding!!

  15. So glad you posted this. Imagine how many other brides have gotten this snob treatment. You salvaged it by bringing in reinforcements and being a tiger mom. Good on you for putting future customers on notice that the service they will get at Kleinfelds is directly proportionate to the amount of money they spend. I’m in sticker shock. My gown from Macy’s In 1971 was $150 and neither of my daughters paid more than $300 for theirs in the ‘90s and they both looked fab. Inflation is right!

  16. That’s horrid! Maybe it was the store. Sadly, I have experienced this in many. Places. Regardless, you spent A LOT OF MONEY. They should be happy to miss your…feet.

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