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There are two major caveats to buying a wedding dress. One, the hefty price tag of a dream gown, and two, how do you get the dust off that thing when the wedding's over? Consider bridal consignment your answer, and no one in South Florida does it better than La Vie En Blanc.
In an effort to save their friends from skimping on parts of their weddings, best friends Viviana Planas and Jenise Castro founded La Vie En Blanc to give them what they never dreamed they could have: a designer gown at a reasonable price. For the past two years, they've built a business out of buying "lightly loved" wedding gowns from former brides and selling them at up to 75 percent off the original price.
Appointments are required, moms and friends are encouraged and champagne is always served to ensure that you have the same exact experience at any of their bridal shows and home pop-ups as you would at a traditional boutique. They're on the Cinderella heels of opening their first brick and mortar in the Bird Road Art District, where a burgeoning set of nuptial-related businesses already thrives. Judging by their racks of Reem Acra and Monique Lhuillier gowns at half the price, we predict La Vie En Blanc will flourish too.
What is the concept behind La Vie En Blanc? How did it come about We had both been in half a dozen weddings and planned our own. Knowing the pain of that "wedding budget," we realized there was a void in the South Florida bridal market. There were brides compromising on some aspect of their dream wedding to have an out-of-budget designer gown they just had to have. We knew if we could get these gowns for less, brides would line up for them! It was always important to us that a bride wouldn't miss out on the luxurious experience of buying her wedding dress.
What are some of the brands you carry and, on average, how much could a bride be saving?
We carry gowns from designers like Monique Lhuillier, Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Lazaro, Rivini, Reem Acra, Jenny Packham, Pronovias, La Sposa, Maggie Sottero, Allure Bridal, and many others too. All of our gowns retail anywhere from $1000 up to $25,000 or more. At La Vie En Blanc, brides can save between 25%-75% off of these retail prices.
Where do you get most of your bridal gowns?
More than half of our inventory are samples from bridal boutiques and directly from designers. As they make room in their shops for the newest collections, they count on us to be their ongoing sample sale for the previous seasons. We also acquire gowns from individual brides who consign with us after their wedding to get a return on their investment.
You guys are about to open Miami's first bridal consignment boutique! What do you have planned?
We have been doing trunk shows at luxury properties across South Florida and private residence appointments for the past year and a half. With the opening of a permanent location, we anticipate better serving budget-savvy brides by offering everything they need at our by-appointment showroom.
Do you think bridal boutiques and stores will see La Vie En Blanc as a threat?
Not really! We have partnerships with various bridal boutiques and are proud to serve as their ongoing sample sale. We also have brides that come to us in search of a current season gown that we just don't carry yet or don't have in their size. We are happy to tell these brides to invest in that gown from a bridal boutique and come to us after their wedding to resell with us.
What elements does a dress need to have in order for you to bring it into your inventory?
We look for styles from top designers that are relevant to today's brides. It's very important to us that brides shop La Vie En Blanc confidently, knowing that we've selected each piece to create a collection of gowns that are in new or like-new condition. All of our gowns are professionally cleaned before being added to our inventory. If there is a small flaw, like a missing button or loose beading, we will make the necessary repairs to bring that gown back to perfect condition.
What are some of the biggest bridal trends you're seeing at the moment?
Illusion backs and necklines, a lot of lace and beading, sexy yet elegant silhouettes. And we continue to see vintage, romantic looks.
What about in veils and accessories?
We get lots of requests for vintage inspired accessories. We love working on custom veils, sashes, and headpieces. We are doing a lot more rose gold pieces and we still see lots of Gatsby-inspired pieces, which are usually pretty fab.
What's the one bridal trend from year's you hope never comes back?
The poofy sleeves like Princess Diana! We much rather designers look for inspirations in Grace Kelly, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Kate Middleton as the quintessential classic and elegant bride.
What is the one piece of advice you think every bride should consider when shopping for a wedding gown?
We always tell our brides to keep an open mind when shopping for their bridal gown! Many brides start shopping with an idea that's based on a picture of a model or something they saw on Pinterest and end up falling in love with something completely different. Every body is different, and dresses look very different on a hanger. We tell our brides to try a variety of styles. The worst thing that can happen when they try something on is that they don't like it and they change into another gown. The best thing that can happen is that they fall in love and say yes to the dress for less!
· La Vie En Blanc [Official Site]
· All Wedding Week Coverage [Racked Miami]
· Where to Buy a Dreamy Wedding Dress in Miami [Racked Miami]
· Chic Parisien, My Entry into the Underground Bridal World [Racked Miami]