Richmond is a mecca for brides who are looking for something a bit unique for their wedding day. Christine Haines, the owner of Urban Set Bride, has made it her mission to give RVA brides the perfect wedding gown shopping experience, no matter what style they’re looking for!
My mom and I opened our boutique in March 2014, so we are still very new and very excited to serve Richmond-area brides! Our goal was to create a no-pressure, cozy bridal shopping experience for women looking for anything from a classic silhouette to an off-beat gown option. And of course, everything in between!
How did you get started in this business?
I started out as a wedding planner through my company, Wood Grain & Lace Events, and kept hearing the same complaints from my clients: “There is nowhere in Richmond to find an affordable, unique wedding gown that isn’t $3,000!” So a year ago, we started our business plan, received funding through a grant and personal savings, and today we are proudly offering private appointments through our pint-sized boutique!
We are a two-lady shop with an amazing gown designer/alterations guru by our side for support and industry-wisdom. We will never have commission-based employees, and we strive to provide our clients with as much information as possible. I’d rather them leave with the designer, price and creation time for each gown they like and make a decision after a good night’s rest. This is supposed to be a fun experience, and with body image issues, family pressures and financial constraints, buying an expensive dress can be anything but fun. We offer bridal gowns, accessories and maids options that are quality, affordable and a little off the beaten path.
Why do you like working with weddings?
It’s awesome to meet men and women during one of the most exciting, love-filled parts of their lives. I love keeping people calm, and encouraging them to not take themselves too seriously throughout the planning process.
What is the most difficult situation you have faced with a bride and how did you resolve it?
We carry a variety of sample sizes from 2 to 18 to accommodate a wide range of brides. But, as we all know, bridal sizes are usually 1 to 2 sizes smaller than what a bride wears normally. I met a stunning lady who fell in love with a dress, but she couldn’t fit into the sample size. She was obviously bummed out, and we wrapped up her appointment and she went home. The bride went to a few other local bridal shops, and emailed me two weeks later and said she couldn’t get our shop and that dress out of her mind. She came back with her mom, held the dress up to her and fell in love all over again. She took the plunge and asked me to order the dress in her size. We are all so excited to see her rock that gown on her wedding day, and I’m so proud of her for looking past not fitting into a tiny sample size, believing in her beautiful body and saying “this is my dress.”
From a vendor’s perspective, what is the best piece of advice you can offer to engaged couples?
Respectfully ignore the advice. Planning a wedding, much like having a baby, seems to create an open invitation for anyone and everyone to offer their two cents. If you tend to be a people pleaser, this can overwhelm and stress you out to no end. At the end of the day, this is a celebration of your relationship and your families joining together. That’s it. Keep it simple, be respectful but stay true to yourself.
Where do you find inspiration or motivation?
Our motivation stems directly from our neighborhood, Church Hill. We could’ve setup shop in Carytown or Short Pump, but we wanted to be part of a cozy little section of the city that is progressing right before our eyes. There are so many entrepreneurs around us opening up shops and restaurants, building or renovating homes, walking around with their dogs and/or kids, and supporting each other. We want to be another great part of Church Hill and help it continue to blossom.
What do you like to do when you are away from work?
There isn’t much time for non-wedding thoughts when you run a boutique AND plan 12 to 14 weddings a year, but I like to spend time with camping with my friends, try new restaurants with my fiancee, and spend time with my dogs, Frank and Banana. My mom is an amazing gardener and loves relaxing with a good book or checking out new restaurants with my Dad.
What would we be surprised to learn about you?
Most people are surprised to learn that I’m having the smallest possible wedding one can have without eloping. My fiancee and I are getting married at Libby Hill Park in Church Hill and having a 70 person cocktail party at the Roosevelt. I get to live vicariously through all the big weddings I plan, so once it was my time to plan one for myself, I had no interest in a big affair. I’m excited to keep it small, and reserve my wedding planning energy for my clients!
Thank you, Christine, for answering our questions! To find out more about Urban Set Bride and all they have to offer, please visit www.urbansetbride.com.