We have been photographing weddings in this area for over a decade, and I have had the pleasure to meet so many great people who work alongside of us in the industry. Sometimes, it might just be a “hello” in passing on a wedding day, or seeing someone briefly at a bridal show, etc. I realized that I might know the work of a florist, or the distinctive flavor of a caterer, but I didn’t really know the people behind the scenes. So, I’ve started reaching out to some of my favorite vendors in the area, and have begun photographing and interviewing them. I’d like to give potential brides a great behind-the-scenes look at the wedding professionals in the area, and the amazing work that they do. This is the ninth installment of a large series of spotlights!
How would you describe yourself (and/or your business)?
We are two girls who grew up in the bridal business and are now having the time of our lives making it our own. We are down to earth, we would like to think we’re funny, and we focus on making a bride feel amazing on the biggest day of her life. Our goal is to make finding the perfect gown easy, fun and take as much stress off of that process for the bride as possible.
Could you characterize your style in three words?
Allie- chic, classic, but daring.
Stephanie- traditional, timeless, simple
How long have you been in business?
Monica’s has been in business since 1975. Monica herself was just telling us she couldn’t believe it’s been over 40 years! She’s stops in from time to time and it’s always great to see her- she always has a story to tell. Stephanie and I have been either working here or hanging around for the past 18 years (yes we are that old!), so you know we mean it when we say we grew up here!
What sets you apart from your competition?
We do our very best to make choosing your wedding dress an experience, versus something you just have to check off your list. Every bride deserves to feel beautiful, and every bride has a different vision of her “big day.” We train our staff to listen to what a girl wants, help her step out of her comfort zone when necessary and bring her vision of herself to life. We truly are full service- meaning we start the process with our brides and follow them all the way through alterations to make sure they feel comfortable and happy in their gowns, and that they know how to navigate in them on the big day! We would always like to think we have the best dresses in town, but in reality if a girl finds the dress of her dreams somewhere else- that’s OK. Though our ultimate goal is to sell every bride who walks through the door, her being happy is still the most important thing.
Listen to yourselves- not everyone else. Yes, it is important not to be a bridezilla and not to put your bridesmaids in $1000 dresses that they hate. And it is important to make the groom’s mom and all of your cousins feel included- but not to the detriment of what you two want for your wedding. If you love seafoam green, then too bad if your cousin doesn’t like it- she can wear it or sit in the audience! If you want cheesecake and not a wedding cake, get a cheesecake! You’re the only person who will ever know a decision was Plan B and not Plan A. If you have to go with Plan B, just roll with it. Take people at their word when they say, “It’s your day,” because it is! And of course, never lose sight of the fact that at the end of the day, you two will be married- and that’s why we’re doing all of this to begin with. So don’t sweat the ribbon color on your flowers too much.
What do you love the most about Chattanooga?
We love that it’s such a small, big town! We love that everyone is proud of our town and you can’t find sweeter people anywhere. The people in Chattanooga are second to none- they’re always doing something new, or inventing a great new product or business concept. What other town can you say that about? Oh! And of course all these amazing restaurants that have come along in the past 6 or 7 years. Super terrible for our waistlines, but super yummy!
What inspires you?
Real women, being bosses! In fact, a better way for us to describe our inspiration is to say who. Monica’s previous owner, Dolores Murphy, and previous seamstress, Cindy Moore, taught us that women can do anything they love as long as they always see the value in what they’re doing. These two women taught us more lessons than we can count. That, along with the mentoring from Steve Murphy (previous owner), gave us the courage and guidance to be where we are today. We know so many women who own businesses in this town- and they absolutely rock it out. And it inspires us even more when we can be cheerleaders for each other.
What is your favorite aspect of a wedding?
The bride’s gown- obviously! Seeing over 400 brides go out the door with the gowns of the dreams each year teaches you a thing or two. If a bride feels amazing, it shows. Also, we love seeing a groom’s reaction to his bride- it makes us cry every time!