Elmari Coetzee is the owner of the Blissfully Bridal boutique in Randburg, which opened in 2014. The boutique is owner-run and Elmari personally arranges all appointments and fittings. “I am very hands-on, and my goal is to give every bride a memorable and special experience, while of course, finding her dream dress.”
CONFETTI CHICKS: How did you get into the industry?
ELMARI: Searching for my own wedding dress, I just couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous dresses that are available to brides nowadays, and I tried on over THIRTY dresses myself (NOT recommended!). I soon realized that even though I had actually found THE ONE on DAY ONE of my search, I just loved the whole experience and that was why I kept trying on all those dresses! So, needless to say, soon after returning from honeymoon the “gears” starting turning and slowly but surely the boutique started taking shape.
What do you enjoy most about the wedding industry?
Being part of the BIG DAYs of so many gorgeous brides – it is an industry that is (generally) full of joy and smiles, and I get to share in it!
What have been your greatest lessons that you have learned about your trade?
I realized this lesson when I was searching for my dress, and it may sound like a cliché, but in the wedding industry we are dealing with realizing the dreams that the majority of brides have had since they were 4 years old. As a service provider I need to always remember that this is every bride’s “ONE” dress, her “ONE” wedding and it is my responsibility to make my part of her journey as special and memorable as possible.
What advice do you have for clients in terms of them choosing or selecting from the service you offer?
The first thing, and probably the most important to me as a bridal boutique owner, is for the B2B (bride-to-be) to remain open–minded. I often see that look of disappointment on a B2B’s face when she tries on the dress she thought was the one, but then realizes that in “real-life” it actually isn’t (I too was devastated when my “dream dress” made me look like a stuffed sausage!). Don’t let that break your spirit – trust your bridal consultant to assist you in finding a dress that suits your body-shape, your personality and your colouring – a dress that will compliment you, and make you look like a dream.
“Stay true to your personal style” – Elmari Coetzee
Wearing something that is outside your comfort-zone will most likely make you feel uncomfortable the entire day.
It’s very important to know your budget and stick to it. Do not try on a dress if it falls outside your budget, it will only cause heartache when the dress you want is unaffordable.
Do your homework and find a bridal boutique that has a reputation for great service, and one that carries dresses that you like, at prices you can afford. I recommend starting close to home, and then venturing further out. Purchasing your dress from a bridal boutique that is conveniently located (i.e. close to home or work) is first prize, and will save you a lot of traveling time when it’s time for your alterations appointments.
Start early! Many gowns take 4 to 5 months to arrive after order placement and once it arrives you still have to factor in sufficient time for alterations, accessorizing, etc. And, even though most boutiques have the option of rushing your order, this is bound to add additional stress to your already endless list of wedding pressures – do yourself a favour and rather place your order with a month or two to spare. In my opinion the ideal lead time is 6 to 7 months.
Keep your “dress-search-crew” as small as possible – too many different opinions are sure to confuse you and create unnecessary friction. Too often the bride’s opinion is drowned out by those of her entourage. Don’t be afraid to come by yourself – I have many brides who make a “solo” follow up appointment to re-visit their favourites, and it is usually during these, quieter appointments, they’re able to make their decision.
Trust your bridal consultant when she says a dress will look better “on” than on the hanger, and try something on even though the “sagging” dress on the hanger doesn’t really appeal to you.
Take a breather and don’t feel bad for walking away if you feel pressurized by a bridal consultant to purchase a certain dress on the spot – purchasing your dress should bring with it a sense of calm, excitement and relief, not doubts and heart-palpitations.
And lastly, but most importantly trust your instincts! If you have to be convinced that a certain dress is “the one” then it probably isn’t. If you can’t picture yourself walking down the aisle in it, then rather walk away.
What is your advice for the bride (and groom) about their big day?
I always tell my brides to “stop” often during the course of their wedding day just to take it all in – it really goes by so quickly and if you don’t stop you’ll miss so much.
And then….to always remember that it is YOUR day … whether it is choosing YOUR dress, the flowers, the seating arrangements – you should have the final say. Everyone else will get their day… they should let you have yours.
What gives you the greatest excitement and joy about weddings?
Too much to mention, but if I had to choose (and I’m going to be biased) it is that moment when the bride realizes she’s found her dress – I get goosebumps every time, and I’ve even shed some tears with the brides and their moms – it’s just such a special moment.
What has been your greatest wedding memory or experience?
My own wedding of course! The whole journey, from searching for our venue, to walking down the aisle towards my handsome hubby… to our final dance at the end of a wonderful day.
What would you do differently if you got married again or renewed your vows?
I would wear a veil! That is really the only thing I would change – I chose not to wear one, and can’t even remember WHY! I didn’t regret that until I started receiving the pics of “my” brides, wearing their veils. Veils make for such gorgeous pictures – and there is something very special about your father lifting the veil before he “gives you away”.
What unique or unusual things would you love to see a couple do at a wedding?
Incorporate more traditional elements into your wedding day. For example, recently a bride of mine incorporated her husband’s family crest into her “outfit” and that literally gave me goosebumps.
Tell us something about yourself that people wouldn’t expect from someone in your line of work.
I also work for a large Pharmaceutical company in the IT Strategy, Architecture and Governance environment.
Contact Elmari for an appointment on 083 611 6995, or click here to send her an email.
Visit Blissfully Bridal’s website to view the collection.
Boutique address: 134 Kayburn Avenue, Randpark Ridge
Photos of gown: Supplied
Additional photography: Judith Belle