LAKE FOREST — White Dress Bridal Boutique, Lake Forest’s newest business, is devoted to providing the bride what she needs to wear when she walks down the aisle on her wedding day.
“It’s all about the bride,” said owner Christina Alexander Wegner.
White Dress formally opened its doors with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Valentine’s Day at the southwest corner of Deerpath and Western Avenues in downtown Lake Forest. It is the second store for Wegner, a resident of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, who grew up in Libertyville. She opened her first store in Milwaukee in 2015. After 2½ years in business, she decided to bring her style of service to the North Shore.
White Dress sells wedding dresses, shoes and accessories. It started serving customers with a soft opening January 6, and by February 14 more than 82 women had shopped at the boutique.
Selecting Lake Forest for her second location was a planned choice.
“I grew up in Libertyville and did a lot of shopping in the Lake Forest area when I was younger,” said Wegner. “I knew I wanted to carry 10 specific designers and be far enough away from Chicago. Lake Forest is perfect because there is no (bridal) boutique here.”
Wegner got into the bridal business because of the experience she had when it was time to select her own wedding dress. She spent more than 20 years as a property management executive, and at age 42 found the right man to marry. When she went looking for the perfect dress, she could not find one in Milwaukee.
“When I went shopping for my wedding dress I had to do it in Chicago,” said Wegner. “Milwaukee was missing something. The cutting edge was not there. I wanted to find something cutting edge.”
While Wegner said she found the perfect wedding dress, she also saw what she felt was missing in bridal shops. She decided to “take it to the next level” as she developed her business plan for White Dress.
So many things relating to a wedding are about the experience, and those happenings turn into memories, according to Wegner. Just as the moments of falling in love and receiving a marriage proposal are images that last, so is getting a wedding dress.
“All of these things are memories in your life and I want this to be memorable,” said Wegner.
A customer does not just walk into the shop, take a look at the scores of dresses, pick one out, get it fitted, pay and come back in a few weeks to pick it up. There are phone conversations before the prospective bride ever walks into the shop. Preparation ahead of time enables the moments in the shop to be at what Wegner calls the “next level.”
“It’s all about the experience,” Wegner said. “We want to know what she’s looking for before she gets here. It’s a 90-minute scheduled appointment and it’s all about her. We serve refreshments. Our stylist and everyone are on hand to help her find the perfect dress.”
Wegner said getting to know customers before they ever walk in the store is critical. Learning the colors of the wedding, the venue and personal things about the couple including the bride’s fiancé are essential.
“We want to connect with the bride before she ever comes in the store,” Wegner said. “We want her to feel like she knows us and what she is looking for before she ever gets here. You don’t try on a wedding dress every day.”