Something New
La Belle Mariée Bridal salon makes it possible for local brides to “say yes to the dress” in Bucks County
by Lindsey Getz

Brides no longer need to drive to Philadelphia or even New York City to get the luxurious bridal salon experience they desire when shopping for the perfect dress. With the opening of La Belle Mariée Bridal in the heart of Bucks County—Langhorne, to be precise—brides, their families and even wedding guests can shop a truly diverse assortment of gowns and evening wear and have the special experience they desire when looking for the perfect dress.

The French-inspired bridal salon is the brainchild of mother/daughter duo Michele and Gabrielle Frederico and their family friend Jackie Hillgrube. The owners wanted to create a bridal salon that not only offered personalized service but also carried a selection of premier-quality garments that were difficult to find outside of a city shopping experience. Having worked as a team to carry this dream to fruition, each of the three ladies brings unique strengths to the shop.

“Working together we form a great team, as we all bring something a bit different to the table,” says Gabrielle. “But we share the responsibilities of helping customers and working one on one with the brides. That’s something we all enjoy.”

It’s obvious that brides and families are enjoying the experience, too. The new salon has enjoyed an overwhelmingly positive reception, including the award for “Best Bridal Boutique of 2015” from the digital lifestyle magazine Bucks Happening. There have already been lots of happy tears shed as brides find the gown of their dreams.

“It’s a very emotional moment when a bride puts on the gown that everyone knows is the one,” says Michele. “The bride walks out of the dressing room, stands on the platform and tears come to her eyes. Then the mother starts crying and I start crying, too. It’s such a happy place and I feel so honored to be able to share in those special moments.”

A Leap of Faith   
While the salon has been so well received in the area, it was an undertaking that took a true leap of faith by the owners and their families. Michele says it was a dream of hers to own a business with her daughter, but she never knew what that business might be. She knew nothing about owning a bridal salon or even what it would take to open a shop. But after a difficult time finding that perfect mother-of-the-groom gown when her son got married, she was struck by the need for a bridal and evening gown shop in her area.

“When the idea for opening a bridal salon came to me, I honestly knew nothing about it,” Michele says. “But I became passionate about it and doing whatever it took to make it work.”

With some assistance from a consultant from New York who was able to open doors and set up appointments with designers, the process of realizing the dream got underway quickly and, Michele says, they haven’t turned back since. Michele and Gabrielle brought in family friend Jackie, who had long dreamed of one day owning a bridal salon. From there, they forged ahead.

“Though I’ll admit some people thought it was crazy, since it was something brand new for us, I knew this was meant to be once we started the process,” Michele shares. “That’s because every door we knocked on opened, and every door led to another one. There was nothing holding us back from doing this.  That’s how we knew it was the right decision.”

The experience so far has also made it clear this was meant to be. Gabrielle says it’s been wonderful getting to work so closely with her mom.

“We’ve always talked about running and owning a business together,” says Gabrielle, who graduated from Drexel University with a degree in accounting. “When my mom came to me with the idea of opening a bridal salon I immediately said ‘Yes.’ It combines our love of fashion, helping people and bridal. And there’s nothing like this in our area. Many of our customers would have driven to King of Prussia, Philadelphia or New York to try to find the kinds of dresses we offer. We wanted to bring that home, make it more convenient and accessible for local brides to find the dress of their dreams.”

And, of course, the bridal party and even wedding guests can now shop locally for high-quality gowns.

“Even if people aren’t in the wedding party they still want a place where they can find high-quality formal wear so we’re offering that, too,” Michele says. “We wanted to make the experience of shopping for gowns more enjoyable for everyone.”

Service and Selection
Along with the personalized service, the thing that customers have loved most about La Belle Mariée has been the selection. The collection has been carefully selected and includes designers such as Aire Barcelona, Paloma Blanca, Badgley Mischka and Pronovias. The owners are going to great lengths to keep up with the latest trends while continuing to offer a variety of options to suit all styles and tastes. They will even be attending Barcelona Bridal Week in Spain to see the new Pronovias and Aire collections.

Though the owners pride themselves on keeping up with the latest fashions, Michele adds that they also pride themselves on being able to cater to all brides by offering gowns in a variety of price points and sizes. While some salons may cap their “try-on” sizes, Michele says La Belle Mariée carries gowns up to size 18.

“Everyone should be able to come in and fit in a dress so they feel special and can enjoy the experience,” she emphasizes. “It is very important to us that we are able to cater to all of our brides and that each one feels special when they’re here.”

Making brides feel special can mean long hours for the owners. Michele says it’s not uncommon for the owners to put in 50-plus hours a week at the store; they even come in on days the shop is normally closed. But, she says, she wouldn’t change any of it.

“It’s just been such an amazing experience,” Michele says. “Everything in life is about timing and this has simply been the perfect time to begin this new adventure.”

Michele adds that fulfilling the dream of owning a business with her daughter has given her a legacy to hand down, and she can now dream of a future where Gabrielle can carry on the business. However, none of it would be possible without the brides who have already stepped through the door. While the owners already have dreams of helping future brides for years to come, it is those who had faith in them in these early stages that have made it all possible.

“I want our brides to know that without them, this wouldn’t be possible,” Michele says. “I want to thank each and every bride, and their family, who has walked through this door because without their faith we wouldn’t be here.”

La Belle Mariée Bridal
14 Summit Square Shopping Center
Langhorne, PA 19047