Bridal shop wants to make shopping ‘fun’

Arlene DeForest knows the look: The bride-to-be will linger as if twirling in a fairy tale and sport a yard-wide grin.

She found the dress.

“Once they find the right one,” DeForest said, “they don’t want to take it off.”

Last fall, DeForest opened Moments to Cherish Bridals, 303 E. Verona Ave., after five years in business in Fitchburg. Visibility brought her to Verona.

“We were hidden away,” said DeForest, whose previous shop was tucked behind a strip mall along Fish Hatchery Road.

DeForest savors the new location, which is closer to her home between Mount Horeb and Verona. She has been married more than 40 years to Wayne DeForest and remembers shopping for her wedding dress.

“I still have it,” she said.

She bought Moments to Cherish in 2010, keeping the same store name as the previous owner. But DeForest’s background wasn’t in the bridal industry. She worked for decades in customer service and had been working in the medical products industry.

Moments to Cherish survived the recession and, when DeForest wanted to downsize a bit last year, she found the Verona location to suit her business. The store includes all wedding apparel as well as prom dresses and tuxedos.

DeForest has learned to treat brides-to-be gently.

“Our No. 1 goal is customer service and to help them work through the whole process. Let them choose what dresses they want to try on. Listen to what the bride is saying and go from there,” DeForest said. “Sometimes they come in flustered, especially if they’ve had a bad experience some place else. They might have their defenses up. I ask a lot of questions about the wedding and try to find out what their needs are and what they’re looking for.”

DeForest offered two suggestions for brides-to-be: Limit the number of people joining while on the dress hunt and don’t schedule too many appointments in one day.

“If you bring too many people, there are too many opinions and it confuses the bride,” she said. “We’ve had 12 or 13 people with a woman. She was overwhelmed.”

DeForest realizes there is ample competition in the bridal dress business.

“All brides will search several stores before choosing,” DeForest said, adding that it helps not to pile on dress shop appointments. “Don’t schedule too many appointments in one day. By the time you get to the last place it’s like (shrugs), ‘Do I have to try another one on?’”

DeForest also stresses joy at Moments to Cherish.

“We to help the bride through the whole process and let them have fun while doing it,” DeForest said. “There are so many different styles. They’ll look through magazines and think, ‘That’s what I really want.’ But until they try it on they may realize it’s not the right style.”

DeForest also wants customers happy with one other concern: price.

“I’m always looking for something different I don’t have in the store. I want options, including price ranges,” she said. “Some say, ‘I like this one. I like that one. But I can’t commit.’ It’s a big investment. I do encourage girls to look around. I don’t want to push someone into a dress they can’t afford.”

And Moments to Cherish hasn’t forgotten what motivates its customers. The store’s phone number is 848-LOVE.

“When we moved (to Verona), we had to change the first three numbers,” DeForest said. “We asked if we could keep the L-O-V-E and did.”