It should be the first stop for the bride-to-be seeking to create a signature style befitting the occasion. A fashion veteran with 26 years of experience — 10 in bridal — Mark Ingram opened the Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier after four years as national sales director of Amsale Bridal. The New York City-based boutique is a tranquil haven amidst the inevitable drama of wedding planning. “We make brides feel relaxed and cared for, and we adorn them in gowns that put them as close to perfection as possible,” Ingram says.
Regardless of a bride’s preferred style — sexy, romantic, understated — Ingram’s full-service salon (www.bridalatelier.com) outfits brides with elegance and sophistication. The boutique’s inventory features 15 to 20 designers, including Oscar de la Renta, Monique Lhuillier, Angel Sanchez, Anne Barge, and Carolina Herrera. Clients are seen only by appointment, the first of which is an in-depth discussion. “Most women don’t know what they’re looking for [in a bridal gown], because most have never shopped for a dress of this magnitude. We expose them to various styles and educate them about construction, fit, and fabric.”
To snag fabulous gowns at below-market prices, Ingram advises shopping at sample sales and trunk shows — the showing for a limited time of a designer’s entire collection. At Ingram’s trunk shows, designers train the staff on the dresses’ ideal fit and the design philosophy. He holds sample sales three to four times a year, during which dresses are priced at up to 50% off. He also donates gowns to women’s charities for resale.
A bride must consider several important elements when creating her wedding day look, including her budget, the event’s setting and tone, and the time of year. The standard gown price is $3,800–$4,500; higher-end gowns begin at $5,000. If the event is grand, the gown must be equally so. If it isn’t, Ingram cautions, the bride runs the risk of being overshadowed at her own event. Conversely, a gown appropriate for Tavern on the Green would not be suitable for an island wedding at the shore. Says Ingram: “The bride herself must shine, not the dress.”