Martin J. Lecker: A bride’s guide to choosing that special wedding … – Berkshire Eagle

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You’ve set your wedding date and now you need a wedding gown. So what are the next steps in this important decision making process?

To find out, I asked Deidre Torra, the owner of Deidre’s Special Day in Pittsfield, for advice on what brides should know when selecting this important piece of wedding apparel. Torra has over 30 years of experience in the bridal business.  She has the expertise ot answer my questions.

So let’s begin. Question number one: When should you begin looking for a wedding gown?

“Ideally about a year before the wedding,” Torra said, “especially if the bridal shop needs to work with a customized supplier. Plus, you need to plan on six months from your ordering to shipping date. Then, (there’s) another four-to-six weeks before alterations.”

If Deidre’s Special Day already has the gown you’re looking for at the store, “it is possible to have it ready in less than a month,” Torra said. “But that can be challenging.”

Since every “bride-to-be” has individual alteration requirements and style preferences, the timeline can differ with each situation. 

“Determining the size of the gown in terms of the bride’s physicality, is another important decision,” she said.

Torra said she is able to customize a wedding gown regardless of a client’s body type, “so it fits perfectly.”

If you’re looking for a bridal professional for advice, she suggests finding someone who’s focus is on the bride’s happiness. The type of wedding the bride is planning to have and where it takes place can also factor into the decision-making process.

 “If the wedding will take place where the weather is humid, you would not want a gown weighing 30 pounds,” Torra said. “If the gown is for an outdoor Berkshire County event, a five foot wedding train isn’t optimal.

“Also, if the bride plans on being active, and ‘dancing up a storm,’ she wants a comfortable dress,” she added.

Budget is another factor. The average cost of a wedding gown is between $1,00 and $2,000, Torra estimates.  Prices for gowns can also be much higher or even lower depending on the fabric and details of the gown. But Torra said she will work with clients who have a limited budget.

Torra said she uses other designers, like Maggie Sottero or Casablanca, which increases the number of selections at her store. Going this route may also help those who are on a smaller budget.  Besides holding in-store sales, Deidre’s Special Day sometimes offers discontinued gowns that are more reasonably priced, which is another plus for brides who are budget conscious. 

“So, don’t be afraid to ask what is on sale,” Torra said.

Here’s another economical option: Torra suggests purchasing an ivory bridesmaid dress that can be used as a wedding gown. 

Deidre’s Special Day also offers many bridal packages that include discounts for all  the store’s products if a gown or dress is purchased at the shop prior to the wedding date. As a full service bridal shop,  the store can help clients select invitations, jewelry, handbags, garters and hair ornaments. Torra also sells prom dresses, tuxedos, shoes, veils and gowns for bridesmaids. There are even dresses for cruises.

Brides-to-be may be  attracted to online bridal gown sites because the prices there may be lower. But Torra offers a word of caution. 

“Beware of the internet!,” she said. “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. In economics, one of the most important tenets is, ‘There are no free lunches.

“What if that ‘bargain’ is a disaster?” she said. “Wrong item, wrong size, wrong color” and most importantly “can’t return.

“Will you ever meet them face to face?” Torra said.

Torra offered one final piece of advice.

“Ask family and friends for referrals and select only a professional who will respond to your thoughts and wishes for your special day.”

Ready? Now get out and shop. 

Veteran’s Day Sales and Military Discounts

Veteran’s Day is Nov. 11. Here are a few sweet deals for both military and other bargain hunters.

Robin Helfand, the owner of Robins’ Candy Shop in Great Barrington, says, “tell us the favorite candy of your favorite veteran, a family, a friend, or you and receive a Robin’s

Treat pack, including a toothbrush to keep that sweet tooth healthy!” This promotion lasts through Veterans Day. Information: www.robinscandy.com.

At Home Depot, active military personnel, veterans and their spouses are provided with a 10 percent discount on eligible purchases year round, according to Maddie Stevens, the company’s senior specialist for brand communications. Information: www.homedepot.com/c/military

Haddad Toyota offers a $500 military discount on all new and pre-owned cars, said Pittsfield sales manager Anthony Anastasio. Information: www.haddadtoyota.com/.

Target is offering 10 percent off two qualifying purchases to Target Circle members through Veterans Day as a special tribute to military, veterans and families, according to a company spokesperson.  Anyone can sign up for a free Target Circle membership or a Red Card and then go online for weekly advertised sales. Information: https://weeklyad.target.com/.

At Michael’s, an arts and craft store chain that has a location in Pittsfield, active duty military members, reservists, National Guard members, veterans and their registered dependents are eligible to receive 15 percent off all items, according to Rebecca Tally, a member of the store’s external communications team. Those purchases when linked to a Michaels Rewards account are automatically applied to the chain’s Pittsfield store or online. Exclusions to this policy can be found on Michaels’ website at https://bit.ly/3Sf9nxr.

Kohl’s offers “Military Mondays” to active military, veterans, retirees and their immediate family members, according to Leah Cotton, a company advisor in corporate communications. People who fall into these categories receive a 15 percent discount on purchases they make on Mondays in-store only. Details: https://bit.ly/3Fzz1FK.

Berkshire BMW and Audi VW in Pittsfield also provide military discounts. Client advisor Karissa Fournier suggests visiting these dealerships for details. 

Finally, Saatva has announced year-round discounts for members of the U.S. military and armed forces and first responders who are verified through the website, ID.me, said Shari Ajayi, the company’s director of public relations. Details: https://bit.ly/40jCAcx.


Many businesses may provide unannounced military discounts. Don’t be afraid to ask.

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