Friday, December 10, 2010

Vendor Review - Cocoa Couture

As I'm writing these Vendor Review posts, I count myself among the really lucky brides.  Every single experience I had in planning our wedding was at the very least good, if not better.  Every one of our vendors did exactly as we asked/anticipated, were there for us, answered our questions, provided a good service, and did it all with a smile on their faces.  All of that = no meltdowns on wedding day = one very happy couple.  Yay!

Anyway, back to the review.  Cocoa Couture is a dress shop located right in Hershey (I know, shocking - a business with the word "cocoa" in it in Hershey).  It is relatively new; maybe 3 years old or so?  I just know that I didn't remember noticing it until my sister got engaged, which was 3 years ago.  It's right along the main street in Hershey.

It's a pretty little building.  When you first walk in, you're greeted with a big stone fireplace.  If you go to the right, you'll find the bridal party/prom and mother-of-the dresses.  To the left, is the bridal room.  Hundreds of dresses.  Since I was (oh, who I am kidding...AM) an avid watcher of Say Yes to the Dress, I handled the sight of hundreds of white dresses hanging along the walls of the enormous room just fine.  However, I could easily see how it could be overwhelming for some.  Cocoa Couture carries tons of designers - David Tutera, Nicole Miller, Pronovias - plus, they have an in-house designer, Daniel Thompson.

I went shopping with my mom, my sister/MOH Callie, and my MIL.  We walked in and immediately were greeted by our consultant, Amy.  Amy sent my entourage into the bridal room, while she and I sat down to talk about what I was looking for.  I told her a bit about the wedding and showed her the picture of the dress I had fallen in love with.  It was an Augusta Jones.  I knew Cocoa Couture carried Augusta Jones, so I was hoping against hope that they had it.  I showed Amy the picture and asked if they had it.  She knew they didn't.  She asked me what it was I liked about that dress so much, then looked at a few other pictures.  She knew they had something really similar to the Augusta Jones, so she sent me into the bridal room to start pulling dresses with my crew, while she went around the store and searched for the dress she had in mind.  About 20 minutes later, she showed up, triumphant.  My mom, sister, MIL, and I had, in the meantime, pulled about a dozen other dresses.  She was so excited that she had found the dress she was looking for, so she put me in that one first.  My heart kind of stopped.  She'd nailed it.  It was everything I'd been hoping for: flowy, comfortable, fun (bubble hem and swiss dot!), ethereal... It was me.  I walked out of the dressing room and by the look on my sister's face, I knew she thought it was perfect, too.  My mom and MIL both loved it.  As we stood there, admiring me in the mirror, Amy said, "You know what this dress reminds me of?  You know that Jane Austen novel, Emma?"  I just about died.  I told her that my nickname is Emma.  Also, Matt and I had already designed our cake, and it had swiss dots on it.  Hello?!?! 

And yet, despite all the signs screaming this this dress was the one and I should just stop shopping, I couldn't bring myself to stop yet.  I don't know if it was the fun of trying on pretty white dresses all day, or the knowledge that I had 2 more appointments scheduled that day, but I just couldn't bring myself to say, "This is it.  I'm done."  I tried on the rest of the dresses we had pulled.  Daniel Thompson (the in-house desinger) happened to be there and when I tried on one of his dresses, he helped "jack me up" (to steal a line from Monty on Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta) and I really liked it.  But it just wasn't "me."  So we walked out of Cocoa Couture, and away from the dress.  Oh, did I mention that it was a sample sale dress, so it was nearly 50% off?  Yup, I still walked away from it.  And we felt absolutely no pressure from Amy or from Cocoa Couture.  She basically said, "Look, if you leave here and decide later that you want it, just give us a call.  We'll take a deposit over the phone!"  No pressure.  No guilt trips.  Just a friendly reminder that they wouldn't hold it for me, but would happily sell it to me if I decided on it later in the day.  We went to my two other appointments, and I found one or two more dresses I liked.  I even put a deposit on one!  But after we got home, I couldn't stop thinking about the first one.  The "Emma" dress.  That night, at 9pm, I called Cocoa Couture and left a voicemail that I wanted the dress and to please call me ASAP so I could put down a deposit.  Amy called me back on Tuesday (they're closed Sunday and Monday), said "I told you so," then took my deposit over the phone, and the dress was mine.  Crisis averted!

In the coming months, I went back a few times for fittings.  My seamstress was GREAT.  Because of the bubble hem on the dress, she couldn't just hem it like a normal dress.  She basically had to take apart the entire bodice at the empire waist, cut it from there, and put it back together.  Yikes.  She also had to take it in slightly, and move the straps in.  And she added cups for me (yay, no bra!).  She did an awesome job, and the dress fit me like a dream on the wedding day. 

Cocoa Couture was a great shopping experience.  The staff were friendly, knowledgeable, and wanted you to feel like a bride and look your best.  The prices are kind of high, but they carry higher-end designers, so based on who they carry, you should know what to expect walking in there.  They also have a great selection of bridal party gowns, partner with a tux shop, and do stationary there, too.  It could be a one-stop shop for the bride who hates to shop!  I would definitely recommend Cocoa Couture to any bride in the Central PA area.  Definitely.

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