Brides routinely spend several hours in bridal shops in search of the perfect wedding dress. The owner of a garage showroom in Mountain View aims to streamline that process by enabling brides to mix and match favorite magazine-cover styles and bring their dream gowns to life.
“We want to bring (the industry) to another level,” said Jennie Monahan of Bluethread Bridal. “A lot of brides come to us because they’ve been trying on so many dresses and they know what they want, but they just can’t find it in the market.”
The appointment-only showroom invites brides to explore Bluethread’s pre-made collection of dresses and then discuss their custom vision with a designer. Monahan said her business ultimately widens the options available to brides, as it offers the flexibility to switch out styles they like best while staying within their budgets.
“Some (brides) have a very specific (vision) already – like a movie star or costume design – something very out of the box, or a specific color they are looking for,” Monahan said. “That is the service other stores cannot do.”
Two years after opening her flagship showroom in Boston, Monahan launched her Mountain View location in 2016 to expand her business to the West Coast. Bluethread began online, but Monahan opened the Boston showroom months later so that brides could try on a dress in person and see the business as a reliable brand.
“People trust us because we are very specific and we talk about things in the more technical way,” said Monahan, an engineer-turned-wedding-dress-designer.
The MIT graduate said she realized the potential of the custom wedding dress market when her friends were getting married a few years ago and could not find many personalized design options.
“My dream is to … make this traditional industry revolutionize,” Monahan said. “We’re not trying to fight with every designer, we’re just trying to make sure we fill the holes when some brides are having a hard time finding the right dress within their budget.”
Casey Jensen, a bride from Sunnyvale, said she appreciated the intimate setting Bluethread provided and the transparency from start to finish that she could not find at other bridal shops. She’s eager to show off her wedding dress when she walks down the aisle Sept. 8, and was willing to give Town Crier readers an exclusive sneak peek before revealing the final product to her fiancé.
“This is not a dress that I would have tried on otherwise if it had not been for (Monahan’s) encouragement,” Jensen said. “It (makes) the whole wedding experience so much easier and so much more pleasant if you have someone willing to guide you through the dress portion.”
Monahan advises clients on which materials will best flatter their desired design and body type so that they have an idea of the final outcome before trying on the dress. Depending on the materials selected, she also gives brides a quote for their gowns, typically starting at approximately $2,000.
Although some brides wish to imitate a celebrity with an ambitious design, Monahan said she tries to think more realistically given the deadline.
“We never say we can do something if we don’t or cannot do if it’s too hard,” she added.
Jensen said the “incredibly special” hands-on experience enabled her to create the perfect dress despite the risk of an online transaction.
“I had an idea, and it turned out that I went in a completely different direction – it’s very princess-themed,” she said. “When I tried it on the second time after seeing all of the other options, I actually … teared up.”
Of the thousands of bridal factories in China, Monahan said she narrowed the list down to a few small ones with supplies she felt she could trust. She stressed the importance of exercising control over the entire process and communicating directly with the seamstresses, as overseas factories generally do not make custom dresses.
“We keep in touch to make sure we get every part right,” Monahan said. “We try to keep everything more transparent and communicate with the clients in the middle.”
Jensen said she received updates on her gown’s status during its construction and enjoyed how painless it was to fine-tune the design throughout the creation process.
“I knew I didn’t want strapless, and (Monahan) made avoiding that really easy with all of the things that she suggested,” Jensen said. “I can’t wait for people to see it.”
Current trends include minimalist and bohemian designs, according to Monahan, so the factories regularly adjust their materials to accommodate the modern demand.
“Normally the brides come to us because the style they love is something really beyond their budget,” she said. “Or they had already been trying on so many dresses but want to combine certain elements into one dress that they can’t find elsewhere.”
When a dress is completed, it ships to Monahan for a final check and the bride may visit a showroom to try it on. Depending on the situation, the dress may be tailored in the U.S. for slight adjustments, or shipped back to China for major changes.
“It can be really tiring,” she said. “But of course you have the happy moment when the bride really likes your work – that proud moment is really satisfying.”
For brides not in the Bay Area or Boston, Monahan works with bridal stores in several other states. Online-only shoppers often try on several dresses at shops in person to get an idea of what they want before discussing a design with Bluethread.
Bluethread Bridal is located at 785 S. Shoreline Blvd.
To make an appointment and for more information, visit bluethreadbridal.com.