You can’t argue with the fact that San Francisco weddings have their own distinctive style—beautifully relaxed, alternatively bohemian, and effortlessly cool. So it’s no surprise that a mobile bridal boutique that embraces those same values (read: Alt. Brides) would attract the attention of the locally-inspired online wedding planning resource, Borrowed & Blue.
Intrigued by our unique concept, Borrowed & Blue approached us for an interview. We were, of course, equally happy and flattered that they saw us completely in tune with the pervading ethos of SF.
In their words: "Five minutes with these fab ladies will have you jumping on their fabulously-wedding-dress-filled bandwagon."
Keep reading to check out our Q&A . And thanks again to Borrowed & Blue for reaching out!
What is Alt. Brides not?
Marisa: Alt. Brides is not your traditional, unapproachable bridal boutique. We’re not pretentious, judgmental, or even remotely boring. You won’t find mainstream and often mass-produced gowns here.
Alt. Brides is one of a kind—what sparked the concept and what was your lightbulb moment?
Kristin: I got engaged several years ago and instead of finding engagement (and the required wedding planning and dress shopping) enjoyable, I found it quite frustrating. I had trouble finding a gown that fit my non-traditional style and budget. This is when my sister and I began brainstorming ideas for opening a very different type of shop.
Marisa: We really wanted to bring accessibility and ease back into wedding dress shopping while highlighting indie designers. With the huge boom and popularity of food trucks in the Bay Area, and the need to simply make bridal more approachable and fun, the idea of mobile bridal came about.
If you had to sum up Alt. Brides in three words?
Kristin: Unpretentious, laid-back, personable
How would you say Alt. Brides lines up with the general aesthetic of San Francisco weddings?
Marisa: Whether weddings takes place in the city, on the coast, in wine country, or in the Redwoods, Bay Area weddings tend to be relaxed, slightly casual (but polished and classy), a bit bohemian (but with a modern edge), and effortlessly cool. These are all adjectives that we’d use to describe Alt. Brides aesthetic and selection. Our selection ranges from edgier, minimalist styles to airy, ethereal silhouettes.
Can you give us the verbal (or visual?!) tour of the truck?
Kristin: Our goal from the very beginning was to design a space that would excite and inspire the brides who shop here. We went to great lengths to maximize every inch of space inside — and the result is a cozy and ultra-stylish retreat. Customers enter through our sliding transparent doors, and once inside instantly see our gorgeous gallery of unique SF wedding dresses. On the opposite side you’ll notice our signature decorative ram’s head “Goldie” wearing one of our unique jewelry pieces, our hand-crafted walnut display/accessory shelf and a comfy seating bench. Our spacious dressing room follows, complete with lux velvet privacy curtains and lots of mirrors, a gorgeous wall of non-traditional veils and sashes, as well as an additional seating bench inside the dressing room. Warm lighting, a pressed white tin-like ceiling and loads of bohemian decor touches are featured throughout. We wanted brides to get excited to try on gowns in a bridal boutique on wheels, but once inside, forget they were actually in a truck.
Besides the obvious (a bridal shop on a truck!), what makes Alt. Brides unique from other bridal shops out there?
Kristin: We provide a 100% private and personalized experience where it's all about the bride. For example, when a bride initially schedules an appointment with us online (we have a user-friendly, modern website which features all of our gowns and an accessories shop!) we ask what her favorite band/style of music is so we can play this during her fitting. We also greet every bride and her support crew with something cold to sip on, (hello bubbly). We want each and every customer who walks through our doors to feel welcomed and supported, as if they are hanging out with their best gal pals in their living room.
Marisa: Our vision has been to create an environment that was not only unique and fashion forward, but at the same time laid-back, cozy, and approachable — where brides can let loose, be themselves and simply have fun. In addition, we strive to carry designers that can’t be found in lots of other boutiques in the Bay Area. If other boutiques do carry some of the same designers, we carry only their less traditional gowns.
What informs the style of dresses and accessories you offer?
Marisa: We both spend a lot of time online scoping bridal trends and researching up-and-coming indie designers who carefully craft their gowns in small batches, as opposed to mass-produced in a factory. We also make a point to attend Bridal Market in New York City each fall where we get the opportunity to see previous and new collections in-person.
Kristin: We also listen to what our brides are looking for in terms of styles, and are conscious about balancing price with beauty and uniqueness.
What’s the hardest thing about starting a business like Alt. Brides?
Marisa: Starting any new business has its challenges! What proved to be the most challenging for us was the actual buildout and customization of the truck as it needed to function a bit like an RV, tiny house and retail shop. Prior to transforming it into a San Francisco bridal boutique, our truck was a police gun cargo vehicle, so it took a big vision, a talented crew consisting of local artisans and designers, and a whole lot of patience to transform it into a hip and beautiful boutique.
Where do you see the company in three years?
Kristin: We definitely see ourselves growing in the next three years, but remaining down-to-earth and true to our free-spirited, family-run values. We hope to open a flagship brick-and-mortar store in the next few years which will offer an even larger selection of unique gowns and accessories, simply in a more spacious environment. We’ll hire a small team of help to keep the truck going strong, so that we’re still providing the convenience of mobile bridal.
What’s your advice for Bay Area brides looking to say yes to the dress?
Marisa: Finding that perfect dress doesn’t need to be a stressful experience! Make sure you feel amazing and are true to yourself in what you choose and that you aren’t settling on a dress that others want to see you wear.