Your wedding is one of the most important events in your life, and it all starts with the magic moment of finding the right dress. That’s why the owner of Lidia’s Brides in Fergus believes the experience of finding that dress should be an event in itself.
“The wedding starts now,” says owner Renata Sergejew. “That’s what we were thinking when we had the concept, that it was about the experience. We want people to feel special about this day, because this is where it starts; the dress is the first thing you do and we want the experience to be spectacular.”
To ensure that individual service, brides (and their parties) are welcomed by appointment only. Lidia’s Brides doesn’t post regular store hours, instead favouring personally scheduled times, that allow for less rush, less pressure and a more relaxed atmosphere for everyone. Lidia’s also serves refreshments and light snacks to make shopping a special occasion.
“When you book an appointment, it’s your appointment and nobody else will be entering our boutique while you are here,” says store manager Megan Sergejew, who has joined her mother in this venture. “Because we live on site, we can be very flexible to appointment times, whether it be weekends, evenings, days. We want this to be convenient for the bride and her wedding party.”
Megan books allotments of approximately two hours or more, to ensure that no appointments overlap and every client has the benefit of her personal attention. She’s recreating the sensation brides have been sold in film, that one-of-a-kind experience.
“When you go into many bridal stores to buy your dress, you feel like they should pamper you and give you that personal attention, but … it’s not like that,” Megan says, recalling many personal bridesmaid shopping experiences. “It should be like it is in the movies.”
Renata agrees. “It’s no longer service-oriented. It used to be you were the bride and you were special. That’s what we want to do here,” she says. “It’s important that the bride feels like this space is all hers, so we want to suit her schedule and not have interruptions, or people waiting for their turn.”
The concept of personalized service is more than just a sound business model; it’s about honouring a legacy, it’s about family and the joy of fulfilling a lifelong dream. It begins with the story of the boutique’s namesake Lidia, the matriarch of Renata’s family. It was her passion for all things fabric — the delicate beauty of lace, the smoothness of satins and the attention to detail in every bead, button or pristine row of stitches — that has inspired this boutique’s vision.
“My life was full of fabrics and clothes, because my mother was always making clothes,” Renata says.
A skilled seamstress by trade, Lidia first came to Canada in 1956. Departing from Italy to the shores of Nova Scotia, she registered as one of thousands of immigrants who landed at the now-famed Pier 21.
“She worked a lot of jobs, and many of them had to do with fabrics and then upholstery,” Renata says. “She was an incredible seamstress.”
Her legacy of hard work and attention to detail is threaded throughout the boutique that bears her name.
“It’s in the blood,” Renata jokes, noting she’s always been fascinated with weddings. In her 20’s, together with a friend, she started a business plan for an event company, but it just wasn’t the right time.
Despite having a fascination for weddings and a mother whose seamstress skills could make it a reality, Renata admits her wedding day and her attire was understated, by choice.
“My mother made my wedding outfit, which was a two-piece white suit with a special blue blouse. It was exactly what I wanted and I loved it,” she laughs at the realization. “Maybe that’s what it is? I regret that I never did that whole big wedding thing with the big poofy dress.”
But the real epiphany came to Renata when her mother died in February 2015. Lidia was in her 85th year.
“That’s what started it all,” Renata says. “It was one of those, ‘if not now, then when?’ kind of moments. I thought to myself, I’m going to do this thing and I’m going to do it my way, and we’re just going to have fun with it.”
Location is everything, so the hunt was on to find the right spot to make this dream a reality.
“I wanted a place with a presence, not just a nice front door,” Renata says. “I didn’t want an industrial feeling, or even the feeling of a retail space. I wanted something where, when you walked in, you knew you were having an event and you knew you were going to buy your wedding dress.”
Perhaps the spirits were at play when her niece Amanda, a realtor in Centre Wellington, led them to the door of Stonehurst B&B. The grand limestone heritage estate in downtown Fergus was a community landmark.
“We came out of curiosity,” Renata explained. “Megan and I walked in and both of us stood at the front door and we just knew. The first thought was, ‘how are we going to do this?’”
The mother-daughter duo moved into Stonehurst in January 2016, and the successful Bed & Breakfast continued under Megan’s management until October.
“The B&B isn’t closed; it’s just less of a focus,” Renata says. “We want to be able to offer it as a place for brides who perhaps come in from out of town, or perhaps have guests travelling in to shop with them, but it will all be driven to the needs of our clientele.”
“We want to be unique,” Renata says. “We’re bringing designer quality dresses that meet the elegance of this venue.”
Lidia’s Brides designer bridal gown lines include Rosa Clara and Rosa Clara Two, from Spain; Julie Vino and A&J Designers, both from Israel; Tarik Ediz White, of Turkey; and American designers Justin Alexander and Lillian West. Toronto designer Lea-Ann Belter represents Canada.
“We really want to feature more Canadian designers,” Megan says, adding she was very impressed by Belter’s designs and the integrity of craftsmanship. “The Canadian presence is important to us, and being able to say ‘this is made in Canada!’”
She stresses they were mindful about which bridal lines they would carry, and where and how they were made. The pair has done their homework. They knew the designers they wanted to work with, the quality and integrity of their designs, and the standard they would set for their business.
“We were conscious of supporting countries with people who are creative and trying to expand their business,” Renata says. “A lot of these designers offered add-ons and separate-pieced outfits, so there are changes you can make and a lot of different styles you can create. We really wanted to offer these kinds of customizations.”
Lidia’s Brides also carries several lines of bridesmaid and mother-of-the-bride dresses in a variety of styles. Accessories are also available, including jewelry, tiaras, belts and sashes, jackets and an extensive selection of veils.
Realizing that price point is an important factor in the final decision to saying “I do” to the dress, Renata and Megan have carefully curated a fine selection of gowns for various budgets.
Officially opened in January 2017, Lidia’s Brides hopes to be the place brides begin their walk down the aisle in grand style.
265 St David St S, Fergus | Phone: 519.843.8800
To book an appointment email email@example.com