Locally Owned Bridal Store Raises Bar
Azalea Bridal and Formal is a boutique that hopes to please any bride.
Azalea Bridal, a bridal boutique located in the Snellville Plaza shopping center, was founded by a mother-daughter team in 2007.
This coming January marks their five year anniversary.
Originally located in a quaint, small house just a mile away, Laura and Debbie Murphy quickly realized that the location was too far off the road. Even with a GPS, Laura said, people had trouble finding it.
“All we have to say now is that it’s right beside Provino's,” she added.
With name brands like Mori Lee and Eden Bridals, extra-large fitting rooms and a comfortable atmosphere, the boutique aims to be a top-notch destination for weddings and other special occasions, like prom, military balls or pageants. And, customer service is one of the things the owners say help set them apart.
“The chain stores may have one consultant working with eight brides at the same time,” Laura Murphy said. “It's just my mom and I, but we may have two brides we are working with at a time.”
Debbie Murphy always loved the bridal industry, her daughter said. As a paralegal of thirty years, she finally took the plunge when her daughter agreed to run the store with her.
Laura’s sister Alison also works with them part-time, and manages the store's advertising, including its Facebook page.
It was while helping brides in the store initially that they realized not many stores catered to plus-sized brides. They decided to make that one of their niches.
Most chain bridal stores, or clothing stores in general, only carry up to a size 14, 16, or sometimes 18, Laura Murphy said.
“We have had women come in here and cry,” she added, “because they have never been able to come in and put on a wedding dress, prom dress or mother [of the bride] dress, and have it fit them in the store.”
Sizes 18-24 are the store's best-selling sizes. Because of the array, there are women who drive from out of town to purchase a dress from Azalea’s.
Karen Newsome was a plus-size bride who had a hard time finding a dress in a chain bridal store. Then she found Azalea's.
“I tell everyone who is getting married or even going on a cruise to go see them,” Newsome said. “I cannot say enough good stuff about them. They were so wonderful to work with.”
Newsome was married in April of this year, and purchased an Aurora wedding dress, five royal blue bridesmaid dresses and one junior bridesmaid dress from Azalea's.
“There is no pressure,” Newsome added. “Everyone says that, but they mean it. They’re not up in your face constantly, like other bridal stores. They’re there if you have a question.”
One wedding story that stands out in Laura Murphy's mind is that of a couple in their twenties who came in, appearing rushed.
“They came in on a Saturday morning,” she said, “and the woman said, ‘I need to try on a wedding dress today. I don’t want to order it; I just want to buy it.’”
When Laura asked when she was going to get married, the woman responded with a simple “today.”
“We spent time with her,” she continued, “she found her dress, got the alterations, the jewelry, the veil, the whole bit. As we were talking, she said one party’s side of the family was Catholic and the other side was Protestant.
"The families were arguing so much about how to have the wedding and were causing a whole lot of problems, so they said, you know what, we’re doing this for us.”
The couple got married at 2 p.m. that afternoon at a nearby park, while a friend officiated.
“The way they were with each other was just awesome,” she said. “It's not about how exactly the service goes or who's wearing what color; it's about saying ‘I do.’ And, that's what I like to see.”