Image from The Knot
Hey everyone, Emily here! Today I’m so excited to be talking about one of NYC’s most iconic wedding businesses: Kleinfeld. You may know the bridal boutique from Say Yes to the Dress, but though it’s possibly best known as the place to pick up a five-figure Pnina Tornai, Kleinfeld is so much more.
But what’s it really like to shop for your wedding dress there, once the cameras stop rolling? I know from personal experience that some brides-to-be are intimidated to shop at this bridal behemoth based on what they see on the show.
Full disclosure: when I was engaged, I visited, had a fantastic experience – despite tending toward styles pretty different from what you see on the show (ALL the Temperley!) – and very nearly purchased a dress (though in the end I didn’t), and now whenever I’m talking to a newly engaged NYC bride I always encourage her to see what Kleinfeld has to offer.
In the interest of demystifying the experience, we picked the brains of seven Smashing The Glass brides who purchased their gowns at the bridal institution. Read on to hear their thoughts on the selection of gowns, the customer service, and individualized experience the store offers – and reveal some surprising differences from what you see on TV.
Image by John Solano from Della and Benjamin’s Jewish Wedding
Image from Racked
A Bit of Background
The massive bridal emporium, which serves 17,000 (!) brides a year, began as a Brooklyn-based fur salon in 1941. The business slowly transitioned to bridal wear, and, in 2005, relocated to their current location in Manhattan’s Chelsea. Their artisan alterations department employs more than 90 seamstresses, who spend an average of 30 hours altering each dress.
Kleinfeld caters to brides from plus-size with a huge selection of samples in sizes 16–28, to modest: consultant Rochel Leah Katz (above) is entirely devoted to working with brides who need their dresses built up with longer sleeves and higher necklines.
Image from Woman Getting Married
All about the Atmosphere
Smashing The Glass Bride Alexandra (@alexcohen524) describes the store as “a bridal wonderland,” and Juliana deems it “basically everything you dream wedding dress shopping to be.” Della (@dellastehrani) says, “Kleinfeld was different from other bridal boutiques because of the energy. They wanted to make the bride leave happy. They weren’t in it just for the sale.”
Again and again, we heard from brides that one of the store’s biggest draws (TV fame notwithstanding) was its large selection of designers and dresses. No matter what style you’re going for, it’s a good bet that Kleinfeld’s got something up your alley: as Alexandra says, “It’s hard not to find something you love.”
And while the shop doesn’t cater to the most budget-minded of brides, they do sell gowns at a wide variety of price points – so don’t think Kleinfeld’s not for you if you aren’t in a position to shell out for a Pnina Tornai.
Image from the Toronto Star
A+ Customer Service
Bride after bride raved to us about how knowledgeable and professional they found the Kleinfeld staff. Several mentioned how respectful their consultants were about staying within the price ranges they specified upfront – which is certainly not the case at all bridal boutiques, especially in uber-pricey NYC!
Image from AMNY
So many of the brides we spoke to couldn’t stop gushing about their Kleinfeld consultants. Bride Della says, “My favorite thing about Kleinfeld was the experience of working with Candace, my bridal rep. Words cannot express how amazing she was. She was so excited for me, she allowed me to fully enjoy my moment as a bride. She knew exactly what I was looking for and didn’t try to force a different style of dress upon me.”
Stephanie says of her consultant, “She never pushed me to try something on that I wasn’t comfortable with. By the end of the 90 minutes, she really felt like a member of my entourage. After I ‘said yes,’ she hugged my mom, who was crying, and started singing Siman Tov and Mazel Tov!’”
Sheran agrees: “My favorite thing was how knowledgeable and professional the staff seemed. If you told the consultant you didn’t like something on a specific dress they understood or asked pointed follow up questions to get a better understanding, and really tried to find the best fit for you. The consultant I had told me when a dress/style did not look right on me, before I even had a chance to say something, and that made me trust her more.”
Image by John Solano from Della and Benjamin’s Jewish Wedding
Kleinfeld shoppers tend to be pleasantly surprised at just how flexible the shopping experience can be. Want to modify a gown? Not loving the idea of parading around in your gowns in front of the whole Say Yes to the Dress crew? Want to go poke around in the back stockroom? Our brides report that Kleinfeld is nothing but accommodating when it comes to special requests of all stripes.
Image from Racked
Custom Gowns Galore
Bride Kira had what’s got to be THE ultimate Kleinfeld experience. No, she wasn’t tapped to appear on the next season of Say Yes to the Dress. But she did get a private audience with none other than Pnina Tornai herself, who ended up designing her a totally unique custom gown!
“I told my consultant my vision and she went to the back to pull gowns for me and she returned with 4 absolutely stunning gowns. I was immediately drawn to two gowns by Pnina Tornai, and after trying both of them on, I turned to my mom and said ‘I wonder if it’s possible to make these two gowns into one??’ Within ten minutes, Pnina herself was in my fitting room to discuss what I wanted and then she started sketching my dress. She said it would be absolutely no problem to make a totally custom dress that combines elements of both dresses!”
And bride Juliana, who needed a modest gown, worked with specialist consultant Rochel Leah Katz on building up a dress to meet her needs:
“Rochel Leah is amazing! When I told her my budget, she explained that there are three dress designers that are willing to do build-ups, and then directed me to the one that was within my price range. She is also very supportive in helping you achieve your dream, she even told me she had a dress for one woman with long sleeves for the ceremony that Velcroed off to short sleeves for the reception. That way both the bride and the bride’s family were happy with the result. The dress also fit me perfectly, Rochel Leah is an expert at fitting things so they are modest but also super flattering.”
Image by Fred Marcus Studio from Kira and Mark’s Jewish Wedding
No Challenge Too Great
Bride Kira broke her foot shortly before the wedding and needed to make some changes to her alterations plan at the last minute – she was nervous about how the process would go, but in the end she couldn’t have been more pleased with how Kleinfeld handled the situation:
“There were a few bumps that we encountered throughout the process, and Kleinfeld met every challenge with such ease. After my first alterations appointment, I broke my foot and was no longer able to wear the heels that I had planned on, which meant the alterations needed to be changed too!
I called Kleinfeld in a panic, but the client relations person who answered the phone said she would put me on hold while she found my dress to make sure no alterations had been started and then she would make sure that everything was put on hold. Within ten minutes, she had my dress in hand and assured me that we were totally fine!
Due to my broken foot, I ended up having to do all three alterations appointments in the last three weeks before my wedding. The alterations department was absolutely incredible and did not flinch about this new challenge. When I came to my last appointment two days before my wedding, everything was totally perfect. They really were so wonderful to work with!”
Image by Cling&Peck from Alexandra and Nicholas’s Jewish Wedding
Say Yes to the Dress
Thanks to being featured on the hit reality show Say Yes to the Dress, Kleinfeld is arguably the world’s most famous bridal boutique. This means that brides often head into their appointments armed with some serious expectations.
So how exactly does the real-life experience compare with what you’ve seen on TV? According to most of our sources, shopping at Kleinfeld is much calmer and more low-key than the show would have you believe. Plenty of brides expected to walk in to rolling cameras; as bride Lemor says, “ I thought I’d walk in to see some cameras with women saying ‘Yes!’ to the dress, but it wasn’t cheesy or tacky.”
Image from the New York Times
Making the Most of Your Appointment
How to get the most out of your visit? Do your research beforehand – the more you can give your consultant to go on, from price range to favored designers to style preferences, the more productive you’ll be able to make your 90-minute appointment.
The fact that the place is enormous and packed with dress after dress is one its greatest advantages – but it can also be overwhelming if you go into it without direction. Bride Stephanie was nervous that Kleinfeld might feel impersonal beforehand but ended up thrilled with the experience. She says, “I think that because I already had an idea of what I wanted and a clear budget, my consultant was able to find me many great options.”
Image by Maloman Studios from Lemor and Adam’s Jewish Wedding
Go For It
Even if you think Kleinfeld might not be your style, I would absolutely encourage you to go in for an appointment. You just never know. As Juliana says, “I had actually planned on buying my dress at a different boutique, but a friend of mine convinced me to make an appointment at Kleinfeld as well. I didn’t expect to find my dress there at all, I was basically just going for fun. When else in my life would I be able to go there to try on dresses? I was so taken by the experience and very surprised that I found my perfect dress.”
Have you been to Kleinfeld, or are you planning on going? We’d love to hear about your experience!