For stressed-out brides-to-be and lovers of beautiful dresses, we have some great news. Downtown Charleston has been graced with two new bridal shops, Fabulous Frocks and Bella Vista — and they couldn’t be more different from each other.

Bella Vista
  • Bella Vista

Bella Vista stocks dresses catering to those looking for classic dresses with a modern twist. “We really infuse modern with traditional,” says co-owner Marcell Steely-Judice. “Our dresses are fun and flirty, but with classic elements and classic design.” The staff of Bella Vista takes the time to work with designers and tweak the dresses that fit the southern bride. “Something that works in California may not work in South Carolina,” Steely-Judice says. “Most of our gowns have been changed in one way or another with our customers in mind.”

Customers will find dresses with prices ranging across the board at Bella Vista, but Steely-Judice stresses the importance of every bride, at every price range having a wonderful experience while buying their gowns. “One of the most driving forces of my business is that I want everyone from a $1,500 dress to a $7,000 dress to have the same exact experience and have the same pride in their dress.” But, for those who are on the tightest of budgets, Fabulous Frocks is the bridal shop for you.

Fabulous Frocks
  • Fabulous Frocks

Fabulous Frocks is a bridal consignment shop with dresses averaging between $1,000-$2,000. While the prices are low, the quality is high, the dresses are beautiful, and there are styles of dresses for every bride-to-be. “My shop is high-end consignment for the recessionista bride who still wants a designer and nice couture gown, but may not be able to spend the thousands of dollars,” says owner Sarah Black, who also owns Belle Couture Bridal in Mt. Pleasant. The dresses go through a delicate screening process before making it onto the shop floor. They must be in “excellent condition and cleaned very well,” explains Black. She shares the space with Lella Foster Designs, a jewelry designer.

Both bridal-gown shops function by appointment, but Bella Vista will take walk-ins. “We’re always here,” says Steely-Judice. And while these two shops differ in many ways, both owners stress one thing: “Don’t bring too many people while looking for the dress,” urges Black. Steely-Judice agrees. “It can ruin the experience when there are too many people who all bring their own opinions. A mom or best friend will do.”

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