Adriana Weisenbach, Managing Director of Bridal Times, had the opportunity to speak with Vanessa Huber of Villa Engelsbraut to tell us about the spectacular grand opening of her Villa, and how she designed it into a bridal shop that brides can only dream of.
First of all, on the behalf of Bridal Times, we would like to thank you for the invitation to the Villa Engelsbraut Grand Opening! How does it feel to have such a big event behind you?
For me, creating this event was a feeling of self-realization. A feeling of being able to create something that corresponds 100 percent to my ideas. The goal was a grandiose store opening, and of course everything was in my area of responsibility. I actually planned everything completely on my own in my head, had many people who supported me, who of course contributed to making this opening so successful. But the process was very unnerving. Many ideas have emerged, and you noticed during implementation that some things were becoming too difficult, and then new ideas had to come up again. The planning phase was incredibly exciting, as a creative person I also noticed that you can really let off steam here. I have the greatest respect for wedding planners who plan big events.
The grand opening was a well-planned and spectacular event! Why was it important for you to hold such a special occasion?
It was particularly important for me to shape this event as a sign that we have to look ahead. We all, no matter what industry, have had a tough time. A very combative time and this time is not over yet. We are still in a difficult situation. But I’ve just decided for myself now, I want to look ahead, I want to set an example, make a statement to the outside world on how wedding dresses can be sold these days. We can create experiences, and all of that in this place, in this beautiful mansion from 1903, and it couldn’t get any better with the view of the lake. This location is particularly beautiful and one of the most beautiful places in Germany. And that’s why it was important for me to design this prelude and say hello dear brides, here we are. It is a nice place to find your wedding dress and have a lifelong experience and memory to take with you. Because who can say to themselves that they have found their wedding dress in such a special place. It starts at the very front when you drive through the white gate, on the lake with direct access. You just want to get married right away.
It is also important to me that I create experiences for people like you and me. Many were worried that my gowns might be exorbitantly expensive, but our main selection of dresses is between 1300 € and 2300 €. Of course we also have dresses that are above average priced. Our currently most expensive is 4000 euros. That means I’m working within a budget that is absolutely average.
What were the very first steps you made in setting up your bridal shop?
When I entered the villa for the first time, it was like a cinema in my head started and pictures were taken of how I would like to furnish the villa. In terms of furnishings, I am a very creative person. I’m not tied to any particular style, in any way, I like a lot, lots of different styles. It was clear to me that I wanted to create something that had been seen as little as possible or that few people had in their bridal shop. And it was very clear to me that the villa would be furnished very classically on the one hand, yet modern and in different styles.
I also wanted to create themed worlds in our four suites. On the one hand, we have our very large Beach House, which is very reminiscent of a vacation because we have the third view of the lake. Then we have our Mediterranean pearl, which is incredibly elegant in white, dark blue and light beige. This suite is special, a cool elegance, a beautiful room. Then we have our Pink Lady. The whole room, all the walls are painted pink, we have dominant furniture in it, dominant picture, this room just screams for attention, lively and dramatic, it’s fantastic and is incredibly popular with people. And then we have our very enchanting suite, our Black Forest Suite. We have hand-painted antlers and a mint-colored cuckoo clock, the colors in this room are sweet candy colors and that makes the room so special. Each suite is something special, individual and beautiful.
How did you go about choosing the right décor and furniture to create just the right atmosphere?
I was inspired when I went to Holland. It is the Mecca of furniture stores, to be inspired there by the wonderful, different furnishing options, to let my imagination run wild, the result are four absolutely wonderfully beautifully furnished suites.
What about colors? Do you have favorite tones and hues that you felt were best for a bridal shop?
I like strong colors, fresh colors and colors that are not suitable for classic living spaces but you can use them to create work spaces, for example we have a bright pink cabin. This is really a very, very strong pink and at the beginning some people said, “You can’t do that, that’s way too pink” and now it’s actually the cabin where it’s most polarized and people really say it’s fantastic, that looks sensational, but of course that is also due to the decoration that was incorporated. When I do something, I have an overall picture in mind, and I’m pretty sure about my ideas. We also have a blue suite and the blue suite is beautiful, very elegant because it is very Nordic. We combined this suite with very elegant components, with silver and at the same time combined it with real old wooden oars, the result is super beautiful. And I especially love this suite …
I can’t make up my mind which room is my favorite. I think they’re all great, they’re all so different. Most bridal shops work with girl colors. That’s what I’ve done in my business. When space is as generous as it is with me, that is luxury and there was space to create these special worlds. These themed worlds and oases of wellbeing, this overall concept, also enabled quieter tones, gray tones, which I was also able to place here. You will also find delicate mint tones with rose and white and black and gray checkered floors. Personally, I would say that ultimately everything can be made to fit, as you can see, the kind of suites that I have now. If you put things nicely in scene, anything is possible. I wouldn’t say that you have to create a certain look for a bridal fashion business, I would to create an oasis of well-being.
What would you say was the most challenging part in setting up your bridal shop?
The biggest challenge for me when implementing the furnishings in my store was actually keeping an overview since I have four different themed suites, and at the same time the overall look of the villa has to be preserved. That means on the one hand, we have the look of the foyer and the look of the rooms where the clothes are presented and the four theme rooms that stood for themselves, the room for our gentlemen, which of course also had to meet their own needs. The fantastic view of the lake, the huge terrace, which had to be set in scene accordingly, since our suites are oriented towards the terrace and you can look directly towards it.
That was the challenge for me. When I was shopping in Holland for three days, I actually had the villa in my mind all the time. I went through seven furniture stores in the three days. I had a lot on my mind, but no real plan, but that wasn’t a problem for my photographic memory.
The only problems were the people who accompanied me, because I kept jumping from left to right and of course the furniture stores weren’t built according to my ideas, i.e. according to topics. That means, for example, I saw a couch that is fantastic for the suite. Then I walked three meters further, saw a table or a chair, and thought I have to have this chair for another suite or for foyer and so on.
It was incredibly exhausting for the people who accompanied me, because of course they couldn’t look into my head and follow me. For them there was a big puzzle that I had successively put together in my head and I see pieces of furniture and know exactly where I want to put it.
What is your best advice for bridal shop owners who are not sure where to start when it comes to interior design?
The best interior decorating advice for bridal store owners who are apprehensive:
If you want to create a certain level of perfection and also want to stand out when it comes to furnishing, then I would probably have commissioned an interior designer. There are really great people who can support you in this regard, but real professionals also have additional costs.
In the end, the result has to be YOU or it has to be authentic. For example, it wouldn’t have helped me now if I had had an interior designer who would have been very futuristic, which I think is cool to look at, but it just wouldn’t have been me. And for me it is simply important, and I think it should be the same for every other bridal fashion stylist, to make sure that your own personality can be recognized in your own rooms.
Looking back on success and challenges, what are you most proud of?
What I am particularly proud of, is when I look back on my challenges together with my successes. Generally speaking, it is very difficult to praise yourself. And I have to admit, I definitely belong to them and I also find it difficult to tell myself, hey, be proud of it!
But if I get asked the question so directly, I would say that I am particularly proud of the fact that I hold onto my dreams and vision, regardless of whether what the environment says, the indirect or direct environment. But I always have faith in myself to make my dreams come true. I only have this one life, everyone only has their own life and I can’t say what I would do in the next one. That’s why I have to implement it in this one and I think that’s what I’m most proud of. Proud of what I can do and that I am very grateful and happy that I am such a cheerful and authentic person who is free from what others think of me. I’m really proud of that.
We would like to thank Vanessa Huber of Villa Engelsbraut for this interview.