Uniquely fashionable

Bella’s Boutique is a great find in Shelby County for anyone looking to dress to impress.

I talked with Carol Watkins, owner of Bella’s to find out more. This 40-year-old entrepreneur loves weddings and decided to make a business around it. With 10 years in retail, she knows the ropes and travels to New York and Atlanta to stay in the know on upcoming trends and to find the best vendors. Lucky for us, she chose Pelham as her retail location, and has been thriving ever since. Read on to find out more about Bella’s, just around your corner.

What are the most popular dresses for this upcoming prom season going to be?

Lots of prints and metallic! The styles have really changed this year.

Do you offer more than prom and wedding?

We dress the whole wedding party. We also rent tuxedos and chair covers.

Can you tell the perfect wedding dress for a girl based on her shape?

We suggest different styles for different shapes but we also try to be a little flexible and not rule out certain styles based solely on ones shape. We like to try different styles because sometimes, a dress will surprise you and it ends up being “the one.” At the end of the day, it comes down to what the bride loves and feels the most beautiful in. It’s her day.

What are the price ranges of your gowns?

Our prices range from $400-$2,000 for bridal and $150-$600 for prom. We offer a great lay-a-way plan and offer special discounts.

Any big brands?

For bridal, we carry Maggie Sottero, Essense of Australia, Essense Couture, Ella, Casablanca and Mary’s Bridal.

For prom, the most fashion forward dresses come from Jovani. We will have more than 300 prom dresses arriving between now and January.

What is the most popular style of wedding dress?

Lace gowns seem to be the most popular right now. We have a lot of different patterns of lace and different styles of gowns to choose from. Different fabrics and colors are also making their way into the showrooms of Atlanta and New York. The new styles are really beautiful and elegant.

How early should one start shopping for their wedding or prom dress?

Most brides shop for their dress one year to six months before the wedding. The average wedding gown takes anywhere from three to four months to order. We do a lot of custom orders and measurements as to keep alteration costs to a minimum.

The best time to shop for a prom dress is in January. We also register the prom gowns because we do not sell the same dress, in the same color, to the same school. There are times in life when dressing like everyone else is OK — if you are a cheerleader or say one of those game show briefcase models. But no one wants to walk into prom and see someone in the same dress. We try to make sure the gown is exclusive to the girl.

What led you to open Bella’s?

I wanted to open a bridal boutique that provided unique bridal gowns that were affordable to most people. I also wanted to give personal attention and friendly customer service to every bride. Finding a wedding gown should be a very special experience, not like a shopping trip to Wal-Mart. We hope we can be part of making dress buying fun and enjoyable. We love it when a bride finds the dress!

Check out www.BellasAlabama.com for more information.