Bridesmaids Revisited

You’ve been asked to be in your friend’s wedding—you say yes, of course, but then the question becomes: Can you say yes to the bridesmaid dress?

There are plenty of boutiques dedicated to helping the bride find the perfect dress, but at the newly opened Bella Bridesmaid Boutique in West Hartford’s Blue Black Square, the focus is squarely on the supporting cast.

Mother and daughter Madison and Marybeth Ross are the new owners of Bella Bridesmaid, which specializes in bridesmaid and mother-of-the-bride dresses. “We are dress facilitators,” says Marybeth. “We have something for everyone and we want to make the brides happy during what can be a stressful time.” Adds Madison: “Not only do brides rely on our expertise and personal touch, we offer a little bit of therapy, too—we make the process lighthearted, flexible and fun, with some clients even bringing wine or champagne for a party atmosphere.”

Madison, who went to Wilton High School and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008, got the idea to get into the bridal business after a friend got engaged. “We visited a Bella Bridesmaid in Virginia and it was the most wonderful experience,” she says. It was Marybeth who first proposed the idea of taking the plunge into the bridal business, so the two looked into the bridal franchise, which has 43 outlets throughout the country. They purchased the Bella Bridesmaid store in Westport and opened for business in December 2011.

With a strong Hartford client base, they decided to expand, and in March opened the new location, at 73 Memorial Road.

Bella Bridesmaid carries dresses from 25 designers (including Nicole Miller, Amsale Aberra and Monique Lhuillier, which was worn by Kate Beckinsale at the Oscars), all intended to “live on after the big day.”

During their time in the bridesmaid biz, the Rosses say the trend has gone from short, fitted cocktail dresses to long, flowing ethereal dresses. And the latest thing? Mix and match. “There was a time when all the bridesmaids would wear the same exact dress,” says Marybeth. “Not anymore. A bride may say, ‘Let’s do Amsale in cobalt,’ but then allow the girls to pick their own dress style in the same fabric and color, or they might do a theme with a solid and then a pattern.”

The hot color this year is emerald, though navy is still a classic favorite, and a lot of clients are saying, “I do” to lace and peplum. Prices range from $150 for a short bridesmaid dress to up to $2,000 for high-end mother-of-the-bride dresses. For more information, call 860-308-2498 or visit

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