Make Your Wedding a Highlight

Your Bridal Gown Experience With Margaret Ellen Bridal

January 13, 2021 Season 2 Episode 2
Make Your Wedding a Highlight
Your Bridal Gown Experience With Margaret Ellen Bridal
Show Notes Transcript

It's the beginning of 2021! As most of you probably know, the holidays are also engagement season and that means that this is the time of year when wedding planning begins in full force. One of the first major things to check off a bride's list is saying "Yes" to the dress. DJ Josh thought it would be the perfect time to talk to Maggie Matthews from Margaret Ellen Bridal, because, admittedly, he doesn't have any experience in bridal gown shopping.

Maggie shares her passion for creating the experience for brides she works with, the joy she feels while building relationships with those brides, as well as tips for bridal gown shopping so that you can have the best bridal gown experience, too! Like DJ Josh at Highlight Weddings & Events, she is the sole employee of her company and she relishes being a part of each bride's planning process!

Make sure to click that subscribe button, so you don't miss an episode. And if you haven't left a review, DJ Josh would appreciate it! He might even read it on a future podcast! Also, if you have a wedding pro that you think other brides might benefit from working with, send their info to [email protected] he'd LOVE to chat with them :)

The intro and outro for this Highlight Weddings & Events Podcast were both edited and produced by DropHouse Voiceover Production Studio and Tony Tee Neto, Voiceover Artist & Audio Producer. For more info on branding elements, editing, and post-production services, visit

The song used for the intro and outro for this episode is Crush by License: CC BY (

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:00:00] This is Season Two, Episode One of Make Your Wedding a Highlight. My name is DJ Josh from Highlight Weddings and Events. My guest today is Maggie Mathews from Margaret Ellen Bridal.

Well, hello, everyone, again! Thanks for checking out the podcast. Welcome to 2021. My first guest of the year is Maggie Mathews from Margaret Ellen Bridal. How you doing today, Maggie? 

Maggie Matthews: [00:00:41] Hi, Josh. Thanks. Doing well. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:00:44] Awesome. Awesome. So before we get into talking about Margaret Ellen Bridal, would you mind introducing yourself to the listeners of the podcast?

Maggie Matthews: [00:00:53] Absolutely. like you said, I'm Maggie. I am the owner of Margaret Ellen Bridal. I am a wife. I am a mom of two precious kiddos, Deaton and Ella. I was born and raised in Mississippi and was an elementary school teacher there. And here I am with a bridal shop on the east end of 30A and loving what I do.

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:01:19] Alright. That sounds awesome. So, what brought you to 30A? 

Maggie Matthews: [00:01:23] Well, we vacationed on 30A with my family growing up. And in 2013, my parents built a vacation home in Seacrest and they had plans to retire here. Back in Mississippi, like I said, I was an elementary school teacher and honestly felt very stuck in my career. I give major props to teachers all over, especially during this time of life with COVID, but as a child, I wanted to design wedding dresses. And it was seriously a fascination of mine. However, life happens and fashion design didn't seem very attainable, so I settled for education due to my love for children.

But the idea of wedding dresses came back to me at the end of 2016. I knew at that point I wanted to create a bridal shop here on the Emerald Coast that was a very different experience than what the bride would usually find. So in January of 2018, I opened Margaret Ellen Bridal and that is honestly what brought my husband and myself to Florida.

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:02:22] Very cool. What I've found out from other wedding professionals is their wedding planning experience has impacted them. And, I want to say at least five or six people that I've talked to decided to start their own wedding company because of a similar thing where they wanted to give couples either a better experience or provide something that they could not find on their own for their own wedding.

So I think that's, that's a very interesting thing. I think unique to the wedding industry itself. 

Maggie Matthews: [00:02:54] Absolutely. I didn't have the best dress shopping experience. But I didn't really realize it until years later, going with friends and seeing their experiences and how it should have been.

And that was out of state and did my research. And since we already had the house down here and I was very familiar with this area, there was nothing like that around this area. And so I really jumped both feet in and wanted to bring this. And I'm so thankful that I did. And so thankful that my brides and upcoming brides will have this as they shop for their wedding dress.

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:03:28] Alright. Well, that's awesome. And that leads me to my next question. So what excites you about being a part of a bride's wedding planning process? 

Maggie Matthews: [00:03:37] All right. Well, what excites me probably the most is helping someone in the most special and happy time of their life. Also love just seeing my brides back in their wedding dresses on the day of the wedding and knowing that I helped them find that dress that they have dreamed of wearing for so many years.

I really should do the statistic, but I let brides either choose their dress from the racks or before they even come in, I put them in some dresses that I would have picked for them based on research that I've done either with them sending me pictures or checking out their Pinterest page. I do a lot of backend work so that I honestly feel like I know them when they come in.

A lot of the times they choose that dress that I pull for them. They always say like, "I would have never pulled this for myself." And so that makes me really feel like I had a hand in that wedding. And just knowing that I helped them with the dress that they became a wife in, I feel like it is just really special.

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:04:34] So other than doing the back end type of work, how can Margaret Ellen Bridal help make a bride's wedding a highlight?

Maggie Matthews: [00:04:43] I know I keep saying the word experience, but that's the word that just comes to my mind when I think about Margaret Ellen Bridal. Usually, when I'm bride leaves out of my store, the one thing that they say to me was, "That was the best experience I could've ever imagined." Or I get, thank you notes in the mail or emails saying you made it everything. And so to me that really is everything. The different experience that I keep talking about is when brides come into my shop, they're actually the only bride in the store, so the store is completely shut down. 

You can kind of think of famous people like going into a store and having the store to themselves. But that is for every bride here. My appointments do not cost money. I truly want this to be for everybody. So all of our appointments are private, giving the bride that chance to be really the center of attention. And to have that moment with just her friends and family in here is just very, very special. 

And I would say that what kind of sets us apart from that experience of being the only bride and having that private shopping experience is really the relationships that I form with my brides. When brides come in, I am actually the one working with them. I am the only employee of Margaret Ellen Bridals. So I'm working with my brides from literally start to finish of when the dress comes in and when they come and pick it up. So I think that's really special. 

People used to ask me like my why and I really could never figure out my why other than the word experience and doing what made me happy finally, after being so stuck in that career beforehand. But a few months back, I realized my why. I had a bride that unfortunately passed away and it really hit me hard and it really hurt. And it clicked to me one day. My why is the relationships that I've formed with these brides. Even after the wedding day, I'm following these girls on social media and seeing them start their families and just all the different aspects of life. And so it was just really special to me. So I would say that is just the experience and really the highlight for girls of when they come to me. 

And then of course what we provide. We provide very good gowns that you can't really find anywhere else. In this area. And then two of my designers offer custom design. So I think that's really cool. I've worked with lots of brides creating a complete custom look that no one else will probably ever have because they're the ones that thought it up as they fell in love with the dress, but wanted to change some aspects of it. Which I think is just super, super special, and very neat.

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:07:27] Oh, I didn't know that you guys did custom work. That's really awesome. 

Maggie Matthews: [00:07:31] Yeah. We work with two of our designers. They're the ones doing it, but we're helping draw it out. So then I kind of get back into my little girl days of wanting to fashion design. So it's really fun for me. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:07:43] That's cool. I am also the lone employee of highlight weddings and events, so I understand what you're talking about, how you get to work with the bride, or in my case the couple, throughout the wedding planning process. So that relationship starts to form and it's not I just show up on the wedding day like there's an established connection and I really think it helps me to make the wedding personalized to them and to really enjoy it.

Maggie Matthews: [00:08:13] Absolutely. You're not just showing up to a job. It means more to us as well. So I totally get that. I love it.

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:08:20] Well, let's talk about bridal gown shopping because, as you might imagine, I know nothing about shopping for a bridal gown. So the first question in regards to that is could you offer some tips for brides as they're starting to shop for their bridal gown? 

Maggie Matthews: [00:08:38] Absolutely. Okay. I've got probably lots of tips, but I'll stick to like five. First tip I would say is come in with a real open mind. It's great to do the research on Pinterest and look on Instagram and all the things on social media. But you truly never know until you try a dress on. So come in with an open mind. Don't be set to like one designer, honestly, it's best to not even get stuck on a designer, but really just be willing to try on different things. Like I said earlier, it may be a dress that you did not think that you ever would like, or that you ever saw yourself in, or that you would have even pulled from the rack. But a lot of the times those are the dresses that take your heart and make you love. So I would just say that one for one, come in with an open mind.

 Two: shop nine to 12 months before the wedding. This one is a big one that people do not realize, and I am trying to educate people. And it is not a push from bridal shops to make you say yes to it a dress. So in my store, in particular, I am not an off the rack store. I do have a selection of gowns that are ready to go off the rack if you need a dress quicker than that nine to 12 months. 

It takes four to six months for a dress to come in. That dress is being made for you and then shipping. So it needs a little bit of time to ship to us. It needs time for us to go through and really analyze it. Make sure everything's perfect for us to give it to you. And then you need about three months before the wedding to have alterations made to the dress. Even though we make it in your size and it's made for you, sometimes there needs to be a little tweaks. Not every size eight girl is the same height, so it needs to be hemmed and you need to add the bustle for the reception so that you can dance without anybody stepping on the train.

So you need that nine to 12 months, unless your wedding is quicker. And we can usually accommodate that as well with our off the rack or working with some designers or about rushing the dress. But that nine to 12 months will leave you stress-free.

The next tip: bring three to four people whose opinions matter the most to you. We know girls love to bring in their whole entourage to these bridal appointments, but sometimes that's not the best. And I am not the best person when you book your appointment to tell you that over the phone, because I want you to have the best time and I want it to be the experience that you've always imagined. But then girls will talk to me in the back in the dressing room when it's just me and them and say, "I brought too many people. Why didn't you tell me?" And so lots of people is lots of different opinions. If you stick to three to four people whose opinions matter the most to you, mom, mother-in-law, aunt, sister, best friend. Those are the best. 

Next tip would be like everything was wedding planning, set a budget. You need to know the number you want to spend on your wedding dress so that you don't try on dresses that are out of budget and fall in love with the dress. But it's just good to have a number. We don't look down on anything, so you just set that number when you're setting everything else, let us know, and we will stick close to that number. 

Last tip: don't be afraid to say yes to the first dress you love. And I will just end with that. Some girls will overthink things and if you love the dress. Just go ahead. Say yes to it. When you start overthinking it and shopping around, that's where I see girls coming back and being like, "I should have just said yes the first time," but you know, it's okay to do that too, but don't be afraid to say yes to the first dress you love. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:12:18] Yeah, that's definitely a human, psychological thing where the more choices you have the least likely you are to make a decision. 

Maggie Matthews: [00:12:27] Yeah. I just had a bride in a couple of days ago and it was the best moment because she didn't overthink it. It was the very first dress she tried on and she loved it so much. then she went back to the dressing room. She put on two more and then I didn't know really what was happening. Her sister came to me and said, "She don't want to try on any of the other ones. She's ready to put that first dress back on. She's ready to say yes." And I was like, "That is amazing," because when you know, you know, and it really did give me chill bumps, because that's how it should be. And a lot of girls when they're leaving out of here and say, "That was so easy." And that's what I tell people. It's supposed to be easy. It should be the easiest yes. After saying yes to when the fiance pops the question. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:13:10] Right. Okay. Since we work and live in a destination wedding market, what is the best way to go about bridal gown shopping if you're having a destination wedding?

Maggie Matthews: [00:13:22] When I opened three years ago, I never imagined seeing brides or the amount of brides from all over as much as I have. But I have served brides from about 35 different states and two countries. So that's really exciting. Yeah. It's amazing. either those girls are on vacation down here and this is the one time a year they see all their family or they're getting married here, so it's a destination wedding. 

What the real positive aspect of, if you're getting married on the Emerald Coast and finding your dress here is that we will do everything for you down here. The dress will come in, you'll come pick it up or try it on, and then it will go into alterations. Then it's here for you when you are getting married, you don't have to travel back to wherever you are from, with the dress and then bringing it back down here. So it's here and it just is a very easy process for you. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:14:17] Gotcha. Yeah. I can't imagine transporting, especially if the bridal gown is very thick and huge, like transporting that.

And if you fly, hoping that the people that are dealing with the luggage don't damage it or ruin it, or it gets wet or stuff happens. That would be a situation where I wouldn't feel super comfortable letting somebody else take care of it and hoping that it doesn't get messed up. 

Maggie Matthews: [00:14:42] Yeah. That is a nightmare. Honestly, that gives me a little bit of anxiety thinking about it. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:14:49] So what are some styles or trends that you've noticed in the bridal gown industry? Like what are popular choices or are there any trending selections that brides are going toward? 

Maggie Matthews: [00:14:59] Right now I'm seeing a whole lot of simple, very chic, clean line dresses. which I think is super cool. A couple years back when Meghan Markle got married, she had that simple, very chic dress, and people kind of thought that that trend was going to start right then. But everybody's got to understand trends take a little while to kind of start-up after seeing an icon like that wear something, but right now that is really, really what I'm seeing. Everyone is wanting that clean dress. I love that. 

Girls are also still loving the fitted dress, but a lot of girls are wanting that dress that's very fitted at the bodice and then just a romantic flow at the bottom. Not poofy, not overly ball gown, but more of that very slim A-line. Girls aren't afraid of that right now. 

Those are two of the things that I am really seeing in our store. I've had a few girls in the last few weeks actually say, "I want to be drama. Like I want to be the drama." And so adding a cape or something just out of the ordinary, a really big bow on the back. They just want something to know that here I am on the bride. So those are some things that I'm seeing right now at the start of 2021. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:16:15] Okay, cool. Have you run into brides that not only have a wedding gown, but also a reception dress. 

Maggie Matthews: [00:16:22] Very little to be completely honest. Not much. So a lot of my brands are still bustling their train and wearing the same dress, which I'm all for. If you spend the money on it, then I think you should be in it all day, honestly. I am seeing girls kind of go out more for their rehearsal look. Of finding something super fabulous for that too, for the night before. I love that as well.

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:16:49] And the only reason why I asked that is because my wife actually did that. She had more of a heavier, thicker gown for the ceremony. And then she changed into a more sleek, like the Megan Markle type dress for her wedding reception. 

Maggie Matthews: [00:17:05] Yeah. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:17:06] Or for our wedding reception. Excuse me. Yeah. And that was primarily because she loves to dance.

And I actually had a bride that I was working with in 2020. She was having a heavier gown for her wedding and I brought up the option of having a reception dress. She's like, "Oh man. I really like that idea." So just figured, I'd ask to see if that was something that was common or not, so. Okay, cool. 

Maggie Matthews: [00:17:30] Yeah. I've had a few brides that have gotten a second dress. Same thing like you're saying. Either they had a fuller dress for the pictures and the ceremony, and then wanted to change into something more fitted for the reception. That's happened a few times. My best friend did the same exact thing, so totally get it and totally understand.

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:17:48] And another idea for the guys out there. If your soon-to-be wife decides to have a different reception dress. Consider changing into something different for the reception as well. That's just a cool, unique thing to compliment your bride in that regard. 

So I mentioned COVID-19 earlier and I've asked every guest this question, how has COVID-19 impacted you personally and professionally?

Maggie Matthews: [00:18:14] Alright. Well, I'll start with personally, I guess. I won't lie. If COVID had to come around at any time it came probably at a really good time for myself personally. I had just had my second child, Ella, about five weeks before we had to close the shop. And before all that happened, I came back to work about a week and a half after having her.

So, truly, COVID was kind of a blessing in disguise for myself personally. That gave me that time with her at home. And I felt very at peace with the shop closing. Of course, I had fears of the what-ifs and when we would be open and was everything going to work out. But of course, it did. And, I am a believer in Christ and I just feel like he truly put his hand on us and watched over us and helped everything happened for a reason. 

Professionally, it has opened my eyes up to truly how wonderful brides are. That day that they have been planning and dreaming of all of a sudden gets canceled or postponed because of a virus. Like I cannot imagine this happening to me when I was planning my wedding, but so many of my brides literally made the best out of it and pushed forward and looked up and changed their wedding all around to accommodate the restrictions. It really just showed me how to persevere. That just taught me to look at these girls. If they can do this, you can push forward through anything and keep going.

I also saw many backyard weddings and weddings where they just totally switched it around. And had their parents or siblings there. And to me, I feel like that is so special. It really truly shows the real meaning of marriage. Like I can't imagine it being so small like that from our own wedding day, but all I can imagine is how special those vowels were that day. And that's really the most important thing at the end of it is that you're married and you had that. I know the hashtag was going around: #loveisnotcanceled. That's so true, especially with weddings. But my heart goes out to all the brides that their weddings were impacted by COVID because they are the rock stars.

Thankfully, COVID hasn't impacted our business. Like I said, we are a very new business. We are only been in business for three years, but 2020 I can say was our best year to date. And for that, I am forever thankful. I truly hope it's over soon. And it is something that we can just look back on and say it was a really hard year, but we made it out of it. 

Everyone's mental health right now probably is just, it's been a year, but just thankful for 2021. And hopefully, it turns around.

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:20:59] Yeah, I saw on a sign locally here. Someone had written "Bye 2020. You felt like a test that we did not study for." 2020 felt like such a long year and quick all at the same. 

Maggie Matthews: [00:21:16] I know that's what I was about to say. I just feel like it flew by in a sense. But then, well, when quarantine hit, it seems like it just kept dragging 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:21:27] You mentioning how the couples were more inclined to have intimate weddings made me remember what I'll typically do when I talk to a bride for the first time is I'll ask them what their must-have is. And I've gotten more responses of all that matters is that we get married. So I definitely think it's changed the priorities from not necessarily selling out on all of the things, but focusing on what's most important in the relationship. I agree. That's the really awesome byproduct of being in the pandemic or going through it. 

Maggie Matthews: [00:22:04] Right. It's so eye-opening. Just shows like really what's important. I think we can all agree that within this year life is what's important and you know, just really having that.

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:22:18] Definitely. So, Maggie, you shared about yourself professionally. Would you mind answering some personal questions? 

Maggie Matthews: [00:22:25] Okay. Let's do it. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:22:27] Okay. You mentioned that you started out as a school teacher, but let's assume that you neither pursued that nor became the owner of Margaret Ellen Bridal. What do you think you'd be doing career-wise? 

Maggie Matthews: [00:22:41] Well, the other job that I always wanted to be growing up was I wanted to work in some form of fashion in a children's hospital, specifically St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. St. Jude has a major part in my family's life. So I would like to think that that's what I would be doing.

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:23:03] Okay. What's your current guilty pleasure? 

Maggie Matthews: [00:23:06] Ooh. Right now, probably Netflix. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:23:10] Okay. 

Maggie Matthews: [00:23:11] Just because it's 2021 and I started a new resolution, so I am not eating anything good. I can't say chocolate or drinking wine because I have given all that up for the month of January and probably February too. My guilty pleasure is probably Netflix when I have time, 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:23:29] What's your favorite Netflix show? 

Maggie Matthews: [00:23:31] My favorite Netflix show that I have watched is probably Parenthood. Love all the different storylines that's going on within that big family. And I suggest anyone watched that it was one of those shows that when it ended, I wanted to cry. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:23:45] Where would you consider your happy place 

Maggie Matthews: [00:23:48] Other than 30A or this area of Florida? My happy place is probably Disney World. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:23:53] Okay, nice. 

Maggie Matthews: [00:23:54] No matter how many times we go, there's something about seeing that castle that honestly just knocks me to tears. So Disney. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:24:04] Yeah. Cinderella's castle is pretty breathtaking. Since you mentioned 30A, what is one 30A must-do for people visiting the area? 

Maggie Matthews: [00:24:15] Oh my goodness. Must-do on 30A? I would definitely say eat at Great Southern Cafe. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:24:22] Okay. What should they get at Great Southern Cafe? 

Maggie Matthews: [00:24:25] Oh, I could go on and on. Um, the shrimp and grits, the grouper a ya ya. Personally, when I go other than delicious drinks, I honestly get the side plate because it comes with like, I think four sides, and their sides are where it's at.

So, Oh, I could, I may need to get that for dinner. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:24:49] Uh, yeah. I'm sorry to get hungry when you talk about shrimp and grits. 

So Maggie, where is the best place for a bride to reach out to you or find out more information about Margaret Ellen Bridal. 

Maggie Matthews: [00:25:04] I would say follow us first on Instagram, we are @margaretellenbridal_30a. You can either DM us there, but you can also visit our website And you can email us at [email protected]

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:25:26] Ah, I like that. Cheers. That's nice. Very cool. All right. Maggie, do you have any final thoughts you would like to leave the listeners before we close out the podcast?

Maggie Matthews: [00:25:35] Just happy wedding planning and I hope to meet you soon at Margaret Ellen Bridal. But thanks, Josh. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:25:42] Oh, my pleasure. Thank you for coming on the podcast. 

Maggie Matthews: [00:25:44] Absolutely. I appreciate it. 

DJ Josh Woeckener: [00:25:46] Awesome. Well, here's to the brides and the couples in the wedding planning process. And here's to making those weddings a highlight.