Next to Grandma’s recipe for crab cakes, Today’s Bride and Formal Wear is the best kept secret in Southern Maryland. Situated in a quiet corner of San Souci Plaza in California, Maryland, they have distinguished themselves as one of the premier stops on the “To Do” list of brides and grooms in the region. Located in this storefront for the last 21 years, Today’s Bride came under new ownership in May of 2007 when Kristie Wood assumed the reins from her previous employer. Looking back, it seems Kristie may have been destined for this role of bridal storekeeper as she had two great aunts who spent 40 years designing and fabricating bridal fashions for local brides as well as formal wear for the wives of Navy officers stationed at Patuxent River Naval Air Station. They were fortunate to have among their clients the wives of future astronauts Alan Shepard and Scott Carpenter. As Kristie made her way through high school, she designed a couple of prom gowns which she enlisted the help of her mother to construct. She was refining her calling in life and upon graduation from Great Mills High School, entered the Fashion Merchandising major at Bauder Fashion College in Atlanta, Georgia.
Kristie notes that, “Just as every bride has a vision of her dream wedding, I have a vision for this store. It is my dream. I strive every day to make our brides dreams come true. That is my dream come true.”
When asked what it is that sets this bridal shop apart from the others Kristie is quick to respond, “The difference is in our level of experience. A wedding is a tremendously emotional event and our consultants have the eye and expertise to listen to our brides’ vision and assess their body type to pull the perfect dress to compliment both.” Today’s Bride touts a stress-free buying experience and consequently does not require appointments of their customers. While brides will sometimes request to make such an appointment, it is not a requirement, which brides seem to like as it takes some of the rigidity out of the process. And while a highly emotional event, Kristie and staff are looking to make the dress selection process as pleasant and joyful as they possibly can.
The store is filled with bridal selections from designers such as Maggie Sottero, Kenneth Winston by Private Label, House of Wu, and Alfred Angelo. Kristie expressed the importance of carrying samples in a wide array of colors (white, diamond white, ivory, champagne). The differences in the shades is often very subtle, but the skin tone of the bride can really set one dress apart from the other and you will only see that while trying it on. Likewise, carrying sizes other than the standard model size 6 goes a long way to making sure the bride has a rewarding and fruitful visit to this shop. “Brides come in all shapes and sizes and they really do deserve the benefit of seeing how a gown is going to present on their body before they make their purchase,” says Kristie.
As the name implies, Today’s Bride and Formal Wear is equipped to outfit all members of the bridal party, not just the bride. With full lines of Mother’s dresses, bridesmaid dresses and flower girl dresses from a variety of designers, the most requested offering comes from the Alfred Angelo bridesmaid collection featuring 55 different colors designed to please the color palette of the most discriminating bride.
Next to each expertly dressed bride, there should be an equally sharp dressed man and the ladies at Today’s Bride take that challenge as seriously as they do those presented by their brides. The staff holds in excess of 35 years combined experience in sizing and selection of tuxedos. Kristie adds, “It may appear on the surface that the tuxedo angle is relatively cut and dry but in reality, over the last 10 years, tuxedo companies have been updating their lines annually, adding more contemporary styles and newer, more comfortable fabrics.” Today’s Bride and Formal Wear hours are Tuesday/Friday 10 – 6, Wednesday/Thursday 10 – 7 and Saturday 10 – 4. Appointments are not required but you are more than welcome to call if you are bringing a large party and would like to make arrangements for a time to visit.