Bridal store is on a mission for perfection

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Creamy white and ivory dresses line the walls of the Bridal Theatre in St.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Creamy white and ivory dresses line the walls of the Bridal Theatre in St. Ansgar, Iowa, glittering with beads and sequins and sparkling embroidery.

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There’s so much white, so much cream, so many ruffles and so much lace … it can be overwhelming for brides-to-be.

That’s why co-owner Anita Sponheim has made it her mission and the mission of all those who work with her to find the perfect dress for each and every woman who walks into the shop.

"We care about what happens here, we care that (the brides) look their very best. It’s their day to really shine," Sponheim explains. "Someone once told me that you’re putting your reputation at the front of the church and that’s true."

To make sure the brides are happy with their dresses, a member of the store personnel helps each woman in choosing the perfect gown.

Diane Wright, who has worked at the shop for a year, says when a bride-to-be comes to the shop, she’ll generally find out "what the woman likes, what she doesn’t like, if she knows what she’s looking for. I ask if she’s looking for a particular color or style … then, I give them suggestions on what might look good."

Sponheim says she also makes sure every woman tries on more than one dress to try on because "you never know (what you’ll like) until you try it on. You might be surprised at what looks good."

"I think service is really important here. We try to work one-on-one with everyone who comes in. We don’t work with two or three brides at once," she says. "We offer free alterations with a regular price gown and we have a good selection, but I think the personal service you get here is really important."

She says she and her co-owner, Nancy Bell, go to market in Chicago and pick out a wide variety of styles and colors of wedding dresses, though they try to choose dresses less than $800. "We try to get a little bit of everything," Sponheim says.

That includes styles and colors that are popular on the east coast. "Sometimes, those just never catch on, though," she says. "Platinum was really big a few years ago, but it never really took off here in the Midwest."

The shop isn’t just a wedding dress store, either. Sponheim says they also offer head pieces; jewelry; shoes; accessories; gowns for the flower girls, wedding party and the mother of the bride; invitations; as well as tuxedos and prom dresses.

"We offer everything but the food," Christal Levan, who has worked at the Bridal Theatre for four and a half years, says, laughing.

She says one of the best aspects of working at a bridal shop is "meeting the people. They’re so fascinating and … it’s so fascinating to see where they come from and what they do for a job. We get people from quite aways away, but I think that’s because people travel more these days and word of mouth gets our name around."

"It’s fun meeting all the people. They make the day here. Getting to know the customers is very important," Wright says.

Levan says "you really establish a relationship with some of them through all the fittings and alterations."

Angie Fogarty, of Riceville, Iowa purchased her wedding gown and bridesmaids dresses from the Bridal Theatre and says she was pleased. "I really liked it. They’re willing to work with you and they have a nice selection. They really help you," she says.

The Bridal Theatre is located at 139 West Fourth Street in St. Ansgar. It’s open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call (641) 713-2303.

Call Amanda L. Rohde at 434-2214 or e-mail her at