The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

It’s a family affair: First Look Bridal Boutique makes it official

The new boutique hopes to draw brides-to-be from all over central Iowa. Photo by Kaya Matsuura.

Grinnell residents in the market for a wedding dress no longer have far to go: First Look Bridal Boutique has opened a brick-and-mortar location on 806 Commercial St. The owners are mother-and-daughter tag team Christi Baker and Desiree Taube.  

Baker and Taube had been thinking of opening a bridal business together since Taube got married in 2017, but the real impetus came when Baker was visiting Taube in Louisiana ― where she was living at the time ― for her granddaughter’s first birthday. The two happened to visit a bridal store where the owner asked them what they were looking for, and they explained that they weren’t getting married anytime soon themselves.  

“We came to find out that the owner had just made the decision to close her store and was trying to think about how she wanted to move her product,” Baker said, “And so we had a very nice conversation with her and a lot of our dresses we purchased from her and brought up to Iowa, so that’s how our store began.”

They first launched their store at Grinnell’s annual bridal show in January 2020 as an online venture. “Unfortunately, COVID hit eight weeks later,” said Baker. “So, it really was an interesting year for us.” There was no bridal show in Grinnell in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Before they opened their location on Commercial Street, Baker and Taube stored dresses and hosted customers in their homes, but after the pandemic began, they switched to doing showings in Hotel Grinnell. 

Open hours are a little irregular, mostly in the evenings, in part because Baker works full time as project management coordinator for Facilities Management at Grinnell College.  

Although Taube lives in Ames, the two chose to open their new storefront in Grinnell both because of the character of the town and because of its location midway between Des Moines and Iowa City. They knew that Grinnell is near many small communities that lack bridal stores of their own.   

“[Desiree] grew up here, so we know the community very well. I’ve lived here most of my life,” Baker said. 

Grinnell also has less competition from other bridal stores, Baker said: “Ames has its own bridal store, there’s also one in Boone and a couple in Ankeny on top of the ones in Des Moines, so we just thought really that this would be the best fit for us and also for the community.”  

A number of people delayed or cancelled their weddings because of the pandemic, but many others have been having smaller, more low-key ceremonies. The shift to smaller scale weddings has mostly affected businesses like venues, photographers and caterers, but not the dress stores; according to Baker, even if you only invite 12 people to your wedding, you’re still going to need a dress.   

The pandemic’s biggest effect on dresses is the delays in making and shipping them. “I’m hearing that the brides are getting told that their wedding dresses are going to take six to eight months to get here,” Baker said. “The nice thing about our store is it’s off the rack dresses so a bride can actually walk in and, if she finds her dress, can take it that day.”   

Unlike many bridal stores, First Look Bridal offers dress rentals, both because some people don’t want to own their wedding dresses, and to keep costs down for brides. They also offer layaway plans for payment.   

“One of the things at our core philosophy is to keep things at a reasonable cost for brides to have their dream wedding no matter what their budget is,” Baker said. “Weddings are so expensive to put on and we want to make sure that the bride feels that her day is special whether it’s a thousand-dollar wedding or a 20-thousand-dollar wedding.”   

First Look Bridal also offers potential wedding gifts such as makeup and leather goods, such as belts, made by another of Baker’s children.  

“There’s always people looking into buying gifts for the other half, either the groom or the bride,” Baker said, “or brides or grooms.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *