Photo by Sarah Finnegan.
Consultant Victoria Nordness tries on a gown during some down time with fellow consultant Kendal Overton and owner Carol Riney. Bella’s will be moving to a new location which will offer a larger space for brides as well as merge the prom and pagaent departments under the same roof.
Carol Riney, owner of Bella’s Bridal and Formal, has had to master the art of being in two places at once.
Bella’s currently has two separate stores in the Patton Creek Shopping Center — one for its bridal division and one for its prom and pageant division. Come April, both stores will merge into one only about one mile away from the two stores’ current locations.
“Inside the [new] store they will be separate departments, but it will be under one roof,” Riney said. “I won’t have to be in two places at once. It will make managing the employees better, and the customer experience will be better.”
In addition to the new location, Bella’s will upgrade the bridal experience, including adding additional seamstresses at the store and three alterations specialists.
“We plan to offer the ultimate bridal experience where they have their own fitting room and dressing area with their bridal party, bridal suites, more room to display dresses, a separate bridesmaids’ section to host bridesmaids and guests and also a separate alterations area,” Riney said.
The new store will also offer Riney and her staff the opportunity to see more brides at one time because of the expanded space.
“A lot of times now we are booked on the weekends,” she said. “We are excited about being able to accommodate brides from out of state more easily.”
In addition to a luxury bridal experience, Bella’s will continue to offer its prom and pageant division, which has received acclaim as the top Sherri Hill prom store in Alabama.
“She is the No. 1 prom designer,” Riney said. “We have the largest selection [in the state].”
Bella’s also dressed Miss Alabama this past year, as well as Miss Alabama Teen USA.
Riney said it was time to move when the team at Bella’s decided it needed more space.
“We were out of room,” she said. “We also wanted to add private bridal suites to make the experience better for the brides, and we added more room and a runway in the prom and pageant department.”
Bella’s began in Homewood in 2004 as Estilo Latino, Spanish for “Latin style.” They specialized in quinceaneras, or the traditional sweet 15 celebration. They did some weddings, Riney said, but mostly events catered to the Hispanic community. The store then moved to Pelham and changed its name to Bella’s, which means beautiful in both Spanish and Italian, Riney said.
Their customer base began asking for wedding gowns and prom dresses, and in 2010 Riney moved the stores to Patton Creek and became a premier destination for both bridal and prom needs.
“We are very customer oriented, and we love our customers,” Riney said. “They come in as clients and leave as our friends. We are all about our customers and their special day. We believe this is the most self-expressive garment that they will ever wear, and we want them to find the perfect dress and feel beautiful but still have it match their personality. Customer service is No. 1 to us — I have the best staff, and we are very committed to helping girls find the right dress.”
Riney said the new store will be beautiful and grand and will continue to offer the best designers at great prices. “We are really excited about the new store,” she said.
The only possible hangup? Nothing Bundt Cakes is two doors down from the new location, Riney said.
“I might need to join a gym,” she said.