Walking through the door of Tiffany’s Bridal Boutique is like entering a small jewel box. Several of the walls are awash in an appropriate color – Tiffany Blue – while a crystal chandelier hangs from the ceiling. Wedding gowns from Maggie Sottero, Christina Wu and Eddy K provide the shimmer and sparkle.
“Mine is an unconventional story,” says Tiffany Rupert of becoming the owner of a bridal salon. Having grown up in Denver, the Lititz Christian School graduate went on to earn an associate degree (paralegal) from Berks Technical Institute. Wanting to widen her horizons, Tiffany enlisted in the Navy. “I didn’t want to be stationed on the East Coast and got my wish – I was assigned to San Diego,” she relates. After four years of service, she returned to Lancaster County in 2008 and enrolled at Central Penn College, majoring in criminal justice, with an eye on attending law school.
Then, fate stepped in. Tiffany was working at a local gym, when she met Ann Stout, the owner of Fancy Schmancy, a bridal boutique in Ephrata. Ann offered Tiffany a job. Soon, Tiffany was working full time at the boutique, eventually becoming its manager. “I loved it!” she says.
When Ann decided to close the shop, Tiffany worked her way through a series of jobs. “Nothing stuck,” she says of her stalled career path. Her husband asked what it was she really wanted to do career-wise. She shared that she was at her happiest when she worked at the bridal shop. “Find a store and I’ll put in the lights,” her electrician-husband told her.
In February 2016, Tiffany opened her boutique along North Reading Road, just south of Adamstown. “I was pretty much winging it,” she admits. Offering bridal and special-occasion fashions from Maggie Sottero, Christina Wu and eventually Milan-based Eddy K and other labels, as well as all the needed accessories, she relied on social media and newspaper coverage for marketing and publicity purposes. She attended her first international show in the bridal mecca of the world – Barcelona – where she met the ultimate confidence booster, Randy Fenoli of Say Yes to the Dress. Slowly, she began to attract the attention of brides, prom-goers and women in need of special-occasion dresses.
The dress Connie wears on the cover is from a fun line of special-occasion dresses by Faviana. Tiffany calls them “mock dresses” because of their resemblance to the gowns you see on awards shows and other high-profile events. Connie loved the fact that the lavender, bonded-glitter-jersey A-line gown has pockets, which has been trending in bridal for a few years. “Best idea ever!” Connie said, noting the pockets in the dress were roomy enough to hold essentials such as tissues, lip gloss and a phone.
Tiffany’s location has proven to be a boon for business. “Because I’m so close to the turnpike, it’s easy for people from Philly, New York, New Jersey and Maryland to find me,” she explains. “I’ve even had people from the Carolinas make appointments.”
Imagine her surprise when a familiar face walked through the door in July. It was Dianne Barbarro from Say Yes to the Dress, who visits the area regularly and took notice of Tiffany’s shop. That Saturday, the bridal consultant from Kleinfeld’s made an impromptu stop to say hello. She also couldn’t resist helping Tiffany with her appointment. “I was in shock,” Tiffany admits. “I never expected in a million years that Dianne would walk through my door.”
Tiffany’s has also gained attention for its participation in a bridal event called Operation Wedding Gown, which is sponsored by the nonprofit organization, Brides Across America (BAA). Based in Massachusetts, BAA partners with shops nationwide to provide military women and first responders or the fiancées of military members or first responders with free wedding gowns. This year, healthcare heroes were welcomed to the ranks.
Typically held in conjunction with the Fourth of July and Veteran’s Day, gowns are distributed to participating shops. Brides are invited to make appointments and select gowns for their weddings. Since Operation Wedding Gown began in 2008, more than 26,000 brides have received gowns, which are secured through donations from previous brides, as well as designers and manufacturers. Monetary donations also help BAA to purchase gowns for the events.
Being a veteran, Tiffany was determined to participate. “I’ll be participating again in November but it will be after Veteran’s Day – one of my friends is getting married that weekend and I don’t want to miss it,” she explains. In 2019, she welcomed 15 brides to the shop and in 2020, 12 brides visited. “Everyone left with a dress,” she reports.
Of course, Covid impacted Tiffany’s business. “We closed in March  and reopened in June,” she recounts. When she reopened, Tiffany instituted a by-appointment-only policy that remains in effect. Last year, she found herself having to comfort many a bride whose big day was canceled/postponed or looked nothing like she had planned. “Now, I’m getting a lot of calls from women who went ahead and got married and now want a dress for their upcoming anniversary and vow-renewal events.” She’s also fielding calls and emails from brides who are anxious to get a head start on their 2023 weddings. “I understand that many venues are already booked through 2023, so it’s not too early to get started,” Tiffany says.
While supply-chain alarms sounded in 2020, Tiffany says her orders have been fulfilled on a timely basis throughout the pandemic. Still, to be safe, she encourages brides to place their orders no less than 10 months ahead of their wedding dates. “I used to say nine months, but because of possible shipping issues, I feel 10 months is safer,” she says.
What defines bridal style at the moment? “It’s all over the place, although lace remains a classic,” Tiffany reports. “The big thing is comfort – brides want to be able to dance and enjoy their receptions.” That may be an indication why strapless and corseted designs have lost favor. Sleeves, ranging in length from cap to long, seem to be making a comeback and Tiffany credits that influence to recent royal weddings and celebrity sightings. She also notes that white is no longer the definitive color for wedding gowns. “Color is huge!” she remarks. “Brides are being drawn to colors such as ivory, champagne, blush, misty mauve and blue.”
For more information, visit tiffanysbridalboutique.com.
For more details about Brides Across America, visit bridesacrossamerica.com.