Lovliest Bridal Boutique, 822 Sevier Avenue, Knoxville, February 2020
Anna Wiggins has moved her business, Loveliest Bridal Boutique, to 822 Sevier Avenue with the hopes of making brides feel their loveliest. She remembers feeling that way on her own special day and she is on a mission to make every bride that walks into her doors leave feeling the same way. She feels she has found the right space and the right mix of dresses to do just that.
Originally from Greenville, South Carolina, Wiggins obtained her bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Georgia, later adding a graduate degree with an emphasis on micro-finance. This led her to a focus on non-profits, and later a large leap from there to the wedding industry.
In 2013, she and her future husband moved to Knoxville when he got a job in Oak Ridge. She soon began work for the East Tennessee Foundation in downtown Knoxville. She says she “worked with lots of numbers,” handling financial aspects of the community foundation, which holds philanthropic funds from grants to scholarships.
While she worked at the Foundation through 2017, Wiggins began considering opening her own bridal business as she shopped for a wedding gown and started to imagine her vision of a perfect experience for a bride. Soon after marrying in 2016, she opened Loveliest Bridal Boutique in Bearden and worked evenings there while maintaining her day job.
She built the business through social media, particularly Instagram, and says in the earliest days Google reviews and word of mouth were the biggest contributors to her success. She said business was soon very steady. She hired an additional stylist in October 2018 and recently added another.
Wiggins said she simply wants the experience to be as special as it deserves. It is, for many, the most personal and expensive event they will ever plan, and she feels it should be perfect. Prior to appointments she tries to understand the customer on a personal level, including their favorite music, which she plays as they make their selection.
She feels she can design the perfect experience for brides who want to relax, not feel pressure, and maybe include their mother or grandmother in the experience, though often it involves the bride’s friends. She tailors the experience much as she tailors the dresses, striving for an intimate and relaxed atmosphere. She also narrows the styles before the appointment, asks about the kind of wedding (beach weddings call for different attire, for example), and determines whether the bride-to-be likes ball-style gowns or wants a train.
In an effort to make the experience as intimate as possible, Wiggins closes the entire store whenever she has an appointment. She helped to design the space, which shares a store front with Sweetbriar Boutique), allowing for each end of the store to have a private area, enough room for two brides to try on dresses and enjoy the experience with their own personal stylist. She loves that the recently renewed area on Sevier Avenue in South Knoxville is walkable.
Inside the shop you’ll find both special-order and custom-fitted dresses, as well as an off-the-rack selection. The custom-fitted dresses are more expensive and may take six to seven months to be completed. She focuses on a clean, tailored look and styles that are classic, timeless, or traditional with a small twist that makes them more modern.
Her carefully curated selection of off-the-rack dresses includes samples from designers from New York and elsewhere. These are limited by size and are less expensive. This collection is more eclectic, with bohemian styles and more edgy or sexy dresses. She only sells a few of her special-order dresses before moving them over to the off-the-rack section, so brides don’t repeatedly see their dresses on other brides.
The Boutique is in an older building, and Wiggins worked to remove some of the plaster to expose more brick inside. She also re-purposed window frames from the building to make the mirrors the brides use as they try on their dresses. She hopes the touches make for a better experience and one more rooted in the place where it sits.
The store operates by appointment only, Monday through Saturday, though Wiggins will take a walk-in if she is there and doesn’t have a bride present. Appointments can be made online via the website or by calling (865) 851-8126. You can also connect with Loveliest Bridal Boutique via Facebook or Instagram.