Everything the beach bride needs — and a little advice

Engagement ring? Check.

Coastal Point • Monica Fleming: Marlene Lennox of Lennox East Beach Bride in Fenwick Island stands with one of many styles of dresses she carries in her store.Coastal Point • Monica Fleming: Marlene Lennox of Lennox East Beach Bride in Fenwick Island stands with one of many styles of dresses she carries in her store.

Wedding date? Check.

Dress? Hmmm, come back to that one.

Marlene Lennox of Lennox East Beach Bride in Fenwick Island is not a typical bridal store owner. A visit to her store might make brides-to-be feel like they just left a pre-marriage counselor more than a dress shop. She likes to remind them that, at the root of it all, is not dresses and tiaras, shoes and jewelry, or even weddings, but love and marriage.

“If you have love, you have it all,” said Lennox. “Make the good Lord part of it, and the money, education and experience will come.”

Marlene Lennox and her late husband, Herman “Herk” Lennox, started their Leville, Md., store 31 years ago, and it is now the oldest bridal store in Maryland. They had always visited Fenwick Island because his family had an old cottage on Route 54. And, one day – after a friend she was riding with saw the Route 1 storefront and suggested it would be a good idea to open up a store there – she did just that.

“I think I’m supposed to be here,” she said this week. “Everything just sort of fell into place, so it was meant to be.”

She said she has never had a “bridezilla” and offered that her store and its staff are there for one purpose – to help.

“Even though I’ve done thousands of weddings, it’s her first (usually),” she laughed. “And people are always amazed at the prices. We guarantee them to be the lowest.”

Lennox just recently completed two bridal shows, one back at home and one in Salisbury, Md., at Fountains. The original sponsor of the Salisbury show had to back out, so organizers called Lennox, and she scrambled to get things together.

“It was a gift – there were over 200 brides and 600 people. And people come to see the dresses. They might stop by the cake table and check out the videographer, but they come to see the dresses,” she said.

Lennox noted that they modeled some of their specialty dresses – such as an all-denim dress and a Christmas-themed dress – and people were very receptive.

“The shows – just like in business – are 100 percent you get what you give,” said Lennox.

But besides the fashion show and the whirlwind of opening up a second store, Lennox mainly has one message to convey to her brides-to-be, and that is for them to try to capture a little bit every day the essence of what they’ll feel on their wedding day.

Lennox, herself a two-time cancer survivor, still speaks of her Herk as if he were right by her side, even though she has been widowed for years now.

“We had so much fun,” she recalled. “Love is such a gift. We need to appreciate it and not take it for granted. And we need to appreciate our customers and not take them for granted – Herk taught me that. I lost him when he was 58, and I love him as much now as I did when he was alive.”

Lennox has plans to be in Fenwick Island long-term and, although she just recently celebrated her 70th birthday, still enjoys manning the store and working on the floor – for now. The self-described “people-person” hopes to maybe pass on the business to family one day, but, for now, is still enjoying the ride.

She realizes selling wedding dresses and apparel is an important job for an important day, but she also understands that trust and openness with customers mean more than numbers.

“If I am lucky enough to get to heaven, I don’t think the good Lord will ask me how many dresses I sold, but he might ask me how I sold them,” she posited.

In addition to bridal gowns, Beach Bride offers bridesmaids’ dresses, dresses for mothers-of-the-bride, tuxedo rental, jewelry, invitations and accessories. They carry most of the nationally advertised brands, such as Maggie Sattero, Mary’s, Mori Lee, Venus and Casablanca. They also carry prom and pageant dresses in such brands as Tiffany, Alyce, Jessica McClintock, Joli Prom and Flirt.

Lennox East Beach Bride is located at 101-5 Coastal Highway in Fenwick Island, on the east side of the highway, just north of the Route 54 intersection. Appointments are not required, but they will honor them. Fall and winter hours are noon to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 on Saturday, with the shop closed Sundays and Mondays. For more information, call (302) 541-0277.