Ashley’s in bloom for prom, wedding season

With St. Patrick’s Day celebrations fresh on the minds of both the Irish and the Irish-for-the-day, it’s a good bet people riding down Route 26 this past week noticed the bright assortment of green dresses in the window of Ashley’s Bridal.

Coastal Point • Ruslana Lambert: Ashley’s Bridal features prom dresses, special-occasion dresses and accessories, tuxedos and wedding gowns.Coastal Point • Ruslana Lambert
Ashley’s Bridal features prom dresses, special-occasion dresses and accessories, tuxedos and wedding gowns.

If not, it’s not for lack of a colorful springtime display at the full-service bridal shop located in a former residence, across from Al Casapulla’s. The location means no more traveling to Millsboro or Milford or Dover or beyond for that prom, wedding or black-tie event. Ashley’s Bridal caters to all types of women and men who are looking for that special-day attire.

Buying formal attire can be a challenge. And if formerly having to travel all over Delmarva or beyond wasn’t enough, shopping for a wedding gown is about as intimidating as bathing suit shopping in the winter. There’s A-line and halter and sweetheart and princess and more — and that’s just the necklines.

But Barbara Keyser, manager of Ashley’s Bridal in Millville, sets customers at ease as soon as they walk in the door. She does all in-house alterations and can make any dress into “the dress.” Sleeves can be added, fabric can be moved, dresses can be hemmed. Whatever the buyer of a special-occasion dress needs, it can be done in-house.

“We do our own alterations here,” she said. “I was always making my own clothes when I was younger, after school. I always had to keep busy. I still always have to have something to do,” she said, laughing.

But don’t let the name fool you — Ashley’s Bridal offers a full assortment of prom dresses, special-occasion dresses and accessories, tuxedos and, of course, wedding gowns. Mothers and sisters and friends and fiancés and fathers and prom-goers alike can feel comfortable being able to find just what they need.

“We are not just bridal,” emphasizes Keyser. “We have a good variety of dresses and we are currently expanding our mother’s line and also our special-occasion dresses. There are a lot of fundraisers and balls around here, and women are always looking for a special-occasion dress. We also have a pretty good variety of tuxedos.”

Keyser’s daughter Connie Kim owns the store that opened last January and has a second one in Warminster, Pa., that has been open for 12 years. She originally got into the business after buying the shop that had helped her with her own wedding needs.

“She was always designing clothes for her Barbies,” remembered Keyser. “After she got married, she bought the store where she bought her wedding gown and has expanded it greatly ever since.”

The Keysers lived in coastal Delaware years ago, and Barbara Keyser said she always wanted to come back to retire. They moved back to the area in 2006, and she has been managing the store, enjoying her “retirement” since its opening.

Keyser said she enjoys the small-town atmosphere that allows her to get to know her customers on a personal basis, and she added that they have many repeat customers and get a lot of business through referrals — although their prime location on Route 26 certainly helps to pique people’s interest – especially as prom season arrives in full bloom.

“People are always driving by looking to see what’s in the window,” she added with a smile.