Eva Chiou is giving the pantry a makeover. Banish those images of Grandma’s kitchen, of half-eaten bags of chips and moldy bread, of cluttered shelves stocked with condiments and canned goods that inevitably come to mind with the word.
Replace the condiments with party favors. Canned goods with wedding gowns. Half-eaten chips with handmade jewelry. Moldy bread with fresh ideas. EnterThe Wedding Pantry.com.
Eva’s creative new bridal boutique offers an innovative take on stores in the wedding industry, providing a variety of one-of-a-kind services and personal attention for brides and vendors alike.
“We’re not just a bridal store. We have resources, magazines and vendors we can connect brides with,” Eva says of the niche boutique, located in Tustin, CA.
True to its namesake in at least one way, The Wedding Pantry is home to an eclectic collection. Its shelves are lovingly stocked with hairpieces, pretty clutches, handmade garters, ring bearer pillows, cards, bridesmaid gifts, guest books, notebooks, place cards, jewelry, and even wedding gowns. Prices range from $5 to $180 (not including gowns). Products are both handmade and store bought.
This variety is what Eva strived for when she dreamed up the store.
“I started The Wedding Pantry because brides were asking me, ‚Äòwhere can I get this and that?’ and I’d send them to 10 different places and online stores,” Eva said. “There really wasn’t a store where people could come and find unique products instead of going online.”
She took this idea of a “one-stop-shop” one step further. In addition to its exclusive products, The Wedding Pantry offers a diverse array of classes, hosted at the store, which brides can take to prepare for their big day.
“[These classes] create a community for brides. For a lot of people this is obviously their first wedding planning experience and they’re not sure where to start. This is something I wanted to help them with, so they’re not just thrown to the wolves,” Eva said.
Class selection is tantalizingly boundless: Eva brings in experts in make-up, flower arranging, relationships, calligraphy, and all “things related to girls, weddings, and stuff girls like.”
She even reserves a space in the back room where brides-to-be can bring in their friends to do the ‘kind of stuff girls like,’ from parties and bridal showers to more intimate get-togethers, luncheons or craft days.
Eva’s thoughtfulness demonstrates her passion for creating a community where brides and vendors can come together and forge meaningful mutual relationships.
“I’m a big believer in helping people out when I can,” Eva said. “Whether it be growing a small business or helping promote other big business, I want to grow the sense of community; whether I’m helping a small artist to sell their product or referring brides to other vendors, that’s my ultimate goal‚Äîto help brides and vendors.”
Which is why although The Wedding Pantry only stocks unique products, Eva says she won’t hesitate to send a bride to Target or Michael’s for something she thinks the bride will like. She won’t hesitate to pick up the phone and order something custom-made if it’s not already on the shelf. She won’t hesitate to assist with anything and everything a bride might need, even if it’s as simple as a pair of earrings.
“Even if you already have a vendor or planner, we love to help. We have an open door policy,” Eva said.
It’s definitely a door you don’t want to miss walking through. The Wedding Pantry promises individualized care you won’t find in any other boutique. Eva’s favorite memory is one where she helped a bride find her dress at the store. The bride’s excitement inspired Eva to stock more dresses for future customers. That kind of commitment isn’t easy to find in an industry overwhelmed by large companies with corporate mindsets.
“Just the idea of the store‚Äîthere’s nothing like it. When brides come in here, we try to make sure they get personal help from us; even if it’s just an earring, we try to help,” Eva said.
We love Grandma. But let’s leave her to the chocolate chip cookies, and Eva to the pantry. Your perfect wedding will thank you.