When the world lost Bruce Vassar last year, we lost more than a warm man who mentored many in our industry. We thought our audience would best understand more about Bruce if they heard from those that caught up with him year after year at bridal trade shows, fashion shows, and other such events. We sat down with Dawn Bromander to find out what she remembers about the man with the hearty laugh, and what he taught her along the way. After you read about how one bridal executive remembers Bruce, we hope you understand how your wedding, while it might be stressful to plan at times, should always also work in a little fun.
CAREER PATHS INTERTWINED
“Bruce was with me every step of my bridal career,” recalls Bromander. “It started at Dayton’s first as a manager and later the Director for Dayton’s Hudson’s and Field’s. I went on to consult for a variety of designers—Reem Acra, Watters, Toni Federici… Ultimately, I went on to take a role as the Vice President of retail for Monique Lhuillier. After twelve years, I took a role as president of Ines Di Santo for five years and recently became the COO/President for Mark Ingram. Every single step of the way, Bruce was with me for our shows, chatting fashion and pushing for ad/event dollars,” she recalls but with an endearing fondness for him.
Bromander tells us, “While Bruce and I shared 1000 bridal moments, some of the funniest and so ‘Bruce’ moments sprang from royal weddings and Miss Minnesota.” These were two of Bruce’s passions, and while one was directly related to the wedding industry and one wasn’t, they both included fabulous fashions and had huge followings, in their own individual ways.
“Bruce called me several years ago and asked me to be a judge for the Miss Minnesota pageant. You could not find a more unlikely person to ask if your life were on the line. I laughed for three days with him and then he got serious. He shared how important and empowering that it was for the women involved. Now he was speaking my language.” Bromander explains, “I ended up meeting so many fabulous people that were involved with the organization, as well as young women who I am sure have gone on to be powerhouses in their fields. I loved that we could always make fun of what we were doing and yet ultimately feel so passionate about it. Everything in life has a component of humor at its base. What a gift to find it, enjoy it, and then go on to find the heart and soul that lives underneath.” Lessons that can apply to a marriage, no?
When talking to Bromander about Bruce, she couldn’t leave out one of his passions, that of royal weddings, “And then there was Bruce and any ROYAL WEDDING. The planning of the outfits, the interviews, the anticipation, and shortness of breath that accompanied a good long royal engagement. The royal family spoke his language. Forever after, if I wanted him to get excited about something, I would just put the word ‘royal’ in front of it and we were off and running.” Bruce appreciated the formality, the beauty, and the tradition behind any royal wedding, and this helped him in executing weddings, connecting with those in the industry, and kept him passionate about what he did for a living.
Bromander put into words what so many of us couldn’t when it comes to recalling our loss, “It is shocking to me that he is not a phone call away with a 3-pack-a-day laugh on a man that never smoked. He used his smile to bring down the house. We miss him so.”