No one can argue that the economy hasn't impacted the size and scale of weddings in the last several years as we all embrace a new normal. This means tighter budgets, less flash and more importance placed on the true meaning of a wedding as a celebration of love, not a party to honor our extravagance. Not to say that there's anything wrong with going all out (it is your special day, after all), but the way we get married has changed. That said, there's still money to be made for clever vendors who make it their mission to meet the needs of brides looking to burn a few Federal Reserve Notes to make their wedding dreams a reality.
Case in point, the disconnect that once existed between plus-sized brides and the wedding gown designers who made it a habit of ignoring them.
While the average clothing size of women in the U.S. is 14, most high-end bridal designers have long refused to cater to clients beyond size 16. Yet with the economy pressuring the industry to find new revenue streams, a growing number of designers are now trying to fill a gaping hole in the country’s $2.1 billion wedding dress market. “These are underserved consumers who have money to spend,” says Catherine Moellering, executive vice-president of retail trend consultant Tobe. “There’s an immense opportunity here to develop brand loyalty because these are marginalized consumers.”
The great part about the Business Week article (besides the fact that it celebrates reality instead of pretending as though we are all size 0 like the runways make it appear) is that it features Curvaceous Couture, a bridal salon catering to "plus-sized" brides right in our own homebase of Columbia, Maryland.
Four years ago, Yukia Walker (a size 20) experienced the horror of shopping for a wedding gown that would fit first-hand. She had $3000 to spend but couldn't find a designer gown in her size. “I was ready to fly to several locations,” she told BW. “I ended up with this gown that I couldn’t stand.”
It was that experience that inspired her to start Curvaceous Couture out of her Columbia basement in 2009. Since then, she has upgraded to a 5,000-square-foot showroom, serving 15 to 20 brides a day on average. Boasting an astounding collection of gowns ranging from size 12 to 32 and priced from $1,000 to $25,000, an impressive 92 percent of first-time visits result in a sale.
Of all the recent wedding trends we've seen, we have to say this is one of the best!